Immerse through Book Tasting

Each year at Kujawa to culminate the elementary level education, the graduating class completes a unit of inquiry we refer to in IB as Exhibition.  Think history fair type of event and you will have a general idea of the type of work the students go through in preparation for their big day.

This year our new Principal, Kim Jenkins brought to me an idea of a Book Tasting.  When I began to look into “book tasting” activities, I realized this would be a perfect way to begin the immerse stage of GID within this unit of inquiry.  This will be our first attempt at “Book Tasting” so any advice you have to share would be most welcome!

Our purpose in this unit is for students to follow an inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.  Arranging a “sampling” of  books that depict these inquiry strands will begin the immersion process.

My plans are to produce a place-mat, a menu of countries, and a note taking page yet to be designed.  A buffet of books that relate to various cultures will be on each table.  Students will spend five minutes sampling 3-4 books.

The books and other artifacts will remain on reserve in the library and 4th grade classrooms throughout the inquiry unit

5 More Strategies for Guiding Student Questioning

Happy Monday! Today I’m sharing five more strategies for guiding students in inquiry questioning. Let’s dive right in!

 

Set Students up for Success in Explore

My mind was blown the first time I realized I could directly impact student questions with the resources curated for the Explore phase. This strategy is especially useful for a learning team that is concerned that students may miss out on critical content in a GID unit. By carefully curating the resources that inspire inquiry questions, we can guide students toward required content and help ensure their questions are right for the unit.

Here’s an example from a real-life unit: 8th graders rotated through several stations during Explore. At each location, there were primary and secondary sources, photographs and video, articles, infographics and more for students to dip into the content. Each station had a theme under the unit concept of Displacement: the Syrian refugee crisis, Japanese internment, the Holocaust, Natural Disasters, and so on. After exploring each station, the vast majority of student questions came from the materials they had interacted with during Explore. We were intentional with the content we included and that which was excluded from the first three phases of the unit in order to guide students toward the content we wished to cover.

 

Provide a Structure

As in everything else, students benefit from structure in questioning. A questioning structure helps students to recognize the quality of their own questions in a way that they can continue to use in the future.

There are many ways to structure questions: Thick vs. Thin, Leveled, or using a Question Builder. But the way I have found that works best for my students is Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 questions. Based on the AVID questioning structure, I have found that this structure is complex enough to help my students write high-level inquiry questions, yet simple enough that they can clearly distinguish the three types of questions.

Here is a video I made for my students explaining the 3 Levels of questioning:

 

Get Started on the Right Foot

Another strategy I use to help students write excellent inquiry questions is to actually start their questions together. As a group brainstorm, we list as many question words as we can: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, Does/Did, etc. Then together, we cross out those question words that always lead us to Level 1 inquiry questions, leaving us with What, Why, and How. These are the question words that are most likely to begin a quality Level 3 inquiry question.

For students who continue to struggle with getting started, I have also provided sentence stems to help set them off in the right direction. With questioning, we want students focused on a question they are excited to answer, not feeling frustrated with the questioning process. Questioning often needs scaffolding just like anything else.

 

One on One Conferencing

In over 20 GID units, I have never passed the Identify phase without conferencing individually with every single student. Though it can seem logistically daunting, the benefits of face time with every learner as they work through their own questioning process far outweigh the costs.

In these conferences, I discuss with the student the level of their question, how it relates to the unit concept and their own interest, and how they will approach researching the answer to the question. I try to ask vague and open-ended questions that help the student come to their own conclusions about their inquiry question. Some students require more guidance than others, but eventually I know that each student will end up with a high level inquiry question that meets the needs of both the classroom curriculum and their own interests.

 

Let Them Ask the Bad Question

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if we conference or how much structure and support we provide to a student, they will insist on writing an inquiry question that does not meet the criteria we are looking for. In these cases, sometimes it is best to allow the student the opportunity to pursue their question and find that their avenue of inquiry leads to a dead end. It’s important that students understand that they always have the opportunity to loop back to Identify after moving on should they find their question does not work.

In this same vein, I often have students ask questions so specific, they find very limited information to answer them. In these cases, the trial and error involved in adjusting the question after beginning to Gather can be a valuable learning experience for the student. Real life inquiry is not perfectly linear, and Guided Inquiry units don’t have to be either!

 

I hope that you find these strategies as useful as I have for facilitating student questioning. If you have your own tricks or tips for helping your students write awesome inquiry questions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Until next time!

Kelsey Barker

4 Strategies for Student Questioning

Hi, friends! I’m back today and excited to share some of my most successful strategies for guiding student inquiry questions in GID.

In my experience, this phase can be one of the most challenging for students. In traditional research, the inquiry topic is typically provided to the students by the learning team. I have heard over and over again, “Just tell me what question to write!” from students developing inquiry questions for the first time. We can start to move away from this mindset with my first strategy:

Establish a Culture of Inquiry.

Long before beginning a Guided Inquiry unit, the learning team can begin to build a culture of inquiry in the classroom by modeling an inquiry stance and encouraging student questioning.

