GID-Making a Difference in Teaching & Learning

My name is Kathryn Roots Lewis. I have the incredible good fortune of working in Norman Public Schools (NPS) in Norman, Oklahoma as the Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology.  I work with a forward-thinking and strongly committed staff who believe in keeping student needs at the forefront of all decision making around educational initiatives.  NPS serves approximately 16,000 learners grades PreK-12.  We have 1,100 certified educators, including 26 teacher librarians. The District consists of a diverse population of learners in 2 high schools, 4 middle schools, 17 elementary schools, and an alternative school. Fifteen of our schools are identified as Title I.

A few years ago the Norman community overwhelmingly passed a multi-million-dollar bond issue that included a large technology initiative focused on more devices for students. As the district looked at device implementation, we explored at how teaching and learning would and should change in a device and information rich environment.

As a district, we recognized that all students require unique skills to participate in our changing global society.  We agreed that we want to provide students with opportunities that nurture innovation, collaboration, exploration, and deep learning.  We wanted students to have learning opportunities anytime, anywhere. We knew this vision was dependent on educators who model and implement progressive, research-based instructional pedagogies.  So we began a journey to investigate what pedagogies worked best for our district. One such pedagogy, Guided Inquiry Design, affords students the tools to ask essential questions, make decisions, solve problems, create new knowledge, share information, and evaluate their learning and knowledge.

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After reading Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School,  I sent the book to our Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.  I will never forget her call the next day, “I loved this, it’s how I wrote my dissertation.”  To which I replied, “And probably how you should buy a car.”  We proceeded with a book study with the librarians and one with the district’s curriculum coordinators. Last summer (2015) we contracted with Dr. Leslie Maniotes, one of the authors of Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School, to do an overview with all district administrators. Dr. Maniotes returned to NPS last fall to conduct three 3-day institutes with teacher librarians, gifted resource coordinators, site instructional coaches and some teachers from every school in the district.  These institutes were so empowering and meaningful for teachers.  The units created collaboratively by the teams were each unique and innovative.

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We asked the teams who attended to implement the unit they developed in the training at their school before the end of the school year. We provided a Google website that included a lesson depository, pictures, resources, and a shared calendar.

Now it really gets fun – our 24 schools produced over 40 units last spring!  The shared calendar enabled district staff to visit different phases of the units.  Several central office staff members took hundreds of pictures, provided feedback and accolades to the incredible professionals who created and implemented the units with students grades PreK-12.  We also disseminated a survey to all teacher participants.

More about what I saw and learned later this week…

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Don’t Sit Still

 

This is where we are now.

In the coming year there will be two grades who have gone through a Guided Inquiry Design unit.  I will be working with 3rd Grade teachers to introduce the process to a new set of students.  4th grade will implement at least two units with the students who participated in the animal classification unit.  The 5th grade team does not have a unit planned at this time, but my aim is to target that grade level in August to plan a Guided Inquiry Design unit. This will allow students to stay familiar with the process they learned in the Native American unit.  I will also conduct a unit with 2nd grade because I know that teaching team will readily jump into this design process.  My advice to you is approach a grade level that you know will be willing to learn the process with you (that is what my 3rd grade team did).

When I look at this progress I realize that we will have gone from conducting our first two GID units last year, to having done no less than six in the upcoming school year.  My school wouldn’t be able to continue this growth if we had not started somewhere.  If you haven’t jumped into the GID process I encourage you to give it a try.  My favorite Oklahoman, Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”   If you are like me the right track brought you this far, now we’ve just got to keep moving through a purposeful implementation of the GID process.  We can do it!

Good Luck!

-Stacy

@StacyFord77

GID Coaches

Hi Happy GID followers!

