Tripping Over Poetry

It’s Luke Steere again. In preparation for my GID, I turned to Maniotes (2017) in Guided Inquiry Design in Action: High School, who writes that offering a book full of Guided Inquiry Design (GID) units was to “give educators a picture of the wide variety of content and ways that Guided Inquiry can look” (p. 243). At first, she, Ann Caspari, and Carol Kuhlthau, who developed the framework, were hesitant to share content for “fear that people would teach them as canned lessons” (p. 243), but they soon decided to do it as a celebration of sort (akin to this blog), and this book is a trove.

As I wrote before, I work at Hillside. It is an all-boys boarding school serving 5th to 9th students from 13 different countries, a dozen US states, and a range of different learning abilities. We have about 160 students, the majority of which live on campus. I teach three classes of English in addition to my library duties, and though I have a fairly good collaborative relationship with the teachers as a teacher-librarian, I thought I would try my hand at GID solo. It was National Poetry Month.

Typically I assign a Poetry Research project which attempts to expose the students to a wide range of styles of poetry and then lets them pick a “lens” through which to study poetry. We define research questions, hit the databases, and write a paper. In the run up to the project I assign poems: Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Sandburg, Whitman, Ogden Nash, William Blake; a smattering. I thought: a good starting point for GID is to reframe projects like this. Why assign reading when you could Open using something like Kofi Dadzie’s 2016 Indie Finals performance from Louder than a Bomb MA? The silence which fell across the room until he hits a symbolic punchline in this poem’s center was great. Were they reacting to his remarks about finding comfort in a new, suburban geography far from home? the rhythm and energy? the fact that it wasn’t an adult? the merciful surprise that this was not another one of Mr. Steere’s handouts?

Here’s the beauty of Open: it didn’t matter. They are taking what they want from the experience of hearing poetry. I invited them to try and find more slam poems or music lyrics or other poems over the next few days as we moved into an Immerse/Explore hybrid which focused on large poetry treasuries, a table where they could go on computers to view other Slam Poetry videos, and a spot to plug headphones into an iPad and listen to their favorite songs. We shared our findings with small Inquiry Circles— some students knew they wanted to focus on rap music, others had only read The Giving Tree by Silverstein and were surprised to find Where the Sidewalk Ends among the stacks of poetry, others were interested in doing Shakespeare. At the beginning and end of each class, I did check-ins. The informal ones, like One-Word Summaries, worked the best, but the involved journal entries which students sent to me on Schoology provided more nuanced feedback. It was good to take the temperature of the class— were they frustrated or were they finding success?

Next came a more concrete deliverable— the so-called “other shoe” which was dropping after my students had enjoyed a relatively loose week of dabbling in poetry. It was time to Identify a research question about poetry. We went over the ways in which one can make a good inquiry question and then I had them email it to me after drafting. We refined them over email or in class the next day and reviewed our database habits, and set off on Gather. One student asked about the connections between country music and poetry, a few wanted to dig into the connections between Shel Silverstein’s training as a cartoonist and as a writer, still more wanted to look into the link between rap music and poetry. Other topics were on jokes, humor, and poetry; American Poetry and the country’s founding, and poetry in the Internet age. I found students were choosing from a bigger variety of topics than when they were assigned the “lens” research paper. Check-ins became more formal and I handed out grids with Successes, Struggles, Questions, and Action Items (which I had got from my practicum with Anita) which allowed students to package these ideas to communicate to me and their peers.

We went digging, feeling good. I was eager. And then: poetry month was over. I still had another unit planned for the year before my final paper was to be assigned, a final paper which would be due at the end of May. Ugh. I would have to modify Create and— but wait— what’s this? An email from the 6th Grade Teacher. From my students, she has heard (!) that I am working on a fun (!) Poetry Research project and is wondering if I would like to collaborate on a Poetry Cafe at the end of the week. Moreover, the Daughters of the American Revolution was coming for their annual visit and awards ceremony.  I thought that each student would write an article, instead of a paper. Of course I had to bring in some curriculum grammar and writing skills, but I allowed them some latitude on what else to do. Some student proposed to bring photos into their article, others wrote poems in the style of their research, but the majority performed at one of the two events. Along with the sixth graders who were reading original poems, my students read research statements, poems they had found over the course of their work, or creative pieces written after certain styles and poets. We were Creating, Sharing, and expanding our learning community!

