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

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

Individualized Reading Plans and Reflection

As my last post, I’d like to share some collaboration between myself and another English teacher, Michael Jett. Michael requires all of his English students to read at least one book per 9 week grading period and present a project to the class. So we have the usual struggles: students who want to pick a book they’re already read so they can skip the reading part; one wanted to choose Captain Underpants just to be cheeky; some genuinely have zero interest in reading anything.

We devised a system that Michael named the Individualized Reading Plan (IRP). We agreed that each of his students would come to the media center to meet with either me or Karen Hill (fortunately 2 media specialists work at my high school of 1,700!).

To begin, Michael always has his students fill out a reading survey via Google Form. He then shared those results with us. When each student came to the library, we pulled up the spreadsheet and reviewed their answers with them. We had them create some specific reading goals for the 9 weeks. We also had time to provide reader’s advisory individually and help them pick a book to read if they didn’t have one already. In short, it was every librarian’s dream! We repeated this process after the first 9 weeks grading period in order to reflect on their progress toward their goals, to make new goals, etc.

We decided halfway through the semester that recording all of this information on one Google Sheet made it difficult to read (and while I love technology, use it, and teach it, sometimes paper is just easier). Plus, we realized that not every student remembered their reading goals. So we came up with a handout that the students used to write down their goals and specific steps they would take to reach those goals. We even included space for their parents to sign the sheet and write down any comments.

Of course because of things like student absences, tests, assemblies, and life, the timing of these conferences did not always occur in a timely manner. But overall we were all pleased with the process and are looking forward to tweaking it next year. Mostly we were so happy to collaborate with a classroom teacher who put so much faith in the media specialists!

The Individualized Reading Plan process fits into the GID model by emphasizing individualized education, goal setting, and reflecting throughout the entire process. We used the concept of Third Space to connect students to reading material that would interest them, and provided scaffolding for the student who wanted to read Captain Underpants just to be sarcastic. You don’t always just happen to find your next favorite book; sometimes we all need some guidance and suggestions! This is the brilliance of the school library. There is something for everyone that they didn’t even know they were going to love. This process reminded some students that they did enjoy reading (sometimes teenagers need that little nudge!).

Self-reflection is the process that gets our students to that next level. Having them write their own goals and sign their names next to them helps them feel involved in their own education. When they start holding themselves accountable for their learning or lack thereof, we know we are doing our jobs.

Farewell from South Carolina! –Jamie Gregory   @gregorjm  Jamie.gregory@spart5.net

Michael Jett  @mrjett213  michael.jett@spart5.net

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

Love is in the air for Guided Inquiry, Chocolate, and Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  My name is Buffy Edwards and I have the privilege of blogging this week.  What a perfect time for me to talk about two things I really like, chocolate and Guided Inquiry.

I love chocolate. Chocolate, that amazing treat that seems to just make things better, gives you the boost to keep going, and helps you think.  That sounds like GID! I love Guided Inquiry. Guided Inquiry, that amazing process that helps students take ownership in their learning, helps them keep digging into their projects because of Third Space connections, and helps them become critical thinkers.  So to me, this is a win-win combination.

Time flies when you are having fun! I am so happy to be back on the 52-weeks Guided Inquiry Blog-thank you Dr. Leslie Maniotes for this opportunity. About a year ago, I had the pleasure of ‘co-blogging’ here with my friend and colleague Kelsey Barker, Teacher Librarian, Longfellow Middle School, Norman, Oklahoma. Together, we shared the process of how a GID team of Teacher Librarians in the Norman Public Schools District developed a GID science unit that would be implemented by 5th grade teachers across the district. The complete post about the science unit can be viewed here

