Keyword Inquiry Log

In my second post, I shared how Sarah worked with me and Karen to implement concept-based research as well as question-driven inquiry. Now we’ll shift to discuss how students conduct research in the Gather phase.  

I just finished my 4th year working as a school library media specialist, and I was a high school English teacher for 8 years before that. So I have a general idea of how a typical student at my school searches for sources: Google (most likely typing in an entire sentence or question), or at best a cursory glance at a database assigned by a teacher. We are continually striving to make the research phase more meaningful in order to support lifelong learning skills. Librarians crave more time with students in order to introduce them to all the databases available to them. And then databases function differently, requiring time for students to search within them and learn how to find the information they need.

This past February, I read “Doubling Up: authentic vocabulary development through the inquiry process” by Leslie Maniotes and Anita Cellucci published in the February 2017 issue of Teacher Librarian. (A new fiscal year is starting soon; be sure to get your subscription to Teacher Librarian!) When I saw this article and read the first paragraph, one word came to mind: genius! I knew I wanted to implement the keyword log introduced in the article because it just made sense, like the GID model. And I found just the teacher willing to collaborate with me on this project.

Jena Smith teaches the Public Speaking elective at my school, and she is a strong supporter of using library resources with her students. We collaborate frequently throughout the semester. Her students came to the library after selecting topics for their researched argumentative speeches. She created a Google Doc for students to record their topics. Sharing it with me helped me prepare mini-lessons targeted toward their chosen topics. It also taught the students to revise their topics as they began to do research, as some realized their topics weren’t going to work or weren’t quite argumentative in nature.

The rationale for using the keyword log, as presented by Maniotes and Cellucci, is to promote academic vocabulary growth as well as knowledge of information searching strategies. Even if students know what a Boolean operator is, they need to have some knowledge of the vocabulary specific to their topic. Luckily, unlike Google, databases provide keyword searches that will give students suggestions. In EBSCO products, you can search in Subject Terms at the top of the page to learn synonyms.

I mentioned ProQuest’s SIRS Issues Researcher database in my second blog post. It’s super easy to search related subject terms for vocabulary development. The subject terms are listed at the end of each article, which students can click on.

I introduced them to the keyword log and modeled a few sample searches using the topic an at-risk learner chose in order to provide some targeted scaffolding. I added a few columns to the log described in the article just to ensure that students were providing detailed explanations.

As intuitive as I thought this log would be, we encountered a few obstacles during implementation. To start, students aren’t used to slowing down! They wanted to rush through the research process. We met some resistance when we told them they would be recording each search they tried. Of course the whole point was for them to discover that the Gather phase should take time in order to discover the best possible sources of information that would help them develop their researched argumentative speech.

Here are some of the first searches I modeled to the whole class (it’s not perfect; I tried to keep it simple at first):

Below is an excerpt from a reluctant learner’s keyword log. I sat with him as he completed his searches to show him different search strategies. In the first entry, you can see that he realized he wasn’t even searching for one of the main parts of his topic: how do violent video games affect children? His reflection in the second entry shows how I asked him to record his true search behavior, and what we know to be true from research: most searchers do not even scroll down on the first page of results.

I also spent a good deal of time telling them to type more in the results and reflection columns. As the research assignment progresses, students will see how useful the log is the more specific and detailed their responses are.

We discovered that we can really learn about how students conduct research simply by watching them and asking them to search how they would if they were on their own. Start with where they’re at as learners to gather information about their current skills and how they think about research. Then address misconceptions and a lack of skills as you see them.

There is an often overwhelming number of research skills that students can learn: how to search the open web using advanced search strategies and limiters; discovering special interests groups, independent groups, research organizations; picking which database fits their information needs; how to search different databases; how to paraphrase; how to cite. Yikes! But this keyword log provided an organized starting point. My goal is to work with more teachers to use this log at the beginning of their classes and tailor research assignments to target specific research skills instead of trying to teach every skill every time.

Most of the students shared in a survey when we were finished that they had never been taught Boolean search strategies and that the keyword log helped them stay organized. They gained a clearer understanding of how databases work. And remember that the GID model works in any discipline. Information literacy skills should be embedded in each and every course if we want our students to truly learn these lifelong skills.

