CCPS’s Journey with GID

Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) is a large, suburban school district just outside Richmond, VA. We have 63 schools and serve just over 60,000 students. As part of our district’s comprehensive plan, we are becoming a Project Based Learning (PBL) district – training several schools each summer until all are on board. As part of LIbrary Services, I wanted to find an inquiry research model to support the division’s move towards becoming a PBL District. That is how our journey began with GID. Leslie has done all day trainings with the librarians, and we spend other PD time looking at how GID supports all types of inquiry, not just for PBL.

 

This year we have had lots of change. We have a fairly new School Board and July 1, we got our new Superintendent. We also have had quite a few administrative changes happen at the building level as well. With all this change, the expression “Shift Happens” has become quite a mantra in our district. To help support the librarians here, I offered two book studies on professional books that talk about library services but were written for administrators. Our first book, Tapping into the Skills of 21st-Century School Librarians: A Concise Handbook for Administrators by Dr. Audrey Church, helped our librarians frame the types of conversations that can happen, especially with a new administrator in the building. We have new administrators who are new to CCPS but not new to administration; we have new administrators not new to CCPS but new to administration; and we have new administrators new to CCPS AND administration so we ran the full gamut. One of the big connections I wanted the participants to make was in using GID, they were tapping into 21st-century skills and inquiry learning was all about that Dr. Church describes. It was to allow them to use the format Dr. Church set up to frame their initial conversation with their new administrator.

 

Our second book study was with Dr. Rebecca J Morris’ School Libraries and Student Learning: A Guide for School Leaders. In her chapter on Inquiry Learning, I asked the participants “How does Guided Inquiry Design support what Rebecca Morris calls the ‘Collaboration Arc’, ‘Assignment Design’ for educators; ‘Thinking and Questioning’ and ‘Developing Questions’ for Students? “

 

Here are their responses:

“Guided Inquiry supports the Collaboration Arc because it assumes that there will be planning, teaching and co-teaching between and among the classroom teacher(s) and the librarian. Assignment Design supports guided inquiry because GI encourages students to construct meaningful questions to ponder and research. As Morris writes, “educators model how and why we attend to the process.” Thinking and Questioning is part of GI in that it encourages active thinking and ‘course correction.’ Developing Questions makes Guided Inquiry personal which as we know, makes learning much more meaningful.” Elizabeth K

 

“Assignment Design mirrors Guided Inquiry in that it moves away from students researching from a pre-selected topic or list of topics. Inquiry based assignments want students to choose to research a topic that interests them by encouraging them to ask good questions. Think Open, Immerse, and Explore. Similarly, with the students, the ‘Thinking and Questioning’ and ‘Developing Questions’ aspect of the Collaboration Arc are in the same mold of Explore, Identify, and Gather. I like the term ‘satisficing’ the book uses to explain how students typically accept resources that are passable. I may steal that.” Gillian A

“When first learning about Guided Inquiry, I actually imagined more of an arc shape than the linear process that was offered in the text. The inquiry process is a circular process in that an idea starts small then gets bigger and grows as the student is immersed in it and explores more deeply. The student reaches his/her highest level of discomfort (top of the arc) when trying to identify quality sources to validate the idea. As the student concludes the most difficult process, he/she begins to slide into a more comfortable place as synthesis and the creation process begins to take shape. After sharing and evaluating, the process comes full circle. It’s a circular process with collaboration, as well. You can only go up when breaking ground with veteran teachers and building new relationships with fellow teachers. We, then, must immerse ourselves in and explore each other’s content areas to ensure they flow seamlessly together. The librarian will identify & gather quality sources that support the curriculum, and possibly create student exemplars. The resources are shared with teachers and students, and the librarian and teacher reflect/evaluate how well the lesson worked and how it can be improved.

 

Guided Inquiry totally supports the Assignment Design for Educators – it’s the framework for getting away from the “bird units.” Admittedly, we are all more “comfortable” in a controlled environment, but a controlled environment does not allow deep thinking. I am currently working on Genius Hour with 8th graders. The ELA teacher and I definitely say “what were we thinking??” but the ideas that students are generating may not have come out otherwise! We still don’t know how everything is going to work out, but we are definitely celebrating the process!