Luke Steere

Hillside School, Massachusetts

Guided, flailing Inquiry

I am Luke Steere, and honored to be a guest blogger for 52GID. After getting over the sheer terror of accidentally telling students to “immerse in databases” during the Explore stage or “explore options for projects” during the Create phase, I realized the very essence of GID is about validating feelings and difficulties, and I should be demonstrating uncertainty as much as I am requiring my students to. A realization which followed: GID is an important framework not just for projects, but for driving a school’s culture toward inquiry and meta-learning.

My experience with GID began as part of an observation of the Westborough High School library for a master’s course in 2016. It looked like this: I am in the WHS library nodding knowingly with an inward ignorance, as millennials will, with the overly confident feeling that everything being said by SLT Anita Cellucci, whom I am interviewing, and who is using acronyms such as GID, ISP, and IEP, could later be searched on the web. And I write the acronyms feverishly (my last career: journalist). And my understanding of those acronyms in the moment had little-to-no bearing on info I was wont to get, having done a few other ‘15 hour’ observations for my master’s already. “Uhhh— cool! So what’s your annual budget? … And how many things— err items— in your collection?” If only I knew…

But I did just that, the web stuff, and checked out this blog. And boy did I have follow-up questions with which to pester her. And, more importantly, I knew where I would want to go for my high school practicum site because, frankly, I was blown away by All the colors of GID (which you can go and read, right now, on this very blog). So it was no surprise I would pick Anita as my practicum supervisor, with the hope of learning more about GID, and over the last five months I have been working alongside her and dipping my toe into the learning method. And using it (selfishly) as a sort of fun little distraction from all the paperwork the Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed. requires.

Yes— fun distraction. I mean, I know teaching is fun, but GID has a knack for imbuing it with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. No more teeth grinding about collaboration with a teacher who is assigning student topics or projects— the push for student choice is built in. I should mention here that I was one of those teachers: during my practicum I taught full time as an English Teacher and Librarian at the Hillside School: an all-boys boarding operation about 15 minutes from Westborough. I live there in a dorm on campus.

So, I took what I learned from the social, emotional tutelage of Anita and her guidance through a remarkable project with a Psychology and Lit teacher named Kathy Stoker and went back to my job for the Spring Term. “Hello, may I have one-and-a-half to two weeks of your class time for a cool project?” What could go wrong?

 

Luke Steere

English Teacher and Librarian at the Hillside School

Massachusetts

Gen Z and GID

In the last couple of years, some of my teacher-friends have made comments like: “I’m having a hard time reaching this group this year;” “All my usual tricks aren’t working;” “I don’t know why I’m just not connecting with my 7th period class.” These statements were said by teachers across different content areas, all experienced and excellent at their craft, the sort of teachers I would hand-select for my own child.

Then, I came across an article in Forbes titled How Generation Z is Shaping the Change in Education, and then I read some more about Gen Z, and then it all clicked! Our education community has worked hard to meet the needs of the Millennial generation. Afterall, Millennials have been studied more than any other generation (Sparks & Honey). However, there has been a shift in generations for the students who are currently attending our classrooms, generally born between 1996 and 2010, and they are very different from Millennials. As I read about Gen Z’s key characteristics and learning styles, I couldn’t help but think about GID and how it facilitates student-led inquiry, which is exactly the learning style Gen Zs prefer. Considering the social, political, and economic influences that have shaped Gen Zs, it is no wonder they are innovative, industrious, collaborative and entrepreneurial. One of our students – and maybe some of yours – already has her own foundation to provide blankets for homeless children. GID allows students to master relevant tasks with real-world connections. It invites students to solve problems and find solutions, to collaborate with a partner or an entire community. GID encourages opportunities for self-discovery and hands-on learning throughout its phases. It instinctively makes the student part of the learning process.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and experiences with you this week. Best of luck to you as you continue to engage our students through inquiry!

