My inception into GID

 

Hi all!

I’m Rahila Mukaddam, the guest blogger for this week on GID. I teach PYP4 at The International School in Karachi. Previously I’ve taught Pre-K to Grade 4 at AIS Kuwait – an IB school. Being at an IB school has driven the inner me to be more of an inquirer and a risk-taker. It has pushed me to take up courses, activities and many other things which I would not have taken up had I not been exposed to the IB way of life. I strive to live it and model it for my students. Last year I worked on my Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy and am now a COETAIL grad. It has opened up a whole new world to me. Plus now that my PLN has expanded and keeps on doing so, I have more avenues of learning new things. I love being a Learner more than being a teacher! Hence, my aim is always to give my students choice in their learning.

I came across Guided Inquiry Design through Twitter of course (my trusty PLN). I started reading up on all the resources I could find online (I still have to get my hands on the book itself). The more I read, the more connections I am making to the IB philosophy and pedagogy. GID and IB both stimulate the students thinking through a Constructivist approach. Both focus on inquiry-led learning and student agency. I have barely skimmed the surface of GID but it is intriguing and I want to dive in deeper. The most important reason for this intrigue is that it is central to student agency.

 

The other day, while looking for more information on GID, I came across this poster about the 6Cs. I think it blends all the ideals of GID and IB in concise manner. Students need to think outside the box to get the bigger ideas, they need to move from LOTS to HOTS, question, evaluate and reflect what they learn. Finally they have to collaborate and communicate outside the four walls of the classroom to gain a broader perspective. I see this happening with guided inquiry. For me it yet remains to be seen if I am successful in guiding my students in the right direction. The power of yet…

The Power of YET… – Shelia Tobias

Keep steady and Learn! That’s my motto.

Recently I tried using the GID process when my students designed their Math games for Math Night at school. As I mentioned earlier, student agency is the most important thing for me as a teacher. With this process I saw student voice and choice coming to the forth. But to read more about that, you will have to wait till the next post. Till then I would love to hear how PYP/Elementary teachers are using GID in their classrooms. Till then…

Rahila Mukaddam

My How a Year Changes Things!

Hello! My name is Donna Young, and I am the Library Media Specialist at De Pere Middle School in De Pere, WI- a neighbor of Green Bay. One year ago, I shared a story on this blog that looks very different when compared with the one that I will share with you this week.  Our story has evolved much in the course of a year, and it involves growth, constant learning, risk-taking, and ultimately CHANGE! Here’s a quick recap of how it began and how it progressed to where we are now.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, seventh grade Social Studies teacher, Cara Krebsbach, wanted to try a new way of teaching her Mesopotamia unit and didn’t know where to start. With the assistance of Literacy Coach, Peggy Rohan, and myself, we helped Cara redesign Mesopotamia into an inquiry unit using Harvey’s and Daniels’ book Comprehension and Collaboration as our framework. While successful overall, we still felt that there were a few pieces missing in the process. A few months later, I received an email about an opportunity to attend the Guided Inquiry Design Institute at Rutgers to learn about Guided Inquiry Design. Peggy, Cara, and I were immediately on board about applying to the institute. This was the type of learning that we needed to incorporate more! Luckily our principal, Betty Hartman, agreed, and before we knew it we were off to Rutgers. Thus began De Pere Middle School’s transformation.

Before I tell more of this story, I want to mention that none of what we have done would have been possible without the support of a strong and open administrative team.  Betty jumped on board immediately and figured out a way to finance our trip to Rutgers. Not only did she attend herself, but so did our district Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Shelly Thomas. Our administrators have become essential members of our learning team as they are now deeply invested in finding the time for us to redesign units and train teachers on GID. They truly are leaders and partners in learning, and they are equally invested in this best practice model.