One of my most successful strategies in developing a culture of inquiry came from my friend and colleague, Paige Holden. In order to encourage student questioning, Paige taught me to never blow off a student question, no matter how random it may seem. Instead, have students write the question in an inquiry journal, online platform, or a communal questioning space to answer at a more appropriate time. With older learners, ask the questioning student to find the answer to their question and report back to the class at a later time. This strategy allows teachers to keep the class on track without quashing students’ natural curiosity.

 

Modeling Making Mistakes and Revisions  

So often, we see students who are afraid to revise because they believe that making improvements to their work means it is incorrect or inadequate. However, mistakes are a critical part of learning, especially in the Guided Inquiry process. Students must often rewrite inquiry questions over and over before defining a question that works. In order to show that constant revision is a part of learning, teachers can talk or write through their own thought processes aloud as a model for students. When students see these practices in action, they not only become better at doing it themselves, but come to see the classroom as a safe place to mess up and learn from it. Again, this strategy works in the classroom at any time, not just when students are engaged in an inquiry unit.

 

Practice Questioning Along the Way

Developing good inquiry questions can be a huge challenge for students, but it becomes substantially easier when students have had previous practice writing questions! In addition to building in questioning in the first three phases of the GID process, I have learned that building questioning into the daily classroom routine really helps to support students as they take on a GID unit. Consider where you could build questioning into your classroom outside of the GID unit. I think it could be a great fit with class journals, lab notebooks, bell work, literature circles, reading reflections, and more. Where would you build it in?

 

Stack the Learning Team

You probably noticed that all three strategies above happen before the Guided Inquiry unit even begins! That’s because for many students, GID is a departure from the traditional learning they are used to. And while GID is incredibly beneficial for students, the learning team may need to prepare students for some of the big differences coming with a Guided Inquiry unit.

The final strategy I’m sharing in today’s post is to build the learning team with the educators who can best help students be successful with questioning. During the Identify phase, I like to have “all hands on deck” to work with students on developing quality inquiry questions. This includes the classroom teacher(s), the gifted resource coordinator, appropriate special education teachers, and teachers of other content areas as necessary. Students respond differently to different teachers, and a variety of available adults in the room gives students the ability to work with the teacher of their choice. Gifted and special education teachers are also there to assist with differentiating for their respective students, making sure everyone has the support they need to be successful.

I hope that these strategies will be useful to your own GID journey, and I’ll be back tomorrow to share four more strategies I use with my students during the Identify phase.

 

See you tomorrow!

Kelsey Barker

Questioning Questioner Questions

Hello, GIDers!

I’m Kelsey Barker, and I am the Teacher Librarian at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. I have blogged for 52 Weeks of GID before (here and here), and now I’m back again! I can’t get enough GID.

Here I am, showing my love for libraries!

When I attended my first GID institute with Leslie in the fall of 2015, I was the librarian at an NPS elementary school and brand new to the job. I fell in love with the process and the way that students were fully engaged in deep level learning. When I moved to middle school last year, there was no question that I would be working to implement Guided Inquiry at my new school as well. I have seen learning miracles happen through GID.

My first GID Institute team!

Like Cindy, who you heard from a couple of weeks ago, I am also a Guided Inquiry district trainer for Norman Public Schools. This has been an incredible opportunity to share my love of Guided Inquiry with other teachers in my district. I love watching these amazing educators grow in their profession, and it’s so rewarding to see their excitement to implement a unit with their students.

My most recent GID institute team… the district trainers!

As a district trainer, I have the opportunity to talk to lots of teachers just starting out on their GID journey, and there is one question I hear from them more than any other:

How do I guide my students to ask high level inquiry questions that stem from their own interests but meet the need of the classroom curriculum and state or national standards?

I am not ashamed to share that I too wondered this at my first institute in 2015. In fact, I wrote it on a sticky note in my institute notebook after day one. Looking at the big picture of unit design, it can be hard to understand GID can help students connect deeply with the content if we are allowing them choose the inquiry questions they ask. At the time, I understood that this is where the Guided part of Guided Inquiry came in: students require guidance to ask the questions that will lead to a successful inquiry experience. But honestly, I had no idea how to do it.

Now, with hundreds of hours of collaboration with fantastic educators and nearly 20 units under my belt, I’m excited to share what I have learned about guiding student question with all of you. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing several specific strategies I have used with my students to guide them to high-level inquiry questions that meet the needs of the curriculum and engage  the individual student.

I’ll be back this weekend with my first four strategies, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Do you have questions about student questioning? What’s your biggest hurdle around inquiry questions? Do you have a great strategy for guiding student questioning?

Kelsey

 

The Preservation Project (2) GID in California

Hi again! I’m sorry for the late posting.  Perhaps I should rethink posts during the first full week of classes in the future!

I am going to share the unit, as it was written out during the collaboration between the classroom teacher and me.  The unit begins with an overview, continues with a list of all standards that we addressed over the 20 days, and concludes with a day-by-day description of activities.

