Movers and Shakers — Being a Guided Inquiry Trainer

Hello from Whittier Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma.  My name is Cindy Castell, and I have been at Whittier for the past 25 years.  I am currently in a brand new position, I Tech Coach (Instructional Technology Integration Coach). I will explain more about this on day 3.  I have also served the past four years as our school’s Gifted Resource Coordinator, where I served over 500 students in our GT program by providing enrichment opportunities and supporting teachers in developing differentiated instruction.  Before that, I was a seventh-grade language arts teacher for 21 years.  

In a quote about lifelong learning, Brian Tracy said,  “Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”  As with many of you, my career in education has been defined by finding what works best for students.  I want them to walk away from my class, or the classes I support, with the ability to continue to grow and learn.  To me, that is what education is all about.  

My initial Guided Inquiry training was in December 2015.  I was in the second group of many who have been trained in our district. Norman Public Schools strongly supports Guided Inquiry in all classrooms K-12.  It has been so exciting watching it grow and hearing all of the success stories with students of all ages.  I was just looking back at my reflection journal from my initial training, and this is what I wrote:

I am super excited about this approach. For the past few years, it has become apparent that teaching facts and even basic skills are not preparing our students for the future. Our kids need to be able to move on and learn without us, but they need to have guidance on how to be good consumers of knowledge that is out there. I have been reading, subscribing to groups like MindShift, Edutopia, etc., and just trying to find everything available on how we move from standards-based to inquiry-based. I believe the skills will come as we have meaningful learning happening as I see this will be the case using Guided Inquiry as a structure.

In my career, we have been through “the cycles” that we often talk about in education.  The cycle of drilling and testing has been a time of great conflict for me as a teacher.  I know students have to have connection and meaning to truly learn.  Guided Inquiry met my philosophy of teaching along with the structure to guide students to be well-trained consumers of the vast amount of information they have access to as well as developing the skills they need to be educated, contributing members of society. It is the structure I didn’t realize I was missing when I had students researching topics.  I was hooked when I realized this Inquiry-Based learning model provided the structure that all of us really use or truly need to be consumers of information.  

Over this week, I am excited to share with you a unique experience of being one of the first Guided Inquiry Trainers.  With building capacity in our district, Dr. Leslie Maniotes agreed to train 4 Elementary librarians and teachers and 4 Secondary.  I am thrilled to share with you the journey that led to being a Guided Inquiry Trainer and what we have learned through the process.  We are positive that we will be training teachers to cultivate the “Movers and Shakers” of the future.

Intentional Practice

 

Focused reflection is what allows us to pause and mindfully ask ourselves the tough questions, think about different strategies and approaches, and then implement change where needed. Building in time for the teachers to reflect during the GID process gives space  for individual thoughts and individual processing time.  Reflection opens an opportunity to conversation.  Finding the time to reflect can be a challenge and collaboration can be really hard. During collaborations emotions, expectations and vulnerability have the potential to collide at any given moment. In my last post, I mentioned the 3 things that I keep in mind when collaborating.  I am intentional with reflection in all collaborations, but especially in GID.

Typically my reflective practice is quick sticky notes of thoughts that occur to me during a class with students. I later journal about my observations.  The observations are typically first about what I could’ve done differently to engage, to assess learning, or to be more transparent to students about the objectives of the lesson or activity.  It’s typically not until after I’ve processed these observations myself that I approach my colleague. In this way, I am able to articulate better as to what I think the pluses and deltas are.  Approaching a colleague with this type of discussion can be challenging for both parties.  A level of awareness of self is truly important to a successful interaction with colleagues and especially when it involves a long term collaboration.  Framing the conversation around student learning and the goal of pushing the learning deeper allows the conversation to be reflective about improving teaching practice.  

This past year, a colleague and I were able to move this to a deeper understanding of collaboration within the digital context.  As we have collaborated for several years now, we are able to be authentic with each other and openly ask for feedback regarding our collaborations.  Bringing it to the digital context was a helpful layer of reflection for each of us. Because it’s in a document that we can both access, it becomes a place that we can begin our next collaborative conversation.  It’s also a judgement free zone, where we are sharing thoughts but not placing blame. Establishing this understanding is helpful to moving forward with building GID units.  Each student, class and teacher are different.  Being able to bring the reflections to conversation allows us to think about what could be different next time and to discuss what we each noticed.  Bringing in the pluses and the deltas allow us to keep the good and shift the not so good.