So that’s really where my interest and involvement with GID started, with the Norman Public Schools (NPS), Norman, OK where I served as the District Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian at Dimensions Academy, a k-12 alternative education school.  Here’s the link to my earlier blog post where you can learn more about me!  The NPS District provided 3-day GID institutes with Dr. Maniotes where teams of teachers and Teacher Librarians came together to learn about GID and develop units of instruction for implementation at schools across the district. (You can read more about the district implementation process on this blog post).  Norman Schools has certainly designed a national model for training teachers and Teacher Librarians for implementing GID.  Thank you NPS for the incredible opportunity of being trained by the master of GID herself, Dr. Leslie Maniotes.
You might be wondering why the past tense with ‘served’ as Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian.  I retired.  Short, to the point, I retired. 29 years working in school libraries and I treasure every moment of my experiences and career.  Now you might be thinking ahhhhh retirement. That time in your life when you hang up your hat, stay up late, sleep late,  be free from commitment and responsibility and just kick back and relax. Nope, not this “retired” Teacher LIbrarian.  You see for about 15 of those 29  years I have also been teaching online graduate courses, in my spare time, ha ha! When I took off my full-time  K-12 teacher librarian hat, I put on a higher education instructor hat, now having time to work with even more fantastic graduate students in colleges of educations and schools of library and information studies. In addition to teaching online courses, I also visit students and former students in the field observing, sharing ideas, suggesting strategies and ideas about best practice and instruction and rolling up my sleeves to help with  weeding, packing,and rearranging physical spaces and really anything else that needs to be done.  How lucky am I?  Sharing my passion for the profession, teaching and learning, and, yes, you guessed it, Guided Inquiry Design. I am so very lucky and I feel fortunate to have these opportunities.  Some may think that retirement means it’s time to quit and be done and that you may be finished with the profession and career. I would argue it can be quite the contrary – it’s the time that you can take your work and profession to the next level, change lanes, shift gears, and share invaluable knowledge and experiences from an entirely new perspective.  

This is me with my fuzzy friend,12 year old Rugby.  He’s an Australian Shepherd adopted  from Second Chance – in the last two years he has lost his sight but certainly not his spirit!

My interaction with Guided Inquiry is quite interesting because I have the experience of implementing Guided Inquiry at Dimensions Academy (k-12 alternative education) in Norman, OK, being a part of the district-wide implementation of GID in Norman, writing about GID professionally, and teaching future teachers and librarians about GID.  In my earlier post, I shared some information about a unit at Dimensions Academy that allowed students the opportunity to earn multiple-credits toward graduation, I will talk a little more about GID related to that experience as well as other units and the impact it had on students.  You see, I believe that GID is appropriate and successful with all types of kids and will share more about the impact GID had our learners and why I am such a believer in the process!  

Thanks for reading today and now………… it’s time for some chocolate!

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS
Online College Professor

drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy
Chocolate photo from Google Images: (https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=651&q=chocolate&oq=chocolate&gs_l=img.3..0l10.8944.10800.0.11076.11.9.0.1.1.0.268.526.2-2.2.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..8.3.546.0.x_WRIs-Ji3w#imgrc=007–mIW6Xqn2M🙂

Stories are the fabric of our lives.

Stories are the fabric of our lives, whether we are reading a story, watching a story, dancing a story, painting a story…stories weave our lives together in ways that bring meaning and connection to our lives. Stories show us how much we share common experiences even with backgrounds that come from very diverse cultures.

There is something magical about stories that connect us to one another. In the English Language Learning (ELL) classroom students come together from diverse backgrounds and cultures, each with unique stories and unique languages. As beginning or emerging speakers ELL students have little or no understanding of English, never mind having an understanding of the language of the peers in their classroom. An ELL classroom can easily consist of ten different languages. What do they have in common? Story! As teacher, librarian and storyteller, we wondered how we might use that common factor of story to build speaking, listening, writing and information literacy skills. Our journey begins with a story….

I reach my hand into a bag, in the bag I find a smooth rock and my story begins….