We’re having summer here in the US and lots of professional development in GID.IMG_0366

As I mentioned in my last post, this week was the fourth GID institute in Norman Public Schools. Because of the size of this district and the way Guided Inquiry requires a collaborative team, the librarians at each school have attended one GID institute this year.  But because many have teachers who now want to join the fun, the librarians are attending the institute a second time to come with their teachers so they can participate as a collaborator.  As you all know, we believe that the school librarian has a critical role to play in the Guided Inquiry Design team.  She is the information specialist/professional as well as the information literacy teacher.  These are two cornerstones to GID a. that information literacy is valued by all team members and taught (Kuhlthau 2004) and b. when students are locating, evaluating, and using information to learn, the information specialist is a key player.

Since the librarians (and one English Language Arts teacher) had already attended the full institute, and implemented at LEAST one unit of GID this year (some, like Kelsey Barker had implemented 5) the leadership in the district and I felt like it was time that we could build capacity in the district to develop coaches for GID.  (I have to take time to acknowledge and thank these amazing leaders who have done everything to implement GID at the highest level, without them NONE of this would be possible, Kathryn Lewis, Shirley Simmons and Beth Fritch.)

In the institute teachers in collaborative teams design a unit of study.  By doing that, they engage in the inquiry process themselves as design requires you to identify the concept of the unit prior to determining the activities that would support students to arrive at their own questions around that concept.  So, teams are going through their own inquiry during the institute. We know that all people going through inquiry can use guidance, and that the strategy of conversing is a support to the process.  Maybe stemming from my background of five years as a teacher effectiveness coach in Denver, I have made coaching an integral part of the GID institute. Typically, I coach each teams during the institute on their units to help them stay on track, answer any questions and push their thinking to move beyond their known ways of doing things.  This institute included double the number of teams than I could handle coaching in the time we had. So, we decided to have the librarians who had been through the training before get some further training on how to coach teams and then give it a go in this institute.

As a result, this wonderful energetic and brilliant group of librarians who have now proved their accomplishments with the process and implementation of GID took on the role of coach in our June 2016 institute.  I want to thank them for their dedication, passion for the work and professionalism in learning with me and coaching their colleagues.  This is the beginning of something bigger and growing GID to help districts build capacity in the future.

Each district might have a different way of handling this, but for me, it is exciting because I think that the role of coach is another great role for librarians.  They are already really good listeners, and work with so many teachers, so collaboration and leading collaborations is natural to them.  Also, as they use the process over and over with different grade levels and content areas, the GID process begins to become internalized, and that is what you really need to understand well in order to coach a team in GID.  I’m excited about the prospect of GID coaching, and this stellar group was a wonderful place to start. Here’s a picture of our first GID Coaches!  There will be more trained in July.IMG_0392

 

I mean come on! Aren’t they great?!  Here we have (L->R) Kristin Lankford, Dana Phillips, Martha Pangburn, Paige Holden, Kelsey Barker, Lee Nelson, Buffy Edwards, and Stacy Ford.  Kudos team!  What a pleasure it was to work with you all!  Aaaaand…

As a result of their coaching, we had 20 excellent prototype units come out of this week’s institute.  10 at the elementary level and 10 more that the secondary level.  Typically an institute can only handle 10 units, so these educators efforts doubled the impact of this professional development for Norman Public Schools!  Kudos!

The Celebrations and presentations of the units were fantastic.  More on that in my next post!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-Author of Guided Inquiry, Trainer of Guided Inquiry Design

Norman GID Institute – Reflections from Day 2

Here are some Numbers from the GID Institute June 13-16, 2016 in Norman Public Schools

In just this institute alone GID is touching 12 Schools, 41 teachers, 7 librarians, creating 20 units that will impact thousands of students in the coming school year.  Pretty awesome capacity building workshop, I’d say!

And it’s fun too! (See the smiles on the faces in the photos below?)

But as you can read the list of words from this cohort after being in the Explore phase in their design process, it’s not all peaches and cream.  Instructional Design is hard work.  But with a collaborative team to support and coaches to guide you, everyone makes it to the finish line!

