Why It’s Important to Fail and Celebrate

Luke here again. So: my GID process was a bit bumpy— expected for a first timer. I was energized enough afterwards to try two other library projects before the end of the year and found myself molding the requirements of existing projects around GID principles. Collaboration is never perfect, but GID is a great way to practice it. A successful GID project requires an inquiry community led by a learning team who model best inquiry and collaboration practices. GID is also about taking risks and growing a culture within a school. Creating a sustainable GID is important, so I worked with my two trusted allies at the school:

  • An energetic 5th grade teacher, Ms. Breite, who was working on a Historical Fiction Creative Writing assignment. I focused on developing a Share, Create, and Evaluate phase for the end of her project. She had a good idea of what to do for the beginning of the assignment and my English background helped to kick it off, and at the end of the writing process, we added in a round-robin reading of the stories at a Share Fair where students read drafts and gave feedback, sharing out their favorite parts. I also pushed Ms. Breite to include a self-assessment as part of the final rubric.
  • I also pushed the music teacher, Mr. Kelly, who was interested in having the students do Photo Essays, to value process over product in the assignment. I reframed the idea of a ‘Photo Essay’ as but one way of synthesizing an understanding about a musical topic. Here, I implemented an Immerse phase where students found a musician they were interested in, an Identify where they came up with inquiry questions, and revamped the Gather phase to include library databases.

Highlighting the beginning and end of the GID process to bring it to teachers worked well. The question of collaboration is one of magnitude, and GID takes a lot of time commitment. But one way to ease in is to ask: How much is the teacher willing to change? As the English teacher, I trial-ran GID on my own— it gave me a feel for the flow. As the librarian, which comes with its own form of salesmanship, the best tools for implementing GID were as follows:

    • Do the work. Show your collaborators you have done some work, and share that work with them on Google Drive. I used the things I knew how to use: the self-reflection rubrics I designed for my Poetry Project were modified for Ms. Breite’s class, and they themselves were adapted from the 5 Kinds of Learning rubric. I used a version of Anita’s collaboration document for planning both.
    • Slow down and let go. Allowing enough scheduled time for inquiry and interest activation during open was an eye-opener, I stressed choice across the whole project too, with how the student was reacting to the problems they were encountering to the final product they choose for Create. I needed to spend more time on Gather with my English students. We needed more time refining our questions.
    • Acknowledge that you are just like the students. Teachers aren’t the only ones breaking habits during their first GID experience. Telling students what to do is vastly different than guiding them. There was palpable unease with my 7th graders. Many were hesitant to come up with their own research questions and project proposals in lieu of asking: “What are we supposed to do?” “We are Immersing today, here are the best practices for it…” Students need to practice it just like we do and working on it over the course of the year is important, like good ol’ Responsive Classroom with community behavior. As a teacher, you want social and emotional behaviors within an Inquiry Community to be reinforced through GID. GID holds up a brilliant mirror: the phases require teachers to reflect alongside students. The learning team is modeling exactly what students are doing so planning and collaborating on GID is an inquiry exercise for all.

 

  • To start, steal. Showing a teacher with whom you are collaborating how what they are doing can be cultivated in the name of Inquiry and Social-Emotional learning is fun. At first, it may not be pretty, though. Go hunting for ideas. Piecemealing from resources like Guided Inquiry Design in Action: High School— tip of the hat to Kathy Boguszewski and her GID project on the National History Day “Taking a Stand Theme” (p. 157-214)— and from mentors, like Anita, is a great start. Remember stealing is different than copying.

 

  • Celebrate the journey. I made the collaborating teacher’s willingness to join me on the journey of GID the most important thing in my life that week. The difficult part, I observed, is the teachers relinquishing a bit of control over things like topics and final products. Getting two of the phases into the project is enough to celebrate— let them know what they did and what they can try next time. I mean, don’t over do it, but highlight the benefits of the inquiry and the social-emotional aspects of the projects. Make a survey for the students to reflect on how well the learning team did.

Of course, Leslie Maniotes has provided me a roadmap for what to do next: continue to build the foundation. Each little lesson can be a brick in that structure. Reflect and modify the brick if needed. She urges us to create support structures and systems that develop and sustain inquiry and commit to keeping it around. So I’m going to try and do just that. Thank you for reading, now I’m going elsewhere on the blog for other ideas! Happy guiding!

Luke Steere

Hillside School, Massachusetts