Shifting the Learning Culture: Triumphs and Challenges in GID Implementation

As mentioned in my previous post, DPMS has transformed learning in all of our content area classes through GID by providing students with an engaging, 21st century, research-based learning model. While we are by no means experts on GID, we have spent extensive time this year learning more about the model, rewriting old content area units, and testing out new techniques and technologies. In this post, I will share with you some tips that we have learned along the way from our own successes and mistakes.

First, we always begin our unit planning by outlining every step of the process using a template provided to us at the Rutgers institute. Outlining each step and the essential learning goals prior to beginning a unit is essential for success. The planning process is a team effort consisting of me, Literacy Coach, Peggy Rohan, the content area teacher(s), and other extended team members such as our Technology Training Specialist and administrators. It is important for us to identify not only the essential questions and learning goals, but also the necessary resources and documents that are needed during a unit to ensure that each team member clearly understands his or her role and the learning activities during each stage. To aid in visualizing our planning process, view our plan for an upcoming eighth-grade social studies slavery unit

Teaching with GID has been a shift for the teachers, and Peggy and I continue to work with them on letting go of the idea that mastering facts and focusing on content is essential to learning in the 21st century. We continue to reassure teachers that what students really need is exposure to the topic and just enough background information to get them thinking about a research topic of interest; students will continue to learn from one another as they share their research at the end of the process. Moving from a “fact-based” curriculum to one that immerses students in inquiry learning doesn’t happen overnight, and through GID we are working to change the culture of learning so that students become critical, analytical consumers of information and effective problem solvers.

Exposing students to content information during the Immerse phase is easy when you consider the many different modern technologies and websites that we have available at our fingertips. When unit planning, I always consider the various tech tools available, and I try to weave in as many real-world experiences as possible. For example, while planning our Africa unit I learned about this awesome new website called Belouga. Belouga provides a platform for connecting students asynchronously with other classrooms from around the world after students answer a series of profile questions on culture, history, cuisine, school, environment, family, and interests. Once teachers request a classroom connection, and once students answer at least 25 profile questions, students are matched with a partner from the connected school, and they have access to their partner’s answers of the same profile questions. Reading profile responses from students in Kenya and Ghana was an eye-opening experience for our students as they were able to read first-person accounts of life on an entirely different and diverse continent. These connections also provided opportunities for rich classroom discussions and ignited student interest in further investigating issues presented by the African students.

Virtual reality is another great way to immerse students in real-world learning. During our Ancient China unit, students took a trip to the Great Wall of China through Google Expeditions. Google Expeditions offers thousands of free, narrated VR tours. In addition, Nearpod is another great source for finding pre-made VR lessons. Even without VR headsets, students still can be immersed in meaningful VR experiences by simply viewing tours on their smartphones or on iPads.

Another important pedagogical shift that we have made involves effectively teaching students how to ask meaningful inquiry questions. In the traditional research model, teachers assign a topic and send students off to try and find basic, often regurgitated facts that answer questions assigned by the teacher (think traditional “country report” where the student spits back facts such as the population, government, sports, etc.). In the GID model, students are responsible for coming up with their own research questions based on a topic of interest. We continue to work with our teachers on the best way to teach student questioning and push them to let go of assigning “criteria” that all students must answer in their final products. In teaching questioning, we have found the QFT model to be a successful way to get students thinking about the difference between open and closed questions. We encourage students to focus on writing “how” or “why” questions to ensure that they are asking only open questions. Once students have brainstormed their questions, it is essential for teachers to confer with students to help them modify and narrow their questions if necessary. Questioning is likely to be a very new skill for students, and many of them will need help with writing a question that is not too broad or too narrow. One final tip: don’t rush the Identify stage. Students need good research questions in order to effectively navigate the process and create a product that leads to new and transformative learning. When we design our units, we estimate that on average we need at least three full class periods to complete the Identify phase with fidelity.