And isn’t this a beautiful location? Even with the deep cuts to the OK State budget, Norman has continued with their bond money to build new facilities and make additions onto others.  All the spaces are beautiful and a pleasure to be in. These are at Reagan Elementary.  Thanks Reagan for hosting.

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Tomorrow a little more about coaches, sharing and celebration.

Happy learning y’all.

Leslie Maniotes

The Guided Inquiry Design Institute

Gearing up for the Guided Inquiry Design Institute is always a time of exciting inspiration for me.  Each time, I think about the audience, consider the perspectives and as I go over my slides I reflect on what is to come.

This institute is such a joy for me to lead because not only does it give me a chance to share the power of the process with teams of teachers and librarians and to some who have never heard about the ISP or GID before. But not only that, the teams get to experience it.  And out of three days they learn so much.  They learn about the process as they themselves engage within it, for designing a unit of study is an inquiry of its own. They learn about themselves as a teacher, and as a learner. They learn strategies for effective instruction and have time to collaborate DEEPLY with their colleagues and teammates. It’s an intensive both ‘oh so worth it’ three days.

This school year I have had the wonderful pleasure to work with Norman Public Schools.  (Have you noticed how many from Norman have contributed to this blog?  Well this is why…) They have partnered with me to provide the full 3 day GID institute for over 100 educators district wide.  Each school has sent a team and now we are working on getting more teachers onboard with two more summer institutes and another coming up this fall. I am more than thrilled because of my passion for this work, sharing this process empowers educators to use a learning centered approach that gives them the process, and flexibility to teach “the way they’ve always wanted to teach.”  This week I have the privilege of working in this brand new school, with over 45 educators to design 20 units of study from Kindergarten to 12th grade in every content area, math, science, social studies, language arts and literature.  It’s been amazing.  We are on day 2 and tomorrow is the final day of sharing, revising and reflection.  Things are HOPPING in Norman.

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Leslie Maniotes

GIDesign @ BCPS: Challenges and Next Steps

As we begin our fifth year of using the GID model for student research and inquiry in BCPS, we have some goals for expanding and enhancing its use, and some challenges to address. Our district has in the last few years embarked on a digital learning model supports transition and ongoing 1:1 device rollout called S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow). The GID model we use to design our Online Research Models (ORMs) for extended, in-depth inquiry supports the S.T.A.T. initiative’s focus on critical and analytic thinking and personalized learning in a blended, learner-centered environment. We anticipated that there would be more opportunities to incorporate our Online Research Models into curriculum across grade levels and content areas in conjunction with S.T.A.T. Instead, in recent years there have been fewer requests for ORMs from content curriculum offices/writers and an increased demand for brief, focused research tasks. (BCPS adopted Dr. Jamie McKenzie’s Slam Dunk digital lesson as our model for brief, focused inquiry in 2004; these are labeled “Slam Dunk” on our Research Model index). One reason for this may be the PARCC assessment, and a tendency to target only those research skills that will be assessed on the standardized test. We know that students need to develop a broader range of skills aligned to the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learners and other 21st century learning standards—not only for “college and career readiness” but for life. Another reason is time—the Slam Dunk lessons take only a couple of class periods to implement compared to extended research tasks and the information literacy skills instruction they include. We often hear that there is not enough time to engage students in an ORM/guided inquiry and still “get through all of the curriculum.” Our Library Media team believes that multiple content curriculum objectives can be addressed in an Online Research Model structured according to GID. We need to convince our curriculum partners that we can design ORMs to achieve this, and that students need multiple opportunities each school year to engage in extended, in-depth inquiry and to learn and develop the associated skills.