As mentioned previously, our transformation really began last July during our attendance at the institute. Once we were intensively immersed in learning more about the model, Peggy, Cara, Betty, Shelly, and I experienced an array of emotions- excitement, anticipation, wonder, and anxiety. We had a big task in front of us: not only were we to wrap our brains around understanding every step of the GID model, but we also had to write an entire GID unit surrounding the topic of “cells” prior to our departure. Of all of the units from which to choose cells was difficult since it required students to have more technical background prior to diving into independent research. Lucky for us, Leslie and her team offered the support that we needed, and we left the institute not only ready to integrate our cells unit at the beginning of the school year, but we were also inspired to consider other science and social studies units that would work well with GID.

Attending the institute was the push that we needed to get the ball rolling at De Pere Middle School. In the fall, we spent two half days training all of our science and social studies teachers on how to use the model, and this spring we did the same with our ELA teachers. In addition, all science and social studies teachers are reading Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School in professional book clubs. Peggy and I have been working diligently throughout the year to help rewrite old units into new and improved GID units. Thus far students have completed inquiry units on cells, alternative energies, Ancient China, and Africa. Upcoming units include slavery and changemakers.

While we have come so far in one year, I feel that our journey is just beginning. We still have more transformations to make as GID is not only a perfect model for the content areas, but it is also ideal for Related Arts classes such as Health, FACE, and foreign language. GID engages all students in 21st century best practice learning with a research-based, student-centered design.

Donna Young
Library Media Specialist
De Pere Middle School

Hello…It’s Me!

Hello Again, Guided Inquiry Community! I’m thrilled to be back! I’m Paige Holden, teacher of Language Arts at Whittier Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. I posted at approximately this time last year about my first ever GID unit, Natural Phenomena, and I’m just as excited to share my second unit, World War II and the Holocaust. But first, a little about me, my school, and my experience with Guided Inquiry. Here I am!

I’ve been teaching for five years, all at WMS.  While teaching Language Arts, I have also taught exploratory classes in Reading Intervention and Reading for Pleasure.  My very favorite thing about teaching is sharing my love of books and reading with my students, and helping many of them discover their inner bibliophile. I’m also crazy about my school.  Whittier is the largest of Norman’s four middle schools, with a little over eleven hundred students (one hundred twenty of whom are mine!). Of those, around thirty percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch, fourteen percent qualify for special service, forty percent are considered gifted, and four percent are English language learners. With such a diverse group of learners, I’m so lucky to work with the MOST amazing teachers. My colleagues are brilliant, patient, open to new ideas, and deeply committed to providing each of their students with the best learning experience possible- which is why Guided Inquiry is perfect for our school.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my second unit. I was originally introduced to Guided Inquiry by my bevy of librarian friends (affectionately known as the Think Tank of Awesome). Their happy hour tales intrigued me, and I attended my first training with Leslie in the fall of 2015. Our team was made up of two eighth grade Language Arts teachers (one of them was me!), our gifted resource coordinator, our instructional coach, our librarian and library assistant. Together, we planned and executed our eighth grade research unit.  Then, in the summer of 2016, I was lucky enough to attend a second institute, this time with my longtime teammates and loves of my teaching life, Leah Esker and Adrienne Hall. We were also joined in the fall by the lovely and talented Kasey McKinzie, who was very brave and went to the fall training by herself. This year, we wanted to do better.  We wanted to embed the inquiry process into our existing curriculum, to make research less of an event, so to speak, and more of a natural way to learn, because that’s what it is!  When we sat down to choose a unit to overhaul, we knew we needed one that generated a high level of curiosity amongst our students, as well as one that could lend itself to potentially endless avenues of inquiry. For those reasons, we chose World War II and the Holocaust.  I can’t wait to share it with you, as well as some other great things my fellow Whittier teachers are doing with Guided Inquiry. Stay tuned!

 

–Paige Holden

From Teacher Librarian to Leader

My name is Trisha Hutcherson, and I am the librarian at Monroe Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma. My experience with Guided Inquiry Design began in the 2014-2015 school year. During the 2015-2016 year, I was trained along with my instructional coach and gifted and talented teacher. Together, the three of us began to implement GID in our elementary school.

