My name is Trisha Hutcherson, and I am the librarian at Monroe Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma. My experience with Guided Inquiry Design began in the 2014-2015 school year. During the 2015-2016 year, I was trained along with my instructional coach and gifted and talented teacher. Together, the three of us began to implement GID in our elementary school.
Monroe Elementary is an A+ School. This means several things, including focus on the arts, enriched assessment, and teaching to multiple learning pathways or multiple intelligences. A very important part of A+ philosophy is collaboration across grade levels and subject areas. For this reason, teachers and specialists meet to plan together once each quarter of the school year. As soon as we were trained in GID in the fall of 2015, we began implementing it in our school through school-wide collaboration.
For the first couple of units we did, the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases were where we spent most of our time and effort. I found out here that Opens are quite fun to plan! These units were 3rd and 4th grade, Solar System and People Who Made a Difference respectively. The teachers took students to their classrooms for Gather, Create, and Share in both groups, so I didn’t get to be very involved in those phases.
The next units we did were with younger students, Kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten did From Seed to Plant, and 1st grade did Light, Sound, and Color. Again, Open and Explore were a lot of fun for the students and for me with both of these studies. However, I soon discovered that Gather is a whole different world with primary students! I have since learned that the Open/Immerse/Explore phases are the most important to focus on with the little ones, and that it’s OK if their Gather happens in a big group and their Create is a drawing, writing, or simple verbal explanation or recording.
The most in-depth Guided Inquiry project we did during the 2015-2016 school year was Americans Who Made a Difference with 2nd grade. The Gather phase was a great learning experience for me with this age of students, because they were more able to gather information than the youngest students, but not as independently as the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.
Being one of the few teachers trained in GID at our school site has forced me to be a leader and to advocate for improving the way we do our research and learning projects. Although now we have several grade level teams trained, at the beginning there were only about three of us. Some things this forced me to do were to train the other teachers in the basics of GID, to plan our units and work out all of the logistics, and to lead teachers and students through the process.
We are now in our second year of implementation, and having a year of experience has made a huge difference! I have been able to do some of the same units, with some tweaking, adjustments, and improvements. We are currently in the middle of Americans Who Made a Difference, Round 2! It’s going great!
Trisha Hutcherson, M.L.I.S