In our new/revised ORMs, we hope to provide students with more opportunities to generate their own questions and engage in reflection during the process, and to increase student choice of topic, process, and product. While most of our ORMs include some student choice at various steps in the inquiry process, in some cases student choice has been limited by the demands of the curriculum. For example, our ORMs have always included an “essential question” aligned to content curriculum. This is not necessarily the same as an “inquiry question,” which might be more focused and could be developed by students themselves as part of the process. Students also need more opportunities to locate information sources on their own (both in our licensed digital content and on the open Web), and to develop skills like identifying keywords, building search queries, and evaluating search results. There has been a tendency to provide lots of targeted information sources in our ORMs, in an effort to “save time” by steering students directly to sources that include information required to address the research task. This is a missed opportunity for students to develop some essential information literacy skills.

Another goal we have is to fine-tune the skill-building resources and tools in our Grades 5-8 Research Guide. We would like to link directly to skill-builders and tools aligned to specific GID phases in our Online Research Models. For example, a student engaged in an ORM who needs help with note-taking/paraphrasing during the Gather phase would find a direct link to a tutorial from the Guide at the point of need, or the teacher/librarian could readily utilize these resources with students as they identify “zones of intervention” during the research process.

In closing, I want to mention that I purchased the new Guided Inquiry in Action: Middle School book earlier this year. I am so excited to incorporate ideas and insights from this book as we revise some of our existing middle school Online Research Models and design new ORMs this summer.

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I really appreciate having had this opportunity to share some of Baltimore County’s GID journey with you here (thanks for asking me Leslie!) Any questions or feedback about our work from fellow educators using GID is most welcome!

GIDesign @ BCPS: Moving Forward

Hello again from Baltimore County Public Schools!  Since adopting Guided Inquiry Design as the process for our Online Research Models (ORMs) in 2012, we have provided professional learning for school library media specialists and teachers to promote and support its use with students.

At the start of the 2012 school year, we purchased a copy of Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School for each of our school librarians. We engaged in a book study during the 2012-13 school year, coming together in Elementary, Middle, and High school groups to discuss our learning at quarterly half-day Professional Development sessions. This helped to ensure that all school librarians had a solid foundation in the GID model and would be able to use it– not only for facilitating our curriculum-aligned Online Research Models district wide, but also for designing customized research tasks in collaboration with classroom teachers at their own schools.

Since 2014, the BCPS Office of Digital Learning has offered an after-school workshop called Facilitating Student Research each fall and spring to support K-12 teachers in all content areas with using our ORMs and Guided Inquiry in the classroom. This workshop is a module in our Digital Learning University (DLU) continuing professional development course. DLU allows teachers to design their own professional learning by choosing 5 workshops from a variety of offerings during the school year for credit. The Facilitating Student Research workshop features our Online Research Models and highlights the 8 phases of GID.

In 2013, the Library Media team was asked to design a research portal for a Grade 6 Reading course focused on CCSS-aligned skills for conducting research to build and present knowledge. The portal would structure the inquiry-based process, connect to curriculum lessons, and curate resources for the Performance-Based Assessments (PBAs) for each unit. We used GID to create this Grade 6 Reading Research Portal, which has been used for the last three years and will be revised this summer based on curricular changes and ongoing feedback from students, teachers and librarians.

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In 2014, we began designing an online Grades 5-8 Research Guide structured using the 8 phases of GID. Our idea was to curate skill-building resources and tools aligned to each GID phase. We also plan to link to resources in this guide in our ORMs. We plan to continue revising and improving this resource this summer.

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Our work in promoting and facilitating the use of Guided Inquiry in BCPS has not been without its challenges. We do have some goals for expanding our use of the model, and for using it in more impactful ways for students. I’ll talk about our next steps in another post later this week.

Kelly Ray, Library Media Resource Teacher
Office of Digital Learning
Baltimore County Public Schools

GIDesign @ BCPS: Our Journey Begins

Hello fellow Guided Inquiry fans!

I’m Kelly Ray, a Library Media Resource teacher with the Office of Digital Learning at the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). I’m so excited to  provide a district-level perspective, by sharing how Guided Inquiry is transforming student research and inquiry in our large public school system!