Finally, I want to mention some thoughts about the Gather stage. This is also a stage that must not be rushed. As was often the case in the previously mentioned phases, Peggy and I had to work with teachers to ensure that students were learning the necessary- and correct- research skills that they needed to effectively navigate the research process. Many teachers have the misconception that students already “know” how to research when in reality they have never received instruction on skills such as searching in library databases, choosing effective keywords, ethically using others’ images and music, citing sources properly, or evaluating websites. I will specifically build these lessons into our GID units and either directly teach the lessons myself or provide screencast review tutorials for students. In many cases, the teachers themselves are not aware of 21st-century research tools and techniques, and during our GID trainings, I highlighted the importance of relying on the Library Media Specialist for support and student instruction especially during this phase.

Ultimately what matters at the end of the process is that students are positively impacted by learning through GID. What did our students think of the process after completing a GID unit?  I was curious, and at the end of our Africa unit, I conducted a few student interviews to find out. Please view the video below to hear a variety of student perspectives. Please note that the students in the video represent a range of learning abilities from the low to the high end of the spectrum.

While we have worked hard this year to restructure our learning culture, we realize that we still have a lot to learn. We continue to research, read, and review what we are doing as we learn more about how GID can transform student learning.

Donna Young
Library Media Specialist
De Pere Middle School

Evaluating our GID Global Connections ‘OREO’ experience

While our American friends are celebrating Thanksgiving and taking a holiday for two days, ‘Down Under’ we are very busy completing the last few weeks of our school year and looking forward to our six week summer holiday!

This morning I have been working with two of our four Year 7 classes on their GID unit of work ‘Ancient World depth study: China and helping them finish off their reports before selecting a way to share their work – so far we have a selection of web pages, poems, songs and there will no doubt be a prezi or two!

But I digress – In my last blog post about the Year 5 Global Connections unit of work we arrived at the vital stage of ‘Evaluate‘.

This unit of work became extremely large and our time was very limited. We did, however, take the time to evaluate! This is very important so that a second cycle with another class can build upon what took place this time and improve on what was already so exciting!

The teaching team had already discussed quite a few aspects during the process.

One idea was to give certain students, with special learning needs, tasks that would allow them to absorb more knowledge without having to write as much. One boy we decided, who loves using cameras, should have been given the video management role so that as he edited he would have learned a lot more than through doing his own research!

Students could also have worked in groups, with a leader allocating tasks, so that some students could work on the logo, another on the script in partnership with those working on goals and motto etc.

This would have saved a lot of time but we were also aware of just how proud each student was of their individual achievement that they could then share with the others. Some of these activities, though, were also used to achieve outcomes in other subject areas such as Art.

We decided to evaluate the students and the teaching team but we also received unexpected comments from parents.

Students: Based on de Bono’s hats

Catherine decided on a wonderful way to ask the students to reflect on their learning. After telling them all about de Bono’s thinking hats she had them work their way around the room in groups to tables that held coloured pieces of cardboard. They all wrote comments on these and the teaching team, including a special needs teacher, circulated to assist in some of the ‘harder zones’.

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A timer ‘bomb’ App on the white board kept the students focused to achieve a comment in the limited time before the massive explosion!

timer

I collected the cardboard and notated the comments  so that we could discuss this together later.

Teaching Team: Catherine and I discussed at length together – what went well and what needed fixing. I interviewed her and her responses were recorded and are stored here:

Student achievement: https://vimeo.com/128838865

Student Engagement: https://vimeo.com/128838303

Integration and evaluation: https://vimeo.com/128837052

Teacher Librarian Collaboration: https://vimeo.com/128837051

Integration and ‘Thinking’ Questions: https://vimeo.com/128837050

The Year 5 parents were amazed by the enthusiasm of their children throughout this whole unit of work and after their attendance at the “Summit” we received these two emails:

parent-feedback-3

parentfeedback2

 

SHARE again – Widely!

