GID in a Blended Learning Commons in British Columbia

Pippa Davies

Director HCOS Blended Learning Commons

November 19, 2017

Our book clubs have been a huge success at our distributed learning school, Heritage Christian Online School.  We serve approximately 3000 students all over the Province of beautiful British Columbia as an independent partially funded K-12 school.  Our students learn with the support of an accredited teacher, using the British Columbia mandated curriculum from a Christian perspective.   

We are blessed to work with a large special needs group of students who are also included in our book clubs.  

Presently we have 5 book club moderators who run book clubs from a guided inquiry approach either using Lit Circles, or STREAM (Science, Technology, Relationship, Engineering, Art and Math) as a framework.

Everything we do in our learning commons comes from our vision of “Encouraging Christian community through discipleship, literacy and innovation”.  We believe in high tech with high touch!

Pippa Davies

Director HCS Blended LearningCommons

www.hcslearningcommons.org

Heritage Christian Online School

Twitter:  @PippaDavies

Apps that promote Inquiry

I believe in Inquiry because I believe it fosters a self-directed and self-driven desire to life-long, continued education.  A child/student who learns to intrinsically ask questions and seek answers through a research driven process such as GID will most likely become an adult who continues to learn, question, research.  I further believe that GID is much needed, to discourage and discontinue the current trend towards believing fake news, false information, scams, etc.

Because of my beliefs, I am always searching for ways to encourage student driven Inquiry.  Most recently at my campus, I have begun to find and publicize technology apps and programs that either promote Inquiry, provide a great platform for Inquiry or can easily be integrated into a unit of Inquiry.  Apps and websites such as wonderopolis.com and recap provide a safe place for students to wonder, ask questions and seek answers.  Other technology can be used to promote shared note taking (Google docs is one such technological advantage in this area).   Technology can also be used to organize ideas, and present findings (such as movie making with iMovie or screencastify).

I would not say that any one app or website has become widely used across grade levels at my campus.  This is another example of an early stage plan to widely promote GID at my campus.  Therefore, I would love to learn more such apps and websites from all my GID colleagues.  If you have an app or website your campus uses, please leave me a comment with the name and description of use!  I look forward to adding to my list!

Tara R.

Immerse through Book Tasting

Each year at Kujawa to culminate the elementary level education, the graduating class completes a unit of inquiry we refer to in IB as Exhibition.  Think history fair type of event and you will have a general idea of the type of work the students go through in preparation for their big day.

This year our new Principal, Kim Jenkins brought to me an idea of a Book Tasting.  When I began to look into “book tasting” activities, I realized this would be a perfect way to begin the immerse stage of GID within this unit of inquiry.  This will be our first attempt at “Book Tasting” so any advice you have to share would be most welcome!

Our purpose in this unit is for students to follow an inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.  Arranging a “sampling” of  books that depict these inquiry strands will begin the immersion process.

My plans are to produce a place-mat, a menu of countries, and a note taking page yet to be designed.  A buffet of books that relate to various cultures will be on each table.  Students will spend five minutes sampling 3-4 books.

The books and other artifacts will remain on reserve in the library and 4th grade classrooms throughout the inquiry unit

Marrying G.I. and MakerSpace

One of the best things about Guided Inquiry is that it allows teachers to allow students to “think outside of the box”. Common Core and many other education initiatives eliminated the ability for students to learn at their own place and in their own way. Guided Inquiry allows for creativity, and self-paced research with the child in the driver’s seat of their learning. With this model, the teachers and librarians guide and encourage students to feed their curiosity and creativity. When we allow students to inquire and create in this way their engagement and learning skyrockets.

The second grade students and teacher at the school where I serve as librarian embraced the Guided Inquiry process when they were investigating Presidents and First Ladies. The student engagement was incredible. Some students said they had never read, learned, and written as much as they did during this unit of study!  The inquiry circles allowed students to share what they found interesting and inspiration about our past Presidents and First Ladies. They shared similarities between the Presidents and made connections that might not have been made if a traditional research approach had been used for this unit.