Christie Gudowski

Reagan High School, San Antonio, TX

Exploring Methods: Trial and Error

In the comments of my first post this week, I explained that the open and immerse primarily take place in the English IV classrooms as students address social issues through companion texts and other medias related to their curriculum. In November, seniors are ready to explore social issues, which takes place the in the library. Teaching middle school, we easily spent two to three days for students to explore topics, jotting down ideas of interest, usually using stations. In a high school, especially when there are twenty or more sections of one course, scheduling can influence the number of days assigned to different phases and assignments. Understanding that the explore phase significantly impacts student interest and commitment to the long-term project, the English IV teachers scheduled one or two days in the library where students could jot down ideas of interest for their Senior Research Project (SRP) with a focus on a social issue. Over the last four years, we have tried three different methods for exploration, which I share below.

YEAR ONE: PATHFINDER GUIDES
I selected a few social issues that were common interests of many students based on an interest survey completed in the classrooms and created pathfinder guides on our SRP LibGuide. Each pathfinder provided an overview of the topic, possible perspectives, articles from multiple databases, print and digital books from the library collection. Students were provided with a Stop and Jot form for their note-taking.

PROS:

  • Students realized there are more “sides” to an issue than yes and no, or left and right. They were able to see the opinions and perspectives of social issues on a spectrum.
  • Students gained quick exposure to a range of resources.

CONS:

  • Assembling the pathfinders was very time consuming. I felt like I did more work than the students. A seasoned colleague once told me, “School is not a place for young people to come watch old people work!”
  • Students were exposed to depth of the topics but not breadth. The pathfinders provided too much in-depth information rather than an opportunity for exploration and discovery.
  • Students were limited to exploring the topics provided. While they were the most popular, they weren’t for everyone.

YEAR TWO: DOCUMENTARIES
Considering the appeal of YouTube videos to teens and recently popular documentaries on Netflix, we provided links to PBS documentaries that related to a range of social issues on a LibGuide. Students were provided with a Stop and Jot form to notate their interests and reactions to the videos.

PROS:

  • Students were highly interested in the documentaries, even the brief clips.
  • Students benefited from the passionate perspective of the filmmaker.

CONS:

  • Students needed more time that what was provided during class. Some continued to watch the documentaries at home, but not all.
  • Students were still limited to the social issues addressed on the list.
  • Some documentaries did not present multiple perspectives of the issues.

YEARS THREE & FOUR: TOPIC WEBS
Eight topics were selected based on the issues grouped in some of our databases. Students chose five of the eight topics to visit in 4-minute rotations. During each rotation students discussed examples of issues and events related to the topics, and documented their conversation in a web-like format. Remaining time was spent for students to revisit the topic webs they found most interesting so they could notice new contributions and jot down their ideas.

PROS:

  • Aligned perfectly with information in the databases but still allowed students to explore their interests.
  • Webs were visual and were displayed for students in other classes to view for topic inspiration.
  • Students learned from other students by asking questions and holding conversation.

CONS:

  • Absent students missed the experience. Some students chose to come during their lunch the following day to participate with a different teacher’s class but rarely.

Christie Gudowski
Reagan High School, San Antonio, TX

Bridging GID from Middle to High School

close up photo

C. Gudowski at Reagan HS, San Antonio, TX

Hello, my name is Christie Gudowski, and I serve as the school librarian at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas. Reagan enrolls approximately 3,600 students in a suburb of the city with a predominately hispanic and white population and 12% SES, according to the state report card.