Monroe Elementary is an A+ School. This means several things, including focus on the arts, enriched assessment, and teaching to multiple learning pathways or multiple intelligences. A very important part of A+ philosophy is collaboration across grade levels and subject areas. For this reason, teachers and specialists meet to plan together once each quarter of the school year. As soon as we were trained in GID in the fall of 2015, we began implementing it in our school through school-wide collaboration.

For the first couple of units we did, the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases were where we spent most of our time and effort. I found out here that Opens are quite fun to plan! These units were 3rd and 4th grade, Solar System and People Who Made a Difference respectively. The teachers took students to their classrooms for Gather, Create, and Share in both groups, so I didn’t get to be very involved in those phases.

The next units we did were with younger students, Kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten did From Seed to Plant, and 1st grade did Light, Sound, and Color. Again, Open and Explore were a lot of fun for the students and for me with both of these studies. However, I soon discovered that Gather is a whole different world with primary students! I have since learned that the Open/Immerse/Explore phases are the most important to focus on with the little ones, and that it’s OK if their Gather happens in a big group and their Create is a drawing, writing, or simple verbal explanation or recording.

The most in-depth Guided Inquiry project we did during the 2015-2016 school year was Americans Who Made a Difference with 2nd grade. The Gather phase was a great learning experience for me with this age of students, because they were more able to gather information than the youngest students, but not as independently as the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

Being one of the few teachers trained in GID at our school site has forced me to be a leader and to advocate for improving the way we do our research and learning projects. Although now we have several grade level teams trained, at the beginning there were only about three of us. Some things this forced me to do were to train the other teachers in the basics of GID, to plan our units and work out all of the logistics, and to lead teachers and students through the process.

We are now in our second year of implementation, and having a year of experience has made a huge difference! I have been able to do some of the same units, with some tweaking, adjustments, and improvements. We are currently in the middle of Americans Who Made a Difference, Round 2! It’s going great!

Trisha Hutcherson, M.L.I.S

Monroe Elementary

Norman, Oklahoma

Love is in the air for Guided Inquiry, Chocolate, and Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  My name is Buffy Edwards and I have the privilege of blogging this week.  What a perfect time for me to talk about two things I really like, chocolate and Guided Inquiry.

I love chocolate. Chocolate, that amazing treat that seems to just make things better, gives you the boost to keep going, and helps you think.  That sounds like GID! I love Guided Inquiry. Guided Inquiry, that amazing process that helps students take ownership in their learning, helps them keep digging into their projects because of Third Space connections, and helps them become critical thinkers.  So to me, this is a win-win combination.

Time flies when you are having fun! I am so happy to be back on the 52-weeks Guided Inquiry Blog-thank you Dr. Leslie Maniotes for this opportunity. About a year ago, I had the pleasure of ‘co-blogging’ here with my friend and colleague Kelsey Barker, Teacher Librarian, Longfellow Middle School, Norman, Oklahoma. Together, we shared the process of how a GID team of Teacher Librarians in the Norman Public Schools District developed a GID science unit that would be implemented by 5th grade teachers across the district. The complete post about the science unit can be viewed here

So that’s really where my interest and involvement with GID started, with the Norman Public Schools (NPS), Norman, OK where I served as the District Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian at Dimensions Academy, a k-12 alternative education school.  Here’s the link to my earlier blog post where you can learn more about me!  The NPS District provided 3-day GID institutes with Dr. Maniotes where teams of teachers and Teacher Librarians came together to learn about GID and develop units of instruction for implementation at schools across the district. (You can read more about the district implementation process on this blog post).  Norman Schools has certainly designed a national model for training teachers and Teacher Librarians for implementing GID.  Thank you NPS for the incredible opportunity of being trained by the master of GID herself, Dr. Leslie Maniotes.
You might be wondering why the past tense with ‘served’ as Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian.  I retired.  Short, to the point, I retired. 29 years working in school libraries and I treasure every moment of my experiences and career.  Now you might be thinking ahhhhh retirement. That time in your life when you hang up your hat, stay up late, sleep late,  be free from commitment and responsibility and just kick back and relax. Nope, not this “retired” Teacher LIbrarian.  You see for about 15 of those 29  years I have also been teaching online graduate courses, in my spare time, ha ha! When I took off my full-time  K-12 teacher librarian hat, I put on a higher education instructor hat, now having time to work with even more fantastic graduate students in colleges of educations and schools of library and information studies. In addition to teaching online courses, I also visit students and former students in the field observing, sharing ideas, suggesting strategies and ideas about best practice and instruction and rolling up my sleeves to help with  weeding, packing,and rearranging physical spaces and really anything else that needs to be done.  How lucky am I?  Sharing my passion for the profession, teaching and learning, and, yes, you guessed it, Guided Inquiry Design. I am so very lucky and I feel fortunate to have these opportunities.  Some may think that retirement means it’s time to quit and be done and that you may be finished with the profession and career. I would argue it can be quite the contrary – it’s the time that you can take your work and profession to the next level, change lanes, shift gears, and share invaluable knowledge and experiences from an entirely new perspective.  