Overview:

In this unit, that is co-taught daily by the classroom teacher and the teacher librarian (TL), students will learn the purpose behind the creation of national parks.  They will begin by learning what it means to preserve something.  They will then visit Kings Canyon National Park and learn about the flora, fauna and geological features that are being preserved within the park boundaries.  This will begin with a focus on preservation of the Giant Sequoias.  However, after learning about this park and what it is tasked to preserve, students will explore other national parks and learn about the unique features they are preserving.  Students will identify a plant, animal or geological structure that is being preserved that they find exciting.  The students will then learn to write a research question about the topic they have identified.  They will then engage in individual, personalized research to learn about the preservation of their topic.  Students will be introduced to a variety of creative presentation methods.  They will choose one of those, create a product to present their topic, and share their research in a gallery walk that will be attended by community members.

Goals and objectives:

  • Content Objectives:

    • Students will explain the purpose of preservation of land, flora and fauna in national parks

    • Students will identify solutions for the impact of humans on the preserved lands of the national parks.

  • Content Standards Addressed:

    • RI 1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    • RI 5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.

    • RI 9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic

    • W 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. d. Provide a concluding statement or section.

    • W 6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

    • W 7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

    • W 8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

    • SL 1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. a. Come to

    • SL 4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. a. Plan and deliver an informative/explanatory presentation on a topic that: organizes ideas around major points of information, follows a logical sequence, includes supporting details, uses clear and specific vocabulary, and provides a strong conclusion. CA

    • SL 6. Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

    • L 2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    • L 3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. a. Choose words and phrases for effect.* b. Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

    • History 2.3.  Students explain governmental institutions and practices in the United States and other countries.

    • History 2.5.  Students understand the importance of individual action and character and explain how heroes from long ago and the recent past have made a difference in others’ lives.

    • Science 2-LS4-1:  Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

  • Process Objectives:

    • Students will utilize a variety of resources in researching a specific topic.

    • Students will collect and synthesize data.

    • Students will use presentation tools to share information with others.

  • Model School Library Standards Addressed:

    • 1.2 Formulate appropriate questions:  a.  Identify a problem that needs information by asking how, what, where, when, or why questions.

    • 1.3 Identify and locate a variety of resources online and in other formats by using effective search strategies:

      • i.  Identify types of media and digital delivery devices.

      • j.  Use guide words to locate information in a reference book.

      • k.  Perform a keyword search of a topic by using an approved search engine or database.

      • p.  Locate information in text by using the organizational parts of a book in print or digital format (e.g., title, table of contents, chapter headings, glossary, author notes, dedication, index).

    • 1.4 Retrieve information in a timely, safe, and responsible manner: a. Demonstrate a basic understanding of intellectual property rights and the difference between sharing and ownership

    • 2.1 Determine the relevance of the information: a. Select information appropriate to the problem or question at hand. b. Determine whether the information answers the question. 2.2 Assess the comprehensiveness, currency, credibility, authority, and accuracy of resources: a. Identify copyright and publication dates in print resources.

    • 2.3 Consider the need for additional information: a. Locate facts and details to support a topic sentence and paragraph, and record the information.

    • 3.2 Draw conclusions and make informed decisions: a. Compare information from more than one source to draw a conclusion. 12 grade three 3.3 Use information and technology creatively to answer a question, solve a problem, or enrich understanding: a. Organize information chronologically, sequentially, or by topic.

    • 4.2 Seek, produce, and share information:

      • b. Select appropriate information technology tools and resources to interact with others for a specific purpose.

Guiding Question:     What do national parks preserve?

Learning Activities: 

Day 1:  Students will be introduced to the idea of “preservation.”  The teacher and TL will show them the pictures of “preserved” items that grace the home page of this KBC.  The teacher and TL will also bring in realia for the students to view. Students will look over the pictures and work with their table group to figure out how the seemingly disparate items might be connected.  After students have worked on this, the teacher will bring them back together and allow groups to present their suggestions.  The teacher and teacher librarian will show the class a peach and ask “why do we can these instead of just eating them like this (fresh)?”  The expected response is that we can them to keep them from rotting so we can eat them later.   The teacher and TL will then discuss the other two items (old pictures and mummies), working toward the same outcome:  we preserve them to so that they will be available to us later.  The pictures represent keeping memories of loved ones alive.

The teacher will write the word “preservation” on a poster board that already contains examples of the canned fruit and old pictures. The TL will direct the students to Google Classroom where they will write a journal entry explaining why preservation is important.

Day 2:  The teacher will show students a peach that is starting to decay.  She will tell them that this is the peach they saw the day before. It can be a different, older peach.  The kids just don’t know that.  The TL will ask:  Since we didn’t eat the peach yesterday, it has begun to rot.  What can a farmer do with the peach right now so that it will still be useable next week?  The expected response is that the farmer could can the peach to preserve it.  If the students do not provide the term “preserve,” the TL and teacher will gently remind them by pointing to the poster that was created the prior class session.  The teacher will then tell the class that there are actually many other things that can and should be preserved.  Today they are going to hear a story about someone that worked very hard to make sure that land was preserved in our country.  The TL will provide a picture of John Muir for the class at this point.  She will ask the class if the picture looks like something they have seen before.   The expected response is that it looks similar to the old pictures from the last class session and from the poster at the front of the class.   The TL will say that, yes, this is a picture of someone who isn’t alive any longer, but we preserve his memory with his picture and through books.  Today they are going to hear a story all about this man, John Muir.  At the end, they will understand why we preserve his memory.  The teacher will then read The Camping Trip that Changed America to the class.  After the story, the TL will direct the students to their Google Classroom where they will find a graphic organizer (GO) in the form of a Google Document.  The students will work with their elbow partners to complete the parts of the GO.