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BCPS is the 25th largest public school district in the U.S. and 3rd largest in Maryland, with 175 schools, programs, and centers. At the district’s annual Summer Curriculum Workshops, our Library Media team collaborates with content curriculum writers to design standards-aligned research tasks. Since 1998, we have designed Online Research Models (ORMs) which structure the research process, integrating information literacy skills development and content learning for students. You can see our current inventory of Online Research Models (for extended, in-depth research, labeled ORM) and Slam Dunk research models (for brief, focused research, labeled Slam Dunk) here. *Please excuse any broken links in these models; our team will be updating links over the summer. For years our ORMs were structured according to our own process model, which was inspired in part by Dr. Kuhlthau’s ISP. Our original ORM steps were: Scenario, Task & Product, Assessments, Gather & Sort, Organize, and Conclusion. These steps evolved only slightly until 2012.

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In July 2012, I participated (along with our since retired Coordinator, Della Curtis) in the CISSL Summer Institute at Rutgers, where we were introduced to Guided Inquiry Design. At the end of the first day of the Institute, we knew that GID would be transformative for our BCPS ORMs. That very evening, we worked well past midnight (yes, really!) to begin designing a new ORM using GID. The result was An American Student in China, a research model for high school students participating in our BCPS Chinese Cultural Exchange Program. Each year, a group of students spends part of the summer visiting and attending school in China. As part of the program, students must research a topic of their choice related to that experience. We had been asked by our Office of World Languages staff to develop a new ORM for this research task. Part of the reason for their request was that students had been producing low-level “topical” reports on landmarks they had visited, like the Great Wall of China or the Terracotta Warriors— reports with little personal significance or reflection, about topics they could have researched without actually visiting China.

We designed An American Student in China by incorporating the 8 phases of GID with our existing ORM steps. Since this GID-aligned ORM was first launched for the 2012-13 school year, students have been better able to identify a research focus and question that is personally meaningful and relevant to their own interests and experience in China. Office of World Languages staff has reported that students’ projects have been more varied and unique, including topics like Chinese family life, traditions, education, music, and pop culture. *Unfortunately I do not have examples of student research products to post here now, but I will try to get access to some of these to share later.

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After creating that first ORM at the CISSL Institute in 2012, we re-formatted many of our existing Online Research Models to incorporate GID. We’ve paid deliberate attention to Third Space—something that our previous ORMs were lacking. Some of our early ORMs included Scenarios with introductions like, “Congratulations! You’ve been selected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Smithsonian!” (SERIOUSLY? How many middle school students would really relish that prospect?) Since adopting GID, our ORMs endeavor to engage students in the Open phase by making more relevant real-world connections to their lives. In addition, our former research Scenarios typically included only one link to an article or video for building background knowledge and connecting to content. Our ORMs now provide more resources and time for these important activities in the Immerse phase of the process. We’ve worked to provide more resources and choices for students to “look around,” “dip in,” and “explore interesting ideas” in the Explore phase, BEFORE they Identify an inquiry focus/question and move forward into the Gather phase. We’re encouraging our content curriculum collaborators to allow for greater student choice in how they’ll Create to communicate and Share their knowledge with others. And we’ve built into our ORMs the crucial opportunity for student reflection and self-evaluation during the Evaluate phase.

orm_IdeclareSince 2013 we have dispensed with our original ORM steps, and have been using the 8 GID phases exclusively to design research tasks for all grade levels and content areas. See these examples: Act Now! Supplies Limited (Grade 5 Library Media/Environmental Science); Power of the Pen: Writers as Agents of Social Change (Grade 6 GT English Language Arts) and Epidemic Experts (Grade 7 English Language Arts); and I Declare! Founding Fathers Sound Off on Contemporary Issues (Grade 11 English Language Arts). These Online Research Models are included in content curriculum guides, where teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their school’s library media specialist to integrate information literacy skills instruction at identified “zones of intervention.”