I was invited to speak at the NSW annual conference of the Teacher Librarian Professional Learning Community. The topic I spoke on was TL – changing pedagogy to increase student engagement and learning.

I decided to invite along Catherine and also one of the students with his parents. I gave them half the time and we all spoke about our learning experience on this unit. Needless to say, a number of teacher librarians became convinced that Guided Inquiry Design, collaboratively taught and with the assistance of the teacher librarian certainly engages students but also increases their learning across many areas.

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This GID unit of work really was a wonderful learning experience for us all!

Stay tuned for my final general GID wrap up reflections later in the week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Alinda Sheerman (Broughton Anglican College, Menangle Park, NSW Australia)

Race Cars, Mental Agility, and Hikers – Strategies for Slow Thinking in Inquiry

Yesterday I wrote about the role of relaxation in learning.  Educators across the globe are working to help our students to embody Carol Dweck’s  growth mindset.  Educators are also talking and thinking about mindfulness in education. Well, in Guided Inquiry these two things are occurring in practice while students are learning.

Daniel Kahneman (2011) in his book Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow talks about two different kinds of thinking.

  • System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious
  • System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious source

When we engage students in an extended study, such as inquiry, where we are seeking longer term learning and deeper learning, we strive for the learning of System 2.

In Guided Inquiry Design, we recognize the importance of slowing down the thinking especially in the Explore and Identify phases.  In our book, we describe the strategy of “Read, Relax, and Reflect” on (page 79) and highlight the action of “Pause and Ponder” in Identify phase (page 95), but there’s even more than that!

Barbara Oakley in her TED talk spoke of the Pomodoro Technique that provides frequent brain breaks between concentrated work times.  These brain breaks help learners to practice the ability to have focused attention and can enhance mental agility going from focused to relaxed.

As a classroom strategy, from a teacher effectiveness perspective, it seems like not only a technique that would enhance the overall tenor in the classroom, but also teach students an internal lesson about how breaks help their mental processing!  I also find it interesting that the Pomodoro Technique is being sold as a way to have a better “work life balance”.  This is a 21st Century skill as work is changing because we are always “on” with the use of technology.  So, mental breaks are worth implementing in a deep learning environment where students are working on ideas over an extended period of time. Focused attention mixed with short breaks facilitates deeper learning and connection.  It also might make us happier.

Barbara continues to compare learners to race car drivers or hikers when she describes slow thinking. When we hike, we look around.  In a car, we zoom by and can’t capture the details.  I love this analogy because I love to hike and I love the natural beauty of our world so I often take photos of nature. Here’s a photo I took while in a car.  Beautiful shot of the Flatirons, right?

Flatirons, Boulder, Colorado

Flatirons, Boulder, Colorado

And here are two photos I took while hiking.  Notice the difference in detail that I could capture. My experience hiking was deeper and more sensory and perhaps even profound!

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Let’s relate this slow thinking of a hiker to inquiry-based learning. Looking at a page and looking away to see what you can recall is a strategy Barbara describes as an effective technique that “builds profound neural hooks that help to increase your understanding of the material”.  This is exactly what we describe the simple strategy of “Recall, Summarize, Paraphrase, and Extend” (p. 85) to reflect in Inquiry Journals in the Explore phase. Physically looking away from the text or experience and having to recall is a mental skill worth developing. We also describe the “Stop and Jot” while reading in Explore. Looking away from the text and jotting some ideas that you recall has a deeper effect than the typical highlighting of the page and leaving the highlights there.  The highlighter creates that false confidence in learning.

As teachers highlighting is an easy evidence based assessment of what students read and thought was important. And we can do it at a glance.  But the journal response of their recall would be a better indicator of knowledge development.

Learning how to learn in inquiry requires us to facilitate that learning by helping our students slow way down.  The strategies seem simple, and they are, but the challenge for us is making the time to implement them in our daily practice in the tempo of schools that seems to be racing along like a race car round the track.