This is me with my fuzzy friend,12 year old Rugby.  He’s an Australian Shepherd adopted  from Second Chance – in the last two years he has lost his sight but certainly not his spirit!

My interaction with Guided Inquiry is quite interesting because I have the experience of implementing Guided Inquiry at Dimensions Academy (k-12 alternative education) in Norman, OK, being a part of the district-wide implementation of GID in Norman, writing about GID professionally, and teaching future teachers and librarians about GID.  In my earlier post, I shared some information about a unit at Dimensions Academy that allowed students the opportunity to earn multiple-credits toward graduation, I will talk a little more about GID related to that experience as well as other units and the impact it had on students.  You see, I believe that GID is appropriate and successful with all types of kids and will share more about the impact GID had our learners and why I am such a believer in the process!  

Thanks for reading today and now………… it’s time for some chocolate!

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS
Online College Professor

drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy
Chocolate photo from Google Images: (https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=651&q=chocolate&oq=chocolate&gs_l=img.3..0l10.8944.10800.0.11076.11.9.0.1.1.0.268.526.2-2.2.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..8.3.546.0.x_WRIs-Ji3w#imgrc=007–mIW6Xqn2M🙂

Guided Inquiry Design in an Aussie K – 12 Context

Greetings from ‘down under’ where many of us are actually ‘on top’ of Guided Inquiry Design and how it can be the catalyst for the development of inquiry based learning through the school library. Now days many teacher librarians in Australia are trained in GID and go into schools already knowing about using this as a tool to collaborate and assist teachers and students to integrate Information Literacy in their schools.

My name is Alinda Sheerman and I work as Head of Information Services and teacher librarian in a PreKinder to Year 12 school, Broughton Anglican College, about 100 kilometers to the south-west of Sydney on the edge of a massive housing growth area but still set in the open spaces and backing onto a reserve.

[Broughton Anglican College Information Resource Centre’s central position: The K-6 classrooms are to the left and the 7-12 classrooms at the back. The school’s Main Administration is situated along the front of the library building.]

aerial_broughton-oct-2006

irc_highexteriorview

We have around 1000 students in total and the library is shared by all age groups with 6 ‘bookable’ learning spaces and physical and digital collections for everyone. I am the only Teacher Librarian but do have two full time Library Assistants who have formal training in their role and without whom I just could not survive!

ircexterior_students
irc_interior

My Story:

I have been a teacher for nearly 42 years now – initially I was trained in Primary education but whilst following my husband as a Principal to a series of K-12 schools, I worked for a number of years as a part time or casual teacher in Secondary subject areas as well and this experience has been very useful in my position as K-12 Teacher Librarian.

During my Master’s studies in Teacher Librarianship, lecturer Lyn Hay introduced me to the amazing world of integrated technology and its possibilities excited me greatly!

After completing my Master of Applied Science (Teacher Librarianship) in 2007, I was looking for something to keep ‘learning’ about and began investigating Action Research – initially into student reading.