Here are some things that I’ve personally learned from my own reflections about working with students and Guided Inquiry Design:

  1. Teaching with this process does not mean that instruction is unnecessary and that expectations are lessened. Instead, scheduled check-ins for students allows for personalized engagement during the process. Creating an Inquiry Community builds these into the learning process and allows teachers to personalize the necessary instruction and support for each student. It also ensures that students know that you are aware of their work and effort throughout the process.
  2. Giving students the ability to establish a reflective process before beginning Guided Inquiry allows students to transition easily from research to reflection and to develop an understanding of the complexity of reflecting. If students have not spent time thinking about their thoughts prior to GID, they will struggle with the reflective writing and the inquiry circles.  Reflective practice at other times during the class give students the ability to learn strategies that will transfer.
  3. Determining the habits and attitudes that individual students will need to be effective with GID is beneficial to developing appropriate instruction for each phase of the process. Integrating inquiry, information literacy, digital literacy, and ethical practices in other areas of instruction will prepare students.
  4. Allowing students ample opportunity to discuss their learning throughout the process will keep students passionate about their topic. These opportunities could include interactions with students, teachers, administrators as well as digitally.
  5. Students crave an authentic way to share their research. Finding  ways that help them do so opens opportunity for engagement, motivation and learning. Authentic sharing may be in the school or beyond.  Allowing other teachers to interview the students gives purpose to the research. Showcasing the work digitally creates a wider audience.

 

These ideas and thoughts are just some things I am thinking about as I prepare to work with my colleagues this school year.  Allowing opportunities for engaging with complex ideas and to make meaning of them brings a deeper understanding of the intellectual process to our students.  To me, Guided Inquiry Design is the avenue that gets our students there.

 

Anita Cellucci

Westborough High School

Follow me on Twitter – @anitacellucci @librarywhs

 

Hello again from Westborough, Massachusetts – In the Arena

I’m excited to be blogging again for 52GID.  Last year I posted about some of my adventures with Guided Inquiry Design and I’m happy to say that teachers from my school and district have also joined in to write about their experiences. Overall, it’s been a lot of fun over the past several years creating GID curriculum, co-teaching, uncovering new ways of using the process and learning with colleagues and students.

Our town is in central Massachusetts, we have 1140 students and I am grateful to be the teacher librarian at the high school.  This year is my 8th year in Westborough.  I am proud of all that we continue to accomplished with GID.  As a teacher librarian, I rely on trust within my relationships with teachers in order to bring new ideas to the table.  GID is quick to point out what’s working well in the classroom and where there is room for growth.  I am happy to say that the majority of the content teachers I work with are knee deep in the growth mindset of education. And although it’s sometimes messy and uncomfortable, there is always time to reflect on what we may want to do better as well as how we can integrate our teaching styles, our  teaching philosophy and our personalities.

Here are a few things that I am mindful of with GID collaborations:

  • Meet teachers where they are:  Trying new things while we are in the midst of another wildly busy school year is scary, overwhelming and time consuming.  I listen to what the content teacher is saying – their projected outcomes, their hopes for their students and their worries about making a mistake. GID can look different from class to class, and that’s okay. I reassure, model, jump in where necessary and remain positive.
  • Leave my agenda at the door:   Collaborating with content teachers isn’t about me or what I may want to accomplish, but instead it’s about that individual teacher and their classroom of students. I don’t pretend to know their students better than them. I am not an expert – we are growing together – and we do. Every time.
  • Keep it real: Teaching is challenging and all consuming.  We can get caught up in how much we want our students to learn, what assessment must look like and how everything should be. Even in high school, kids need to know that we care about what they are interested in.

 

Over this week, I hope to share some examples of what I’ve learned from GID collaborations with high school teachers and students.

Image result for brene brown quotes about growth

Anita Cellucci, Teacher Librarian 

Westborough High School

Follow me on Twitter – @anitacellucci @librarywhs

Guided Inquiry Design & Curriculum Reform in Croatia (3)

Photo by, Mario Fajt (sobrecroaCia.com.)

 

School librarians in Croatia are interested in Guided inquiry. One of our leading experts in information science, Prof. Stricevic I mentioned before, advocates for it at our professional education events. She keeps saying that GI is the model of learning that best suits the needs of contemporary students. Guided Inquiry is recommended in IFLA-s guidelines for school libraries as well. So, why do we not use GID more?

The problem in Croatian education system is that we are stuck in our curriculum reform. Most teaching in our schools is traditional, there is no real collaboration between teachers, not to mention that teachers are not satisfied with their social status and many of them are not motivated to learn new things. The fact is, with traditional method of teaching, where teachers are lecturing and students are reading just their textbooks, there is no actual need for information literacy. If the only goal of teaching is that a student remembers what a teacher says to him, there is no need for collaboration between a teacher and a school librarian.

