Guided Inquiry and Reflective Practice

Dear Colleagues,

My name is Erin Patel and I am the Head of Library Services at Kambala Girls School, an independent girls school in Sydney, Australia. If you have been following the 52GID blog for a while, you might remember I posted last year about the use of flipped learning in the Guided Inquiry process, Guided Inquiry for global collaboration and the importance of reflection.

A few things have changed and grown since last September in relation to my approach to Guided Inquiry Design. I have been able to adapt and change some of my projects based on my own reflections of how successful they were last year. A focus on reflective practice is a strategy that I have adopted in my new role as Head of Libraries to ensure a strategic approach to how we implement our inquiry program across the school curriculum.

My own reflective practice has required conversations with teachers, a lot of listening and being open to feedback in the same way that we expect our students to listen to our feedback. This can be a difficult think for some, but I have found that it has been invaluable in building relationships and creating further collaborations.

Another big change in my role is that I am now the IB Extended Essay Coordinator. Our school runs both the NSW Curriculum and the IB Curriculum Diploma Programme. The Extended Essay is an independent piece of academic writing based on research into a topic based on one of their subjects. In the following posts, I will explain how I have used Guided Inquiry Design to plan and implement the Extended Essay process.

Implementing Guided Inquiry Design within my programs allows me to help students to articulate where they are in the inquiry process, be reflective and independent learners, whilst also ensuring that they receive help and intervention at appropriate times. This is essential in the Extended Essay process. The framework also provides guidance for Extended Essay supervisors – all subject teachers, incredible experts in content but not necessarily inquiry – and enables them to better understand how to support their allocated student throughout the journey.

Thats it for now. If you are an Extended Essay supervisor or Coordinator and have used Guided Inquiry in this process before, please comment below!

Erin

 

Guided Inquiry in a High Math Classroom? Really?

Yes, it can be done. We took Guided Inquiry and worked it into the math classroom. But why does everyone seem baffled at the the thought of a math teacher being able to make this work? I think it is what we have always been missing.

How often does a math teacher hear the question, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?”  With Guided Inquiry, the students are able to really answer that question. Let me start by staying, I am not one of those teachers that hears this question from a student and then gets immediately upset and irritated at the student. Actually, it is the best question they can ask, because that is the point of school. To teach the future citizens the knowledge and skills that they need for “real life.” Sometimes I have a perfect answer in my back pocket and other times I do not.

Mathematics is really about problem solving. Assessing the situation and determining which route to choose. Should that route lead you down a rabbit hole, then step back and try another approach. Problem Solving and Critical thinking are the top two skills that most all employers are looking for in a new hire. And what better place to learn these two skills than in the math classroom.

Now let me circle back to Guided Inquiry. How did this all start for me? My principal promoted this Professional Development called Guided Inquiry Design and he wanted to see a few teams go to it last summer. After thinking about it for a few days, I wasn’t quite sure what all it entailed, but knew that my Algebra 2 team has always been really strong and are willing to try new things if it is best for our students. So after talking to the team, I signed us up. In the end only 3 of the 5 of us could make it, but that didn’t stop us from going. Of the 3 that attended, two of us were veteran teachers to the school and to Algebra 2 and the other teacher was a brand new teacher, fresh out of college and eager to join the team.

We went to the 3 day PD for Guided Inquiry Design open-minded and after day 1 felt drained. It was hard. Hard in a good way. It really pushed us out of our comfort zone. The three of us tossed around ideas while we sat with lots of Elementary Ed, History and English teachers. We felt like we were on an island by ourselves. However, Leslie Maniotes (the institute leader), Martha and Taryn (our school librarians) were all so encouraging. They were supportive and helpful.

We refreshed over night and came back for day 2 determined to make this work. We picked our topic and started doing our own research, as if we were the students. This was really scary because the students can go so many ways with their questions, and for a math teacher to plan for the unknown, we still felt uneasy.  (Actually, I am pretty sure that we were all uneasy from the beginning of this institute until we finally completed this unit with our students in the spring.) So we stepped into Day 3 and made a short presentation to share with the group and ended up receiving really great feedback from all the other teachers there. We were on the right track, we just needed to be more confident with ourselves and more confident that our students would be able to make this work. At the end of the 3 day conference, we left with a plan for a unit on Sequences and Series. (In my next post I will go into all the details, mathematics and teacher prep.)