Once the students had completed the Gather Phase for this project, I read What Presidents Are Made Of by Hanock Piven. We discussed the collage-like illustrations and made connections with the materials he chose in order to create several of the President’s portraits. The students used the ideas from this text to brainstorm a list of objects that connected with the President or First Lady they had learned about during the unit. Many students brought things from home, however, I provided many miscellaneous items for them to use for the Create Phase. Our MakerSpace tasks for the month of March was to create President/First Lady portraits. Guided Inquiry and MakerSpace are a match made in heaven. I was very pleased with the growth I saw in students throughout this unit. They learned to take notes instead of copy information from a resource, and they learned how to discuss and share what they had learned with their classmates.

Students could choose to create a collage or pen an “I AM…” poem about their chosen historical figure. Several students chose to complete both tasks. Their products illustrate a small portion of their learning. Below, you can see some examples from the Create Phase of the Presidential Guided Inquiry Unit.

Jamie Johnson, Elementary Librarian, Norman, OK

GID and Google Classroom

Howdy again from the Lone Star State!  My name is Tara Rollins and this is my second year to post to the blog.  You can find my previous entries in October 2016 (last three entries) http://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/10/.

It has been an interesting year in Houston.  We started school this year on the day of the solar eclipse.  The next week, we were inundated with 51 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey.  We were out of school for over a week and many areas of town are still in recovery mode.  Needless to say the year has been a little bit hectic.  However, we have lots of good inquiry projects ongoing and in the planning stages!

When I last spoke to you, I mentioned the time constraint that many of us face in continuing a unit of inquiry.  Over the summer, a collaborative effort was made to begin to place some units of inquiry into Google Classroom.  These classrooms can be shared with teachers and/or students and can be used in technology centers throughout the units in groups, pairs, or alone.

Of course units have to be flexible, so needless to say the “Open” we planned in July for the 2nd grade Natural Disasters Inquiry needed to be changed from the picture below due to our experiences during Hurricane Harvey in August.  What a difference a month can make in planning and implementing GID!  However, having it on our Google Classroom platform made it as simple as changing a picture/URL.

I do not mean to imply that all of our inquiry is done in centers, nor is it all completed or implemented through technology.  The Google Classroom option is merely one tool that I have added this year to encourage teachers and students to push on with inquiry even when the librarian is not able to co-teach each lesson.  It also is a great way to share what’s going on with parents (although that has not been implemented as of yet at my campus).

Open for Inquiry into Natural Disasters

 

Presidential Stop & Jot

In January 2017, our second grade team approached me about planning and implementing a research unit about presidents and first ladies. This allowed me an opportunity to teach both the students and teachers about the guided inquiry process.

We broke the process into small digestable bites for the students and deliberately modeled the skills needed to gain deep knowledge and understanding. As a class, we read about Harry Truman and conducted a “Stop and Jot”. Over the following week, students immersed themselves in all things presidential. They used the “Stop and Jot” method to explore and immerse themselves in past Presidents, First Ladies or a mixture of the two.

The students made amazing notes and had wonderful inquiry circle discussions. Their notes were very thorough and their connections with the subject matter and their classmates knowledge was much deeper and broader than what I have seen in the past. I have included some samples of their notes below.

Tomorrow I will post some pictures of the Presidential collages and poems the children wrote for the Create and Share phases.

Jamie Johnson, Teacher Librarian, Norman, Oklahoma

Greetings from Oklahoma

Howdy, from the Sooner State! My name is Jamie Johnson and this is my first G.I. blog post! I have been an elementary school librarian in Norman, Oklahoma for sixteen years. I started learning about Guided Inquiry in the spring of 2015 when Leslie Maniotes shared her knowledge and experiences with librarians and gifted resource coordinators from across our school district.  I will be sharing a few strategies that worked for me and our second grade team when we used Guided Inquiry to investigate Presidents and First Ladies last spring.

Jamie Johnson, N.B.C.T., M.L.I.S.

 

 

5 More Strategies for Guiding Student Questioning

Happy Monday! Today I’m sharing five more strategies for guiding students in inquiry questioning. Let’s dive right in!

 

Set Students up for Success in Explore

My mind was blown the first time I realized I could directly impact student questions with the resources curated for the Explore phase. This strategy is especially useful for a learning team that is concerned that students may miss out on critical content in a GID unit. By carefully curating the resources that inspire inquiry questions, we can guide students toward required content and help ensure their questions are right for the unit.

