Like every respectable epic story, my tale begins with a prologue. My name is Andrew Holmes. If my Twitter profile is to believed (@aholmes1517), I am a philosopher, instructional designer, innovator, educator, prolific reader, technology enthusiast, and engaging speaker. I am also beginning my second full year as a Ph.D. student in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, which, incidentally, has recently been afforded tier I research status (that’s impressive)! In addition, I am the Instructional Technologist (Instructional Designer) at Milwaukee School of Engineering University.
But, my Guided Inquiry Design journey begins much earlier.
I worked as a teacher at Parker High School in Janesville, Wisconsin for 10 years, first as an English teacher, and then as an Innovation Specialist (librarian). It was there that I was introduced to Guided Inquiry Design, and there that I was inspired to begin the Ph.D. program and move my family to Milwaukee to further pursue my passion in educational technology. More on that later…
Before I began at Parker, I taught for 3 years at a boarding middle school for international students. I taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced English as a second language. I learned a lot about different cultures and different learning styles.
I first entered the teaching profession as a substitute teacher. I would say it was a second career, but my first career never really got started, unless you count bartending and waiting tables. I graduated in 2001 from Valparaiso University, in Northwest Indiana, with a degree in Theatre and Television Arts. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the degree in theatre has served me well in my teaching and professional career.
I was first introduced to Guided Inquiry Design as an English teacher at Parker High School. Since starting in 2007, I had been frustrated by the research instruction in my classes. The traditional research project/paper just wasn’t working for me. At the time, we had an amazing Library Media Specialist named Laurie Bauer, who is now working in the Madison School District. When I asked Laurie if she had any ideas about how to make research more relevant, she introduced me to the National History Day (NHD) project. To read more about this inquiry-based assignment, see Kathy Boguszewski’s earlier GID-52 post. The International Academy in Janesville has fully implemented the GID framework with the project to create a truly integrated and personal learning experience for students. NHD provided student choice surrounding academic content and a detailed inquiry-based plan for implementing the project. When completed, there was an authentic incentive to share the research through the National History Day, a research fair held at the regional, state, and national levels. The friendly competition helped many students to push past their comfort zone and develop projects that were far superior to anything they had accomplished before.
Then, in 2012, Kathy Boguszewski brought the book Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School. She gave copies to all of the librarians in the district. This helped to completely transform the research process again, and, in applying the framework to the NHD project, the classroom research project finally realized its full potential. Students who before this process were disengaged, suddenly became animated and passionate about a topic. The “Open” phase of Guided Inquiry Design became an invitation to explore individual passions.
As an English teacher, I did not limit the topic choices. Although it is a history event, I allowed students to pursue their interests in sports, music, and popular culture. One of my favorite papers was an in-depth exploration of the revolution of punk music in the United States. That particular student had never shown interest before, but when I asked him to share his knowledge of his favorite bands, and to research the origins of the band and music, he came alive. And, of course, there were plenty of traditional history-based projects as well.
By inviting “Exploration,” before fully deciding on a topic, students were able to think outside the box. My job as the English teacher, then, really started in the “Identify” phase, where I would steer students to ask questions about what they were reading. Invariably, there would always be a moment when a student would ask a question, or I would pose a question, and the student would say, “That would make a great research paper, wouldn’t it?!” I know it may sound cliché, but you could almost see the lightbulb going on over their heads! Those moments were some of my proudest as a teacher.
From there, “Gathering” and “Creating” were an easy sell. We used NoodleTools as a note-taking tool and bibliography maker. The easy sharing with the teacher account and Google Docs integration made it easy for me to check progress and assess milestone documents along the way. To finish the Guided Inquiry process, students shared their NHD projects by displaying them in our Library Media Center, and then the best were chosen to represent the school at the regional competition.
Throughout the years doing this project, I was lucky enough to have multiple students proceed to the state level, and one who placed fourth in the NHD national competition.
The NHD program has a wonderful evaluation rubric and feedback form that I used with all students, thus closing the Guided Inquiry Process.
Later this week, I will share a research project I used with my Senior Composition classes. The NHD process takes a lot of time, and my Seniors didn’t have much to give to a research process, being only a semester course. I’ll explain how the Guided Inquiry Design framework helped me to organize an effective and relevant research project for busy seniors!
In my final post this week, I will describe the exciting ways I am using Guided Inquiry in higher education, both as an instructor and as a researcher.
I am honored to be a part of the GID-52 community, and the larger group of educators who are every day discovering how revolutionary the Guided Inquiry Design process can be. I have enjoyed reading about the many ways the process has been used, and look forward to many more inspired examples of genuine learning.
Andrew M. Holmes