Based on feedback from school librarians, teachers and students across the district, we know that Guided Inquiry Design has transformed the student research experience in BCPS to increase their engagement in the inquiry process, helping to facilitate their successful acquisition of skills aligned to the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner, the Framework for 21st Century Learning, ISTE Standards for Students, and Common Core State Standards … not to mention content standards like the NGSS and C3 Framework.

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Stay tuned for my next post, where I will share some of our team’s professional development efforts and other resources we’ve developed to support the use of Guided Inquiry in school libraries and classrooms across our large district.

Taking Steps Back So We Can Move Forward

Happy weekend, friends!

This post brings to a close the discussion of our Norman Public Schools Guided Inquiry unit for 5th grade science. Coincidentally, yesterday was our third planning meeting, so we want to tell you a little about our work then.

In our last meeting, we made some great progress fleshing out the student activities and hammering out tasks. Today was a little different: we ran into some philosophical roadblocks. But not only is it necessary to solve these problems now, before the unit goes to the teachers, but it was productive and thought-provoking to discuss with the planning team.

But before we get into that, let’s talk about what we did:

The NPS Dream Team! From left: Kelsey Barker, Buffy Edwards, Lee Nelson, Jeff Patterson, Teresa Lansford, Glen Stanley, Toni Gay

The NPS Dream Team!
From left: Kelsey Barker, Buffy Edwards, Lee Nelson, Jeff Patterson, Teresa Lansford, Glen Stanley, Toni Gay

 

Immediately, we divided the team into two groups: Jeff and Glen started working on the hands-on investigations for the unit, while the rest of us began to discuss the instructional sequence for each phase. Based on the comments Leslie left on this post regarding the student’s’ ability to generate their own questions, we discussed how to facilitate this in our unit. We both agree that one of the hardest parts of Guided Inquiry is getting young students to ask questions that will lead to the desired learning goals. We ultimately decided to give the teachers (optional) sentence stems to kick off the question-asking in the right direction.

At this point, Jeff had us take a step back and discuss possible interactions between each of the six combinations of speheres. As a group, we listed as many possible in each category… and quickly realized that this is HARD! But we could start to see some patterns emerging, and this exercise made everything else seem a bit more doable.

More giant sticky notes!

More giant sticky notes!

 

Because the spontaneous brainstorming activity was so useful for us, we decided to make it a part of the EXPLORE phase. As students look through their resources and begin to generate questions, they will add the interactions they come across to a master list. Ah, the power of collective brainstorming!

We also realized through brainstorming that most interactions involve 3 or even 4 of the spheres. It was so fun to interact with the content like the students will be doing! So we changed the objective of CREATE to state “Students will create an infographic showing the interactions between AT LEAST 2 spheres.” This opens up the opportunity for students to develop their infographic with 3 spheres from the start.

With our plan outlined, we took a step back to look at the big picture, and we realize another aspect of our planning process that is different from designing a site-specific plan: we don’t know the dynamics of the teachers who will use it. Fifth grade teachers in NPS may or may not have been trained in Guided Inquiry. They may or may not have done a previous GI unit, and as Jeff pointed out, they may have varying levels of comfort with the science content, technology tools, and standards.  

To add to our challenges, we see our unit potentially  functioning as district-wide marketing for Guided Inquiry. As librarians, as we work to implement the process in our schools, we have to help our staff understand that it is a worthwhile endeavor. A bad experience with this 5th grade unit could put a whole grade level off of Guided Inquiry. No pressure!

The planning team hard at work

The planning team hard at work

These are new challenges for our team, and while it’s good that we are dealing with them now, it feel especially imperative that we get it right the first time. Ultimately, following Jeff’s advice, we settled on providing as much support and as many suggestions and ideas in the teacher guide as possible. Teachers who are (understandably) uncomfortable with the new process will be able to follow the prescribed outline, while others will still have room for flexibility and innovation. Not only will this structure support teachers who may be uncomfortable with the process, but it will also help make the process (and the students) successful, which will hopefully help teachers understand the value of the Guided Inquiry process. When we introduce the unit to teachers, we will also make sure they understand our intentions that every site will be able to tailor the unit to their particular needs. And as Jeff said, what they do after we give them the plans is up to them. 