That year, however, my life was set to change when I went to a Syba Signs Teacher Librarian Conference in Sydney to hear Dr Ross Todd speak about the Action Research project just completed into the use of Guided Inquiry at Lee Fitzgerald’s school in 2006. Lee was also at the conference and spoke about the project from her perspective as Teacher Librarian.

(Lee blogged on this site for the week commencing 22 February and gives a great summary of GID in Australia to date: https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/22/teacher-librarians-forever/ )

I was inspired from then on and went home from the conference armed with Dr Carol Kuklthau’s original book “Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century School” (as well as Loertcher’s “Ban those Birds Units” with its scaffolds for learning)! The theory behind the practice was very worthwhile reading.

In that same year Dr Ross Todd also wrote an article for our Australian Education Journal, Scan, in which he described how Carol Kuhlthau’s original Information Search Process formed the “instructional framework for understanding the student’s journey of information seeking and knowledge building and a basis for guiding and intervening to ensure students develop deep knowledge and deep understanding”  (In ‘Guided Inquiry supporting information literacy”, Scan Vol 26 No2 p29, May 2007.)

I have taken Table 1 from that article and made it more visual. This cycle was my original inspiration to try out this process – Building on existing knowledge to produce new knowledge

newknowledgecycle_ross

For the following year, 2008, I applied for, and received, a grant to initiate Guided Inquiry in my K-12 school and to conduct Action Research on this. I found that a group of other schools, headed up by Lee Fitzgerald, also had a similar grant so I joined them and through the use of a wiki and visits to Australia we were all guided by Ross Todd in our initial practice. I also used the grant money to take some teachers to hear Ross Todd at another Syba Signs conference on Guided Inquiry and we were off and running. (When we get tired, Lee and I often say that “Ross has a lot to answer for”!)

In 2009 I applied for another grant to continue a second cycle of Action Research and this time the team included four classroom teachers, the Head of Humanities, the Special Needs teachers and myself as Teacher Librarian. At the end of that year we made a presentation to the whole staff about our experience with teachers and students speaking about how they ‘journeyed’ through Guided Inquiry.

From then on I have lost count of the number of teachers that I have assisted in implementing this pedagogy into their classroom. Many have gone on to teach others in Grade ‘buddy’ systems in place at Broughton.

Last week I was privileged to be asked to speak at an educational conference in Sydney about the use of technology for differentiation. When I considered Guided Inquiry and how we, at Broughton, have used technology with it, I could see that a wonderful partnership has developed.

Guided Inquiry Design PLUS technology equals knowledge growth and deep understanding without discrimination.

gidtechdiff

Technology has made the GID process infinitely more successful as we differentiate at all levels – Process, Content and Product/Sharing and Evaluating/Assessing the final knowledge created. We have seen some students experience successful learning for the first time when personal blocks have been removed through technologies such as ‘text to speech’ and assessment through oral means rather than written. One teacher who records her student’s ideas said recently that for the first time she really knows what that student thinks.

This is the ninth year that I have been assisting teachers to implement Guided Inquiry in the classroom and over the years some units of work stand out above the rest as being amazing learning experiences for us all. As the teacher and teacher librarian become part of the learning team together the success means so much more.

Only one teacher has been ‘game enough’ to use GID for a Year 11 class in their Preliminary Course for Australia’s Higher School Certificate which gives entry to University. Most of these courses are quite content driven culminating in an exam and time is of an essence. I have shared some of the experience here http://www.slideshare.net/AlindaS/guided-inquiry-in-the-senior-classroom-pdhpe-year-11-2014. More videos of the teacher Paul’s evaluation of the unit of work can be found here: http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2014/ (Scroll right down)

Every year our Year 10 Commerce class explores “Issues in Australian Society” using Guided Inquiry and this is always a highlight for me as students take up issues and look for ways to improve problems or become a voice for awareness in an area.

Early this year our four Year 8 classes explored Medieval Europe, learning and sharing in the GID process. For the first time I ‘blogged’ my way through a very busy few weeks in six posts.

