Inquiring Minds want to Know: Taking our GID Journey on the Road

Last month, I did something completely out of my comfort zone: I presented GID at a state conference. Let me just mention that presenting to a group of like-minded peers on a large stage has been one of my greatest fears. What if I mess up? What if people do not like what they hear? What if I forget what to say? Yes, I know- these fears are all highly illogical, but nevertheless, these questions are what prevented me from stepping up in the past.

But now, I feel a responsibility, and as a type A overachiever, I never shy away from fulfilling my duties. After attending the Rutgers institute and spending the year working as hard as we have on redesigning our units using GID, I feel that it is now my duty to share with others in the state more about this model.

The Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA) is a state organization comprised of Wisconsin’s leading library media and technology specialists. Each spring, the state conference attracts leaders who volunteer to share the latest and greatest innovations in education. This year, I felt that it was my time to step up and share what I have learned. In my opinion, what we are doing with GID in De Pere is special, and I want the rest of the educators in Wisconsin to know more about how GID can change the culture of learning.  Besides, there isn’t a better model out there that supports the role of the library media specialist as the expert on information literacy.

After applying to present and receiving acceptance, my team- Peggy Rohan, Literacy Coach, Cara Krebsbach, Science/Social Studies Teacher, and Betty Hartman, Principal- and I shared our story on an early Sunday afternoon. Our goal was to not only expose others to each step in the GID model, but to also share our unique examples and strategies. In essence, our presentation was about our journey and what we have learned through engaging our students and teachers in the GID process. As a result, our session attendees left with practical, ready-to-use tools that they could immediately incorporate into their own classrooms. Isn’t this what all educators are looking for when they attend professional development sessions?

While I still consider myself an introvert, this experience opened me up to the importance of sharing with others in the profession as much as possible. While I am by no means a GID expert, I realize that I am helping others simply by sharing my experience. Education is a hard profession, and the only way to survive is by supporting and sharing professionally with one another. I constantly rely on others who share. It is only fair that I give back as well.

With that, here is our WEMTA presentation.  You will find examples of our units, student products, and our handouts. We welcome your thoughts and feedback and hope that you will share your examples with us as well.

Finally, Twitter is a great way to share all of the good and exciting work that we continue to do with GID. I vow to share frequently and widely. In this day and age, it is especially important that we positively promote the good happening in public education. Please follow me on Twitter @donnalynnyoung to see the good happening at De Pere Middle School. I would love to follow you back and see GID in action at your school as well!

I look forward to continuing to learn more about GID and how to best meet our students’ needs from you. Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.

Donna Young
Library Media Specialist
De Pere Middle School

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

Aligning Guided Inquiry with the A+ Philosophy

Guided Inquiry Design is a method of teaching that relies heavily upon teacher flexibility and student personal interest. Many veteran teachers have said, during or after their GID training, that “this is how we used to teach!” As I have learned this process along with other ongoing professional development, it has been interesting to compare and see where GID overlaps with other teaching philosophies and methods.

One important characteristic of my school, Monroe Elementary, is that we are an A+ School. This means that we have some basic tenets that provide a framework for the things we do. For example, one of the A+ Essentials is Arts at the core. This means that we integrate the arts into our teaching as often as possible. Another example that identifies an A+ school is focus on collaboration.

Teaching in an A+ school makes it easy to integrate Guided Inquiry, because so many of the key philosophies overlap. One of the most important tenets of A+ is Enriched Assessment. This means that assessment is more meaningful than paper and pencil tests. It is assessment through multiple pathways, such as creating a project to share what is learned. This is just one area where A+ and Guided Inquiry fit together perfectly!