 

By its nature, Guided Inquiry supports thinking and questioning for students in the immerse and explore phases. Students delve deeply into their topic, and as they are immersed, they discover a wide variety of sources from diverse perspectives. This allows them to compare, contrast, validate, and support their thinking and the questioning process.” Heather M

 

“Guided Inquiry Design supports the new PBL training that everyone in the district is doing. Using the library to support project based learning by doing research and being part of the inquiry work. Project Based Learning often promotes students working in small groups and the library helping to develop questions, research and complete their projects. Inquiry is a natural path to collaboration and working with curriculum!” Laura I

 

“Guided Inquiry Design supports collaboration as teachers and librarians work together to create meaningful learning experiences for students where they can immerse themselves richly in a topic before addressing a more finite research question. Collaboration arc (as would also be true in guided inquiry) means that the nature of the project dictates the type and frequency of collaboration. Not all projects are the same, nor is all support the same. Assignment design and guided inquiry are parallel in that students move away from selecting topics that have little meaning for them to choosing topics driven by good questioning. By learning how to create their own questions and by increasing confidence in questioning, students learn how to be self-directed in inquiry. Students are more engaged as a result supporting the development of critical thinking skills. By thinking and questioning throughout the research process, students develop the skills to replicate the research process across content areas and for future units of study.” Lindsey H

 

“Collaboration Arc seems to be similar to PBL. PBL is based on inquiry learning. Inquiry learning allows for collaboration with librarians and classroom teachers. Inquiry learning also allows students to gain knowledge by engaging them in questioning, critical thinking, and problem solving. Teachers and librarians working together is best practices for guiding students through the process of inquiry learning. If teachers and librarians collaborate instruction will be more effective for students because learning will be authenticating and engaging.” Ruby P

“Guided inquiry mirrors the collaboration arc, assignment design, thinking and questioning, and developing questions ideas presented by Rebecca Morris. The collaboration arc of working with teachers, sharing the responsibility, creating a culture of collaboration, and varying the degrees of collaboration is exactly what we do when we assemble the team for guided inquiry. We work with teachers and community experts to support the learning process for students. I like her point that having a collaborative partner encourages risk taking and innovation. The idea of assignment design is exactly what guided inquiry is. We have a goal for students to learn so we design the lesson to guide them in their learning. The process of learning is as important as the content they are learning. We use their third space to make it matter to them and we create a hook to get them thinking and generating questions. Students generate their own questions and drive their learning. Students look at how they learn and they evaluate information by forming higher level thinking questions. The immerse, explore, identify, and gather portions of guided inquiry are where learning questions are formed, reflected on, and revised.” Tami W

Lori Donovan is a National Board Certified Librarian and is the Instructional Specialist for Library Services for Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA. She holds a master’s degree in education with a specialty in school library media programs and a Graduate Professional Endorsement in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. She has published several articles in Library Media Connection and co-authored Power Researchers: Transforming Student Library Aides into Action Learners by Libraries Unlimited. She can be reached at lori_donovan@ccspnet.net or follow on Twitter @LoriDonovan14.

 

Other blog posts: 52guidedunquiry.edublogs.org/2016/07/25/; 52guidedunquiry.edublogs.org/2016/07/27/; 52guidedunquiry.edublogs.org/2016/07/29/

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

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

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

Image 1. Collaborative Google Spreadsheet for Equipment Budget

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

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

Image 2. Pennies for Pasta Storyboard

Image 3. Collaborative Google Slides writing video script

Image 4. Student ‘interviewing’ cook for video

 

Image 5.  Recording footage for video in Bulldog Brilliance Lab

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

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

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS

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

Guided Inquiry Design – NOT a One Size Fits All!

Hi everybody!

Well, I’m not sure how you did with sweets on Tuesday, but I must tell you,  I ate a lot of chocolate on Valentine’s Day so my sugar overload was very real and I’m paying for it now.  I guess it was worth it though!

Anyone who knows me understands that I like to laugh, have fun, kid around, play, be spontaneous and I am just a pretty easy going person. They know I am passionate about school libraries, teaching, and learning and a pretty hard worker.  What these people also know is that when it’s time for me to be serious or address serious topics, I can sit up straight, focus, and take on the serious topics. I have found that I need to kinda do the same thing with online teaching. You have to interject humor when you can, be willing to laugh at yourself, bring things to life and make the environment a little more personal, and have fun with the journey letting your passion for the topic guide you.  To my new friends I am meeting through this blog, it is great to meet you and I hope you will also feel this in my writing!  I love to write but tend to be a “flowery” type  of writer.  My husband Dennis, who by the way is my other fuzzy friend (see picture below) always tells me “the Reader’s Digest condensed version please”, so you probably get the point.  I’ll do my best to keep my word garden in control and not overdo it, but I am writing on topics that I am totally passionate about so it might be difficult.  Two topics near to my heart-Guided Inquiry and alternative education kids.  As I write, I still reference the alternative education kids as ‘mine’, they are still in my heart!

 

My other fuzzy friend and husband, Dennis. We are working on our selfie skills!