Day 3:  The teacher and the TL will provide students with printouts of their GOs from the previous session.  They will then ask students to stand and use the Give One, Get One model for reviewing and sharing information.  Music will play and students will move randomly around the classroom.  When the music stops, students will pair up with the person closest to them.  The teacher will tell the class that the student with the shortest hair will go first.  That student will share one piece of information that they have learned about preservation with their partner.  The partner will look at their GO and add the information if it is not already on their page.  The partners will then switch and the longer haired student will share while the partner adds information to their own GO.  This will be done two more times so that every student speaks to at least three partners.  The students will then return to their seats.  They will open Google Classroom and respond to a quick write journal in a Google Doc.  The prompt will be:  Three things we often preserve are:  food, memories, and  land in national parks.  What are some reasons you think these types of preservation are important?

Day 4:  The TL will share a slideshow of pictures from Kings Canyon National Park with the class.  Several of the photos will focus on the Giant Sequoias, the keystone plant species of that park.  The teacher and the TL will take turns returning to those slides and demonstrating awe at the size of the trees to generate interest in the students.   They will tell the students that the trees are larger than they can imagine.  In fact, they are much larger than the trees at school.  They will then take the students outside to look at the size of average trees in the landscape. Each student will be provided with a piece of yarn that is exactly one foot long and a graph on which to record the measurement of tree girths.  One column of the graph will ask students to measure how many students it takes, holding hands, to circle the tree.  They will be broken into teams of four based on their table groups.  Each group will be assigned to one of the trees that border the playground.  The teacher and the TL will model the use of the strings to measure around the trunk of the tree.  They will show the students how to estimate ½ foot measurements.  They will model writing their measurement on a poster-sized chart like the ones the students have.  They will also model measuring around the tree by holding hands to circle the tree.  Students will then work in teams to measure the girth of their tree and record the measurement on their charts.  The teacher and TL will circulate, assisting students as necessary. If time allows, each group will measure and record two trees’ girths.  Once back in class, each team will share their measurements and the teacher and/or TL will add them to the poster-sized chart.

Day 5:  Students will visit Kings Canyon National Park for the day.  Their tour guide, a National Park Service Ranger, will provide them with general information about the park.  S/he will also provide them with information about the park’s preservation efforts.  The students will be introduced to the concept of the preservation of the Giant Sequoias in the park as well as the preservation of other species of flora and fauna that are found within the park boundaries.  The students will have the opportunity to see Giant Sequoias up close.  They will have the opportunity to stand on the stump of one that was cut down before the park was formed.  The students, teacher, and TL will hold hands and attempt to encircle the entire stump.  They will record how many people it takes to do so and this will be added to their measurement poster back at school.  (Interacting with an Expert Model)

Day 6:  Students will look over their note-taking sheet from the field trip.  They will be given time to add items that they might have thought of since returning from the park.  The teacher and TL will each share some of their own thoughts as examples for students who struggled to complete the handout.  The teacher will then tell students that now that they’ve experienced Kings Canyon National Park, they will get to learn more about preservation in this or another park.  Today will be the first day of a multi-day exploration research phase.  The students will have access to a variety of library print resources that the TL provides.  They will also be sent to Google Classroom to access a Symbaloo that the teacher librarian has created.  The Symbaloo will provide direct links to a variety of national parks that each preserves a specific flora, fauna, or geological feature.  It will also include links to information about some of the flora and fauna being preserved within Kings Canyon National Park.  Lastly, for the purposes of lower the affective filter of our newcomer (immigrant) students, there are links to national parks in both Mexico and El Salvador, the newcomers’ countries of origin.  The students will spend Days 6 and 7 exploring all of these links, looking for the national park preservation topic that interests them the most.  In order to keep them focused, the students will fill out a GO that is aligned to the Symbaloo links.  The teacher and TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 7:  Students will continue to explore preservation topics using the Symbaloo.  They will continue to fill out the GO as they explore each link.  The teacher and the TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 8:  Today is the final day for exploration using the Symbaloo links.  Students must turn in their completed Symbaloo GO at the end of today’s exploration session.  During the final ten minutes of the class session, the TL will direct the class to Google Classroom.  They will complete a Google Form in which they will identify the flora, fauna or geological structure around which they want to focus further research.

Day 9: Turning interest into a research question.  Teacher and TL demonstrate and provide sentence starters.

Day 10:  Today the students will begin their individual research.  The teacher and TL will provide a document on Google Classroom that contains additional resource links related to the specific research topics that the students have identified.     The students will use the split-screen strategy to keep the Research Journal document open on one side of the screen and

Day 11:  Research continues.  The teacher and teacher librarian will continue to add resources daily that they find to the list on Google Classroom.

Day 12:  Research continues.  Individual meetings with teacher or TL to verify that research can answer a question or to revise the question.