This chart shows some of the overlapping areas between A+ and GID:


A+ Characteristic

Guided Inquiry Design

A+ and Guided Inquiry Implemented Together

Enriched assessment

Evaluate

Project based learning

Arts at the core

Create

Student freedom to be creative

Multiple Learning Pathways

Third Space

Flexibility in students’ choices of inquiries and creations

Collaboration

Extended Guided Inquiry Team

Teachers work together to plan and implement instruction

Infrastructure

Time and flexibility

Students have time to spend in Open, Immerse, Explore

Climate

Ownership, Third Space

Connection to students’ real life is valued

Experiential learning

Hands on experiences

Open, Immerse, Explore give real life experiences

Curriculum

Focus on standards

Standards are taught in meaningful ways


As you can see from the above chart, Guided Inquiry and A+ work well together! When our 1st grade teachers and I were at the Guided Inquiry training, we were building a unit over space science. The unit template includes sections on “Overarching Learning Goals” and “Five Kinds of Learning.” Our team didn’t even have to stop and ponder what this meant, we said, “This is just A+!”

Guided Inquiry is a model that fits with so many other effective teaching methods. GID units can be elaborate research projects for high school and college students. They can be beginning research projects for primary students, and every grade and subject in between! Guided Inquiry is for everyone, and all it takes is some flexibility and willingness to adjust our thinking from traditional research to make the switch!

Trisha Hutcherson, M.L.I.S.

Monroe Elementary

Norman, Oklahoma

“Bulldog Brilliance” at its best – Alternative Ed students rock it!

For my final post this week, I will talk about the specifics and how the GID process worked beautifully with the Bulldog Brilliance Lab project.  Recall that the project this class did was to create a lab with video recording and editing equipment and materials for creating.  As I have already stated, I believe that GID is appropriate for all types of learners. This is important and was particularly key because the students in this middle school class ranged in grades from 6th to 8th with varied academic abilities. The flexibility of GID supported this diversity perfectly!

The initial planning work on the Bulldog Brilliance Lab took about 4 weeks.  The guiding unit question was ‘How does creative expression impact the world” and integrated standards from language arts, math, social studies, information literacy, and art. The unit started by bringing students together to discuss what they thought they could do with a lab where they would be allowed to create. Students shared their ideas and visions through a shared writing experience thinking about how this might impact their learning.  To Open, as a group the class looked at student created videos and brainstormed what was necessary to create an actual video.  Open was really an inquiry group activity where students shared freely.  Immerse was a fantastic field trip to the high school to visit the Video Resource Center (VRC).  The VRC is a production studio offering classes in media production.  The VRC also manages the District TV channel showcasing footage about events in the district and happenings at the school sites.  It was a perfect place for our students to learn firsthand about what equipment was needed.  As noted in my second post this week, there was also emotional benefits for our students because of them ‘finding their place at the high school’ making the upcoming transition so much easier.  The field trip also motivated students about the project and they came away with great ideas and a new-found confidence. Explore was done primarily through online resources simply because pricing for equipment could change quickly and the available print resources were limited. This provided the perfect opportunity to really strengthen skills for evaluating web sites!  Using resources curated and organized in Google Docs and websites the students located, they learned more about video equipment, labs, creating stations, and fab lab options.  Identify was somewhat collaborative because students naturally divided and focused on the equipment and the part of the lab that interested them most. There’s that flexibility again – thank you GID! The students consulted another expert from the Computer Lab/Technology Center from the public library to further identify possible equipment and as they Gathered information, it was maintained on a collaborative Google Spreadsheet (see image below). Information included was the name of equipment, pricing, quantity and where the item could be purchased. In this phase, there were several inquiry group discussions about the equipment specifications and the students had to justify why they choose one model over another.

Image 1. Collaborative Google Spreadsheet for Equipment Budget

The Create piece of the project was to work as a team to develop presentations that could be shared when seeking financial support.  In this phase, discussions about presenting etiquette was covered. Students recorded themselves using old Flip Camera’s and what we found was when students watched themselves, many of them said ‘I need to practice more’. Talk about a chance to practice writing and speaking skills!  Sharing was done through presentations and grant writing where students contributed to the final presentation and work.  Students could not be at all presentations and any grants written had to be done through the teachers.  None-the-less, student input was invaluable because it was their vision and work!  Although we did not get the funding to buy new equipment, as the project was Evaluated using ‘what worked, what did not work, and what would you change next time’ questions, students shared that they were proud of their work and recognized that not everything gets funded.  Another really great learning opportunity.