So, the question is – what kind of schools do we want? How do we prepare our students for their future life? Two years ago, it seemed that serious improvements in Croatian education system are to be made, but the change of political power stopped that. A New Committee for curriculum reform was appointed, but we still do not know any concrete results.

So much time and money is lost in the political struggle. Unfortunately, our students cannot wait, they are left at the mercy of their teachers. There are excellent schools, libraries, teachers, but they are excellent despite the system, not because of it. That is why, on the average, our students do not perform well on international testing (like PISA, PIRLS, ICILS….) nor do they achieve splendid results at their final high school exams.

We desperately need GID in our schools. We should have the books available in Croatian. We should educate teachers and librarians to apply it. There is no straightforward way to do this, I am aware of this. But, however futile it seems sometimes, we librarians, have our duties to perform no matter what are the circumstances. I have seen that GID works in my school. Students love learning through Guided Inquiry. I am aware that my colleagues and I made mistakes in our first attempts at it. But, the change in the classroom is enormous compared to traditional teaching. Students are motivated to work, they do not notice the bell ringing, and everybody is active, not just a few designated to answer all the questions. The students are learning, thinking, making conclusions based on evidence. Therefore, at the beginning of this school year I am going to ask my colleagues to join me in planning and preparing more GI units. I think this is my humble contribution to education winning in the race with catastrophe.

Best,

Gordana Sutej

Duga Resa, Croatia

Irrational Perseverance and Our Unit on Children in Wartime (2)

Irrational perseverance

You will need a good dose of irrational perseverance to stick to GI” and implement it in your curriculum,” say the authors of Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21 Century. After seven years of trying, I must say it is perfectly true. You need perseverance to learn all the time, perseverance to endure futile tries to convince your colleagues to collaborate with you, but most of all you need perseverance to monitor you students and make changes in your practice when you see that what you are doing is not helping them learn. But perseverance I have, because I believe Guided Inquiry is the best model of learning we, school librarians, can use to help students grow.

Guided Inquiry is in accordance with my personal mission to do everything I can to sustain children’s natural enthusiasm for learning. Have you ever seen a small child who is not eager to learn? It breaks my heart when I see how this eagerness withers as children grow older, and by the middle school they end up hating school because it is boring. The answer is, I believe, in constructivist approach to learning. Guided Inquiry is the answer. D. H. Wells once said that civilization is a race between education and catastrophe. Guided Inquiry is such a powerful tailwind for education. It makes learning meaningful for students, gives them skills to use for further learning, it helps them to gain deeper understanding of the curriculum.

After carefully reading and rereading and studying the books (one mentioned before, Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School and Guided Inquiry Design in Action: Middle School) attending free webinars held by Leslie at EdWeb, I gradually started applying GI in my teaching.

First, I applied some of the tools in our ongoing school projects. I talked about GI at our school staff meeting. There was a language teacher who proposed that we give it a try together. We asked history teacher to join in for our first GI unit. My colleagues did not read about Guided Inquiry, so it was my responsibility to explain the concept to them. They were familiar with KWL framework and project based learning which made me easier to explain GID. However, it took a lot of patience and persistence from all of us.

I was grateful to them they were willing to try something new and I took care not to make them feel uncomfortable in the process. Our first GID unit was not perfect, but I think we did excellent job. We connected literature (Bruckner: Sadako wants to live – this is obligatory book for 8th graders which most of them never really read), history curriculum – WWII, and civic education (Human Rights).

Photo -3rd grade students preparing for sharing what they learned about healthy food and habits.

Our big question and concept was: “What happens to children in wartime?”

The Open session was rich. It took place in the library. We managed to acquire beautiful posters and brochures about contemporary Japan from the Japanese Embassy. After discussing that we watched two minutes video from Hiroshima Memorial Museum and an excerpt from a documentary about atomic bomb survivors. Our discussion helped students to better understand the book, which was the task for Immerse.

Deciding what is important to share with the rest of the class

In Explore sessions they had a lot of material, both print and digital to go through. After that they had to pick a role to prepare for, because the create and share phase were preparation and staging of a mock trial in which all the children had to play a role of a character in a book or a role of a court official (judges, attorneys etc.). Students were engaged and motivated during the process. There was so much to talk about. They studied the period described in the book to the detail, but they also draw connections with current affairs. Unfortunately, the topic of war is familiar to them. Although they are the generation born after recent wars in our part of the world, they hear it discussed in their homes, in school and in the media.

Next school year, I made another presentation about GID for my colleagues in school, presented the concept again, together with our last year’s experience. I asked for volunteers again. There were more teachers who were interested this time. Next year, a few more. My goal is to enable every student in school to experience Guided Inquiry. So, there is still a lot of work to be done.