For now, I hope I have gotten the attention of some math teachers out there that have been skeptical about Guided Inquiry. Yes, it can be done!

Jamie Rentzel, Math Teacher

Norman High School

Norman Oklahoma

Lincoln Elementary Does GId

Welcome fellow designers! I am Teresa Lansford, teacher-librarian at Lincoln Elementary School in Norman, OK. I am about to embark on my 6th year as a school librarian and my 14th year in education. I am a National Board Certified Teacher: Early Childhood Generalist, and received my Masters from the University of Oklahoma. I am a data driven, passionate practitioner, ever on the quest to bring my best to students so I am sure you all can understand how excited I was to learn about Guided Inquiry and what it does for kids.

Our school has adopted GId and ran with it in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. This week I will be sharing how we came to be a school with nearly an entire staff trained in GId, who all think in terms of GId, and who have utilized the process with both student and adult learners. I will share examples of how all grade levels have learned through GId, and how we have enhanced our use of technology through GId.

Lincoln Elementary is a Title 1 school of under 300 students. We have an autism program as well as a DD program. We serve grades PK-5 with two teachers per grade level. Our school is highly collaborative which I believed has helped to promote and support Guided Inquiry. None of us work in a bubble. We have a shared vision of elevating learning to foster creative, innovative members of a community. This has led to us becoming an Oklahoma A+ school for the arts, and winning an OETT grant that allowed us, along with a district bond issue initiative, to be nearly 1-1 in iPads for grades PK-1 and MacBooks for grades 2-5. We are constantly striving to push our students and help them grow beyond the test.

Guided Inquiry gave us the tools to transform how we look at research and think about questioning in our building. I am excited to spend this week sharing with you all that we do!

Relationships, Dystopia, and More: Literature and GI

Greetings from sunny (finally!) Vancouver, B.C.! My name is Jennifer, and I am an English teacher at St. George’s School. You may have seen posts from other teachers at my school, like Marc Crompton and Elizabeth Walker. These two have GI figured out!

I will say this now: I am by no means a seasoned practitioner in GI but am developing a better understanding of how to incorporate GI practices in the classroom each time I use it. It’s a fantastic tool to keep in your metaphorical teaching tool belt.

Affinity Protocol: Students brainstormed types of relationships and categorized them to open our Romeo and Juliet unit.

I was introduced to Guided Inquiry through Marc, our senior school librarian extraordinaire. Together, we worked on a GI project for my Grade 10s last year that connected Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the concept of relationships to allow students to personalize the play. We also built in protocols from the National School Reform Faculty as our idea to work on this unit together actually came about during our training for this certification. You can read all about it in Chapter 8 of Guided Inqiry Design® in Action: High School.

I also had the chance to meet with Leslie when she came to our school in the fall of 2015 to work with a team of Grade 8 teachers. Our team of nine teachers (teachers of Science 8, English 8, and Socials 8) were trying to plan a cross-curricular, guided inquiry style project. It was wonderful to have her input on how GI could open up the realms of possibility and create both direct and indirect connections between the three subjects.

One Grade 8 student’s “What does it mean to be human?” creation. He compared the anatomy of pigs to humans.

After completing the aforementioned GI units with my students, I was left with some questions that I wanted to try to address the next time I attempted a GI unit. My questions included:

  • How can I ensure that the creation is clearly linked to the literature we are reading?
  • How can I check in with students about their understanding and progress without over-assessing?
  • What is the base that students need to complete to be successful? How can I ensure less motivated students are on track and successful as well?

These questions arose from both the collaborative unit with our Grade 8s and Marc and I’s unit with my Grade 10s. For example, with our 8s, we sometimes had too many steps for the students and it actually slowed them down rather than propelling them forward. With my 10s, the creations were thoughtful and, for the most part, well-researched, but there weren’t enough references to Romeo and Juliet to demonstrate understanding of the play.

This Grade 8 student created a 3D printed brain accompanied by a PowerPoint to explain what it means to be a human intellectually.