Be a hiker. SLOW down and enjoy the experience and learning that results.

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author Guided Inquiry

It’s October! – The role of RELAX in Learning how to learn…

Well, all US educators know… October is that CRAZY month where you get rolling in the school year and everything is so busy.  The whole month is an orange blur of meetings, and parent conferences, and planning, and more meetings and functions.  Exhausting!  Well, it shows because everyone, including me has been waaay too busy to write for our wonderful blog. It’s OK because I think everyone has been way too busy to read anything but their planner anyway!  Educators work so darn hard!!

I’m just coming up for air, myself,  from launching our website, WOOHOO! Have you seen it?  guidedinquirydesign.com I’ve also been doing some PD around the country, leading our sixth, (yeah, you read that right SIXTH) GID Institute in Norman, Oklahoma. I’ve also been to Alexandria, Virginia working with some dedicated librarians there. Then back in Colorado, I have been designing an awesome webinar that I’m presenting tomorrow. (Who’s joining me?) Oh, and I’ve been completing the final edits and getting the Guided Inquiry Design in Action: High School ready for production so it WILL come out at the end of December 2016!  Phew… And that’s the short list.  So, lots of Action in our Guided Inquiry this month!

I love presenting to new audiences, because I have to go through the inquiry process myself while researching for my presentation.  It’s so energizing to create. I sometimes find resources that make me think of people with whom I have worked and send them a shout out on twitter or and email.  I always find something interesting and new.

This time I found a few things that are worthy of mention for more than just a few folks in shout out form. You all know that Guided Inquiry Design has a huge component of learning how to learn. As GID practitioners, we help our students to reflect not only on WHAT they are learning but HOW they learned it.

Students reflect in Inquiry Journals and in conversation with one another. So a major part learning through inquiry is learning about the process that they are going through.  The inquiry process. The other part of learning how to learn is becoming aware of the strategies students used that helped them, like the Inquiry Tools. This goes beyond naming the tools, but students are expected to express the way the Inquiry Tool helped them to learn. Learning how to learn in these two ways are key aspects of teaching inquiry-based learning through Guided Inquiry Design. (For some more info, here’s a free webinar on the inquiry tools and learning how to learn. :D)

Our basic thinking about learning how to learn through inquiry is really important to student learning, but when I found the Ted Talk by Barbara Oakley, a engineering professor at Oakland University on “Learning How to Learn”, I was intrigued and wanted to watch to expand my own thinking and make connections from her ideas to GID.  After I watched. I was glad that I had.  There are some really fun new ideas and some that are clearly linked to the components of GID.

Here’s the Ted Talk so you can watch for yourself.

Barbara Oakley TEDTALK

Barbara Oakley TEDTALK  

First of all, Barbara about 8 minutes in makes the point that Dali and Edison two very creative people who had strategies that helped them when they got stuck in the creative process. Their strategy was similar. They both, when feeling stuck, stopped what they were doing, sat in a relaxing chair and did something relaxing with their hands – one played with keys (Dali) or the other with ball bearings (Edison) until they nearly fell asleep. So they each took time out of their creating to relax and reflect. Their strategy is a lot like what we talk about in GID – “read, relax, and reflect”  or “pause and ponder”!  What we are saying is that relaxation and creativity have a relationship, and in schools we can foster that relationship and help students to learn to relax as a strategy for persevering through a creative process, like inquiry just like Edison and Salvador Dali! How inspirational!

Sometimes a simple thing can do a whole lot.  How can you set up a relaxing environment where kids can take a thinking break in inquiry even during class.  Makes me think of the flexible classroom seating that’s all the rage this year.  In those flexible spaces in classrooms and libraries there would be a lot of different seating arrangements so kids could walk away from a project and purposely take a few minutes maybe 5-10 to just chill out and relax in a chair more conducive to relaxation rather than focused attention.  Maybe headphones would help remove them from the room in a way that could facilitate their relaxation.