In the meantime, I had several opportunities to share the experience in GID with my follow librarians at the district, but also at the national level. The last one was a workshop at our Spring School in Trogir in April 2017 which was very well received.

Gordana

How I Fell in LOVE with Guided Inquiry Design (1)

Hello!

My name is Gordana Sutej and I am a teacher librarian at Ivan Goran Kovacic School, an elementary school in Duga Resa, Croatia. I am honored by the opportunity to share my thoughts about Guided Inquiry with colleagues around the world and grateful to Leslie K. Maniotes who encouraged me to write for this 52GID blog. I am enthusiastic about Guided Inquiry and trying to implement it in my school (it is K8 in US terms) and to spread the word about it to my colleagues in the district where I live and at the national level whenever possible.

Let me say a few words about Croatia, first. It is a country in Southeastern Europe with national territory of 56 594 km2 (there are probably farms in Texas bigger than that 😊). Although a small country, Croatia boasts with diverse and beautiful landscapes and numerous historical monuments.

Photos of Zagreb and Croatian landscape by, Mario Fajt (sobrecroaCia.com.).

We have a population of 4 million people. There are some 1200 school libraries here. Every school must have a library according to law. There are standards for school libraries, but government, who impose those standards do not secure financial means to fulfill the standards. Therefore, we have varied school libraries, ranging from excellent – spacious, well equipped with all sorts of resources and devices, to small ones lacking books, computers, and almost everything.

School library where I work is a small one (70m2) with 4000 books, 3 computers, LCD projector and a smartboard. Although not big, it is comfortable and appealing space, and everything in it is selected with love and care. The school has 410 students and 50 teachers and other stuff members. Both students and teachers visit and use library often. I am happy that they enjoy spending their free time there, but they also like having lessons in the library. We have many extracurricular activities in school which are very popular with the students. I lead school journalist, a book club, library helpers and poetry academy groups.

I started working in a school library in 1999, after seven years spent in a small public library in my home town. Discovering what are the possibilities of school library to help students become readers and critical thinkers was interesting, but not always easy. I wondered for a long time how can I accomplish to fulfill my responsibility for fostering information literacy in school if I do not give assignments to students and do not participate in evaluating their work.

The answer came to me in a lecture by prof. Ivanka Stričević at our PD, Spring School, as we call it, in 2010. Prof Stričević said: “Kuhlthau says there is no point in teaching information literacy without context, it should be integrated into school curriculum and carried out through Guided Inquiry.” I did not know how to spell the name, Kuhlthau, at that time, but I managed to find it on internet, and since that day, I did not stop searching, discovering, learning about Carol C. Kuhlthau, her research, ideas, concept of Guided Inquiry she developed together with her daughters Leslie K. Maniotes and Ann K. Caspari.

Their work Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century is not translated to Croatian, it cannot even be found in our National Library. The only way to get it was to order the book from USA. What a thrill it was to read it. I believe you know the feeling when you read astonishing text and you cannot believe afterwards that the world is still the same. You ask yourself, why does not everybody read it and take it seriously? Why do we not transform our schools according to Guided Inquiry Design? It is so clever, so logical, so true! How cannot everybody see it? Anyway, I made a pledge to do everything I can to make it work in my school.

Gordana 

The Preservation Project (2) GID in California

Hi again! I’m sorry for the late posting.  Perhaps I should rethink posts during the first full week of classes in the future!

I am going to share the unit, as it was written out during the collaboration between the classroom teacher and me.  The unit begins with an overview, continues with a list of all standards that we addressed over the 20 days, and concludes with a day-by-day description of activities.

Overview:

In this unit, that is co-taught daily by the classroom teacher and the teacher librarian (TL), students will learn the purpose behind the creation of national parks.  They will begin by learning what it means to preserve something.  They will then visit Kings Canyon National Park and learn about the flora, fauna and geological features that are being preserved within the park boundaries.  This will begin with a focus on preservation of the Giant Sequoias.  However, after learning about this park and what it is tasked to preserve, students will explore other national parks and learn about the unique features they are preserving.  Students will identify a plant, animal or geological structure that is being preserved that they find exciting.  The students will then learn to write a research question about the topic they have identified.  They will then engage in individual, personalized research to learn about the preservation of their topic.  Students will be introduced to a variety of creative presentation methods.  They will choose one of those, create a product to present their topic, and share their research in a gallery walk that will be attended by community members.

Goals and objectives:

  • Content Objectives:

    • Students will explain the purpose of preservation of land, flora and fauna in national parks

    • Students will identify solutions for the impact of humans on the preserved lands of the national parks.

  • Content Standards Addressed:

    • RI 1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    • RI 5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.