As noted in my earlier post, the lab became a reality through donated and repurposed equipment.  Once that happened video and creating activity was somewhat ongoing. Here are some pictures of student work and production on a promotional video they created for the Pennies for Pasta campaign.  (Pennies for Pasta is a fundraising effort to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.) For this video students created a storyboard and plan to include as many teachers and students in the school as possible – of course only those that wanted to be front of the camera – and then collaboratively wrote the script.  In this project, it was so great to see the camaraderie happening between students.  Some students did not want to be in front of the camera so they opted for ‘behind the scenes’ roles and they cheered each other on through the completion.  Because we did not get new equipment, the class partnered with the VRC so they could use really good quality equipment for recording and to learn Final Cut Pro for editing.  The video aired on the school channel and we were so proud!

Image 2. Pennies for Pasta Storyboard

Image 3. Collaborative Google Slides writing video script

Image 4. Student ‘interviewing’ cook for video

 

Image 5.  Recording footage for video in Bulldog Brilliance Lab

We observed growth in students in their self-confidence, their ability to use information in an authentic way, their ability to work collaboratively to solve a problem and share information, and their improved overall behavior- and this is attributed to the GID process.   To bring this all back around I believe deeply that GID is for all learners and that it provides natural learning scaffolds in every phase no matter the academic ability of the student.  By the way, I also believe that GID is great for special education students – but that is perhaps the topic of another week.

I hope you enjoyed reading my work and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. As I close my blogging for this week it is with great thanks to Dr. Leslie Maniotes for this opportunity. This is a fantastic chance to reflect and share and I am so glad I did it!

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS

Energetic Educator and Online College Professor
drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy

Top 5 Bloggers/posts this year!

I’ve been crunching the numbers and checking out the stats for our year on the blog.  The numbers are exciting and we have some celebrations to share!

So, I’m here today to announce and celebrate our

Top 5 Bloggers for 2016!

These top five blog posts were determined by the number of views to their posts.  Congratulations to all of you!

  1. Paige Holden with 643 views of her post Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming… | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry  On this post, Paige explained how she scaffolded her middle schoolers questioning in the Identify phase.  She expertly guided her students to expand their understanding of questions using Webb’s depth of knowledge to support and other strong scaffolds.  The post goes on to describe the actual student’s questions as a result.  She moves into the Gather and Create phases including information literacy skills embedded in the unit.
  2. Lizzie Walker aka Curious St George had nearly 400 views of her post Avoid Cheetah Reports in 8 Easy Steps! | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry where she summarizes a fourth grade science unit where she flips the traditional animal report on its head! Using the concept of “All living things and their environment are interdependent,”  the students engaged in the GID process to dig deeper and in more interesting ways into the animals they know and love, and some that they had never heard of before!
  3. Kathryn Roots Lewis takes the third place with 200 views to her post GID-Making a Difference in Teaching & Learning | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry . Kathryn brings a unique leadership perspective as she is the library leader in Norman, Oklahoma where a national model of Guided Inquiry Design is taking hold.  In this post nearly 200 people read about how the GID movement began and the far reaching effects of the practice in her district. Thanks, Kathryn, for sharing this important leadership perspective.
  4. Kelsey Barker and Dr. Buffy Edwards represented a team who was working at the district level to create a fifth grade science unit on biospheres.  In this post with 198 views, Taking Steps Back So We Can Move Forward | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry the team, in the middle of the design process, took a step back to look at what they were planning from a student’s perspective and that shed new shining light onto their work.  It was fantastic to hear about their process and how it unfolded and what resulted from this team’s work together.
  5. And the fifth most read post was by yours truly.  People had been asking me in my GID workshops about REAL student questions and what questions arose out of this Guided process.  Educators are often worried that kids questions will be so far afield of the content and need some reassurance. In this post, viewed by 198 readers, I wrote about the exemplary model from Westborough High School in Massachusetts. I shared the questions from a unit in our recently released high school book as well as some of the questions from Kathleen Stoker‘s students participating in the psychology in literature class. Once you see the real questions that students have, and the level of these questions, as well as how they are relevant to topic, and have students passions embedded within them, you just have to give GID a try! 😀