For this post I would like to reflect about how Guided Inquiry is a great fit with all types of learners because to me, there is not a prescription for the type of student who is a ‘good match’ for GID. In fact, I can argue that I think students who are challenged to be successful for a variety of reasons are a GREAT match for GID. I miss my kids at Dimensions (no offense to my fantastic graduate students who are hopefully reading this). I loved working with alternative education students and believed in helping them realize their own potential and to tell you the truth, they helped me realize by own potential in ways they will never understand.  Alternative Ed kids tend to get a bad rap, often times viewed as ‘those bad kids who go to that special school for kids always in trouble’.  When I began working with alternative education kids 16 years ago, I never, ever, even for one second, thought, ‘these kids can’t do it’.

I don’t ‘classify’ students by abilities, I see a group of brilliant minds. For the purpose of illustration, consider these three sets of students.  The struggling, successful, and advanced learner all with a range of abilities, motivation toward learning, experiences, backgrounds, etc. which impact their learning. Sounds like a typical classroom, doesn’t it?   If this is a continuum and we think about GID, each of these groups of students are able to be successful in their own way every step of the GID process.  

Struggling Learner

Successful Lerner

Advanced Learner

For a group of middle school alternative education students,  a GID project helped tremendously with transitioning to high school and for one student in particular, changed their life.  A personal goal of mine was to bring as many learning opportunities to the students as possible and so as a team, the middle school class of 6 students, the classroom teacher, and myself as Teacher Librarian started a project to set up the “Bulldog Brilliance Lab”.  The goal for the lab was to have a place where students could extend classroom learning through creating, so we wanted to have a green screen with video and editing equipment, MakerSpace tools and gadgets, thus creating an environment where kids were comfortable to express themselves.  This project naturally unfolded as a GID unit.  It was totally a student driven project from identifying needs for the lab, seeking pricing, funding, presenting to groups for possible financial support, working on grant writing with the teachers, and really taking in ownership in the process. What authentic learning opportunities!

As part of the project, students went on a field trip to the high school video resources studio. This studio is on one of the high school campus in the school district that offer media production classes and also maintains the school TV channel.  Dimensions kids actually got to run video equipment, work with editing footage, talk to high school students, and be a part of productions. It was a great experience for all of them!  One student in particular, we will call him James, comes to mind – he was terrified of going to high school, period.  During the field trip, James was able to talk to the media teacher one-on-one and mingled with high school students who he could relate to.  Fast forward – the kids were so into creating video projects back at Dimensions where they wrote scripts, rehearsed, recorded and edited the footage so it could be shown on the school channel.  (P.S.  My secret goal was to help the community see that these kids were rock stars and not the ‘bad’ kids.)

Thank you Mr. Jay Curry!

Anyway — these middle school students took leadership roles working with the entire school to produce videos. They wanted to create a weekly program spotlighting teachers and students and the activities that happened at school sharing that ‘good happens’ in alternative education.  Another idea they had was to create a video tour of the school for new students so they could actually get a feel of the ‘community’ before they came there as a new kid.  Let’s get back to James — as a result of this GID project doing what he loved (Third Space at its best) and the connections he made at the high school, his fear of going to high school turned into motivation toward entering high school – he was excited to get to high school! . You see James had such a Third Space Connection because he writes his own scripts at home and produces them on YouTube. And here’s the really great news –  the classroom teacher noted that student behavior improved AND the quality of student work improved.  Oh and by the way, James is doing famously at high school last I heard.

Let’s go back to the statement that GID is a good match for all types of learners. The example above clearly illustrates the possibility for students, all types of students.  Are you wondering about the project and how it ended?  The Bulldog Brilliance Lab was a success and the vision became a reality.  It was not a reality with shiny new equipment but a reality through donated resources that we put to great use!  Our kids didn’t care that the MAC computers were not new, they didn’t care that the green screen had a tear in the corner, and they didn’t care that created projects were not perfect.  What they did care about is they were doing something they loved, something they were passionate about, and something that was helping them realize their own potential.   Gosh, this sounds really similar to the author of this post.  

Until the next post, I vow to have NO MORE CHOCOLATE!

Cheers,

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS
Energetic Educator and Online College Professor

drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy

English Language Learners Connect with Story – The Unit

Time to plan and meet seems to be the over arching impediment to good collaboration. Our Guided Inquiry Unit happens over the course of the year and the library works on a flex schedule. If your library works on a flex schedule and you can find a teacher that can work on an overarching theme within the content area that they are teaching, then using an extended time period is a great benefit to you and the students. This extended time period allows for a good deal of collaboration to happen in face-to-face time as well as time to work on lessons in a digital environment.