    • RI 9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic

    • W 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. d. Provide a concluding statement or section.

    • W 6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

    • W 7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

    • W 8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

    • SL 1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. a. Come to

    • SL 4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. a. Plan and deliver an informative/explanatory presentation on a topic that: organizes ideas around major points of information, follows a logical sequence, includes supporting details, uses clear and specific vocabulary, and provides a strong conclusion. CA

    • SL 6. Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

    • L 2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    • L 3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. a. Choose words and phrases for effect.* b. Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

    • History 2.3.  Students explain governmental institutions and practices in the United States and other countries.

    • History 2.5.  Students understand the importance of individual action and character and explain how heroes from long ago and the recent past have made a difference in others’ lives.

    • Science 2-LS4-1:  Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

  • Process Objectives:

    • Students will utilize a variety of resources in researching a specific topic.

    • Students will collect and synthesize data.

    • Students will use presentation tools to share information with others.

  • Model School Library Standards Addressed:

    • 1.2 Formulate appropriate questions:  a.  Identify a problem that needs information by asking how, what, where, when, or why questions.

    • 1.3 Identify and locate a variety of resources online and in other formats by using effective search strategies:

      • i.  Identify types of media and digital delivery devices.

      • j.  Use guide words to locate information in a reference book.

      • k.  Perform a keyword search of a topic by using an approved search engine or database.

      • p.  Locate information in text by using the organizational parts of a book in print or digital format (e.g., title, table of contents, chapter headings, glossary, author notes, dedication, index).

    • 1.4 Retrieve information in a timely, safe, and responsible manner: a. Demonstrate a basic understanding of intellectual property rights and the difference between sharing and ownership

    • 2.1 Determine the relevance of the information: a. Select information appropriate to the problem or question at hand. b. Determine whether the information answers the question. 2.2 Assess the comprehensiveness, currency, credibility, authority, and accuracy of resources: a. Identify copyright and publication dates in print resources.

    • 2.3 Consider the need for additional information: a. Locate facts and details to support a topic sentence and paragraph, and record the information.

    • 3.2 Draw conclusions and make informed decisions: a. Compare information from more than one source to draw a conclusion. 12 grade three 3.3 Use information and technology creatively to answer a question, solve a problem, or enrich understanding: a. Organize information chronologically, sequentially, or by topic.

    • 4.2 Seek, produce, and share information:

      • b. Select appropriate information technology tools and resources to interact with others for a specific purpose.

Guiding Question:     What do national parks preserve?

Learning Activities: 

Day 1:  Students will be introduced to the idea of “preservation.”  The teacher and TL will show them the pictures of “preserved” items that grace the home page of this KBC.  The teacher and TL will also bring in realia for the students to view. Students will look over the pictures and work with their table group to figure out how the seemingly disparate items might be connected.  After students have worked on this, the teacher will bring them back together and allow groups to present their suggestions.  The teacher and teacher librarian will show the class a peach and ask “why do we can these instead of just eating them like this (fresh)?”  The expected response is that we can them to keep them from rotting so we can eat them later.   The teacher and TL will then discuss the other two items (old pictures and mummies), working toward the same outcome:  we preserve them to so that they will be available to us later.  The pictures represent keeping memories of loved ones alive.

The teacher will write the word “preservation” on a poster board that already contains examples of the canned fruit and old pictures. The TL will direct the students to Google Classroom where they will write a journal entry explaining why preservation is important.

Day 2:  The teacher will show students a peach that is starting to decay.  She will tell them that this is the peach they saw the day before. It can be a different, older peach.  The kids just don’t know that.  The TL will ask:  Since we didn’t eat the peach yesterday, it has begun to rot.  What can a farmer do with the peach right now so that it will still be useable next week?  The expected response is that the farmer could can the peach to preserve it.  If the students do not provide the term “preserve,” the TL and teacher will gently remind them by pointing to the poster that was created the prior class session.  The teacher will then tell the class that there are actually many other things that can and should be preserved.  Today they are going to hear a story about someone that worked very hard to make sure that land was preserved in our country.  The TL will provide a picture of John Muir for the class at this point.  She will ask the class if the picture looks like something they have seen before.   The expected response is that it looks similar to the old pictures from the last class session and from the poster at the front of the class.   The TL will say that, yes, this is a picture of someone who isn’t alive any longer, but we preserve his memory with his picture and through books.  Today they are going to hear a story all about this man, John Muir.  At the end, they will understand why we preserve his memory.  The teacher will then read The Camping Trip that Changed America to the class.  After the story, the TL will direct the students to their Google Classroom where they will find a graphic organizer (GO) in the form of a Google Document.  The students will work with their elbow partners to complete the parts of the GO.