It was a cold dark night. The air was heavy, fog rolled in off the mountains into our small fruit farming and coal mining valley. Rooftops were swallowed and the lights seeping through windows made the houses look like giant jack-o-lanterns dancing in the swamps of a misty bog. In my house we were headed to bed. My brother went to his bedroom and snuggled in under his heavy quilt. My mom shooed my sisters and me to bed. Our bedrooms were in the basement. Dad wouldn’t be home for another 8 hours. He was doing the graveyard shift at the coalmine where he worked to supplement his struggling fruit farm. I could say the night wasn’t all that different than any other school night, early to bed, early to rise, except it wasn’t. In the wee hours of the morning a scream pierced through the darkness that shrouded the house. I woke and struggled to figure out where I was. The house was full of smoke. The scream was pulling me up the stairs. Stumbling through the darkness, tears streaming down my face from the sting of the smoke, I saw my mother dragging my brother out into the hallway. His eyes were glazed over, he was not breathing. My mother’s scream changed to commands, “open the doors, the window” My sisters and I sprang into action. “Pray” my mother said. We did that too. I grabbed a blanket, the frigid January frost swept quickly into the house through the open doorway and windows. I was shaking. Not sure if it was from the cold or from the fright of all that was happening. I began to give my brother mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Mom was on the phone, calling the ambulance, calling grandma, calling our pastor. Somehow she needed to get word to my dad who was down in the pitch-black belly of the coalmine. The rest is kind of a blur, lights flashing, being spirited away, with grandma? Honestly it was hard to put it all together and make sense of everything that was happening. Would my brother be ok? Would he live? Would he be the same if he did come back? I couldn’t sleep. I wondered. I prayed. I think I even cried. All that fear, all that uncertainty lifted when Wayne walked into grandma’s house the next day. The first words he said to me? “Boy, I knew you were full of a lot of hot air!” We laughed, we hugged, we cried. But this time I was crying because he was the same old joking, funny guy that had gone out into the night under flashing lights just hours before. “So, I bet you are wondering what this rock (I hold up the rock that I pulled out from the bag that started the whole story), has to do with the story I just told you”. Well my brother is all grown up now and he likes to collect rocks. He finds beautiful rocks and he takes them home and he polishes them up. He finds rocks that don’t seem like anything at all until he takes them home and finds their hidden beauty. And then? He gives those rocks away. He carries a pocket full of them wherever he goes, and if you happen to be in a restaurant where he is, you might see him walk over to a table that has a young family and he asks the mom and dad, “Can I give your child this rock?” Children love his gifts and parents walk away feeling special. I hope someday you are in a place where the rockman is and he sees you and gives you a rock as beautiful as the one I pulled out of the bag. And if you do get that chance, you will know the story of the rockman!

This is an example of the OPEN phase of our Guided Inquiry Design Unit. Storytelling becomes the loom in which we will weave together our entire unit. There is a high level of student interest. Students share their own narrative stories following this model lesson. Each student is asked to bring 3 personal items in a bag we give them, from which they will drawn and tell their own personal story.

We spend a great deal of time in the OPEN phase as we want students to have ample time to understand the meaning story has in each of their individual lives, the lives of their families, and the culture from which they come, as well as the eventual person they will be partnered with. We also need to build trust for these new language learners. We need to build trust for us (the teaching team) and in each other. These are students who are working hard to acquire a new language and they need the confidence that they are in a trusting environment. Through the focus on story we are able to bring understanding that stories show us how we are alike and how each of our stories enrich the lives of others. This understanding is the opening for learning about other cultures and countries. Over the course of our unit our students will thread this understanding of story into the research they will do about the country and culture of the partner they are teamed with.

Some tools we use during this OPEN phase:

Story starters:

  1. Narrative Bags with objects to connect to a personal story
  1. Story Starter Worksheet (optional to the objects bag):

Look at your given photo, and then briefly (1-2 words) answer these questions off the top of your head. Use your answers to help you connect the photo to a personal event in your life.

  • Who or what is in the picture? What are their relationships to each other?
  • What activity(ies) are happening in the picture? Is someone going to or from a location?
  • What emotions are happening in the photo?
  • What season is it in the photo?
  • What would the scent and sounds of this picture be?
  1. Brainstorming about yourself:

ladawna-brainstorm-post-1

 

  1. Narrative short stories are used to read to the students.(Amy Tan’s Fish Cheeks is a good example).
  1. Vocabulary Logs

We wrap up this OPEN phase with a Narrative Story Festival. Parents are invited and this is the first time the storyteller (our extended team member) is introduced. She is invited as a special guest and tells her own narrative story. She will return several times over the course of the unit to present workshops for students as they dig into their own cultural stories.

Later this week, I will share the collaborative process and the other phases in the unit.

LaDawna Harrington

MHS Librarian

Millburn, NJ

Reflections of GID over the years and across the grades

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

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

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

img_0178 img_4760

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alinda Sheerman

a.sheerman@broughton.nsw.edu.au

Head of Information Services/Teacher Librarian

Broughton Anglican College,

Menangle Park, 2560

NSW, Australia

Making it Personal (Part 2)

In my last post I spoke about the value of Third Space at the Identify stage: allowing the personal interests and passions of the student to find synchronicity with the curriculum. Allowing students the opportunity to select an area of personal interest, and to allow them the choice of presentation mode goes a long way to ensuring engagement, a quality product and a wonderful sense of achievement and improved self-esteem for the student.