Here’s an example from a real-life unit: 8th graders rotated through several stations during Explore. At each location, there were primary and secondary sources, photographs and video, articles, infographics and more for students to dip into the content. Each station had a theme under the unit concept of Displacement: the Syrian refugee crisis, Japanese internment, the Holocaust, Natural Disasters, and so on. After exploring each station, the vast majority of student questions came from the materials they had interacted with during Explore. We were intentional with the content we included and that which was excluded from the first three phases of the unit in order to guide students toward the content we wished to cover.

 

Provide a Structure

As in everything else, students benefit from structure in questioning. A questioning structure helps students to recognize the quality of their own questions in a way that they can continue to use in the future.

There are many ways to structure questions: Thick vs. Thin, Leveled, or using a Question Builder. But the way I have found that works best for my students is Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 questions. Based on the AVID questioning structure, I have found that this structure is complex enough to help my students write high-level inquiry questions, yet simple enough that they can clearly distinguish the three types of questions.

Here is a video I made for my students explaining the 3 Levels of questioning:

 

Get Started on the Right Foot

Another strategy I use to help students write excellent inquiry questions is to actually start their questions together. As a group brainstorm, we list as many question words as we can: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, Does/Did, etc. Then together, we cross out those question words that always lead us to Level 1 inquiry questions, leaving us with What, Why, and How. These are the question words that are most likely to begin a quality Level 3 inquiry question.

For students who continue to struggle with getting started, I have also provided sentence stems to help set them off in the right direction. With questioning, we want students focused on a question they are excited to answer, not feeling frustrated with the questioning process. Questioning often needs scaffolding just like anything else.

 

One on One Conferencing

In over 20 GID units, I have never passed the Identify phase without conferencing individually with every single student. Though it can seem logistically daunting, the benefits of face time with every learner as they work through their own questioning process far outweigh the costs.

In these conferences, I discuss with the student the level of their question, how it relates to the unit concept and their own interest, and how they will approach researching the answer to the question. I try to ask vague and open-ended questions that help the student come to their own conclusions about their inquiry question. Some students require more guidance than others, but eventually I know that each student will end up with a high level inquiry question that meets the needs of both the classroom curriculum and their own interests.

 

Let Them Ask the Bad Question

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if we conference or how much structure and support we provide to a student, they will insist on writing an inquiry question that does not meet the criteria we are looking for. In these cases, sometimes it is best to allow the student the opportunity to pursue their question and find that their avenue of inquiry leads to a dead end. It’s important that students understand that they always have the opportunity to loop back to Identify after moving on should they find their question does not work.

In this same vein, I often have students ask questions so specific, they find very limited information to answer them. In these cases, the trial and error involved in adjusting the question after beginning to Gather can be a valuable learning experience for the student. Real life inquiry is not perfectly linear, and Guided Inquiry units don’t have to be either!

 

I hope that you find these strategies as useful as I have for facilitating student questioning. If you have your own tricks or tips for helping your students write awesome inquiry questions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Until next time!

Kelsey Barker

4 Strategies for Student Questioning

Hi, friends! I’m back today and excited to share some of my most successful strategies for guiding student inquiry questions in GID.

In my experience, this phase can be one of the most challenging for students. In traditional research, the inquiry topic is typically provided to the students by the learning team. I have heard over and over again, “Just tell me what question to write!” from students developing inquiry questions for the first time. We can start to move away from this mindset with my first strategy:

Establish a Culture of Inquiry.

Long before beginning a Guided Inquiry unit, the learning team can begin to build a culture of inquiry in the classroom by modeling an inquiry stance and encouraging student questioning.

One of my most successful strategies in developing a culture of inquiry came from my friend and colleague, Paige Holden. In order to encourage student questioning, Paige taught me to never blow off a student question, no matter how random it may seem. Instead, have students write the question in an inquiry journal, online platform, or a communal questioning space to answer at a more appropriate time. With older learners, ask the questioning student to find the answer to their question and report back to the class at a later time. This strategy allows teachers to keep the class on track without quashing students’ natural curiosity.