Thanks all for the wonderful descriptions of what you have been working on this year using the Guided Inquiry model to make a difference in teaching and learning for your students!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all.

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-Author of the Guided Inquiry series

Professional Developer

guidedinquirydesign.com

 

Image credit https://goldsmithdolphins.com/2013/05/21/end-of-year-celebration-times-updated/

 

What a year it has been!

I took on this challenge of a year long shared blog with no idea of how it would work out, no idea if we’d have enough practitioners to fill the weeks, but a willingness to fill in when there were gaps, and some very high hopes for what reflection on what Guided Inquiry can do, for learners and for a growing community of educators.

Over the next few days I will reflect on the year and share some data about our collective accomplishments together.  I hope this will inspire people to continue with us next year and inspire even more folks to join in our community of reflection and practice on this blog.

So for my first post of this week,

Who we are?

As I began this yearlong journey, I had a long list of people I have worked with, trained in Guided Inquiry, and of whom I value their use of the Guided Inquiry Design. I knew these folks were smart and had the ability to be humble and reflective – meanwhile get that taking risks is often well worth the effort!  But, I didn’t know who would or could take the time and make a commitment to sharing their work in this very public and sometimes scary public platform.

The wonderful news is, that many people really enjoyed sharing on our blog this year and many learned that blogging isn’t so hard, but actually fun!  Furthermore, many people want to do it again!

I was hoping for a wide variety of respondents- I knew because of the strong connection between Guided Inquiry and teacher librarians that many would hold that role on the team.  I was happy to see that district level leaders, and teachers, as well as researchers and other friends of Guided Inquiry would appear.  I also appreciated the international perspectives that were provided. And members were wonderful to include through images and quotes, the voices of our students.

WOW! The stats on our Blog this year showing the variety of participation!

We are a group active in social media, especially using twitter as a PLN.  Here we are represented on Twitter!  You have an entire PLN of folks who are dedicated to GID here!

  @lesliemaniotes @52_GID  @InquiryK12                          Denver
 @ldharring-                                                                          New Jersey
@patrice4books                                                                          Virginia
@anitacellucci @libraryWHS                                                        Mass
@aholmes1517 @TeachingMuse                                         Wisconsin
@thebossysister                                                                       Maryland
@donnalynnyoung                                                                       Texas
@MrsDanner_72,                                                                         Ohio
@JALibrarian                                                                                Ohio
@tjbcurtis                                                                                Oklahoma
@paigemholden                                                                     Oklahoma
@StacyFord77                                                                        Oklahoma
@KelseyGourd                                                                       Oklahoma
 @Kelseymbarker                                                                  Oklahoma
 @jluss                                                                                    Connecticut
@kujawaIBLibrary                                                                    Texas
@Jean Pfluger                                                                            Texas
@rgrov1013                                                                              Virginia
@KatBogie                                                                              Wisconsin
@HCHSLibrarian                                                                   Kentucky
@MDWestborough                                                                    Mass
@stokerkathleen                                                                        Mass
@nd4Buffy                                                                      North Dakota
@mrsreinagel                                                                        Virginia
LIBRARY LEADERS
‏@Katlewis25Lewis                                                               Oklahoma
@nomoretwist                                                                       Virginia
@LoriDonovan14                                                                   Virginia
@krayz4libraries                                                                    Maryland
 INTERNATIONAL
 @bloomingcherry                                                         Turku, Finland
@marc_crompton                                                 Vancouver, Canada
@curiousstgeorge-                                                 Vancouver, Canada
@margoannep                                                North Sydney, Australia
@ezpatel                                                   New South Wales, Australia
@AlindaS                                                 New South Wales, Australia
@leefit @TLs_forever                           New South Wales, Australia
YA Author
@abwestrick                                                                             Virginia