So can “Third Space” be applied to the Open phase? At this beginning phase, surely the “Hook” to engage all students with an item of personal interest would be impossible to find. And isn’t that the aim of Immerse and Explore: to allow students time and space to find their area for study? So, is “Third Space” relevant during Open?

To me, finding the “Third Space” during Open is all about asking students to become personally involved with the topic. They are not asked to find a specific area of interest yet, but engaging activities in this phase still employ the same principle: of connecting the student to the topic, and making it “relatable”. I have tried to employ this principle when working with a Year 5 (10 years old) class who were studying the Gold Rush in Australia in the mid 1850s. The objective of the unit was to consider the effects of the Gold Rushes upon the people involved: the miners, their families, those who plied a trade on the fields, the government etc. This clearly required a level of personal empathy; as this was somewhat out of their immediate experience (!), I tried to think of how to engage them with their heart, and not their head. So I devised an activity where they would adopt the role of a miner. We provided groups with a map, and a box of goods. Some boxes contained useful items, others not so; some contained a miner’s licence, others not. We spray painted some rocks gold, and “buried” them in an area of the school (in long jump pits, inside tyres, behind posts etc. They were then given 20 minutes to try their luck! I posed as the Licence Inspector; those without licences were sent to gaol! Some found little, others a lot; some stole in order to get rich! (just like the real thing!) The students were amazingly engaged, and most of all, during our de-brief, they demonstrated that they had a very good understanding of some of the difficulties the miners encountered, and the feelings that they might have experienced. They were now ready to learn!

open-gold-rush open-gold-rush-2

 

Making it Personal …

When sitting down to consider what I would write for my blog posts this week, I realised that the topics I had chosen, all had one thing in common: an emphasis on “making it personal”. So for my first post, I’d like to reflect upon the importance of Third Space.

I believe that the concept of Third Space is so critical to the GI approach. How often do teachers hand out “generic” / whole class assignment tasks?  How often is it a task that will elicit only a small range of “correct” responses?  How often have the learner’s needs been factored into the construction of that task and valued more highly than the need to address curriculum content and requirements? I cringe when I think back on some of the tasks which I have set in the past: uninspiring, unoriginal and definitely working at the lower end of Mr Bloom’s taxonomy! Recognition of Third Space within a Guided Inquiry approach offers students something very appealing: the chance to find the intersection between what needs to be taught and their personal interests. For many, this opportunity is also a challenge. Particularly for those in the Middle and Senior years, so used to being given a mandated task with limited choice, students may sometimes baulk at this opportunity for choice. Sometimes ill-prepared for individual and innovative thinking, the chance to find their own avenue of interest may be difficult. To me, this is Guided Inquiry’s most necessary and crucial Zone of Intervention: helping the student to find that intersecting space.

Third Space In Action!

For the past three years, the Head of Inquiry Learning at St Paul’s (Des Hylton) and I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the Health and Physical Education Department on a Guided Inquiry unit for Year 10 students. This unit was developed initially after one of the Year 10 PE teachers had attended a Professional Development course which Des and I conducted at our school. The teacher had seen the value  of a GI approach and could see clearly how it could be applied to a unit which they were about to teach. After many conversations, plenty of tweaking, lots of learning, plenty of “to-ing” and fro-ing”, and a healthy amount of trepidation, we were ready to give it a shot!

Entitled “Safe Choices”, the unit asks students to consider an Overarching Question: “In a world full of opportunities, how can we encourage adolescents to make safe choices?” Their responses were to be uploaded to youtube, hoping that an authentic audience would assist them to produce a work of which they would be proud, and one which could help adolescents and others, to make safer choices. Students were led through interesting Open, Immerse and Explore phases, and then invited to find that Third Space….. where did their personal interest lie? It was here that the team approach, so important to the success of a GI unit, was really helpful. With four teachers working with the group, talking to students, posing questions, probing and challenging, we eventually (for some this took quite a few lessons!) found that third space for each student. Some found it difficult to become the “asker” rather than the “answerer”; others found it difficult to find enthusiasm and focus; yet in some we saw  a spark that was truly wonderful.

For one girl, in particular, this task offered her a chance to produce a work that was most definitely situated in the Third Space. Fuelled by personal interest and a strong desire for societal change, she chose to investigate the choices made by victims of domestic abuse. The choice of  presentation mode also allowed her to work in her Third Space: her artistic ability was able to be employed as a tool to add effectiveness to her presentation. I believe her video is a wonderful testament to what can be achieved when students find that Third Space.

Judy Bolton