You could do a whole class relaxation exercise as well.  A visual thinking or brain break with some music that has no lyrics.  But I think having students know when they need a break is important, so the flexible brain break like Dali and Edison would be good to implement.

Implementing some relaxation within inquiry might really improve the creativity and show kids it’s ok to take a break sometimes.

More connections on this TED Talk and learning how to learn tomorrow!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author of GID

Successes, Challenges and To-Do List

In my quest to motivate students to drive their own learning, I find inquiry-based learning essential. Moving further towards successful inquiry-based learning and attempting to internalize this personal need in students, I’m very glad I found Guided Inquiry Design. Since the beginning phases of implementation of the GID model, I already can see many students maintaining excitement throughout the research stages.  I’m seeing less unsuccessful searches for information and less frustration. I’m have students continuing to ask to work on their project, seek information on their own using district online resources, and hear them discussing with excitement life on the moon and the information they discover with peers.  I feel more successful as a facilitator of inquiry units!

My biggest challenge moving forward is continuing the unit after the initial four class periods. Like most educators, the days are packed with curriculum that must be covered. Time limits are placed on daily instruction in reading and math, RTI requirements must be met, district goals also are essential. All of these things could of course be rolled into a unit of inquiry, which my campus has done with our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Units of Inquiry. However, I started this unit based on the Texas Bluebonnet book, and it is not one of those units of inquiry already in place. Not to fear, several of my fourth grade teachers have told me that they will place the unit in a center for students to work on at various times throughout the week!  Therefore, my unit will continue as a collaboration with the fourth grade teachers, and will continue into the next four day rotation as well. My plan is to continue into the identify and gather phases with activities that can be included in the classroom technology centers and also by having passes to the library as a center.

During the next four day rotation, I will finalize these two stages and move into the create phase. The last day of their rotation will be spent sharing what they learned with other fourth grade classes. I plan on students reflecting all along the unit. It will be interesting in a month seeing where my own reflections on this unit take me. Perhaps, with Leslie’s permission, I will add an update towards the end of the year as to the successes and areas for improvement.

I eventually have aspirations of creating videos of students in each phase of GID as well as meaningful mini-lessons that guide the process.  I still feel like I need to grow myself more as the guide prior to this endeavor, but it will remain on my “in the near future to-do list” until it’s an accomplished task to check off.

Tara

All the colors of GID

One of my favorite aspects of GID is the creativity that is built within the process. I see endless possibility in the ways in which Guided Inquiry Design can be intentionally designed for any discipline.  Like an artist’s pallette, there are infinite colors possible. Looking at the process in this way allows me to really think critically about how the process can help students be motivated to learn, engage in the learning process and develop empathy for other learners.

Over the past four years, I have collaborated to design projects in Science, various English classes, Fine Arts and History.  This past school year, I worked with Academic Support classes and their teachers, Molly Lonergan and Anita Breeze, on a project entitled “Understanding Your IEP”.  Students read and reflected on their individual IEPs and were given activities and strategies that would enable them to read and focus on the parts of the legal document to help them within their daily lives.

As I met weekly with these students, I was able to reflect on the process, their learning, and the barriers to motivation, personal growth and most importantly trust within the classroom.  It was clear to me that before we could engage in research, we would need to create a safe space and the opportunity for curiosity.  Unfortunately, it is often the case that students on IEP’s arrive in the high school in a very different emotional space than is intended.  Many times, these students have not been asked to share their thoughts about their learning, but are often told all about their learning style, the modifications that will best serve them and often – how to think.

Because of these factors, we began the Guided Inquiry design process with activities and lessons based on the habits and attitudes of mind research of Angela Maiers. The GID phases included activities about self-awareness, interest inventories, transition planning, self-disclosure, and crafting personal statements. These activities were done through online inventories and surveys, reading materials to gain knowledge, and self-reflection in the conference room of the library.