Our team has met face-to-face, by Google Hangouts, Skype, Google Keep, etc. where we take notes and share our ideas. When you can work in a flexible schedule environment there is a flow that occurs where some of the phases happen in the library, some in the classroom, and reinforcement happens seamlessly. For us, using a storytelling theme, we were able to have many of the lessons taught in the ELL classroom connected to the idea of story, always threading back to why story is so important in our lives and how cultural identities are wrapped up in stories.

The Team

ladawna-pst-2-1

Left to right: Rachael (our storyteller), LaDawna (Librarian), Dana (English Language Learner Teacher)

The storyteller visits our school several times to present stories and workshops. Her first visit is as a special guest at the narrative festival

Storyteller Rachel

Storyteller Rachael

where students are sharing their stories to each other and parents. She presents her own narrative and this introduces her to the students. Her first workshop follows during the Immerse Phase. During Immerse the students are continuing to swirl around stories but it is expanding beyond narrative to folktales and stories from the variety of cultures represented in the class. Students begin collecting stories from their own cultural backgrounds. These stories may be gathered from interviews with their parents, by exploring folktales from around the world using print and digital resources in the library.

The storyteller is invited back to do a storytelling workshop. Her storytelling selection will draw from one of the cultures represented in the classroom.

Whatever her selection, she provides a written copy to the classroom teacher. This is important because the students are just learning English. By having the story in advance the ELL teacher can introduce vocabulary words from the story to the students to build some basic understanding of the stories that will be presented. During the storyteller’s visit she engages the students in theatre and story games that require few if any words to help break down inhibitions and build confidence and trust.

She presents the prepared stories and introduces storyboarding.

ladawna-pst2-4ladawna-pst-2-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

ladawna-pst-2-5

Moving into the Explore Phase students have been Immersed in culture through stories, now they begin to explore the countries from which these stories originate. Resources like our Culturegrams database and country books etc. are explored.

Students are paired with someone from a different culture and with guidance from the ELL teacher formulate interesting interview questions of their partners about things they have discovered in the resources and from drawing on the background of narrative and culture discovered from the folktales.

It is from the interviews and exploration of the resources that the students start to discover the question(s) they want to really focus on that comes in the Identify Phase.

As you look at the way Guided Inquiry Design is laid out you can begin to see how VERY important the Opening, Immerse and Explore phases are to helping student questions drive the learning. As the librarian and content teacher we could easily have given the students a list of countries for them to research. We could have given our students a rubric of what we wanted the research outcomes to be. But in Guided Inquiry we have brought them to the research component of learning about a different country through the idea of how culture shapes identity, how everyone has a story, and how do those stories teach us about each other and the world around us.

ladawna-pst-2-6

A quick word about the Gather, Create, and Share Phases because in my final post this week I want to bring it around to reflecting on the process. And bring to you a variety of voices involved in the process.

Gather: many mini-lessons are taught about plagiarism, copyright, citation, notetaking, etc. We use many tools that include: Noodletools, Google Docs, Inquiry Journals (digitally to provide zones of intervention)

Create: Google Sites are used to create a portal that is a presentation for student learning, that may include video-casting, oral storytelling (that is video taped and posted), etc. Students have choice in how they will communicate their learning. We use the Google Site as a portal for that creation. It is important with this group of students that we are able to track their writing, speaking and listening skills and this portal allows us the ability to capture these different modalities.

Share: International Night  – Students invite their parents to share food, fun, stories, and the hard work they have done.

 

 

Year 5 Go Global

When I was first asked to help a Year 5 teacher, Catherine Havenaar, with an integrated Year 5 unit on ‘Global Connections’, I was initially a little cautious about how we would achieve the integrated English and Humanities outcomes. She was in her first year of teaching – after being a Paramedic for many years – but had been inspired to try Guided Inquiry after a seminar I gave to the whole Primary staff at the beginning of the year.

The first step of any unit of Guided Inquiry, of course, is to plan with the teaching team. By the end of the first session I knew we were on a winner.

Right from the start Catherine and I bounced off each other with ideas and this continued throughout the unit until it actually became an exhaustingly huge project. However, because the students all joined in the ‘fun’ of learning together it was an experience never to be forgotten.

The fact that the G20 Summit was taking place in Brisbane at the time was such a bonus. Having world leaders right here in Australia and on the news, made ‘global connectedness’ so relevant to the students. I love this research plan a student was working on later – Can there be a G21?

g20best

The Programme of work is available here: http://guidedinquiryoz.edublogs.org/practice-2/primary-guided-inquiry-units/

Australian Curriculum – Stage 3 

Human Society and Its Environment: Global Connections

Key Focus:

What impact does Australia have on the world stage through our global connections?