This week, I am going to be sharing my Grade 11 English unit on Fahrenheit 451 with you to share my newest discoveries and perhaps some viable solutions to the challenges I mentioned. We explored the dystopian narrative, and the students used this understanding to write their own. Students had ideas that ranged from a post-WWIII era to the post-climate change charred earth and even schools of “un-learning.”

Stay tuned for more about this unit and my reflections and learning!

 

Jennifer Torry

English Teacher

St. George’s School

Always Learning

You’re interested in Guided Inquiry Design too? Oh, that’s awesome! You and I have a lot in common already. Hi, I’m Amanda Hurley from Lexington, Kentucky. I am finishing my 17th year in education, my 12th as a school librarian. I’ve been learning and attempting to implement Guided Inquiry Design since 2014. You can read about how I initially learned about GID from my February 2016 post here.

Co-teaching with classroom teachers is one of the things that makes me passionate about my job. That’s why I was thrilled when I learned my district, Fayette County Public Schools, supported 5 teachers to attend the the CiSSL Institute at Rutgers University in July 2016. The three day institute helped us learn more about guided inquiry design, experience instructional strategies to foster student-engaged classrooms and ultimately design a guided inquiry unit from start to finish. It was time well spent and if any of you have a chance to attend a workshop or Guided Institute with Leslie Maniotes, please make every effort to attend.

Since I’ve last blogged, my colleagues and I have designed or tweaked 4 more GID units, most of which were in high school mathematics. That doesn’t make me an expert but my colleagues and I are beginning to feel more comfortable with the process. With each unit, and subsequent revision after reflection, we feel students are owning more of the learning process and are encouraged to find more ways to embed it in our instruction.

If you have time, please respond to this blog post in the comments. I’m always eager to talk about GID! You can also reach me on Twitter, @HCHSLibrarian.

Sincerely,

Amanda Hurley, National Board Certified Teacher

Library Media Specialist, Henry Clay High School

Guess who’s back, back again…

Hello again, GIDers!

I’m Kelsey Barker, teacher librarian for Norman Public Schools in Norman, Oklahoma. You may remember me from the last time I blogged with the incredible Buffy Edwards around this time last year. Now I’m back with another year of GID under my belt and lots to share!

This year, I transitioned from my position in an elementary to a middle school in the same district. Middle school has always had my heart, and I’m so happy to back with this strange, delightful, hilarious age at Longfellow. Despite moving up, I’m still a huge advocate for Guided Inquiry in elementary school, and thankfully connecting with librarians across the US on Twitter has allowed me to keep talking about my passion for GID at all ages (shout out to Jen and her team in Wisconsin!).

Working with a new set of students isn’t the only thing that has changed since the last time we talked. I’ve been lucky to have become a Guided Inquiry Coach last summer, and I was thrilled to be among the first ever Guided Inquiry Trainers when our district implemented this program with Leslie Maniotes in February. My GID journey has been incredibly fulfilling and more fun than I could have imagined, and I’m only getting started!

Here are the first NPS secondary trainers: That’s me squinting on the left, followed by Cindy Castell, Amanda Kordeliski, Martha Pangburn, and Leslie Maniotes, Professional Developer for GID.

Additionally, my new school, along with two others in Norman, was chosen to be a part of a half-million-dollar IMLS grant that will study Guided Inquiry and Makerspaces in schools. These last few weeks have been full of ordering Makerspace materials, planning two new Guided Inquiry units, and working with our learning team on what exactly it looks like to teach four full-scale Guided Inquiry units in one year in 7th grade Language Arts.

I have been living the GID life this year, and I wouldn’t change a thing. At Longfellow, we have had 16 teachers participate in 6 Guided Inquiry units this year with plans to expand next year. Every student at Longfellow has experienced at least two GID units this year, and a lucky handful of students have done up to four Between our widespread implementation, coaching and training, and the IMLS grant, I definitely have a lot to say about GID… way too much for a week’s worth of blog posts!

So I’m going to be sharing just one unit, and it’s our most ambitious unit of the year: a whole-school, year-long unit designed around the National History Day program that every single student participated in through their social studies class. With a learning team of seven and not one social studies classroom teacher trained in GID (yet!), it was an exercise in preparation, faith, and flexibility. I can’t wait to share our successes, failures, and lessons learned along the way.

Until next time!

Kelsey Barker

Teacher Librarian

Longfellow Middle School

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