Day 3:  The teacher and the TL will provide students with printouts of their GOs from the previous session.  They will then ask students to stand and use the Give One, Get One model for reviewing and sharing information.  Music will play and students will move randomly around the classroom.  When the music stops, students will pair up with the person closest to them.  The teacher will tell the class that the student with the shortest hair will go first.  That student will share one piece of information that they have learned about preservation with their partner.  The partner will look at their GO and add the information if it is not already on their page.  The partners will then switch and the longer haired student will share while the partner adds information to their own GO.  This will be done two more times so that every student speaks to at least three partners.  The students will then return to their seats.  They will open Google Classroom and respond to a quick write journal in a Google Doc.  The prompt will be:  Three things we often preserve are:  food, memories, and  land in national parks.  What are some reasons you think these types of preservation are important?

Day 4:  The TL will share a slideshow of pictures from Kings Canyon National Park with the class.  Several of the photos will focus on the Giant Sequoias, the keystone plant species of that park.  The teacher and the TL will take turns returning to those slides and demonstrating awe at the size of the trees to generate interest in the students.   They will tell the students that the trees are larger than they can imagine.  In fact, they are much larger than the trees at school.  They will then take the students outside to look at the size of average trees in the landscape. Each student will be provided with a piece of yarn that is exactly one foot long and a graph on which to record the measurement of tree girths.  One column of the graph will ask students to measure how many students it takes, holding hands, to circle the tree.  They will be broken into teams of four based on their table groups.  Each group will be assigned to one of the trees that border the playground.  The teacher and the TL will model the use of the strings to measure around the trunk of the tree.  They will show the students how to estimate ½ foot measurements.  They will model writing their measurement on a poster-sized chart like the ones the students have.  They will also model measuring around the tree by holding hands to circle the tree.  Students will then work in teams to measure the girth of their tree and record the measurement on their charts.  The teacher and TL will circulate, assisting students as necessary. If time allows, each group will measure and record two trees’ girths.  Once back in class, each team will share their measurements and the teacher and/or TL will add them to the poster-sized chart.

Day 5:  Students will visit Kings Canyon National Park for the day.  Their tour guide, a National Park Service Ranger, will provide them with general information about the park.  S/he will also provide them with information about the park’s preservation efforts.  The students will be introduced to the concept of the preservation of the Giant Sequoias in the park as well as the preservation of other species of flora and fauna that are found within the park boundaries.  The students will have the opportunity to see Giant Sequoias up close.  They will have the opportunity to stand on the stump of one that was cut down before the park was formed.  The students, teacher, and TL will hold hands and attempt to encircle the entire stump.  They will record how many people it takes to do so and this will be added to their measurement poster back at school.  (Interacting with an Expert Model)

Day 6:  Students will look over their note-taking sheet from the field trip.  They will be given time to add items that they might have thought of since returning from the park.  The teacher and TL will each share some of their own thoughts as examples for students who struggled to complete the handout.  The teacher will then tell students that now that they’ve experienced Kings Canyon National Park, they will get to learn more about preservation in this or another park.  Today will be the first day of a multi-day exploration research phase.  The students will have access to a variety of library print resources that the TL provides.  They will also be sent to Google Classroom to access a Symbaloo that the teacher librarian has created.  The Symbaloo will provide direct links to a variety of national parks that each preserves a specific flora, fauna, or geological feature.  It will also include links to information about some of the flora and fauna being preserved within Kings Canyon National Park.  Lastly, for the purposes of lower the affective filter of our newcomer (immigrant) students, there are links to national parks in both Mexico and El Salvador, the newcomers’ countries of origin.  The students will spend Days 6 and 7 exploring all of these links, looking for the national park preservation topic that interests them the most.  In order to keep them focused, the students will fill out a GO that is aligned to the Symbaloo links.  The teacher and TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 7:  Students will continue to explore preservation topics using the Symbaloo.  They will continue to fill out the GO as they explore each link.  The teacher and the TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 8:  Today is the final day for exploration using the Symbaloo links.  Students must turn in their completed Symbaloo GO at the end of today’s exploration session.  During the final ten minutes of the class session, the TL will direct the class to Google Classroom.  They will complete a Google Form in which they will identify the flora, fauna or geological structure around which they want to focus further research.

Day 9: Turning interest into a research question.  Teacher and TL demonstrate and provide sentence starters.

Day 10:  Today the students will begin their individual research.  The teacher and TL will provide a document on Google Classroom that contains additional resource links related to the specific research topics that the students have identified.     The students will use the split-screen strategy to keep the Research Journal document open on one side of the screen and

Day 11:  Research continues.  The teacher and teacher librarian will continue to add resources daily that they find to the list on Google Classroom.