Day 13:  Research continues today.  The TL will review strategies for Google Searches.  This is something the students have done all year, so it will be a very brief review.  Although the teacher and TL have been providing links to specific sites for students to use, today is a day that the students can branch off and search on their own using Google.

Day 14:  Today is the final day for students to complete their individual research assignments.

Day 15:  Students will use Days 15 – 18 to create a presentation about their individual research topics.  Today the teacher and the TL will present examples of the project choices to the students.   The students will be allowed to choose from a variety of projects for their creation.  The creation must highlight the need for preservation of the chosen topic.  The teacher and TL will provide materials that students can use to create a poster or a diorama.  The students could also choose to create a video about their topic using Flipgrid, an online video making tool to which the TL has account access. The final project that the students can choose from is a Google Slides presentation.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 16:  Today the students will continue to create their project.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.  The teacher and the TL will continue to bring in needed supplies as they are identified.

Day 17:  Students will continue to create their project today.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 18:  Today is the final day for the creation of projects.  All projects will be due at the end of this session.

Day 19:  The students will present their projects in a gallery walk format.  The site administration and parents will be invited to the event.  Invitations will be sent home via flyers as well as through announcements on the library’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.  Students will display their projects and answer questions as the guests walk through the room.

Day 20:  Today the teacher and the TL will introduce the Big Think question.   Students will work in their table groups to respond to the solution prompts.  Although students researched different items being preserved, all of them are in some way affected by the human population.

Kristi Mulligan

Teacher Librarian
Selma Unified School District

All Aboard! (6th Grade Urbanization)

Every teacher brought their own talents to the table as we worked on our session plans together. Some were excellent at locating resources, some liked writing the session plans, and all imagined the project through the eyes of their students, and suggested ways to adapt it for their students’ needs. Everyone came up to speed on the topic more quickly because we worked together – just like what we hope for when our students work in inquiry circles. We spent most of our planning time on the OPEN, IMMERSE, and EXPLORE phases, and so we entered those phases with materials and activities in hand. Teachers didn’t march in lockstep through the project, of course, but it gave everyone a framework they could refer to along the way.

Suzy Menafro Palmer is one of the 6th grade ELA team who wasn’t available to attend the Institute last summer, but was completely on board from our first meeting, and enthusiastically dove into planning and resource gathering as we prepared for our adventure. In hindsight, she offered her impressions of the unit (shown in blue):

The “Open” part of our Urbanization Unit was probably my favorite. Listening to my students be such little experts about their town was so impressive. I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable they were about the history of Metuchen. It was clear that their parents explain ideas to them like taxes and population increases, and they went on and on about what a great town they live in. They were so proud of their downtown appeal, the family oriented sense of community that has been established here, and their reputation for being “The Brainy Boro”.

We looked at maps of Metuchen over the years from the 1800’s to a more current map. Something that sort of took me by surprise was when it was evident that most students really weren’t familiar with reading maps. Once they understood what they were seeing, they were really intrigued and made some great insights about how the town has changed over the years.

What’s really exciting about GID is the opportunity for us to see how it connects to our students’ lives, and to see them as experts in things we otherwise would not have know about, and cross-curricular opportunities.  Suzy then went on to describe part of our Immerse phase:

We also did a walk around the school to see how the building has changed over the years. The students identified how there are different bricks indicating that there are additions to the building,  and there are new lockers that were clearly an afterthought because they don’t match the lockers already in place.

Explore

In our “Explore” phase students were in groups reading articles about the subtopics of urbanization. This was so well organized by the team of teachers who put this together. It went seamlessly, and the students were really interested in all of the topics. Some of them even cheered when I gave them the folder for “Trends in Migration” (I was in shock). Ideas that I thought they would be totally bored by, they were excited! I have to say… I did have an exceptional class of 6th graders this year who are very task oriented, people pleasing, high achievers. However, I was still pleasantly surprised they were interested in the topics as they were.

…and then Identify…

When it came time to get even more specific and come up with their research questions, I was again impressed with the variety and specificity they came up with for questioning. They were interested in animals, war, drones, flying cars, city gardens, and so much more. One of my students even wrote a paper about how advancements in technology for cities with apps like Uber have decreased the number of DUI’s in a certain city.

There were some students who really went above and beyond, and then there were some students who were pretty basic and surface level with their research with little insight. But that’s sixth grade in a nutshell! Some kids are just more engaged and capable of taking it to another level, and some of them just aren’t there yet, and I’m really okay with that. I was happy that they found a topic they were interested in and worked start to finish.

The Gather phase required lots of flexibility, since so many students needed to share resources, and technology was at a premium, because we were in the midst of standardized testing. We spent a lot of time negotiating for the use of laptop or Chromebook carts (and not always successfully). Books were on a cart that stayed in the library, and students came down to borrow them as needed.

Amazingly, we didn’t misplace one book or headset in the process!

Everyone seemed to understand that other classes were working with these materials – there was definitely a sense of a community of learners throughout the 6th grade.