Contributing Questions:

In what different arenas does Australia contribute to the world?

What are our responsibilities in making sure all people are treated with respect and provided with basic human needs?

OPEN: As with all GID units we began with checking prior knowledge and global organisations that the students recognised.

Activity 1: Complete ‘pre-test’ to determine knowledge levels about Australia’s connection to other countries – Provide students with a question and answer sheet that they will complete as they move around 10 stations. Each station has a visual prompt relating to a different idea of global connection. Students have four minutes at each station and identify the prompt they know least about.

Other Activities: Watch “Global Connections” video on ClickView; Read“Around the world by lunch”; CDRom -“The Global Village” (oral activities)

IMMERSE: Students discussed Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recapped the importance of Australia’s role in providing aid and humanitarian support.

Students then selected an organisation and drew its logo with a description of its elements and meaning.

Using a scaffold “Making the Choice” to gather information on a number of organisations they read widely and took notes, discussing findings at specific points with the teacher and each other.

One student with dyslexia was catered for when Catherine decided to bring in her own Mac computer to give the student during lessons so that she could use the ‘Text to speech’ function. This student managed better than ever before, could listen to sites about organisations – and was so happy!

using-speech-function

Links to all the organisations selected were put onto a Diigo sites and used from the class Edmodo learning platform. Students also enjoyed sharing sites they found.

sharing-sites-edmodo

yr5immerse1

EXPLORE: Students determined an organisation to research and read widely from Diigo links, books and subscriptions such as online encyclopaedias and Skwirk.

Scaffolds were provided for recording information and the questions they raised about that organisation.

yr5-first-two-scaffolds

IDENTIFY: Students wrote a research question (with help from the teaching team) to focus their exploration and four contributing questions which were placed into a jigsaw scaffold and/or a mind map.

jigsaw

mindmap

GATHER: Answers were gathered in their books and throughout students were assisted with aspects of information literacy by the teacher librarian – everything from determining best sources of information to writing a Bibliography.

jigsaw_answers

CREATE: Now for the real fun! This is a prime example of students working in the ‘Third Space’ and where they all just blossomed.

Students created an organisation of their own based on the tenets of the one they had been researching. They had to create a name, logo, slogan, aims, goals and a script for a one minute infomercial which featured the student introducing their agency. Because they had selected an organisation originally based on their own interest we had organisations created for everything from wildlife conservation to soccer. This also integrated their Visual Arts and Writing programs. (see program : http://guidedinquiryoz.edublogs.org/practice-2/primary-guided-inquiry-units/)

Catherine and I had a discussion about how she could be involved in a fun way to model their tasks. It was decided that she should create the overarching organisation with which the students all had to register their created organisations! After a lot of thought and laughter we came up with OREO: Office of the Registry of Earth’s Organisations. A logo was created and Catherine made her own infomercial as an example for the students.

See it here: https://vimeo.com/192400121

SHARE: A Global Summit was organised to which all parents, the Head of Primary and the Principal were invited…

In groups of five the student’s infomercials were played. Each group then entered to sit around the OREO table dressed for their role in their organisation. Parents had been given prepared questions to ask and the students, in a very professional manner, stood and answered for their organisation.

Morning tea was served to all and of course there was a distinct Oreo theme!

A large number of parents and grandparents came to the OREO Summit:

oreosummit1

Here they are watching the ‘Infomercial’ videos the students made for their created organisaton. (Note their Logos on the wall!)

oreosummit2

But a unit of work does not end with Share!… We conducted evaluations of students and the teaching team but also were surprised to receive a number of feedback comments from parents.

Stay tuned for the Evaluation blog and some links tomorrow. Finally I will reflect on a few more GID experiences towards the end of the week.

Alinda Sheerman – Broughton Anglican College, Menangle Park (75 km south west of Sydney, Australia)

 

 

 

Aldine ISD Online Resources Cultivate Guided Inquiry!

This year I am attempting a new Guided Inquiry project.  I meet with fourth graders in the computer lab two days a week for an hour for inquiry based lessons that are planned with the Guided Inquiry Design model.

The first lesson I have designed and implemented is one stemming from a State of Texas 3/6 grade reading list called the Texas Bluebonnet program.  The Texas Bluebonnet Program publishes a new list of books from a wide range of genres each year.  Students in 3-6 grades read at least five books and then vote on their favorite at the end of January.  The winning author is honored at a luncheon at the state library conference and a group of students are invited to present the author the award.

One of the books on the list this year is Space Case by Stuart Gibbs.  The introduction in the book is a letter to the reader that welcomes them to the first permanent human habitation on the moon.