The culmination of the project was a Google slides presentation that students were then able to use within their IEP meetings to successfully advocate for themselves as well as a Disclosure statement that can be used post high school.  Students were given the “space” to experience their feelings within this process – GID allows this through the reflective aspect within each phase as well as the ways that each phase acknowledges the emotional aspect of the process.

Like other GID projects at Westborough High School, Inquiry Tools were embedded throughout the project to assist students in moving through the phases, as well as staying organized within the project.  With this group of students, the Inquiry Community became invaluable to the learning as students gained trust with the adults in the room as well as their peers. The collaborative aspect of this learning process was facilitated through the phases of the process.

The  Guided Inquiry Design Process Model was implemented to help students find a course of individual study that would allow them to think about their plans for their post high school lives.  It enabled them to engage in research that is based on their needs and individual growth.

Student work:

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Student Example: One person on a student’s “Dream Team” – Angela Maiers speaks of the importance of creating a personal “Dream Team” of individuals that influence your thinking and who’s behaviors you would seek to emulate.

Student reflections:

  1. Today, I thought that the Inquiry Process ran very smoothly. Unlike most people my age, I enjoy each step of the process and take time to consider each part before writing. Last year, I found that the Inquiry Process was very successful in helping me to boost my curiosity regarding a topic that I had very little interest in. For these reasons, I appreciated and still continue to appreciate the Inquiry Process.
  2. My feeling on my IEP: I really don’t like my IEP. I hate how it has disabilities in it. It makes me feel like I am less then other kids that don’t have them. I do recognize that I struggle a little in some classes but i don’t think i need an IEP. I feel like that an IEP is just stating the problems you have, recognizing what  I lack in classes. I think I have a good memory, my reading skills are getting better. I think it can be helpful sometimes, but other times it’s very annoying. I hate the 50% more time on test and things. I just don’t need it. But I love being able you use a calculator.  I want to be treated like normal kids in normal level classes. I don’t want to get all this special baby treatment on how I need more help then all the other students. If i need help i will find help, I don’t need someone constantly helping me with things I don’t need help with.
  3. My IEP is very outdated and not accurate to who I am now. I am a much better student than the old IEP says that I am.
  4. I struggle most with advocating for myself.
  5. Today in class curiosity was investigated. there are many things that had made me think in the Personal curiosity inventory. But none made me think more than the question about what are my questions.

Working with GID in this way, allowed students to access the curriculum in a way that fit their individual needs while giving them valuable information literacy, technology and the process skills to dig deep into an emotional topic. In our follow up meeting, the teachers and I  decided to move forward with GID next year and continue to add depth to the project.Students gained valuable awareness about their own learning as well as traits and qualities about themselves that are sure to help them through the rest of their school career and post high school plans.

I am grateful that the special education teachers were willing to take the time and put the effort necessary to provide this experience for our students.

 

Anita Cellucci

Library Teacher

Westborough High School

The Flexibility of GID

When I learned how effective Guided Inquiry could be, I got excited about planning a GID-based writing workshop. I focused on Reconstruction because it’s the setting for my book, but the model could be adapted for any historical time period. On my website I’ve posted the materials you’d need to lead this workshop in a middle or high school classroom, and I’ll run through the steps quickly here.

The “Open,” “Immerse,” and “Explore” stages are the same as I mentioned yesterday: show the book trailer, read BROTHERHOOD, ask students to connect to content, and begin to research Reconstruction. When I visit schools, I show a series of photographs, and students point out the details—clothing, means of transportation, food, etc. My favorite is this shot taken at the wall in front of St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA, in 1865. Notice that the people are wearing coats and hats, but most have bare feet.

St.Johns.Church.people

During the “Identify” stage, I ask students to write a scene based on a newspaper article from the era. I encourage loose, messy, fast writing. I interrupt them with sound effects (church bells, horses, crickets), and ask them to incorporate the sounds into their scenes. The process here isn’t about producing good writing. It’s about entering into the time period vicariously.

