It is Still Hot in Texas

DuchesneHeart_Master_2718Writing from Texas this week, I am Jean Pfluger, Upper School Librarian at Duchense Academy of the Sacred Heart, Houston’s only all-girl college preparatory school PK3 through 12th grade. I am responsible for the guidance and growth of 242 9th – 12th graders as they navigate the world of information within their courses. As the chair of the Library Department, I am responsible for facilitating the creation of a vertical curriculum for grades PK3 – 12th grade with three other librarians in two physical spaces.

My career path is fairly unique. As a child/teenager, I had two passions; sports and reading. I was the volleyball player who read a book on the bus to away games. My first career was as a physical education teacher and lasted twenty years. At that time in my life I realized that I wanted to contribute to the education of students in another way and the opportunity to become a librarian sort of just fell into my lap. After the first three years, I knew I wanted to pursue an advanced degree so I enrolled and graduated from the University of North Texas with a Masters in Library Science. Since then, I have been a librarian at every grade, PK4 – 12th.

I have used Carol Kuhlthau’s Seeking Meaning: a process approach to library and information services with the ISP process as the framework for research in Upper School for the past six years. Having been a Big Six advocate from its inception and a local workshop presenter on the method, changing to Kuhlthau’s ideas required a real forward shift in my thinking. Yet, as I muddled through those first few years, I realized the advantages of the affective aspect of information seeking and use with the cognitive and physical. So, when her work with Guided Inquiry emerged, I jumped right in and begin reading. The rest is history and as this week progresses, I will share my journey.

Jean Pflüger

G’day, Mate!

A big hello to my fellow GI devotees, from Brisbane, Australia! It is such a privilege to be participating in this blogging event, and to be given the opportunity to share, and reflect upon, some elements of my journey with Guided Inquiry.

My name is Judy Bolton and I am the Head of Information Services at St Paul’s School in Bald Hills (a suburb to Brisbane’s north). St Paul’s is a Pre-Prep to Year 12 Anglican School, with a total enrolment of approximately 1400 students. Whilst it is one (very!) large campus, there are three sub-schools: Junior (Pre-Prep to Year 6), Middle (Years 7 – 9) and Senior (Years 10-12).The School was opened as a boys’ only school in 1960, changing to co-educational in the early 1990s.

Aerial photo SPS

 

I came to my “new” profession of Teacher Librarianship after 25 years of classroom teaching in both State and Independent schools in Queensland. I had enjoyed my time as an English / History teacher (Years 7 – 12), but when the retirement of a staff member in the Library meant that there was a spot to be filled, I happily accepted the chance to have a “sea-change”. I was able to begin teaching in the Library immediately, with responsibility for teaching Years 5 – 7, and studied externally for my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) through Charles Sturt University in Wagga.

It was during the first subject of my studies that I was introduced to Guided Inquiry. Having been given the task of comparing and evaluating  two inquiry models, I chose Guided Inquiry as one of these. To say that this represented a “light bulb” moment for me is a cliche….. but also most definitely true! Finally, someone was explaining to me why I, as a learner, had struggled at certain stages of research (and still did….. returning to study was an eye-opener!) . Someone was explaining to me how I, as a teacher, could assist those in my care to navigate this process successfully and to reassure them that the feelings they were experiencing at certain times were common and predictable. Someone was explaining to me how I, as a lifelong learner, could use this information search process to assist me with any search / decision making process; it was a skill that I could truly recommend to students as worthwhile. And so began my continuing passion for Guided Inquiry.

To give some background. Our Library is divided into two parts, with internal access from one to the other: the Junior School area (a reasonably recent addition) and the Middle School and Senior School area. At the time I arrived we had three teacher Librarians: one who had a weekly Information Literacy / Literature lesson with Year 1 – Year 4s; I taught weekly lessons to the Year 5-7s, and the third TL was responsible for assisting and resourcing the Year 8 – 12 classes. Naturally, armed with my new knowledge and passion, I was keen to “show and tell” the teachers with whom I worked about Guided Inquiry. This enthusiasm was met with a mixed reaction: from disinterest (“We have the planning from last year, and we want to use that”) to gentle hostility (“I haven’t got enough time to work with you!”) to trepidation (“So how will I know what to do?”) to enthusiasm and eagerness to have a try (“Great! Come down and we can work together on the planning”). Sound familiar?

Ten years down the track, I am still as passionate as ever about Guided Inquiry and I have had some successes and have learned a great deal. I have hosted a number of seminars and professional development courses for staff on GI, I have enjoyed and received immense satisfaction from working with many colleagues on really successful projects, I am improving my ability to do a sales pitch (aka “Why you really need to collaborate on this GI unit” and I do believe, with the help of a similarly passionate educator, that Guided Inquiry is beginning to make an impact on the learning of our students. This is what I will hope to share with you over the coming week.