I used this letter/introduction as the Open to our first GI project.  I then had students spend a few minutes thinking about what it might be like to be sent to live on the moon.  We opened a Google Doc and students jotted down notes, thoughts, ideas, and questions.  Must not forget the questions!

Boy were the questions, thoughts and ideas good ones!  As was the enthusiasm from the students.  At first the students weren’t sure what to write and so, one by one questions started coming out.  I would answer their questions by saying something like “Wow, that is a great question, write it down!”  I also did some of my own wondering on my paper; things like I wonder what it’s like on the moon…do they have a day and night.  I only put a few on my Google Doc and that sparked the ideas, thoughts and questions.  I also was sure to say, “These are my thoughts, I’m sure most of you have different thoughts than mine.”

I then introduced the students to 3 of our district online resources such as Britannica, Scienceflix and PebbleGo.  I had them look at the sites; explore what was on them about the moon.  It was so thrilling to see the students excited about using the online resources rather than “Googling it.”  I fully support Google; don’t get me wrong, but our fourth grade students need a place to go to find legitimate, readable sites on their level.

I can’t tell you how often the students get stuck in Immerse and Explore phases when they use Google, at first.  I watch them Google a phrase, often misspelling it, find thousands of websites and proceed to open then close them without reading the first word.  They move on to open, close, open, close over and over and then get frustrated.  Or, I see students immediately go to images to learn about, say natural resources and spend hours looking at photos without actually learning any specific details.  Therefore, it was exhilarating to see them excited about their searches and the information they were oohing-and-ahhing over.

gid-space-case-online-resources

The next class period, I introduced three more district and state sponsored online resources and allowed them to continue exploring to see what they could find about the Moon and potential life on the moon.  On the third class meeting, I showed the students a clip from Discovery Education of a modular unit that has plans for use on the moon.   I allowed students then to continue exploring other video clips about life on the moon, life in space, space travel, etc.

We again logged into Goggle Drive to take notes and document questions and thoughts as they were exploring.  Students were motivated to ask if they could go back to a previous website, or if they could try new ones, and were excited over the details they were finding.  I had students ask if they could use specific information databases they knew about that I didn’t introduce, or explore others listed on our district online resources page.  The energy for this project is high, even for students who don’t necessarily gravitate toward space or space travel topics.  Equally exciting, when I gave them 10 minutes of “free exploration time in district sponsored games and resources” for working so hard, more than half of them chose to stay in the online resources tab to either explore other interests, or continued exploring space topics.

When reflecting upon the lesson with the first group of students, I added a step or two here and there with the next group.  I wanted to have students record their thought processes and add a reflection piece as well.  Therefore, we had a mini-lesson about logging into our district Google account, opening a document, brainstorming thoughts, adding a title, etc.  Students used a Google Doc to jot down thoughts, ideas, questions, and reflections before, during and after exploring online resources.  So, see I do support and use Google for education!

We have not finished this unit, our next step will involve a minilesson on academic honesty and citing sources.  We then will begin to actually search for answers to our questions, now that we have a good idea of which databases and online resources will be most helpful.

Tara Rollins on twitter

Keep Going! – Change the culture of schools to develop conversation

My journey continues…

Between 2000 and 2010 I told teachers and students about ISP. We tried in all kinds of ways to adapt what we learnt from it in our information seeking instructions, in our supervision and in the instructions that the teachers gave to the students. We were convinced that it should inform our practice. We made many mistakes. We thought we knew, over and over again. But since the students kept getting more or less impossible assignments and I knew that they wanted us to be kind and needed us to understand their “non-library” questions we learned and learned and learned.

In 2010 I got the chance to get to know Randi Schmidt. The story is long about how this meeting came about but it contains my story with ISP as you’ve read it above, people in Sweden whom I had found and networked with, coincided with financial possibilities and Randi´s and my conviction that ISP/GI really had it. I don´t know if Randi is known to you but my short version of her goes like this: When she found out about ISP she decided to create a program at her school (Gill St. Bernhard, Gladstone, NJ ) that would fully implement the findings of the research – her practice should be based on research. And that she did.

Ten years later I walked into that library. I came as prepared as I could and the ten days that I spent with her, her colleagues, students, teachers, researchers at CISSL and the colleagues that I travelled with from Sweden equipped me with a massive experience. It was just as holistic as the voices I heard from my informants only that the web was getting even more complicated. But there were connections, there were methods, there were forms to be filled in and reflection sheets, structured lessons and instructions and there were questions answered and I saw it all, it wasn’t just talk but also walk.

During my visit I asked myself: what am I going to do with this when I come home? I just thought it would be so sad if I would plant the seeds but then fail to make them grow and flourish. It would be so sad. I wanted so badly to be part of a listening and encouraging culture that would help both grownups and teenagers to create deep knowledge.