Next, students swap newspaper articles and write a second scene—again, loose, fast writing. Then they pause and I ask which scene they liked most. Which did they prefer writing about, and why? What did they find compelling, disturbing, or interesting about the one they preferred? Their answers kick off the “Gather” stage of the GID process—the stage when students begin to ask their own questions. This step is the essence of Guided Inquiry. It’s the reason GID is so effective.

Whether students prefer scene A to B, or B to A doesn’t matter. What matters is that they prefer one. Students will always prefer one. Always. And the moment they articulate why they like one better than the other is the moment they really begin to invest in the subject matter. It’s an exciting moment to watch! They’re given permission to make a choice, express an opinion, and be heard, and the process empowers them.

In the “Gather,” “Create,” and “Share” stages, students’ individual or group projects go in any number of directions, and I leave that part up to the teachers. Some have particular themes they’d like the class to address. For example, in my previous post I mentioned that the teacher wanted students to think about gangs—all types of gangs and the conditions that give rise to them. Or teachers might want students to think about voting rights (who feels threatened by another’s right to vote?). Or maybe students will create and share presentations about citizenship and what it might feel like to live in America today and not be a citizen. Or they might talk about the problem of bullying.

GID allows for flexibility! I began this post talking about Reconstruction, and in only a few paragraphs, I’ve raised a myriad of topics, but that’s because my novel raises them (the Reconstruction-era amendments established birthright citizenship and voting rights; if your class is focused on a different time period, your students will ponder a different set of issues).

From my perspective—hey, I’m a writer, so I have to nudge students to write, no apologies!—an easy exercise in loose writing gets the process going strong. And when students reflect on issues that matter to them, personally, and are in a safe space for reflection, wow! Sharing happens. Listening happens. Learning happens.

I love the way GID promotes a student-centered and student-directed approach to learning (so much more effective than the memorize-and-regurgitate model of my youth). Like I said in my first post, boy do I wish my teachers had used Guided Inquiry when I was growing up. Thank you, Leslie, for inspiring me and the next generation of educators!

The 2016 Collaborative School Library Award

Yesterday I invited you to experience the “Open” stage of the award-winning GID unit developed by two librarians and a social studies/language arts teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester, VA. They based the unit my book, BROTHERHOOD, and posted all of their materials on this Blendspace page so that others can recreate the unit in their schools.

Set in Virginia during Reconstruction, BROTHERHOOD is the story of a white boy who joins the Klan, meets a young black teacher, and comes to question the racial prejudices he’s been taught. The book raises all sorts of questions about identify, race, peer pressure, gangs, etc., and doesn’t provide easy answers. So it’s great for kicking off classroom conversations on a variety of topics.

During the “Immerse” stage of the GID process, in order to connect to the content of daily readings, the students at Carver wrote a tweet a day.

daily tweet.52GID blog

Historians from the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society visited the school, bringing samples of items mentioned in the book, such as swatches of cloth and a copy of a page from an 1867 newspaper. The time period was beginning to come alive for the students.

During the GID stages “Explore” and “Identify,” students continued to read while researching the post-Civil War era. Then they went on a field trip to Richmond, VA, and walked the streets the characters had walked. In advance of the trip, the librarians asked me to audio-record myself reading selections from the book. I posted the audio files online, and during the trip, students stopped at key locations to listen—via QR codes—to me reading. This was an innovative way to use technology, and got the students all the more engaged. Click on this code to hear one of the recordings:

QRCode.FarmersMarket

I visited the classroom and talked about how I came to write BROTHERHOOD—a presentation that includes mention of the Noble Lost Cause ideology, Jim Crow era, and Civil Rights movement. On another day, the school’s safety officer came and presented information about gangs. The class explored reasons why a person might join the Klan or any gang—any group vying for power, control or influence.