 

Modeling Making Mistakes and Revisions  

So often, we see students who are afraid to revise because they believe that making improvements to their work means it is incorrect or inadequate. However, mistakes are a critical part of learning, especially in the Guided Inquiry process. Students must often rewrite inquiry questions over and over before defining a question that works. In order to show that constant revision is a part of learning, teachers can talk or write through their own thought processes aloud as a model for students. When students see these practices in action, they not only become better at doing it themselves, but come to see the classroom as a safe place to mess up and learn from it. Again, this strategy works in the classroom at any time, not just when students are engaged in an inquiry unit.

 

Practice Questioning Along the Way

Developing good inquiry questions can be a huge challenge for students, but it becomes substantially easier when students have had previous practice writing questions! In addition to building in questioning in the first three phases of the GID process, I have learned that building questioning into the daily classroom routine really helps to support students as they take on a GID unit. Consider where you could build questioning into your classroom outside of the GID unit. I think it could be a great fit with class journals, lab notebooks, bell work, literature circles, reading reflections, and more. Where would you build it in?

 

Stack the Learning Team

You probably noticed that all three strategies above happen before the Guided Inquiry unit even begins! That’s because for many students, GID is a departure from the traditional learning they are used to. And while GID is incredibly beneficial for students, the learning team may need to prepare students for some of the big differences coming with a Guided Inquiry unit.

The final strategy I’m sharing in today’s post is to build the learning team with the educators who can best help students be successful with questioning. During the Identify phase, I like to have “all hands on deck” to work with students on developing quality inquiry questions. This includes the classroom teacher(s), the gifted resource coordinator, appropriate special education teachers, and teachers of other content areas as necessary. Students respond differently to different teachers, and a variety of available adults in the room gives students the ability to work with the teacher of their choice. Gifted and special education teachers are also there to assist with differentiating for their respective students, making sure everyone has the support they need to be successful.

I hope that these strategies will be useful to your own GID journey, and I’ll be back tomorrow to share four more strategies I use with my students during the Identify phase.

 

See you tomorrow!

Kelsey Barker

Questioning Questioner Questions

Hello, GIDers!

I’m Kelsey Barker, and I am the Teacher Librarian at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. I have blogged for 52 Weeks of GID before (here and here), and now I’m back again! I can’t get enough GID.

Here I am, showing my love for libraries!

When I attended my first GID institute with Leslie in the fall of 2015, I was the librarian at an NPS elementary school and brand new to the job. I fell in love with the process and the way that students were fully engaged in deep level learning. When I moved to middle school last year, there was no question that I would be working to implement Guided Inquiry at my new school as well. I have seen learning miracles happen through GID.

My first GID Institute team!

Like Cindy, who you heard from a couple of weeks ago, I am also a Guided Inquiry district trainer for Norman Public Schools. This has been an incredible opportunity to share my love of Guided Inquiry with other teachers in my district. I love watching these amazing educators grow in their profession, and it’s so rewarding to see their excitement to implement a unit with their students.

My most recent GID institute team… the district trainers!

As a district trainer, I have the opportunity to talk to lots of teachers just starting out on their GID journey, and there is one question I hear from them more than any other:

How do I guide my students to ask high level inquiry questions that stem from their own interests but meet the need of the classroom curriculum and state or national standards?

I am not ashamed to share that I too wondered this at my first institute in 2015. In fact, I wrote it on a sticky note in my institute notebook after day one. Looking at the big picture of unit design, it can be hard to understand GID can help students connect deeply with the content if we are allowing them choose the inquiry questions they ask. At the time, I understood that this is where the Guided part of Guided Inquiry came in: students require guidance to ask the questions that will lead to a successful inquiry experience. But honestly, I had no idea how to do it.

Now, with hundreds of hours of collaboration with fantastic educators and nearly 20 units under my belt, I’m excited to share what I have learned about guiding student question with all of you. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing several specific strategies I have used with my students to guide them to high-level inquiry questions that meet the needs of the curriculum and engage  the individual student.

I’ll be back this weekend with my first four strategies, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Do you have questions about student questioning? What’s your biggest hurdle around inquiry questions? Do you have a great strategy for guiding student questioning?

Kelsey