Day 12:  Research continues.  Individual meetings with teacher or TL to verify that research can answer a question or to revise the question.

Day 13:  Research continues today.  The TL will review strategies for Google Searches.  This is something the students have done all year, so it will be a very brief review.  Although the teacher and TL have been providing links to specific sites for students to use, today is a day that the students can branch off and search on their own using Google.

Day 14:  Today is the final day for students to complete their individual research assignments.

Day 15:  Students will use Days 15 – 18 to create a presentation about their individual research topics.  Today the teacher and the TL will present examples of the project choices to the students.   The students will be allowed to choose from a variety of projects for their creation.  The creation must highlight the need for preservation of the chosen topic.  The teacher and TL will provide materials that students can use to create a poster or a diorama.  The students could also choose to create a video about their topic using Flipgrid, an online video making tool to which the TL has account access. The final project that the students can choose from is a Google Slides presentation.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 16:  Today the students will continue to create their project.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.  The teacher and the TL will continue to bring in needed supplies as they are identified.

Day 17:  Students will continue to create their project today.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 18:  Today is the final day for the creation of projects.  All projects will be due at the end of this session.

Day 19:  The students will present their projects in a gallery walk format.  The site administration and parents will be invited to the event.  Invitations will be sent home via flyers as well as through announcements on the library’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.  Students will display their projects and answer questions as the guests walk through the room.

Day 20:  Today the teacher and the TL will introduce the Big Think question.   Students will work in their table groups to respond to the solution prompts.  Although students researched different items being preserved, all of them are in some way affected by the human population.

Kristi Mulligan

Teacher Librarian
Selma Unified School District

Preservation in National Parks (A 2nd Grade GID Experience)

My name is Kristi Mulligan. I am a Teacher Librarian (TL) in Selma, California. I work at two elementary schools that serve a combined total of approximately 750 students. I am one of six TLs employed by the district. Last spring, we attended a GID training, presented by Leslie, in our district. Under the direction of our District Library Media Coordinator, Maria Petropolis, our team has elected to make GID the model for research with our students.

I first became aware of the inquiry process nearly 20 years ago through my experiences as a high school agriculture teacher.  At that time, I used a very abbreviated version of an inquiry process to engage my high school students in research and, looking back on it now, very limited individualized learning.

As a TL, I have found that the GID process, as outlined by Leslie and her team, provides a structured and balanced approach to research. Since our training last spring, I have used all or part of GID with students as young as first grade and up to sixth. I know another colleague is very excited about pursuing research with her high school students this year using this process as well.

In subsequent blogs this week, I will be reflecting on the use of GID with a second grade class last spring. The classroom teacher and I collaborated and co-taught a unit focused on the preservation of land through the national park system.

The teacher’s annual field trip to Kings Canyon National Park was the impetus for our unit. In years past, she taught her students, through traditional whole group instruction, about the park flora and fauna, with a focus on the Giant Sequoias. She then took her class to the park where they viewed those magnificent trees, went back to school and had them all write a selection about the field trip, and left that learning behind to move on to something else. After attending the GID training, we decided to drastically revise her previous efforts. That revision will be the focus of my future posts.

Kristi Mulligan

Selma Unified School District, California

A great journey!

For most of our students, OPEN, IMMERSE, and EXPLORE were really positive, and inquiry circles were a big hit. As librarian, I visited as many classes as possible during these phases, to listen, brainstorm, coach, and teach mini-lessons at teacher request. This exposure enabled me to share what was going on in other classes, which helped build excitement and a sense of a common goal. A student stopped me in the hallway with: “Mrs. Little, when are we going to work in our inquiry circles again? I really like that part!” Students coming into the library to grab books or headsets were happy to chat about what they’d learned, and where they were going with it. There was a lot of energy, and a sense of pride and purpose.

As we approached IDENTIFY, some students struggled to find a focus, and I was able to tag-team with the ELA teachers, to participate in some of those conversations, either in the classroom or the library; a student would appear, saying: “My teacher said I should come down to talk to you about my research question” (music to a librarian’s ears!). Knowing the ISP helped us to anticipate emotions, and assure students that they were moving in the right direction when they were frustrated or confused.

As our students settled on their research questions, we collaboratively curated resources that might be useful, and shared the Google Doc through Google Classroom. Only teachers could edit the Google Doc, but students could suggest sources, and teachers vetted them.

GATHER had our students diving into books (print and digital), database articles, and websites that we’d found together. At this point, from here on out, through CREATE, SHARE, and EVALUATE,  the ELA teachers definitely felt more comfortable – this was familiar territory!