Next up: Create, Share, and Evaluate

Suzy Menafro Palmer, 6th Grade ELA teacher and
Maryrose Little, Librarian
Edgar Middle School
Metuchen, NJ

Guided Inquiry and the IB Extended Essay

Dear Colleagues,

The International Baccalaureate is a global curriculum and one that we proudly offer at our school. Very recently I became the Extended Essay Coordinator. As you will note in the image below, the Extended Essay is part of the core of the Diploma Program of the IB. It is one of the few occasions that students are able to pursue a topic that they are interested in. It is the perfect foundation for the implementation of Guided Inquiry Design.

The IB Diploma Program with the Extended Essay at it’s core. Copyright International Baccalaureate

The Extended Essay is a 4000 word academic piece of writing centring around a question based on one of the subjects that the student is currently studying. The student needs to have enough background knowledge to tackle the topic in depth. Students are allocated a supervisor (based on their topic) at school who will spend about 4 hours over the course of the year, guiding and intervening as necessary and various stages of the process. As you will note in the document below, using the various stages of Guided Inquiry breaks up the year long project into manageable steps.

We begin our journey one year before it’s due date. Students are presented with the Extended Essay (Open) and asked to engage with all of its possibilities. We spend a couple of weeks immersing the students in the EE, walking through the potential for different topic areas, we concept map different ideas, they talk to teachers and do a lot of reading before submitting a proposal of potential topics. We need to do this quite early in the process to ensure that we can allocate a supervisor to support them through their journey.

One of the most difficult parts of the process is the Identify step, where students are required to narrow down their topic to a specific research question which will guide them through the rest of the research process. In order to get there, we ask students to undertake a literature review during the Explore phase, which requires them to annotate at least four sources of information. This has the double effect of ensuring that their topic has enough background information to formulate a question and identify where their extended essay is going to go. Note, that we often go back to this step during the process because as we all know, often our research starts in one area and ends in another. The reflection process is incredibly important to students at these important points in the process because it enables them to understand their own thinking and make steps in taking the next step in the process. It also allows supervisors to intervene and offer guidance, make suggestions, and help students move on in the inquiry process. We use a system called Managebac, which easily allows students and supervisors to communicate throughout the process, while also scaffolding the reflection process.

After identifying their question, students spend a whole term gathering sources of information that will help them answer their question. This allows them to conduct primary and secondary research while at school and gain support and guidance from teacher librarians and their supervisor. We ask that they write a big chunk of their essay (create) over the Christmas (long summer break in Australia) holidays, which then allows us to provide some feedback and guidance on the direction of the extended essay. You will see that at the end of the process (which actually takes about six months), students are in a revolving door of creating, sharing and evaluating their work. We repeat this process at least once, allow students to self-assess and make changes before submitting the essay to be externally marked.

Students are required to be highly independent during this process. This is their work and close marking is not allowed by supervisors or teachers. This is why Guided Inquiry Design is so important in scaffolding the process for students.

I welcome your questions and comments about this and would really like to hear how other teacher librarians use Guided Inquiry Design in the Extended Essay!

Erin Patel – Head of Libraries & IB Extended Essay Coordinator, Kambala

How does GI look in Math?

In the last post, I told you all about the beginning stages, learning about Guided Inquiry, pushing our minds to grasp how it could work in the math classroom, and finally coming up with an idea. When my team of 3 (Algebra 2 teachers) left the conference in the summer, we left with an idea about a Sequences and Series GI Unit but knew that we had a lot of planning and prep in order for this Unit to be successful. Section 11-1 Sequences As Functions 2017 Guided Inquiry-1pcblr9

School starts, fall semester goes by, and then there we were in second semester creeping up on the Sequence and Series chapter. {Side note: the thing I love most about my school and mostly my team, is that we look out for each other, support each other, and hold each other to the same high standards that we hold ourselves. This is true for the GI unit. We were going to do this, but we made sure that we did it together. No one gets left on an island by themselves.} A few weeks out, we met after school to talk through the idea again. Remind ourselves, and the other two members of the team who could not attend the conference, about all the details that went into GI. We came up with a plan:

First, the math brained people that we are had to map out the unit and create an assignment sheet that reflected the GI stages. This gave us a better idea what each day would be like. Chapter 11 Assignment Sheet 2017-2mvemvs We knew that the students would be coming up with their own questions but were unsure of what they would be. We had a few thoughts in our back pocket but wanted to be as open minded as possible so that the ideas came from the students.

Second, we decided that we would meet after school on the day that the students created their questions to help each other out with the following days’ plan. When we met the second time and we searched through the questions, there were some common themes coming out of the post it notes. We each decided to group up the common themes that were specific to our classes. In my class, it worked best to create 5 groups, as you will see on the attachment, which also worked best physically in my classroom. Guided Inquiry Explore Results-2bujvwc  When the students came in the next day, I talked through the 5 common themes and then let the students choose which one of the 5 groups interested them the most. As a group, the began to explore deeper about that specific theme.

Third, we let the students take the led. They gathered more information about their topics. Each class created their own rubrics on how they wanted to present their findings. Example from 1st hour: Sequences and Series Presentation Rubric 1st hour 2017-1b4xeb8 They created amazing presentations and shared them with the class just wonderfully. I was more than impressed with the results both of the quality of the presentations, but also with how well students worked together. (I will share some reflections from both myself and students in the next post) At the end of that day, I left school feeling GREAT!