So I asked for advice and thought and read my own notes from the trip and the ISP/GI texts over and over again.

I decided to trust conversation and discussion.

I don’t think that we have that as a natural part of our culture in my school when the intention is to develop professional knowledge in the staff.

And I decided to challenge that.

I decided that it was the only way to go and that I knew that I had to be patient and firm. If I or the teachers assumed that we were getting nowhere, nothing was happening I had to remain in the position of a discussing, conversing person. If that didn´t work, nothing else would.

I started by talking to my principals and somehow they must have experienced that there was something – not clear what – of quality in my sayings and doings and a year later I had a full time job. Still unclear what I was doing or should be doing, but there it was.

My vision was not to become a star school librarian but to teach the teachers and then work together with them. In 2013 I had evaluations from teachers, their voices and student voices from six projects, involving about 200 students and six teachers and I was invited to present as a practitioner at the CISSL Symposium celebrating the 30th anniversary of the dissertation of Dr. Carol Kuhlthau.

I flew to the US to talk for 15 minutes. It’s kind of funny to think of it that way, but of course there was so much more to it. I was back at Gill with Randi, I met with new people, learned that my presentation and the result we had was worth something – we were on the right track – and that there was interesting stuff going on in Australia as well. So, going back home again, what next?

I went back and told my school and anyone else that was interested that those who know say that we’re on the right track. We don’t really know what we’re doing but people who know say: keep going. So we did.

Lena

Lena Fogelberg Carlsson in her library

Lena Fogelberg Carlsson in her library

The Passion Project: choice and flipped learning using Guided Inquiry Design

Some student work from the Passion Project that was shared in the library

Some student work from the Passion Project that was shared in the library

I don’t like to play favourites with my projects, but the Passion Project was definitely one of the highlights of my Guided Inquiry journey this year. The project was the idea of two Religious Education (RE) teachers who wanted to bring a greater level of choice to their students’ learning, thereby providing a more meaningful and deeper experience in the classroom. They came to me after one of the teachers had collaborated with me using Guided Inquiry in a science project and she thought that the principles could be applied in RE.  Religious education in Australia is not tied to the curriculum constraints of other subjects, but is considered a very important part of our school curriculum. Therefore, we had a lot of freedom in our project design…and that made it so much more fun.

The Passion Project asked the students to choose what they would like to focus their study on for Term 3 in relation to Christianity and faith. It asked, “what are you passionate about?” and provided the students with the freedom to ask the big questions related to faith, religion and spirituality. We emphasised that there will not be one answer to your question which was something that some students found challenging and others found exciting.

We opened the project with a number of games which were designed to get the students brainstorming the kinds of things they were passionate about, whether it was Game of Thrones, Justin Bieber or animal cruelty. We used chatterboxes to get conversations started and students worked in partners and small groups to support each other in the creation of a mind map which would form the basis of their Explore phase.

This page of resources held sources for students to explore as well as videos which were allocated to each stage of the Guided Inquiry process

This page of resources held sources for students to use in the EXPLORE phase. Each of the four tiles (e.g. Using the inquiry log, etc) had Youtube videos that I personally created to model information literacy skills.

As we only had one lesson to spend with the students per week, I decided to implement a flipped classroom approach. Students used the learning management software to access videos and instructions on various stages of Guided Inquiry. They also accessed their Inquiry Log and Inquiry Journal for the EXPLORE and GATHER phases. This enabled teachers to spend less time at the front of the classroom teaching skills, and more time for student inquiry and teacher interventions as required. We implemented EVALUATION throughout the process and the classroom teachers used reflections using Google Forms at the beginning of each lesson to gather important information to inform whether the student needed additional support. This also provided valuable feedback which informed whether the students needed more or less time at each stage of the inquiry process.

This is me recording the flipped classroom videos in our very own soundproof recording booth at school! It took many, many takes. Note to self...write a script!

This is me recording the flipped classroom videos in our very own soundproof recording booth at school! It took many, many takes. Note to self…write a script!

I cannot emphasise enough how important the reflection component was to this task. I have found that the inclusion of reflection is something that requires a bit of persuasion on the part of the teacher librarian or Guided Inquiry practitioner for a number of reasons: there is little time, does it add value, I’m not sure how to do it, etc. Reflection is something I strongly believe in as a teaching tool because it encourages reflective practice both in students and teachers. It encourages us to question how we go about our teaching and learning and provides valuable insight into our students and how they are feeling/thinking/behaving at each stage of the project. It also provides valuable evidence of the impact of teacher librarians – something that we do not always have access to if we are not assessing, reporting and providing formal feedback. In this case, the RE teachers were big fans of reflection and were quite happy to use it to ensure the students were properly supported throughout the project.