I became interested in Guided Inquiry Design as an 8th grade reading teacher. Members from my school district attended the GID training at Rutgers, including my planning partner at the time. Our incredibly compatible work relationship made the venture into GID approachable and successful. We were looking for a new research method and our students were willing to take the challenge with us. Our approach was to follow the framework and not be afraid of adjustments in our implementation as needed. We planned closely together and debriefed sometimes between class periods if we felt the need to tweak the lesson. Though we initially struggled with question-writing, like many others, the benefits of GID were apparent with on-level and advanced classes. The process made so much sense because GID was a way of organizing research in a manner that would scaffold our students’ metacognition, differentiate the process, and guide our students to success. It was what we were unknowingly looking for to deepen our student’s curiosity about the world around them and love for learning. Utilizing students’ excitement and curiosity about the 2012 Olympics, we invited Josh Davis, a local Olympian, who willingly addressed our students and shared his story during the OPEN phase of the process. This was a synergistic opportunity to share GID with our 8th graders!  We were extremely pleased with the results. Our students voraciously researched, read, and shared their newly found knowledge about Olympians, Olympic sports, or Olympian history. Students’ reflections demonstrated their pride in their inquiry journals and the project overall.

After becoming a high school librarian in 2014, I strongly believed that I need to incorporate GID into research projects as I collaborated with teachers. In middle school, it is acceptable and common for teachers to spend 3-4 weeks on a single project. For factors that would take up an entire blog of their own, our high school teachers do not have that sort of flexibility in their scope and sequence. I could not abandon GID, so I found ways to introduce it to teachers in small bites throughout the school year. During my first year I asked a lot of questions like:

  • Can I help your students find that information in the databases?
  • What introduction would make this topic more appealing to your students?
  • What questions do your students have about that topic?
  • Where do you see students doing the most thinking in this lesson?
  • Do you want your students to write a research paper or a report?

Reagan’s English teachers quickly realized the benefits of critical thinking required by GID process for students in their future post-secondary education. Understanding that college and career readiness is imperative for our students, the English IV on-level team worked closely with me over the last four years to take our seniors through the GID framework. Incorporation of other resources, such as Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog by William Badke, helped us create Research Road, on which we travel from November to May, as a visual for students to understand the pace and process. Research Road is an on-going work in progress, however I believe we’ve needed fewer major changes as our experience grows.

Research Graphic

Research Road

So, that’s what I’ll be sharing with you about this week: some of my experiences on how to bridge GID from middle school to high school.

Christie Gudowski

 

Mirror, Mirror: Reflecting on Reflection

As I started the process of reflecting on my experience with GID for this final blog posting, I was also reminded of how valuable the same process is for our students.  Taking the time to reflect on our experiences is when the opportunity for growth occurs. There is a reason so many districts moved to the Danielson evaluation framework, because it is meant to be reflective.  And while not always used in that way, the goal of the Domains is to get teachers thinking about their work and its impact on students. For our students, the practice of reflecting through peer conferencing, journaling, or teacher conferencing and to be provided the time to actually identify or implement change can help students see the value in the process.  

Reflection also allows us to address the fact that research can be an emotional roller coaster for our students, as explained in Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process (Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari, 17).  It is with that in mind that we have a responsibility as practitioners of the Guided Inquiry Design model to recognize where our students are emotionally in the process and provide the necessary opportunities to reflect and grow as they navigate through the research steps.

While many research models include a step at the end which focuses on evaluation, the GID model has the evaluation and reflection process built in throughout, in the form of inquiry journaling.  The inquiry journals can be used for the researching components as well as for reflective responses. This journaling opportunity gives teachers to chance to see where students may be stuck or struggling with the process, as well as allow students to step back from the research and look at the process as a whole.  To do this, my lesson planning often includes a reflective closure activity or journaling opportunity. At first, students are often resistant to the idea of having to reflect, but as they become more practiced and confident in their understanding of the process, they are more likely to share honest experiences. And, we owe it to our students to not only help them become critical thinkers about the world around them, but also about themselves.