Enjoy some pictures of their wonderful presentations.

Jamie Rentzel, Norman High School, Norman, Oklahoma

GID Transforming Student Research @ BCPS

In my last post, I referenced a few examples of our BCPS Online Research Models (ORMs) for extended, in-depth research, which our Office of Digital Learning Library Media team has been designing using the eight phases of the GID model since 2012. I’d like to share in a little more detail how one of our ORMs was completely transformed at last summer’s 2016 Curriculum Workshop using the GID model. In 2001, our BCPS Office of Music requested a research model on Native American music for the Grade 8 American Music curriculum. As a library media specialist on the ORM curriculum writing team that summer, I co-designed an ORM titled First Music, First Nations—it was the first research model I ever designed. Courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I can show you the Webpages for the original 2001 version of the “First Music, First Nations” ORM — even though I’m extremely embarrassed to do so!


As you can see, we were using our own research process steps at the time: Scenario, Task & Product, Assessment, Question, Gather, Organize and Conclude. This ORM has a nice poem at the top (but no connection to the poem is made anywhere in the process), and lots of “cutesy” clip art of Native Americans, drums, etc. The Scenario and Task & Product were NOT authentic or engaging —how many 8th graders would seriously be excited at the prospect of being a museum curator for the Smithsonian Institute? Students were asked to select from 5 research topics about traditional Native American music (Instruments, Pow-wows, Dances, Songs, or Ceremonies), take notes using resources including targeted Websites, and create a “display” of some sort; usually students made a diorama or something like that. Believe it or not, this ORM remained virtually unchanged (except for updating broken resource links) until summer 2016. THEN, with some new leadership in the Office of Music and new state learning standards for Music education, our team was asked to do a much-needed revision last summer.

The result was the new ORM, Native Dreams: Contemporary Native American Music. This research model benefitted in SO many ways from our use of the GID model.

First and foremost was our consideration of “Third Space” to make real-world connections to the content for students. We focused on contemporary Native American music artists and framed the research around the overarching Inquiry Question: How is contemporary Native American music both an expression of traditional culture and a powerful force for change? The musicians we featured have fused traditional Native American sounds, instruments, etc. with contemporary genres that are familiar to our students – hip-hop, rap, pop, EDM, heavy metal, etc. These music artists are also passionate about social justice and the issues facing Native Americans; these are issues that many of our students and their families/communities are facing themselves. We found articles, music videos, and songs online for students to read, view, and listen to as they did their research.

As we always do now, we included many GID tools for students to use throughout the process—Inquiry Journals, Inquiry Logs, Inquiry Circles, etc. We also included student choice of topic selection in the Explore phase, and choice of presentation formats in the Create phase. In the Share phase, students are asked to apply their learning from their own research and from each other’s presentations in a culminating activity, by responding to a quote from one of the musicians featured in the research model (in their Inquiry Journals and then in a discussion with Inquiry Circles and the whole Inquiry Community):

In the Rebel Music: Native America video episode you saw in the Immerse phase of this research, Native American rapper Frank Waln said: “The music is my shield and my weapon.”

  • What do you think he means? How does this statement relate to music as both an expression of traditional culture and a force for positive change?
  • How is this statement true for the other contemporary Native American musicians that you and your classmates researched?

This culminating activity allows all students to apply and synthesize their learning from each other, to build a response together to the overarching question posed at the beginning of the inquiry. In the Evaluate phase, we included a suggestion for students to extend their learning by researching a social issue that is personally relevant and important to them, and to create their own music or other form of artistic expression about the issue.

Thanks to the GID process, our students in 8th grade American Music classes at 27 Middle Schools across the district now have an inquiry-based learning opportunity that is both engaging and rigorous. Feedback from the music teachers who implemented this model during the 2016-17 school year has been really positive, and they report that this was a MUCH more rich and meaningful learning experience for their students than the previous ORM was.

I welcome your feedback about this research model!  NOTE: Please excuse any broken links in this ORM; I did make a few updates since my last blog post before sharing with you here today, and any remaining broken links will be updated during our Summer Curriculum workshop beginning next week. We are looking forward to designing more ORMs like this one this summer!

Kelly Ray, BCPS

Problem Finders

B.C.’s new curriculum, as I discussed in my last post, has meant some radical changes to subject content in every grade, but perhaps none so much as in Grade 6 Social Studies. Socials used to be: Japan and Peru. I remember studying Japan and Peru when I was in Grade 6… and I’m no spring chicken!

The new curriculum for Grade 6 Social Studies has a focus on global issues, social justice, media studies, and governance systems… which sounds awesome, until you actually start looking at the content “suggestions”. Here is just a small sample of the recommended topics:

International cooperation and responses to global issues

    • environmental issues
    • human trafficking
    • child labour
    • epidemic/pandemic response
    • fisheries management
    • resource use and misuse
    • drug trafficking
    • food distribution and famine

Regional and international conflict

  • Sample topics:

    • war

    • genocide

    • child soldiers

    • boundary disputes

    • religious and ethnic violence

    • Terrorism

That is only from two subtopics! I didn’t even get into media, migration of people, or systems of government! Altogether there must be about 50 individual suggested topics just in Social Studies alone. That’s a lot for 12 year-olds to handle.