And of course we had people who have just started with GID all the way to people who have been working on it for a few years! My favorite part was the many, many perspectives represented and the stories that came from not one perspective to show what we can do with this model, but from so many!  Thank you all.  If you haven’t already- add these folks to your PLN today!

Before the new year rings in I’ll share a little more of a year summary including:

What we’ve accomplished.

AND What we hope to be!

Happy Holidays all!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

 

Voices on the Learning and Words of Wisdom

Here are multiple perspectives and reflections on what we did.

FROM DANA (ELL Teacher):

When many students leave their native countries to come to school in Millburn, NJ, there are many things to go through their minds: Do I know enough of the language to get by in school? Will I be able to communicate with my teachers? Will I get good grades? Will I be able to meet my parents’ expectations in school? Will I acclimate to the new culture? Will people accept my culture? Will I like American food? Will people think my food is weird? Will I have anything in common with people?

As an ELL (English Language Learning) teacher in Millburn, NJ, my job is to make sure these students feel comfortable in their new environment, and have the best academic experience possible. After all, many families come to the town specifically for the schools. In my ELL classroom, I always make it a point to get to know students personally, and advocate for them with teachers in mainstream classes.

One thing I always notice is that students eventually feel very comfortable in the ELL classroom, but not in the larger settings of content classes. Many times, ELL students feel different than students who have grown up here. Let’s face it, ELL teachers sometimes feel different than all the other teachers in the school. They are usually one person departments with no other ELL teacher to collaborate with.

I was lucky enough to form a unique relationship with my school librarian, who thrives on collaboration. Together with Rachael Harrington, professional storyteller, we developed a year long project called ” Our Story”, that  makes the ELL students realize that people are more the same than different. It makes them realize that their food is loved by many people, and not weird at all. Through oral storytelling and integration of multiple digital tools students come out of their shells and perform a cultural story, using their speaking and listening skills to interview a partner, reading and critical thinking skills to conduct research, and writing skills to express their ideas. All of this culminates in an International Festival involving parents, students, faculty and school administrators.

The collaboration between ELL teacher, librarian, students and families is an invaluable tool that makes these students, families and teachers feel a part of the community.
FROM RACHAEL (our storyteller):

Working with ELL students as a storyteller is inspiring because I am always reminded that language is more nuanced than just the words we read or speak. Computers and robots can say words, but there is a soul and depth to human communication that can happen in a look, the raising of an eyebrow, or a tip of the head. These are some of the things I like to think about when collaborating to create storytelling workshops in ELL classrooms.

An idea that I specifically like to work with is that each and every student, regardless of current English proficiency, is a natural storyteller with sparks of creativity and a specific, unique voice. When I begin working with a group, I play theater and storytelling games that require little to no language. This gets students loosened up, but it also allows them to begin building confidence in expressing themselves. From there, we can dive into further story explorations that integrate tales from cultures represented in the classroom, personal narrative experiences, and vocabulary building. The most important thing for me, though, is that the students walk away from the workshop knowing that stories have a life outside of rote words.

 

FROM JASMINE (A student):

Telling a story in front of so many people gave me the confidence of expressing myself. It’s one of the most important barriers of a second language. I’m really proud of myself that I took that step.

The … project was a very interesting way to learn the culture of a different country.