The introduction of Guided Inquiry Design as a research model has had a direct impact on my daily instruction.  I look at each research project a bit more critically and in co-planning have found myself taking time at the start of the planning process to give my co-teacher a quick overview of the steps and what the goal is for each one.  But sometimes, without really reading the literature about the process, I find that the nuances which exist in each step are missing from the understanding of a general educator. You can develop all the projects you want using the process steps, but if students never interact with each other, discuss their excitement, explore a variety of options in various formats or receive guidance from their teachers, it is then that students miss out.  I have worked with teachers who create lots of graphic organizers or worksheets aligned to the GID steps and curriculum, but don’t take the time to plan out what the group work looks like, or what the reflections will be, or the teaching strategies for questioning. And, that is where we as librarians or GID teacher practitioners can step in. The steps are not a set of boxes to check off, but rather an instructional support system which gathers best practices and integrates them into the inquiry process.

Best of luck as you continue to integrate the GID process into your work and in your planning! Your students will thank you…one day 🙂

Cheers,

Sarah Scholl

Havre de Grace Middle School

Havre de Grace, Maryland

 

@hdmslibrary

@thebossysister

 

Kuhlthau, Carol C., et al. Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Libraries Unlimited, 2015.

 

How do you incorporate reflection into your GID planning?

Ho Hum or Way More Fun?

In my time as a school librarian, I have had the unfortunate experience of teaching the traditional countries research project.  Why? Because it was in the curriculum and I was working with a new teacher BGID (before guided inquiry design). And you know what? I hated it about as much as the kids did.  The final product was the regurgitation of information which does not elicit smiles or excitement, but rather the slumped shoulder comments of, “are we doing this again”? I share this because we have all probably been there with a project.  The type of assignment that we dread as much as the kids. And, as much as we try to revamp it, it is tough to totally drop the curricular requirements without being worried or feeling some sense of guilt for not “doing what we are supposed to do”.  

Which brings me to the element of engagement! The sweet spot of excitement and learning.  This instructional element is part of what makes Guided Inquiry Design so valuable for teachers and students. There are collaboration strategies and inquiry groups and reflection components which are integrated into the process and get our kids excited to be researching just about any topic. Even more important is the entire EXPLORE step.  Providing students the opportunity to see what may exist in the realm of opportunity, engages and motivates students in a way that no list of topics can even touch. However, this valuable step is often the one that gets cut for time, because not all teachers see the value, when in reality it is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of the process.  That is because it most closely mirrors the type of research which is being done in real life.

One of the ways I have worked with teachers to shift their thinking about the basic curricular report requirement is through the reimagining of the country project.  Students traditionally would share mind numbing presentations about a country, listing facts about population, climate, language, religion, food, etc. Listening to over 100 of them was the motivation to change.  This is where GID was a lifesaver!

The classroom teacher and I decided a change was needed, but how to make this relevant was the challenge.  In the end, after several ideas bouncing around via email, we decided to go with a concept which aligned with what students were also studying in science, natural disasters.  Students were now tasked with creating a recovery plan for a country which had experienced a hypothetical natural disaster. They were given the United Nations Development Program as a real life model and had to EXPLORE which countries were likely to experience certain disasters.  Then they presented in teams at our mini-UN meeting to apply for funding to help this nation in need.  The were rewarded (graded) in dollar amounts! In their planning and research, they had to learn about the culture, which was the original goal of the country report to begin with. But now, it was being done in a way with a real life connection, choice and collaboration which lead to students who were engaged and motivated to brainstorm solutions as a team.  

The 6th grade social studies teachers and I have been working on this updated project for the last four years  and it has made everyone happier and more willing to engage in what had been quite boring research previously. In changing our project not only is it more engaging, but it has also guided students to think more critically and to understand why knowing about a culture could be important in a real world context.  We provided the opportunity to work in groups, not because it is fun, but because the timeline and requirements make it almost impossible to do alone. Engagement was just an added bonus of following the GID process to get our students to fully engage in a research process which extended their thinking beyond what was required in the curriculum.

Cheers,

Sarah Scholl

Havre de Grace Middle School

Havre de Grace, Maryland

@hdmslibrary

@thebossysister

 

What are you doing in your instruction to engage students in research using the GID process?