Judy Bolton

GID in the Middle School Library

051602-2022_RGrover_Final 8x10Hi! I’m Rachel Grover, the guest blogger for this week, and I’m a middle-school librarian in Fairfax County, Virginia. With just under 200 schools and over 160,000 students, we are the largest school district in the state of Virginia. Prior to being a librarian, I taught 5th grade for two years and middle-school English for five years. This will be my 3rd year as librarian – 10th in education! – and I am absolutely in love with my job. I love being able to have influence on the entire staff and student body, not just my own classroom, especially when it comes to sharing resources, helping to guide uses of new technology, and modeling lessons using new methods of teaching – like GID.

When my library supervisors introduced GID to all the librarians in our county, many of my thoughts were about how perfect of a position librarians are in to help teach this method to our staff. I found myself intrigued with how to transform what we perceived as effective lessons into more student-centered, student-engaged lessons. Since our introduction two years ago, I have used GID with history, Latin, art, and English classes! It always astounds the teachers how much more engaged students are and the quality of work GID produces.

Stay tuned for the next entry, which will detail examples of specific lessons I’ve done with these teachers and why middle school is a great opportunity to get students involved with GID.

From Australia

Hello, this is my first blog post on the 52 Week GID Challenge. Thanks for setting it up Leslie, it has made interesting reading!

My name is Margo Pickworth and I am the Teacher Librarian at Shore Preparatory School, a very large independent school in Sydney, Australia. My role as the teacher librarian involves not only managing the school library resources, but planning units of work with classroom teachers to implement syllabus documents, particularly with a focus on inquiry.

I first became interested in Guided Inquiry when Ross Todd spoke fondly of the work of Carol Kulthau in his visits to Australia. I was then fortunate enough to attend the CiSSL Summer Institute at Rutgers in 2014. Since then I have attempted to implement Guided Inquiry in my own context. There has been some ups and downs some of which I will share over the next few posts.

View from top1-2Circ desk1-2

My GID Prologue

Like every respectable epic story, my tale begins with a prologue.  My name is Andrew Holmes.  If my Twitter profile is to believed (@aholmes1517), I am a philosopher, instructional designer, innovator, educator, prolific reader, technology enthusiast, and engaging speaker. I am also beginning my second full year as a Ph.D. student in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, which, incidentally, has recently been afforded tier I research status (that’s impressive)! In addition, I am the Instructional Technologist (Instructional Designer) at Milwaukee School of Engineering University.

But, my Guided Inquiry Design journey begins much earlier. Continue reading

Giddy for GID!

My name is Elizabeth Walker (everyone calls me Lizzie) and I am the Teacher Librarian at St. George’s School in Vancouver, Canada. I work with about 400 boys from Grades 1 to 7 at our beautiful Junior School.

Like many North American cities, Vancouver is very new – any building older than about 50 years is considered “really old” – so our 1912 former convent heritage building is a truly unique place to work. It’s basically Hogwarts: an imposing grey stone gothic building in the middle of a leafy residential street. Walking through the granite gates and oak door every morning is something I never get tired of. My library occupies one wing of the main floor, and we recently refreshed the furnishings to create a very flexible, kid-friendly, and inviting learning space – a perfect setting for Guided Inquiry.

Oh, just my imposing gothic-revival workplace. No biggie. (Photo credit: stgeorges.bc.ca)

I have worked at the library at Saints for seven years now – in fact, my first cohort of Grade 7s whom I’ve known and worked with since Grade 1 just graduated to the Senior School two weeks ago. It was quite a poignant event for me, marking my own progress as the librarian here.

In my tenure at Saints, I have experimented with a number of educational philosophies and trends – from more traditional “bird units” to Project Based Learning, Inquiry Based Learning, Genius Hour and, of course, Guided Inquiry Design. I had the opportunity to learn about GID from the master herself: a small group of St. George’s teachers met up with Leslie in the Boston area in March 2015 to tour some schools that were implementing it.

From the outset, I knew I liked Guided Inquiry and that it would work well with our students. For one thing, St. George’s is an independent boys’ school, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned working exclusively with the prepubescent XY contingent, it’s that choice in learning is very motivating. Boys need to care about what they’re learning; that Third Space factor is critical. Ergo, projects in the past where teachers have given the students lists of possible topics to research, or have given strict parameters for what information to report, have not always been successful, simply because authentic choice was taken away from the students. The boys would slog through a project on a teacher-selected topic with minimal effort and, in the end, not learn anything significant. Projects like this become a chore.