Lucky for us, our Grade 6 Social Studies teacher was excited to dig into the new material. James Weber, who used to be my office-mate and the school’s inquiry teacher before he went to teach in Dubai for two years, returned to Vancouver and joined the team at the last minute due to a sudden vacancy. Even the redoubtable James, however, was daunted by the number of learning outcomes and the lack of direction in how to teach them provided by the Ministry of Education.

Luckily, after learning about Guided Inquiry from me, we realized that following the eight phases would lead to a rich learning experience for the boys. With such a vast array of material to “cover,” GID seemed like a natural approach: expose the boys to many different ideas in the Open, Immerse and Explore phases, and then let them identify a question of interest to investigate on their own. Thus the Problem Finders Project was born.

The Open phase was a simple gallery walk in the classroom: James posted about 20 photos around the room, each one related to at least one topic in the curriculum. Without prompting or frontloading the boys observed each photo and jotted down ideas or questions it inspired.

As the instructional team was planning the project, however, we realized that the Immerse phase might be a challenge to execute. With so many possible topics, how could we possibly provide an Immerse experience that could touch on all these ideas at once? Since James and I used to work together in the library, we had a brainwave. What about a giant Human Library session where we invited as many possible guests in who had some experience with any of these topics, and boys could rotate around and ask questions?

And that’s exactly what happened. The Grade 6 team put out feelers to parents, friends and community members, and many people happily volunteered. We had dozens of Human Library guests, with expertise in health, politics, environment, indigenous rights and many of the other topics suggested by the Ministry. A list was provided on the boards so boys could select topics of interest, and they rotated around for 10 minutes of discussion with the guests. This provided the students with an opportunity to put out feelers on these disparate topics, and start to formulate ideas of their own.

Following the Human Library Immerse session, the boys went on to Explore using our library databases, as well as meeting in inquiry circles with faculty members to continue to talk through all the ideas they had encountered, and to begin to identify a question to research further.

The Problem Finders Project thus continued through the phases of Guided Inquiry, and when it came time to decide how to Share their learning, we planned another Human Library event – but this time, the students were the experts!

Each boy wrote his inquiry question on a sign that he hung around his neck and held a portfolio of his work throughout the project – this included a magazine article, a slam poem, a letter to a stakeholder, as well as his notes from various stages of the project. The rooms of the Grade 6 neighborhood were dedicated to the different curricular topics, and the guests – parents, teachers, and other students – selected topics to rotate around and discuss with the Grade 6 experts.

A list of all the Grade 6 boys and their topics was provided for guests.

Rooms for Human Library appointments were arranged thematically.

To say the day was a success is an understatement. The level of knowledge the boys displayed was incredible – and they were able to delve into difficult topics with admirable maturity and insight. Parents and teachers were astounded at how well the boys were able to discuss their topics. Even the P.E. teacher, who sort of reluctantly wandered up at one point, told me he had never seen boys so engaged in an activity like that! Designing the Share session as a Human Library event made it very low-key for everyone. The boys did not feel like they had to spend extra time preparing – since they knew their topics inside-out – and there was no pressure to perform for the visitors.

This student is explaining his research on human trafficking to Senior School boys!

Small groups of parents and other students met with the Human Library experts.

Remember how the Ministry list of recommended topics seemed so vast and daunting? Here is just a sample of some of the questions the boys identified for their research:

How can Canada and B.C. ensure that we are getting more electric cars? What are we doing?

How has human trafficking developed and changed in China?

Why are all the bees dying?

How has the relationship between the Canadian government and the First Nations changed over the years and what will it look like in the future?

What are the emotional effects of human trafficking and child labour?
How and why did the Mexican drug war start?

Why has society become increasingly racist towards aboriginal group?  What have the aboriginals have done about this and how does it relate to African American Racism?

If the Grade 6 team had approached this as a typical unit – with textbooks, quizzes, class discussions – so much of the rich learning would be missed.

The student feedback was overwhelmingly positive:

  • We could chose what to study
  • Having interesting conversations
  • The amount i learned about my topic, being an expert
  • I liked listening to the others
  • I liked how much time you gave use to complete the project and how you kept us relaxed
  • Doing the slam poem
  • That you could choose from lots of topics
  • How it was split into assignments
  • Having lots of little projects inside of one big one was really fun
  • I liked the presentation, we got to share our knowledge and experiences with other people
  • How it is covered in 2 subjects [Socials and Language Arts]
  • Seeing people interested in the topic we researched
  • Meeting new people
  • Seeing different projects
  • I love that we are actually sending letters
  • Answering other people’s questions
  • Fun!

Using the Human Library model in our Guided Inquiry Units this year has been a very successful endeavour, and one I would encourage other schools to try out! Take advantage of the expertise amongst your parents, friends and larger community, and you will be amazed at the connections and learning that will take place.

I’ve had a great time guest blogging here this week! Thank you so much for reading, and do get in touch with any questions or comments.

Elizabeth Walker

St. George’s School

Vancouver Canada

@curiousstgeorge