You + Me = We: The Power of Collaboration

Greetings fellow friends of Guided Inquiry Design!  My name is Sarah Scholl and I am a school librarian at Havre de Grace Middle School in Havre de Grace, Maryland!  This is my second round of blogging (original postings 1, 2, & 3) for the GID blog and I am excited to add to the amazing postings which have already been added this year.  

Photograph of four teachers holding awards

Mary Gargano, Sarah Scholl (Me), Anni Obenshcain & Sarah Wein: Curriculum Award Winners

I got started with Guided Inquiry when I first attended AASL in 2015 and learned about this research model as well as the CiSSL summer institute.  I then attended the 2016 summer institute to design and develop a GID unit and began implementing our Challenge and Change project that fall.  Our planning team submitted our Challenge and Change project for the county wide curriculum awards that year and we won!

However, it really is not how I got started that is most important, but rather, why I have stuck with this model for the last three years.  As a school librarian, I have encountered multiple research models, but it is the GID model which has brought the most success for my students.  There are three components which I feel make this model stand out against the rest: collaboration, engagement and reflection. My goal is to address each of these aspects in my postings this week.

 

For school librarians to be the most effective, they should be collaborative in their planning and instruction.  This is one facet which GID reinforces as a crucial part of the process. A first step in planning for GID is to identify the team, which is meant to include a school librarian.  It is explicitly stated that a school librarian be involved in the planning since this is a research process and librarians are research experts. It is truly in the best interest for both the teachers and the students to have a librarian involved, who can curate information, guide students through the exploration, identify and gather phases as well as provide support as students begin to learn how to do those things independently.

But, collaboration can be a challenge.  With differing class schedules, meetings, etc., TIME can be the biggest barrier to doing honest to goodness team planning.  However, when you take the time to make it happen, it is worth every spare minute you were able to devote to the work you are doing and in the end it benefits all parties involved.  Ideally, you would have a half day or even a whole day to sit down and plan, but that is not the reality!

So how do you start?  As a librarian, I often begin with an email or quick hallway chat to gauge interest.  From there, I often jot down ideas and try and plan a time when we can have a quick chat about whether we are headed in the right direction.  I also make sure I am familiar with the content teacher’s curriculum so I can reinforce the ultimate goal of “not creating more work” and show him or her where this can potentially align with what may already be happening instructionally.

After that, I try and schedule at least one hour of time to sit down together with the planning team to generate a rough outline, starting with the GID steps and what students will learn in each step.  We develop a goal or objective and set up the outcome or student product. Often the conversation will include some backwards planning, thinking about what the end product may be; even if the end product is something simple, with more of the focus falling on the process itself.

Finally, we divide and conquer, each taking the portions we are responsible for and developing the daily lessons which will be taught.  There will be the occasional hallway chat or five minute catch up time where we share what we have excitedly created, but more often than not, we rely on collaborative technology like shared Google drive or Office 365 folders, OneNote or regular old email to maintain our collaborative conversation.  Then we check in the day before to make sure all is prepared prior to the first lesson and we continue the daily conversations, making small modification as we co-teach through the GID model. Now, I do use that co-teach term to represent just about every form of co-teaching you can imagine with this process.  Sometimes we are co-lead teachers, sometimes I lead, sometimes the classroom teacher leads, it all depends on what is decided beforehand but, more often than not, the person who designs the lesson leads and then the other assists until they become comfortable with the material and is okay with stepping in to co-lead.

This is by no means, the only way to work through the difficult process of co-planning or working collaboratively with the GID model, but hopefully it will be some reassurance that it can work, even with the most time strapped teachers!

Cheers,

Sarah

Havre de Grace Middle School

Havre de Grace, Maryland

@hdmslibrary

@thebossysister

 

How do you manage time so you can co-plan using the GID model?

