Never underestimate the power of sharing.
For the library renovation project, students knew to market their proposals toward school librarians and other relevant district personnel since the county is planning to complete such a project within the next few years. Perhaps what was a surprise to them though was the extent to which guests would listen and take into consideration their suggestions!
Not only did school administrators, district curriculum directors, school librarians and the district superintendent watch our students present their rationales and suggestions for the school library renovation, they also saw the impact of student choice and student voice in authentic assessments. Students were invested in this assignment. They prepared for the part, dressed the part, and spoke the part. Their ideas were original, varied, and focused on making our school library different from all the others in the city. Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk told me after a series of presentations he observed that these students’ feedback would definitely be included in the decision making process when it’s time for our school library to be renovated. That’s powerful!
Other guests in the audience were intrigued by what they saw in the presentations and out of that came great (but unexpected) PR opportunities as well. Feature articles were written by district personnel and the city’s local newspaper. You can read those articles here and here. The superintendent, too, is creating a video series about student choice and its impact in schools and found many sources to interview for inclusion in their project. How cool is that?
While the attention this project garnered is by no means the goal, it is evident that school and district leaders value these types of learning experiences for all students. Any why not? Having student choice and student voice embedded throughout the year helps to create ownership of learning and student engagement increases as a result. Perhaps as a result of publicity, there may be other teachers now willing to incorporate guided inquiry design into their classrooms and experience the impact it can have on student engagement and academic achievement for themselves.
So what’s next? In less than a week, the core learning team will be presenting a session about Guided Inquiry in mathematics at the Innovations for Learning Conference to share our experiences. It is our hope that others will be inspired to try it too. After that, we will continue to brainstorm ways to bring guided inquiry into additional units and disciplines and seek other venues to share our GID experiences with others.
Let’s keep the conversation going about Guided Inquiry Design! Please post comments about today’s blog post in the comment section below and consider contacting Leslie Maniotes about blogging about your Guided Inquiry experiences so that we can learn from you!
Thanks for reading, reflecting and sharing this journey with me!
Amanda Hurley, National Board Certified Teacher
Library Media Specialist, Henry Clay High School