 

FROM JASMINE’s MOM (apologies for the grammar but I wanted to leave it in the exact words of Jasmine’s mom):

Jasmine and I, as international student and parent, benefit a lot from the project as the following:

For the first time in Jasmine’s life she could speak English publicly thanks to the storytelling, which was a great start point for her to face the school life in a foreign country. Also, Jasmine felt comfortable and good when other classmates and teacher appreciated the stories of her home country.

As a mother, I appreciate the International Night very much because I knew the teachers and classmates of my daughter. Then, I have more common topics with my daughter than before. Also, I made friends here. We parents could share our experience with kids, and then we could help the kids more than before. And, parents becoming friends helped the kids closer to each other.

In China we always say, “Good start point means half of success.” The project is the good start point for Jasmine.

FROM LaDawna (the librarian):

As Jasmine’s mom so eloquently said… “Good start point means half of success” To me this sums up the WHOLE reason why we should do Guided Inquiry Design. GID is deep and rich and is way more than giving an assignment, providing a list, or making a rubric. The rewards are great. The rewards are in the deep collaborative work that is done by the team, the rewards are in the excitement you see from the students, the rewards are in seeing learning take place in a personal way. For librarians I think it is what we always yearn for, to have access to students, to be an integral part of the design process, to be included in the creation and sharing phase. So many times a research project is done in the library, and never do you get a glimpse inside the learning that took place because the essay is read by the content teacher, or the poster is designed and turned in for the teacher to grade, and you always wonder….”did what I contribute really impact the student learning?” That is not what happens in GID….I get to be an essential partner in the process.

LaDawna Harrington

MHS Librarian

Millburn, NJ

Reflections of GID over the years and across the grades

It has been a real week of reflection. I came to school on Tuesday to find that the Theatrette had been booked by the two Year 3 classes to celebrate the end of a GID unit that I had no part in planning as I have been working with four Year 7 classes this term.

They were holding their culminating Share activity of a “This is your Life” show. The unit studied was British Colonisation of Australia. The students were all dressed as the character they had chosen to research – convict, free settler, aboriginal, Marine guard, colonial Governor etc. Each had prepared answers to questions about their trip to Australia on the First Fleet, their life in the early colony etc.

The teachers were ‘dressed to the nines’ as the host and the room was crowded with parents and grandparents. I first collaborated in this unit of work in 2014 and this was a repeat with one teacher supporting another who had not used GID before. It was a fantastic morning – the children were so excited and had obviously learned a great deal!

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After the first few years of using Carol Kuhlthau’s original model of the Guided Inquiry process, with its nouns as steps, I was over the moon when we were introduced to the new GID process step names as verbs which made so much more sense to the younger students. Add to that the new colourful Syba Sign images to guide students through the process and it is now so much more connected for everyone.

Whilst I have always, in over 40 years of teaching, tried to make learning personally relevant to my students the concept of ‘Third Space’ explains why relevancy works so well and the more we can encourage teachers to have students explore within this space the more the students will retain and build knowledge and be engaged in their learning. Guided Inquiry Design does this so well!

In 2008 I began using Guided Inquiry with Year 7 and then after two years had my first experience of a Year 10 class. The difference was marked but really the outcome was similar. All students without exception were engaged in their learning and the teachers involved continued to want to repeat the process. Though the years I have gathered evidence, obtained permissions for publication and used this to promote the GID practice in our Australian schools. Syba Signs provided our first professional learning conferences on Guided Inquiry and continues to supply Australian school libraries with signage and books.