 

Previous Postings

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/01/in-good-company/

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/04/lets-start-at-the-very-beginning/

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/06/wrapping-it-all-up/

Teach Out Loud

This past week, as I was searching for new innovative ideas to bring to my classroom, I came across the sayings, “Shut the door and teach!” and “Open the door and teach!”  While I get the point of the first, I wholeheartedly advocate for the second. Teaching should not be an isolated event. We need to come together to improve learning for students. In addition, if you are doing amazing things things in your classroom, share it.

Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to share GID with passionate educators at an Edcamp event I helped facilitate. If you’ve never heard of Edcamp, it’s an event that is driven by participant interest. Participants post questions and topics of interest at the beginning the event, and then sessions are determined based on those topics. One of the topics happened to be inquiry based learning, so I was thrilled to have another opportunity to share ideas. Not only was I able to share my GID unit on Earth’s Systems, but I was able to pick up ideas as well. One idea was using the website Thrively to administer a survey to gather students interest. One teacher shared how she learned that a lot of her students were interested in biology, so she replaced a prior unit she had planned with one based on their interest. What a powerful way to give students a voice and choice in the classroom. If I had never searched out other educators to collaborate with, I would likely have not heard about this powerful tool. I encourage you to build your personal learning network and grow. Twitter is a great way to connect with passionate educators from around the world. When we teach out loud and link arms with passionate educators, we have the potential to transform learning for our students.

Writing this blog and sharing a little bit about what happens in my classroom has been a pleasure. It has allowed me to reflect on my practice, as well as given me the drive and commitment to finish the year strong. Thank you Leslie Maniotes, for providing educators this space to share their experiences with implementing GID in their classrooms.

Rebecca Wilkin

Selma Unified

@beccalmorris83

Immersed in Learning

In my current GID unit, my 5th grade students are exploring the world around them. Over this unit, students will gain knowledge  of Earth’s four spheres: hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere, and atmospheres. The goal in this Next Generation Science Standards inquiry based unit is to lead students to an inquiry project about human’s impact on the environment.

Currently, we are in the Immerse phase of GID. This phase is all about building background knowledge, connecting students to content, and guiding students toward those inquiry based questions. Throughout this unit, I have specifically selected technology tools and resources that are highly engaging, fosters critical thinking skills and promotes communication with peers and experts. 

The beginning of a student ThingLink Inquiry Journal

Throughout this inquiry based unit, students are keeping digital inquiry journal. This will be a place where they will record their ideas about what they are learning and their questions that will guide research later on.  There are many options for student digital inquiry journals. I work at a Google Apps for Education district, so a majority of my students’ work is housed in Google Docs and Google slides. For this GID unit, I wanted to introduce a new web tool. I decided to use ThingLink. I love this website! Students were able to take this image of the four geospheres and create an interactive image. Within the website, students can add images, videos, and audio to images and videos. Through this activity, students they are learning how to organize ideas, synthesize information, and create. In addition, they can take this with them as they move to ahead in their education, where they will develop even deeper knowledge of our world. That is way more powerful than a notebook that most students will throw away at the end of the year.  

The most powerful technology tool that I have used, thus far, has been Skype for Education. A few weeks ago, my class was able to Skype with a ranger from Yellowstone National Park. He spent a half hour talking to my students about the geology and wildlife of Yellowstone. While being in Yellowstone would have been an amazing experience for my students, facilitating a field trip for thirty-two 5th graders Wyoming would be nearly impossible. Just because we can’t bring our students to the experts, doesn’t mean we can’t bring them to our students. Skype for Education is completely free for educators, and there are experts in just about every field who want to share their passion with students.  This was the second Skype we did this year. The first was with author, Christina Farley, who spoke with us for almost an hour about the writing process. The process is so easy. Each time, I received a response in a matter of days. All you need is computer with a camera and microphone and a free Skype for Education account. It’s that simple. 

My students may not remember every lesson I carefully planned, but I know they will remember the day we talked with a real Yellowstone National Park Ranger. They were completely glued to every word he said and had a ton of questions at the end of his presentation. Immersed in learning…I think so.

 

Rebecca Wilkin
Selma Unified
@msmorris2013