In education, especially at the beginning of a school year, new initiatives or pilots of new initiatives are rolled out. It may be a new online grading program, new textbooks, a new method to contact parents, the list rolls on. Some of these initiatives are just a flash of light – here one year, gone the next – while others transform our instructional process and we hold onto them, because they work. I really think GID is in the latter camp. Guided Inquiry Design is a student-centered approach to learning that allows students to explore questions, ideas, and resources in order to further develop their thinking or understanding of a topic while allowing for genuine openness to others’ perceptions, end products, and learning outcomes. Since education is beginning to swing away from the standardized-based testing and into more hands-on, curiosity-based learning, our students need adults in their educational lives that will provide these opportunities to be curious, to inquire, to wonder, about their world and guide them to appropriate resources to find the answers they are looking for.
Librarians are in such a perfect position to facilitate GID in their schools. We work with all departments so it is easy for us to approach teachers with relevant, specific ways to integrate GID into student work and their curriculum. Since we collaborate with many different teachers, we can model how to facilitate lessons that are GID based and provide the additional resources they may want to include but don’t have the time to look for or include in their ordinary lessons.
Our Standards for the 21st Century Learner, created by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) include Inquiry as one of the primary foci for students. We help students find whatever their looking to learn more about, whether its in print or digital form. We help students with developing good research questions, researching effectively using Google and other search engines, and we provide suggestions when what they find isn’t what they were looking for. This is what we naturally do as librarians. So much of this is aligned with GID that it’s almost a seamless integration into the services we offer our students: asking good questions, immersing themselves in the situation, exploring resources and identifying and gathering the ones they feel are significant, creating the product or idea, providing forums & space for students to share their ideas and work with others, and teaching them to evaluate if what they’ve created and learned was successful. THIS is what we do, and this is a highly successful approach to teaching and most importantly, student learning. When we as librarians can explain to our teachers that not only is this “initiative” or way of thinking & teaching similar to the natural research process, and it’s also what we as librarians already do, teachers may be more willing to try this approach in place of a teacher-focused lesson they’ve used for the last 15 years. Our students don’t learn the same way that we did when we were in school, and they need new approaches to research and learning. GID is the answer.
As a middle school librarian, I can only feel convicted myself by this blog. I need to do better outreach to my teachers, more research into specific projects & curriculum to target to make GID most appealing, and how collaborating with me as a librarian will not only enhance their experience but also their students’ learning. Our students wonder all the time. They’re curious about the world they live in and the topics they learn in school. As a librarian, I need to do a better job of bringing the wonder and curiosity into all curriculum using GID. My students (and yours!) deserve it.