So that’s where we are at. Every member of our team has some homework so that when we meet in two weeks, we can refine and finalize our plans. We cannot wait to see the final product of this unit!

It’s been so much fun blogging this week, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Guided Inquiry adventure. Perhaps after  the unit has been implemented we can share how it went and have feedback from teachers and students as well.  Until then — Cheers to success with all your  Guided Inquiry endeavors!
Kelsey & Buffy

Battle Spheres: Open, Immerse, Explore, & Identify

Good evening, fellow GID lovers! I’m back again today to (finally) tell you more about the unit we are developing for Norman Public Schools 5th grade science curriculum. You’ve met our team, read about the importance of a collaborative culture, and heard my thoughts on GID at the district level. Today, I walk through the first four phases of our project so you can see exactly what we’ve planned.

(Note: In this post, you will see shots of our planning team’s notes. If you’re curious, purple items are to-dos, red is the objective, and blue is the actual student activity. If you’re NOT curious, go ahead and make fun of my color-coding.)

OPEN

Our team notes on OPEN

You’ll see we have titled our unit “Battle Sphere”; this unit is being developed around the 5th grade Oklahoma science standards, looking at how the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere interact. To really hook students into the topic, our planning team will create a YouTube playlist of videos depicting these interactions. For example, students will view videos of landslides, weather events, eroded landscapes, and more. Then, the class will have a discussion about the videos, answering the questions:

  • What did the events have in common?
  • Can you think of ways that nature interacts that weren’t in the videos?
  • Has nature ever made changes in your world?

We hope that by showing students these dramatic interactions in videos, they will develop an interest in the topic and begin to form some questions about interactions between the spheres.

IMMERSE

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After they’re hooked, we will begin to immerse students in the content by watching two videos that will help make the spheres and associated vocabulary more accessible and interesting:

Four Spheres Part 1 (Geo and Bio): Crash Course Kids #6.1

Four Spheres Part 2 (Hydro and Atmo): Crash Course Kids #6.2

After viewing the videos, students will build a glossary of new terms they heard in the videos. This is an example the the flexibility I talked about yesterday. Depending on the students, teachers, and resources at the individual site, this step could look very different. Students could do this as a class, in small groups, with the teacher, or with both the teacher and librarian. I love that we are building in adaptability to customize the unit for every school. Where possible, we are encouraging teachers to build this glossary in Google Drive, but no matter how it is done, students will be able to access the glossary throughout the rest of the unit.

 

EXPLORE

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Using an inquiry log, students will explore through a carefully curated resource menu. They will track which resources they viewed and the corresponding questions that were sparked. In my personal experience with Guided Inquiry, I have learned that it is difficult for elementary students to foresee the scope of their research from the beginning phases. If we ask them to explore open-endedly, they can easily get off track, and they don’t understand the benefits of this phases as older students might. Assigning an inquiry log or journal in this phase is crucial to the success and engagement of younger students.

 

IDENTIFY

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As you can see from the picture of our notes, this phase isn’t quite as fleshed out as the rest yet. To identify which two spheres’ interactions are most interesting to them, the student will use an inquiry journal to elaborate on what they logged in EXPLORE. To facilitate this, our planning team will come up with specific questions for a journal prompt. After evaluating the journal responses, teachers will assign students to inquiry circles based on their area of interest. The inquiry circles will consist of students who are interested in the interactions between the same two spheres, so there will be six inquiry circles. We are allowing for flexibility here, but we discussed how fun it would be to have all 5th grade students in one school divided into these six inquiry circles.

And there you have it: the first four phases of our plan. What do you think? What do you see that you like? What would you change?
Kelsey