I use my library blog to store a lot of the history of our GID journey and anyone is welcome to look at these experiences through photos and videos. http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/

Here are a few of our more exciting experiences at Broughton:

2010 – Taking two year 10 students to a Syba Signs conference in Sydney where Joshua articulated the whole process for his inquiry into the treatment of refugees in Australia – The politicians should have listened to him!  http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2010/

2013 –A Year 12 student who asked her teacher to use GI after her experience of the year before and a seminar of our Primary teachers promoting its use to colleagues then Jodie Torrington describing her work that year…and finally two video products of a Year 10 GID unit  http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2013/

2015 – scroll for a Year 2 unit on People who help us in the community http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2015/

2016 – Medieval Day with Year 8 – this unit gets bigger and better every year!http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2016/

A link to an action research article I published in Scan in 2011: http://bit.ly/2f8Ny1u

Technology has made our jobs so much more integrated and our shared learning so much more exciting. When I first used GI back in 2008, I set up a wiki for shared learning and this was considered to be very innovative practice. Whilst this worked well then, it had its frustrations and we now have so much more! Lately, Edmodo has been our preferred platform and this works very well to:

Differentiate learning tasks, set up and share in inquiry circles, deliver scaffolds, share resource list links (eg Diigo), collect and share work, share links to final products – websites, videos, assess scaffolds, links to questionnaires for action research…. and more!

Thank you to everyone who has shared and contributed to my learning and I hope, through sharing freely, I have helped others in some small way too.

Alinda Sheerman

a.sheerman@broughton.nsw.edu.au

Head of Information Services/Teacher Librarian

Broughton Anglican College,

Menangle Park, 2560

NSW, Australia

Reflections

Reflection

I love reflecting. I reflect after every lesson I teach, after a full day’s worth of lessons, after finishing a project, after finishing a parenting task, after everything. I truly believe that I can use reflection to improve my teaching and to improve student learning. Here are my “Big thought” reflections on the guided inquiry process.

Collaboration: Collaboration is key. While at the GID Institute, at CiSSL this summer,  I was able to plan with a regular education teacher and the school media specialist. We worked very well together. We all three wanted to be there and had a goal in mind. When you make your GID team, you need to make sure everyone has bought in. You will struggle. We struggled. The regular education teacher had to take the perspective of teaching 150 students per day and what she could do with that. I had to take the perspective of the special education teacher and play devils advocate for my students who may not be comfortable with some of the activities or ideas that we had due to their disability. The media specialist was able to give us a completely different perspective and moderate conversations. This make up was key. We were able to give each other different viewpoints and constructive feedback. We worked no less than 45 hours on this unit, that would only last two weeks.

Challenges: We started this unit on day 4 of school. We started this unit with freshmen. It was very easy to get them hooked. They wanted to write and discuss the concept of balance and how things related. They liked exploring with the stations and working in the room as well as the library. It was great to be able to give them non-math tasks. The students were excited to choose their own topics for researching and making connections. Honestly, the first 7 days were great and going just as planned. Once they had their topic, they struggled. All of the students were able to connect balance to their topic, but found it very difficult to connect it to math. The media specialists, myself and my co teacher all had to work with students one on one questioning them through their progress. It was exhausting. These were probably some of the most inspiration and draining days of my teaching this far. Students wanted us to give them the answers. They expected us to lead them in the right direction. We held strong and let them work through their frustrations. It took an extra day or two for them to actually get facts and information gathered and their thoughts together. Once that happened it was presenting time. We left the options for presentation open, and this lead them to have a lot of anxiety. Many did not want to present. Many did not want to complete a project. Many were so tired of the loosely structured classroom that they were unwilling to persevere. They did though and we came up with some great products.

Rewards: We had several students who would not have been interested in math rapping about math. One student was so very excited that he could use this as an excuse to learn coding skills to talk about a career in coding and how it relates to math and balance. We had students coming out of their shells and presenting. We also had students who were not usually interested in math, that were now excited to come to class. So while the concept wasn’t grasped by all, it had a huge positive impact on the students.

Recommendations: I would recommend this unit to any math teacher. Balancing equations can be used at almost any grade level. I do not recommend doing it in the first week of school. I would say you need to have structure, routine and respect in place before moving on and starting this lesson. Having a “background” of structure and allowing the students to get to know us for longer would have helped tremendously.

Amanda Biddle

High School SPED teacher/ Assessment Coordinator

Fayette, KY