GID works so well with elementary aged boys because, through the initial phases of the process, they can choose their own area of interest and the direction they want to take their learning. I have used the GID framework (either in its entirety, or the first three phases) in over half a dozen units and projects this year, and it is eye-opening to me how far our boys have gone with topics they are really curious and passionate about. I’ll get into some more details in my follow-up posts this week, but the variety of interests our students have developed is truly astonishing!

Here’s a teaser: any guess what this little creature is? He (or she?) is my Guided Inquiry mascot because he (or she) represents just what kids get curious about when you give them the freedom to explore and learn on their own!

Strange little creature. Photo credit: Alison Murray, ARKive

Strange little creature. Photo credit: Alison Murray, ARKive

Another reason I’ve really taken to GID in a big way is that it is a framework that puts the librarian front and centre (or centER, for you Americans!) of the learning team. Curating sources for students to use in the Explore and Gather phases really ensures that the information they’re accessing is reliable, relatable, and age-appropriate. Gone are the days of teachers letting boys loose on Google: LibGuides, subscription services, pre-selected websites, and – shockingly – books (!) are the stars of the show now. And, with these high quality resources selected for them, our boys learn and practice important research skills like citations, note-taking, and reading for information. Authentically and naturally… and without their librarian feeling like she’s pulling teeth.

One of our Grade 3 students during the Explore phase. Note how no teeth are being pulled. (Photo credit: me)

One of our Grade 3 students reading and taking notes in the Explore phase. Note how no teeth are being pulled. (Photo credit: me)

 

Finally, I like Guided Inquiry because it’s SIMPLE. While organizing the instructional team, planning time and resources can be time consuming, Guided Inquiry itself can be as complex as you wish to make it. In my experience, implementing GID has been smooth sailing because we’ve used resources, people and unit plans that were already there in some form. There was no major investment in supplies or resources (other than some GID books and consulting services from the lovely Leslie) and we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. GID doesn’t need to be a big production, and that has really helped me secure buy-in from many teachers at my school who previously were hesitant to take on “big projects.” And that, in turn, has meant that our students have been able to enjoy powerful, meaningful and FUN (!) learning experiences.

In my next post I’ll be describing some of the Guided Inquiry units I’ve implemented this year, as well as how I’ve stolen the first three phases of Guided Inquiry to beef up pre-existing projects and units at our school. Until then, enjoy these precious first few days of summer holidays!

~ Elizabeth Walker

@curiousstgeorge

This year I scored a microphone to use in the library. It has totally gone to my head. (Photo credit: me)

This year I scored a microphone to use in the library. It has totally gone to my head. (Photo credit: me)

 

Greetings from Norman, again!

My name is Stacy Ford and I am the Teacher-Librarian at The John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma. I have been an educator for 11 years.  Four of those years were spent as a middle school social studies teacher and the last seven years I have been a Teacher-Librarian.  My current school serves approximately 450 students in grades Pre-K through 5.  Our free and reduced lunch rate is approximately 90%.   An important feature to note for our upper grades (3-5) is there is pretty much a 1:1 student to Chromebook initiative which allows for ample technology integration for our units. The school library operates on a fully flexible schedule.  My schedule allows me to meet with whole groups, small groups, pull out students and push into classes as planned with teachers.  Currently, Kennedy is under construction and the library is under major renovation, where we will have walls for the first time since the building was constructed in 1968!  On a personal note, my wife Erin and I have two kiddos on the ground, ages 3 and 5, and a sweet girl that could be wheels down at literally any moment.  They keep us busy with trips to the local sno-cone stand, public library and right now to any pool we can get into.

As a Teacher-Librarian I was introduced to Guided Inquiry Design by our district library coordinator, Kathryn Lewis, in the 2014-2015 school year.  I participated in a Guided Inquiry Design Institute in the fall of 2015.  Prior to these experiences I was introduced to Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process during my M.L.I.S graduate program at the University of Oklahoma.  My school district has been very supportive of the Guided Inquiry Design process by sponsoring multiple GID institutes and having school librarians lead workshops at district and state conferences.  Most importantly, teachers and principals are being brought into this process alongside librarians, so that Guided Inquiry has not become a “library thing,” where Teacher-Librarian’s are expected to be the expert and implement everything.  This has allowed for TLs and the Teachers to develop better working relationships and a greater understanding of each others role in the instructional process.

As a classroom teacher my students were consistently involved with research projects.  Through my work with my school librarians I began to make these research projects better.  However, they still revolved around a rubric checklist of items, not authentic inquiry questions.  In my role as a teacher-librarian I would say that I have worked with teachers on authentic research projects, that is to say, not simply reporting information the majority of the time.  However, I would admit to working with teachers to assist in the reporting of information in my current practice as well.  The thing I love about Guided Inquiry, and what my school district is doing is that it lets me teach how I have always wanted to teach.  By teaching the way that I want to teach, I mean to say that I allow students the opportunity to research content related information to create knowledge in an authentic fashion.  Along, the way I am able to practice best teaching practices by allowing students to reflect on their learning and make connections with each other based on content.