As mentioned in an earlier post, the ten weeks we’d planned had dwindled to only seven, so SHARE was shortchanged. Our students wrote papers for their final products, but the original plan had been for them to also present their learning to each other in another format – we simply didn’t have time.  So instead, we  ‘advertised’ their work to the school by plastering their research questions to the windows of the library – which is passed by the upper grades en route to gym & lunch. We fielded questions from 7th graders: “What are the 6th graders doing? We didn’t get to do that last year!”

 

For Evaluate, we designed a Google Form to collect student input:

Our team met with our supervisor at the end of the year to evaluate the project. We had no shortage of ideas about how we could improve the project for next year, but there was a lot of enthusiasm for the process. Our end-of-project student reflection showed our students liked working in groups, choice (“learning about our OWN topic instead of a topic teachers picked”), the IMMERSE activities, and found working with their inquiry circles and talking with their teacher/librarian about the project to be very helpful.

For me, GID was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. 

Maryrose Little, Librarian
Edgar Middle School
Metuchen, NJ

All Aboard! (6th Grade Urbanization)

Every teacher brought their own talents to the table as we worked on our session plans together. Some were excellent at locating resources, some liked writing the session plans, and all imagined the project through the eyes of their students, and suggested ways to adapt it for their students’ needs. Everyone came up to speed on the topic more quickly because we worked together – just like what we hope for when our students work in inquiry circles. We spent most of our planning time on the OPEN, IMMERSE, and EXPLORE phases, and so we entered those phases with materials and activities in hand. Teachers didn’t march in lockstep through the project, of course, but it gave everyone a framework they could refer to along the way.

Suzy Menafro Palmer is one of the 6th grade ELA team who wasn’t available to attend the Institute last summer, but was completely on board from our first meeting, and enthusiastically dove into planning and resource gathering as we prepared for our adventure. In hindsight, she offered her impressions of the unit (shown in blue):

The “Open” part of our Urbanization Unit was probably my favorite. Listening to my students be such little experts about their town was so impressive. I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable they were about the history of Metuchen. It was clear that their parents explain ideas to them like taxes and population increases, and they went on and on about what a great town they live in. They were so proud of their downtown appeal, the family oriented sense of community that has been established here, and their reputation for being “The Brainy Boro”.

We looked at maps of Metuchen over the years from the 1800’s to a more current map. Something that sort of took me by surprise was when it was evident that most students really weren’t familiar with reading maps. Once they understood what they were seeing, they were really intrigued and made some great insights about how the town has changed over the years.

What’s really exciting about GID is the opportunity for us to see how it connects to our students’ lives, and to see them as experts in things we otherwise would not have know about, and cross-curricular opportunities.  Suzy then went on to describe part of our Immerse phase:

We also did a walk around the school to see how the building has changed over the years. The students identified how there are different bricks indicating that there are additions to the building,  and there are new lockers that were clearly an afterthought because they don’t match the lockers already in place.

Explore

In our “Explore” phase students were in groups reading articles about the subtopics of urbanization. This was so well organized by the team of teachers who put this together. It went seamlessly, and the students were really interested in all of the topics. Some of them even cheered when I gave them the folder for “Trends in Migration” (I was in shock). Ideas that I thought they would be totally bored by, they were excited! I have to say… I did have an exceptional class of 6th graders this year who are very task oriented, people pleasing, high achievers. However, I was still pleasantly surprised they were interested in the topics as they were.

…and then Identify…

When it came time to get even more specific and come up with their research questions, I was again impressed with the variety and specificity they came up with for questioning. They were interested in animals, war, drones, flying cars, city gardens, and so much more. One of my students even wrote a paper about how advancements in technology for cities with apps like Uber have decreased the number of DUI’s in a certain city.

There were some students who really went above and beyond, and then there were some students who were pretty basic and surface level with their research with little insight. But that’s sixth grade in a nutshell! Some kids are just more engaged and capable of taking it to another level, and some of them just aren’t there yet, and I’m really okay with that. I was happy that they found a topic they were interested in and worked start to finish.

The Gather phase required lots of flexibility, since so many students needed to share resources, and technology was at a premium, because we were in the midst of standardized testing. We spent a lot of time negotiating for the use of laptop or Chromebook carts (and not always successfully). Books were on a cart that stayed in the library, and students came down to borrow them as needed.

Amazingly, we didn’t misplace one book or headset in the process!

Everyone seemed to understand that other classes were working with these materials – there was definitely a sense of a community of learners throughout the 6th grade.

Next up: Create, Share, and Evaluate

Suzy Menafro Palmer, 6th Grade ELA teacher and
Maryrose Little, Librarian
Edgar Middle School
Metuchen, NJ