Searching for Guided Inquiry

Greetings from the Lone Star State!

My name is Tara Rollins and I am the Information Literacy Specialist (aka Librarian) in a large urban district in Houston, Texas.   I am proud to work at Aldine ISD’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme campus, Kujawa Elementary.   Inquiry plays a large part of the IB curriculum, so I have been pleased to gather new ideas from so many Guided Inquiry teachers around the world.

I still feel like a novice, even after working in an inquiry based programme for several years.  Over the past few years, I have struggled as the “librarian” in finding a process that taught students and teachers how to complete research projects.  I seemed to lack a road map, a guide of steps and stages.  I watched students, teachers and parents struggle with research projects.  That’s why I was overjoyed to find Leslie and the Guided Inquiry Design Model.  The model brought me the road map that helps me plan my unit.  I am better able to plan for each stage of the research process, and complete each stage in a student centered method.

I first learned about inquiry when I transferred to the IB campus.  There were so many components of the IB programme I learned that first year that it all is a blur.  I enjoyed everything I learned, and found all of it very beneficial in educating the “whole child.”  However, I was still in search of that perfect “how to” as far as teaching research skills and implementing units of inquiry.  So, I went in search of the missing components.  I went to IB training for librarians and got their recommendation for Guided Inquiry and Guided Inquiry Design by Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Maniotes & Ann Caspari.  I bought both books and devoured them cover to cover.  Several webinars about Guided Inquiry gave me additional ideas.  I applied and was accepted to the CiSSL Summer Institute 2016, where a selected team and I learned even more about Guided Inquiry Design.

Planning for Guided Inquiry

Planning for Guided Inquiry “Open”

I have provided staff development sessions about inquiry and specifically guided inquiry several times in the past couple of years.  The picture I’m sharing is from a Guided Inquiry Design Staff Development in which the teachers searched for artifacts to “Open” their first unit of inquiry this school year.

I also have designed and taught portions of units following the Guided Inquiry model both independently and in collaboration with classroom teachers. However, I continue to learn from other GID leader’s and fellow educators.  Each year I feel that my experiences with Guided Inquiry in the classroom setting as well as collaboration with staff members grow stronger.

Guided Inquiry as a teaching/learning model thrills me!  I enjoy that inquiry is student centered, that it promotes an intrinsic motivation to learn.  It excites me to see students engaged and enthusiastic about learning.  I love seeing students take ownership of their own learning, and delving into specific portions of topics that interest them.  I enjoy seeing them eagerly sharing details they learn with friends, classmates and other teachers throughout the building.  It’s equally exciting when they share with community members, parents, other IB schools and school board members during a yearly fourth grade exhibition.  Finding the Guided Inquiry Design Model was the icing on the cake and has brought closure to my search for “how to” with Guided Inquiry.

Tara Rollins