This can be found on the blog Lee Fitzgerald and I set up to support our Australian teacher librarians as they team-teach units from the Australian Curriculum. We share programs of work, scaffolds and encourage dialogue from our Australian cohort and any other interested people! (http://guidedinquiryoz.edublogs.org/2016/03/02/medieval-europe-year-8-at-bac/ )

I remember two years ago I was assisting students in a class and discussing what was happening with their teacher when the amazing learning dynamics and knowledge growth that was happening right before our eyes became a ‘goosebumps’ experience. I had only experienced this in music events in my life before. How can a classroom environment produce goosebumps? It was the observation of students who previously were normal Grade 5 kids becoming autonomous, very excited learners who were sharing this with everyone and bouncing off each other. I know just how special it was for everyone because this year they are in Grade 7 and when I met them to begin this year’s unit recently they were excited to begin with – they too remembered our previous time together!

I decided I should blog about this particular class here as I have not had the time to put the experience on paper previously.

The next few posts this week will describe that experience so… stay tuned! (Alinda Sheerman)

Special Education and GID- About Me!

Hello GID fans!

My name is Amanda Biddle. I work at Henry Clay High school in Lexington, KY. Henry Clay is the largest high school in Kentucky with about 2, 400 students from grade 9 to 12. I am currently the building assessment coordinator, however I was, and will be again, a special education teacher in our building. I have two lovely little boys, 6 and 2.

I have experience teaching special education in all subject areas in elementary school, special education in middle school, and special education algebra and geometry in high school. I have a passion for working with students who are struggling learners and finding ways for them to learn how they learn best. I believe that each student can be successful if they are given the right tools and encouragement.

I was introduced to Guided Inquiry through my husband, who is a social studies teacher. While completing his masters program in library science, he had the opportunity to study and implement Guided Inquiry. He started with advanced classes and worked his confidence in to the general education, co taught classes. It was through long nights of planning his lessons and unit together that I started to understand how this model of teaching and learning could benefit, my then language arts students who were in special education. I was able to take his knowledge and work with him to form a unit on guided inquiry. That was three years ago.

After my year as a middle school special education language arts teacher, I transferred to Henry Clay high school, and started teaching math as a special education resource teacher and a special education co teacher in math. My first year as a high school teacher, I rarely thought about GID and did not implement any units or lessons as I wasn’t comfortable with how it would be implemented in the math classroom. However, my second year, I was introduced to another math teacher who was implementing at least one GID unit each semester. It was amazing. I was also very motivated to make this work for my students. I attempted my first math GID unit at the end of last school year. (May 2016)

Once the librarians, other math teachers and I started working together and really looking in to GID and how it could benefit our students, we were able to sign up for the GID Institute at Rutgers this summer. We formed a team of 1 math teacher, 1 English teacher, 2 librarians and me, the special education teacher. Going to the institute and working 45+ hours on one unit was exhausting, but worth every minute. I was able to come back this school year, ready to start the year by giving students a new perspective on how they can learn and explore math.

I am excited to be a part of this 52 week challenge.

See you tomorrow,

Amanda Biddle

Searching for Guided Inquiry

Greetings from the Lone Star State!

My name is Tara Rollins and I am the Information Literacy Specialist (aka Librarian) in a large urban district in Houston, Texas.   I am proud to work at Aldine ISD’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme campus, Kujawa Elementary.   Inquiry plays a large part of the IB curriculum, so I have been pleased to gather new ideas from so many Guided Inquiry teachers around the world.

I still feel like a novice, even after working in an inquiry based programme for several years.  Over the past few years, I have struggled as the “librarian” in finding a process that taught students and teachers how to complete research projects.  I seemed to lack a road map, a guide of steps and stages.  I watched students, teachers and parents struggle with research projects.  That’s why I was overjoyed to find Leslie and the Guided Inquiry Design Model.  The model brought me the road map that helps me plan my unit.  I am better able to plan for each stage of the research process, and complete each stage in a student centered method.