I had many interesting discussions with students in the beginning stages of the project. The ISP emphasises the fact that students will go through periods of doubt and uncertainty, and this was true for our students. A couple of students begged me to “just give me a question to answer!”, which only confirmed that the process of making choices is essential for improving information literacy and skills that will help them become lifelong learners throughout their life.

It took the girls 6 weeks to get to the stage where they could begin to plan their creations. This was also a valuable lesson to those who like to jump right in and create before they have a deep understanding of the subject (often this leads to a lot of copying and pasting in my experience). Like the choice of subject area, they were able to choose their method of sharing their findings. We gave the students physical and digital platforms for sharing and this led to many amazing creations. Examples included:

  • Youtube cooking videos exploring food and religion;
  • Infographics which visually compared characters in religious inspired films compare to the Bible or discussing Harry Potter and Religion;
  • Google Slides on Christianity in Sport;
  • Artwork and collages on various topics;
  • Poetry and short stories;
  • Instagram posts;
  • Vlog posts; etc

In all, the Passion Project was valued both by teachers and students. Using the Guided Inquiry Design model provided the structure and scaffolding needed to properly ensure that the knowledge that the students gained would be personally meaningful. It also personally allowed me to get creative with my own pedagogy and play around with technology to improve the learning experience. I particularly enjoyed recording the flipped classroom videos. Although this was time consuming in the planning phase, it was worthwhile in the learning phase. All in all, the project was a huge success and will be repeated next year.

Erin Patel

Exploration to Formulation

One clarification for yesterday’s post, once the girls had their questions and understood that the homework would be exploring for information, time was spent introducing library resources for this task. We use EBSCO Discovery Service as our gateway to the library collection and databases. Since this type of search is new to most freshman students, instruction was specifically how to locate research starters and e-reference collections.

Day Two was very successful. The freshman were prepared with their handout completed and each had learned something about their topic identifying interesting, surprising, and unusual information. They identified questionable or controversial information and aspects they might still not understand. The final task on the homework had them identify two questions they might pursue as they continued their research.

The rest of the instructional period was spent practicing the development of key terms and using them in searches interspersed with instruction on narrowing search results using the database tools. By doing this within the class time, I was able to assist, reteach, and feel confident that the students were heading down a successful path. They practiced using synonyms and suggested subject terms from the database. We also reviewed the use of Boolean terms and other search strategies for the students with a limited amount of search experience. They used a handout to record their results using a concept cloud and by the end of the session had developed 2-4 successful key words with which to continue their Exploration. For myself and the classroom teacher, it was a time to work one on one with students and to identify where additional instruction/practice might be needed. Students were asked to complete this practice for homework and begin reading with the purpose of narrowing the concept/ topic to answer the questions they had formulated on the first handout the previous night.

The next day, Day Three, we moved on to the first phase of formulating a focus with a demonstration. Taking my own topic of interest, I modeled the next step of narrowing the concept/ topic to a focus. After listening to and watching me work, the girls were put into pairs and given time to “talk it out” with their partner. In an all-girls school, talking is a very successful strategy as there are not many girls who do not like to talk.  As the teacher and I listened in, we heard the student actively engaged and reflecting, building on what they had learned, and genuinely interested in continuing learning.  While they did not all come away from this exercise with a focus many of them understood what they needed to do next. We also observed a sense of stress release among them as they realized that each was in the right place and were not alone.

Upon completion of the “talk it out” exercise, we reviewed the next phase of Collection and how it would be a different sort of search and gather pertaining to the focus. We also reiterated relevance and redundancy as closure tactics. This ended our three days of instruction/practice on a Friday so that the students would have the weekend to absorb and maybe even reflect.

Next: A Week of Collection

Making it Personal (Part 3)

We all know the value of a great PLN. I only wish there were more hours in the day so that I could devote more time to learning from, and sharing with, others!

One of the most important things, I believe is to share personal experiences. I don’t use twitter as much as I should / could, I have a number of feeds to my email from TL networks, but these tools are both avenues for short, sharp pieces. I wanted to find a way to demonstrate to my students the desirability of creating a positive digital footprint, and I realised that I could use a blogging platform to share my personal experiences with Guided Inquiry at the same time. So I created a Digital Dossier to document my professional pathway, but with specific focus upon my GI journey. If you would like to have a look you will find it at http://myprofessionalpathway.weebly.com/  It is very much a work in progress; time is the enemy again! If you click onto the “more” tab, the “Guided Inquiry” there are some practical examples of where and how I have used GI at my school.