This week I will be referencing two different Guided Inquiry Design prototype units that I have conducted with teachers and students at Kennedy.  I call them prototypes because they were not perfect examples, but I learned from both of them and the units I have since designed with teachers have benefited from the missteps our teams have made before. Back to the units I will be discussing.  One of the units will be a 3rd grade unit where students were focused on studying animal classification and the other was a 4th grade Native American unit.  There are specific things I love about each of these units and there are things I will redo when we implement them again.  

I’m looking forward to sharing with you this week! 

-Stacy

@StacyFord77

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!

odl_library-media

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.

orms

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.

orm_china

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.

standards

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.

Singing a New Tune

A.B. Westrick here. I’m the author of BROTHERHOOD (Penguin Young Readers). If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be writing and speaking about GID, I might have said, “Huh? GID, what? Guided Inquiry Design? You must have me confused with someone else. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Brotherhood COVER ARTNow it’s 2016, and boy am I singing a new tune. I wish my teachers had used Guided Inquiry when I was growing up. I’d especially have welcomed it in history classes, which I generally found to be dreadful. Having to memorize dates and names of dead white guys and strategies that won or lost wars? Spare me. Please.

But I’m not going to post here about history, not really. Only kind-of. I write fiction—not the first outlet that comes to mind when educators talk about GID. But as it turns out, my novel inspired two middle school librarians and a 7th grade social studies/language arts teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester, VA, to plan a dynamic GID unit. Next month—on June 25, 2016—during the AASL Awards session at the national ALA conference in Orlando, that team is going to receive the Collaborative School Library Award. Go, team!

So, how did it come about that fiction inspired their GID unit? Well. Read on. For today, I hope to make you curious, just as GID encourages you to do with students during the “Open” stage. Check out my book trailer (only 53 seconds long):

And if you want the full experience of the “Open” stage of the Carver Middle School unit, read chapter one of BROTHERHOOD. (Here it is at Amazon.) I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the “Immerse” stage and the rest of this GID unit, but if you’d like a sneak-peek, check out this “Blendspace” page. (I also link to the “Blendspace” page from the “Teachers” page of my website.) The Carver team posted everything there, including parental permission forms.

In my next post I’ll go into detail, and you’ll see that the unit was rather involved. The students loved it. But when it occurred to me that some schools wouldn’t have the resources to do the whole unit, I developed a scaled-down version that’s essentially a writing workshop based on GID. And history. Yes, I have to come back to history. (My book is historical fiction.)

WestrickABIn my third post, I’ll talk about the writing workshop, and you’ll see that it’s not about teaching history as much as it’s about getting students excited to ask their own questions about history. What I especially love about GID is the way it encourages students to lean how to learn. More tomorrow…

New Kid on the Block

Hello from Norman, Oklahoma!  My name is Terri Curtis, and I am currently a library assistant at Whittier Middle School.

First and foremost, I’m a mother to three fabulous teenagers.  I know what you are thinking.  Did I actually use fabulous and teenagers in the same sentence?  Yes, I did.  I genuinely like teenagers, and I’m kind of partial to the ones with which I share a home.  This is the end of an era for my family as it is the last of 9 consecutive years with a middle schooler in my house.  In that 9 years, I’ve learned a few things.

  • There is never a dull moment.
  • It is never quiet.
  • Someone is always hungry.
  • Kids have a lot of important things to say and want to be heard…  just like adults.
  • Their feelings and emotions are very real.
  • There is no point in buying new carpet until everyone moves out.
  • They don’t all think and process things the same way.
  • Don’t ask them what they think if you aren’t prepared to listen to an honest answer.

I truly love this age of child, both as a parent and as an educator.  I get to laugh every single day, and I look forward to seeing my home kids and my school kids as often as humanly possible.  This is a picture of me with my favorite middle school student.  He also happens to be my son.

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In my early parenting years, I got a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.  I used this degree while serving as a director of the preschool in my church.  Once my children got a little older, I decided to head back to school to get my MLIS degree.  I graduated last December, and I’m excited about the thought of having my own library in the future.

As a library assistant in a middle school in Norman, I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to GID.  This past school year, our district sent many teams to GID training, and I was happy to have been included.  I’ve been involved in planning and implementing a few units at the middle school level.  I’m excited about GID and the authentic learning that happens when a team of educators collaborates to design and facilitate inquiry-based units for their students.  We truly hold the key to raising a generation of thinkers.

Terri Curtis