I first learned about inquiry when I transferred to the IB campus.  There were so many components of the IB programme I learned that first year that it all is a blur.  I enjoyed everything I learned, and found all of it very beneficial in educating the “whole child.”  However, I was still in search of that perfect “how to” as far as teaching research skills and implementing units of inquiry.  So, I went in search of the missing components.  I went to IB training for librarians and got their recommendation for Guided Inquiry and Guided Inquiry Design by Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Maniotes & Ann Caspari.  I bought both books and devoured them cover to cover.  Several webinars about Guided Inquiry gave me additional ideas.  I applied and was accepted to the CiSSL Summer Institute 2016, where a selected team and I learned even more about Guided Inquiry Design.

Planning for Guided Inquiry

Planning for Guided Inquiry “Open”

I have provided staff development sessions about inquiry and specifically guided inquiry several times in the past couple of years.  The picture I’m sharing is from a Guided Inquiry Design Staff Development in which the teachers searched for artifacts to “Open” their first unit of inquiry this school year.

I also have designed and taught portions of units following the Guided Inquiry model both independently and in collaboration with classroom teachers. However, I continue to learn from other GID leader’s and fellow educators.  Each year I feel that my experiences with Guided Inquiry in the classroom setting as well as collaboration with staff members grow stronger.

Guided Inquiry as a teaching/learning model thrills me!  I enjoy that inquiry is student centered, that it promotes an intrinsic motivation to learn.  It excites me to see students engaged and enthusiastic about learning.  I love seeing students take ownership of their own learning, and delving into specific portions of topics that interest them.  I enjoy seeing them eagerly sharing details they learn with friends, classmates and other teachers throughout the building.  It’s equally exciting when they share with community members, parents, other IB schools and school board members during a yearly fourth grade exhibition.  Finding the Guided Inquiry Design Model was the icing on the cake and has brought closure to my search for “how to” with Guided Inquiry.

Tara Rollins

Guided Inquiry in Sweden! My Long Journey Begins here…

I am Lena Fogelberg Carlsson from Sweden!

My very first encounter with the theory of the Information Search Process (Kuhlthau) was when I started my education to become a librarian in 1997. One of the first lectures that I attended was performed by Louise Limberg. Today she´s professor emerita but at that point she was just about to present her doctoral thesis in library and information science. She had examined the relationship between the perception high school students held of information seeking and the quality of their papers as evaluated by teacher and librarian. In her lecture she introduced the research of Carol Kuhlthau. When I heard that research existed where the feelings, thoughts and actions of teenagers were considered interesting and valuable stuff, I was hooked. And not only that, but the reason why someone was interested in this was because it seemed like a good idea to find out more about the difficulties that teenagers experience when they are trying to achieve deep knowledge. I was baffled. It was the most pedagogical statement I had ever heard.

At this point I was a high school teacher drop out. I had dropped out of school a number of times and thought I would never go back again. But this made me change my mind. Someone more than me wanted school to be interesting, fun and real and thought that there could be valuable findings in texts by young adults.

My master thesis in library and information science was a survey conducted among a group of young adults examining their opinion of libraries with the starting point in the fire of the city library of Linköping. The public library had burnt down and I thought that it would be really interesting to find out what it was that had burnt down to a number of 15 year olds. Asking these kids a lot of open questions where they could formulate themselves in writing about among other things the fire as such, the value of a library in a society, their school libraries, libraries as rooms, reading, information seeking and their strategies after the fire gave me a very complex picture. Not a very good paper, no proper research question. I wanted to get the whole picture. A number of corner stones have stayed with me ever since 2000 when the paper was completed:

Libraries can hold an existential value for teenagers. They can care enormously about what the books represent, they care about if the room is beautiful and if the librarians are kind and understand teenagers that do not know how to ask “library questions”. They can formulate that libraries hold different values at different times in a person´s life: when they were kids, when they will be students, when they become parents and when they grow old.

I was very surprised.

I had never liked libraries myself, boring places that never managed to invite me in and that seemed to have a qualifying system of which I never cracked the code.

I had loved to read since I was five but book stores were my places.

There were also students in my investigation that didn´t have a relationship to libraries at all. They didn´t like to read, they wrote. Libraries do not have anything for me, they wrote. But they also wanted to put forward that libraries can hold a value to others.