During the “Gather” stage, each student’s essential questions led him/her to choose a gang to research further. Students divided into small groups, and for the “Create” and “Share” stages, each group did a presentation about a gang and how they (or society) might stop the spread of that gang. In this way, they progressed through the 7th grade curriculum. For prohibition, for example, one group did a presentation about the Mafia running liquor. For World War II, another group showed how the Nazis gained support by blaming Germany’s ills on the Jews. By the time the curriculum brought them to the present day, they already knew from yet another student presentation that Al Qaida is motivated in part by a rejection of capitalism. I visited the school again, and was blown away by the high quality of the presentations, both from struggling learners and from gifted students. The GID approach excited them all.

Along the way students participated in the GID stage, “Evaluate,” asking questions such as, what surprised me today? What was clear? What was confusing? I love the fact that when you do GID, you don’t leave evaluation to the very end. GID encourages self-reflection at every stage.

This GID unit was pretty involved, and it hit me that some educators might want to add BROTHERHOOD to the curriculum and use the GID approach, but they don’t live near Virginia and can’t easily do the field trip. And that thought motivated me to design a GID-based writing workshop that can be done in any classroom, anywhere. I’ll tell you about it in my next post…

Create Cont.

Some of our HOT questions are:
*What in the atmosphere controls the amount of snowfall? Is there a way to manipulate it and change the snowfall?
*How can we manipulate the rock cycle to from a different type of rock? Can we classify rocks even better than 3 categories, and then their name? Are changes in the Earth and atmosphere, such as global warming affecting the formation of rocks?
*Why does blood turn red when it hits oxygen. How do blood cells compare to the typical animal cell?
*What effect does the axis of the moon have on marine life? Do the tides control how some marine life behave?
*What does fluorine, a gas, have that makes it protect teeth when it is added to water?
*Why is Mars more humid than Mercury if Mercury is the closest planet to the sun?

MATTER Group (we didn’t have time to post yesterday.)

After getting through the Immerse and explore stages, we moved on to our create stage in which we finalized our HOT questions. I really loved that we could find something that we wondered about and wanted to learn more about. My partner and I are working on Matter since that consists of everything in the universe. I thought, “okay, this will be easy,” but it wasn’t. I searched through tons of resources, and cites and it was difficult to focus on one thing since I wondered about everything I saw. I was feeling overwhelmed, so I asked Mrs. Reinagel if I could change my topic to space. She said I could, but that she had an idea that she thought I would love and it was a compromise. She gave me some resources that had to do with “dark matter,” and asked me to skim to see if there was an I wonder in there. While researching, I couldn’t wait to share everything I was learning! I was amazed at how interesting it was, I came up with a HOT question right away. My question is, “how does dark matter compare to matter on Earth? What does it have to do with preventing or causing the universes recollapse?” I never thought I would have so much fun on such a challenging project! Gabe

Explore and Create

Hi, my name is Katina and my partner is Lexi our topic is Space. We chose space because we want to find out what’s beyond our world. During Immersion we looked at some resources about different planets and how many moons were orbiting each one. Then we started making connections like how Jupiter looks like quartz, and how Neptune looks like an ocean.

My group(Gabby, Simran, and Madison) chose to learn more about Oceans. There is a lot to know with oceans, and we are interested in going deeper with our learning. One connection we all made was that we live about 10 min from the ocean so we should try to know all we can about it.

Hi! My name is Alexandra! I am in Mrs. Reinagel’s 5th# grade class! I am doing cells for my Guided Inquiry. I am doing this with Payten. I did cells because I LOVE cells! We first reviewed what we knew about cells. For example, did you know plant cells decay in the ground once the plant dies? Afterwards, we found new info. For example, chloroplast allows photosynthesis to occur. We can’t wait to do our H.O.T question and make a project for it!

My group is (Alexis.C, Sara.P, Jon, Ayden, Sarah G)and we are in Mrs.Reinagel’s 5th# grade class. Our topic is weather. I chose weather because it is interesting to me and I would like to know more about how storms form. Some connections we made we about lightning and how it can start fires and be dangerous.