The way they – all 111 of them, no matter if they loved libraries or couldn’t care less – answered my questions –– made a great impact on me. A stranger asks them questions about libraries, but they answered and I heard honest voices. I decided that they shouldn´t have done that in vain. I decided to use what they had taught me when I started to work as a school librarian. Trying to give them beautiful rooms, trying to be kind, trying to find out as much as possible about their questions and ways of asking, or not asking. For those who do not have a relationship to libraries – will they allow me to get to know them? I didn´t know but was willing to try.

It was also apparent to me that to be able to create the best library ever to young adults it took adults to do it. Professional adults. I remembered my primary school teacher whom I thought of as an adult who didn´t need us. She was there for us no matter who we were, she knew what she was doing and you could trust her. I remember liking that.

In my background reading for my thesis I touched upon so many disciplines that seemed relevant that I was absolutely overwhelmed. The kids gave me such a multi-facetted picture of the potential of libraries that I thought that it could only be possible to achieve that in a cross disciplinary culture. A sociologist once described the wise meeting between professional grown-ups and young adults as a “practical art”. I couldn´t agree more. And the practice informed by a scientific approach, of course.

So, I headed back to school and came to Katedralskolan, where I still am, in 2000. A drop out high school teacher who didn´t like libraries was to become a school librarian. Part-time for many years and since 2011, full-time. I had Kuhlthau in my hand and heard the voices of my informants in my head.

Now, Katedralskolan is a highly prestigious, traditional high school so I knew that the odds for me of finding myself at home was truly low. A long journey started.

Lena Fogelberg Carlsson

Hello from Australia

Erin Patel

Erin Patel @ezpatel

Hello everyone. My name is Erin Patel and I am a teacher librarian at Kambala Girls School in Sydney, Australia. Kambala is an Independent girls school which provides for students from 6 months to 18 years. My role focuses in the senior school library, from year 7 to 12. Although I have been a classroom teacher since 2008 and a teacher librarian for almost three years, this is my first year at Kambala. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with inspirational teachers and students, as well as having access to an innovative IT team which has implemented technological tools which enable me to get creative with Guided Inquiry.

In fact, although I have used Guided Inquiry and the ISP to guide my teaching in the past, Kambala has really embraced the model as a tool for improving student learning and therefore has been central to the approach I have taken in undertaking collaborative projects at Kambala. Having only recently graduated with a Masters of Education, Guided Inquiry was the focus of much of our training. I connected with the constructivist nature of Guided Inquiry which specified that students come with their own experiences, understanding and interests and in order to deepen their understanding, we need to find a way to connect this with the content and skills (and creating a third space in which this learning is extended), while we guide and intervene as necessary.

Having the space to explore Guided Inquiry in my teaching has been a very positive experience. Not only has it enabled me to make connections with teachers through collaborative projects, it has allowed for the building of information and transliteracy skills across a year group. I have collaborated on three projects this year alone, which built upon transliteracy skills on a single year group of  Year 9 students. What began as a new process, became almost second nature and largely independent by the third project. This enabled me to measure my own impact upon the learning of students (often a difficult task for teacher librarians who may not be involved in the formal assessment process). With each project, I adapted my approach according to the time constraints. For example, the first project was run over two weeks of five lessons per week. This required a different approach to the second project which was over ten weeks with only one lesson per week. In the second project, I implemented a flipped classroom approach to ensure that the students could make full use of the classroom time to work on their projects and provide one on one support, whilst also allowing students to work at their own pace.

This collaboration has had an incredible impact upon the relationships I have built with subject teachers. Implementing a model that is based on best practice and research improved my credibility as a teacher. This is a very helpful way to advocate for your library. In fact, one project turned into another and before long, I was working with various faculties and teachers on vastly different projects, but all modelled on Guided Inquiry.

This week I would like to share my experiences using Guided Inquiry. I hope we can all learn from each other in this community and that I can contribute something that may trigger ideas for others, as others have contributed to my own understanding of Guided Inquiry.

Erin Patel

Twitter: @ezpatel