The key here is that authentic learning does take time. Using databases isn’t always intuitive, and students need practice after direct instruction. Partner up with your school librarian to build these skills into your research units. It’s an investment that pays off in the end.

–Jamie Gregory  @gregorjm   Jamie.gregory@spart5.net

It All Starts With A Question…?

Greetings from South Carolina! My name is Jamie Gregory, and I am a public high school media specialist in the Upstate of SC at James F. Byrnes High School. I taught high school English for 8 years (including 1 year of French) and just finished my 4th year as a media specialist. I completed my MLIS degree in 2012 from the University of South Carolina, and I was introduced to the GID model during my time there as a graduate student. While I also learned other inquiry models, I found the GID model particularly effective and applicable because it is research-based. Also, Kuhlthau’s ISP model is life-changing. Reading the research on the emotions and behaviors underlying the research and learning processes really changed how I approached the research process while I was still a classroom English teacher.

South Carolina recently adopted new ELA standards, specifically dedicating a strand to inquiry-based learning. Let me tell you, we are doing some great things in SC! Major props to the standards committee for recognizing the proven effectiveness of inquiry-based learning. The state standards document even goes so far as to explicitly state that inquiry-based learning should be incorporated by all classroom teachers, not just ELA:

Can I get an AMEN?! (or whatever you’d like to shout enthusiastically!)

So, given all this change, my district decided to offer a professional development cohort called Inquiry in the Classroom. When the head of professional development asked for volunteers to lead it, I knew I wanted to jump in so I could also promote the role of the media specialist in inquiry-based learning.

I led Inquiry in the Classroom, a professional development cohort of 18 English, Social Studies, Science, and special education teachers grades 9-12, from January to May of 2017. We met once per month, and I knew I wanted to share the GID model with these teachers. I also knew that I wanted to have teachers begin to implement aspects of inquiry-based learning throughout the semester so that we could have brainstorming sessions at our meetings to share successes and opportunities for improvement.

My posts this week are going to feature my collaborations with 3 English teachers at my school: Sarah Plant, Jena Smith, and Michael Jett. They are truly awesome educators and I can’t thank them enough for working with me this past year.

I spent a lot of time during the cohort sharing resources about the importance of questioning. (I also highly recommend the book Cultivating Curiosity by Wendy Ostroff!) Meeting students in the Third Space so they can choose topics and ideas that interest them and affect them personally is so important, and educators can help them discover new topics that students didn’t even know they wanted to learn more about! By the time we get our students in grade 10, some students have already “gotten by” with being passive learners. So when they are asked to be curious, ask questions, and engage in real-world issues, they truly aren’t sure what that looks like.

But don’t worry, we always have a few tricks up our sleeves!

Idea #1!  One activity for creating questions comes from a very effective professional book, Coteaching Reading Comprehension Strategies in Secondary School Libraries: maximizing your impact by Judi Moreillon. Chapters are organized by 7 strategies, and I focused on the chapter titled Questioning. Visit the ALA.org website to see the online extras available for this book! (Trust me, there is so much good stuff here you will feel overwhelmed by what to try first!) http://www.alaeditions.org/web-extra-coteaching-reading-comprehension-strategies-secondary-school-libraries

 

In our March cohort meeting, I had the teachers watch a brief video about coal mining today.

I chose this particular video as an example to use with students in a science classroom because information literacy skills can be embedded along with science content knowledge (have students question the source of this video! Challenge them to find a video from an opposite bias!).  In order to model how you might use the above handout in the classroom during the Open and Immerse stages, as a cohort we brainstormed some questions we thought we had about coal mining today before watching the video. Then while we watched the video, each person wrote down questions. After the video, we wrote even more questions after sharing! This activity works really well to show students the recursive nature of questioning and learning. Then the bottom of this handout addresses metacognitive skills as well as information literacy skills! So wonderful!

Idea #2! For middle and high schoolers, there are a number of wonderful nonfiction series to help students research argumentative topics. We particularly like At Issue, Critical World Issues, Current Controversies, Opposing Viewpoints, and Thinking Critically. Some of these series provide questions as chapter titles, which we used with some classes. Some databases like SIRS Issues Researcher also provide questions related to various topics which can be used for scaffolding. Partner up with your media specialist to learn what resources you already have in your school library! These resources can effectively be used during the Open and Immerse stages, particularly if you have your media specialist set up a gallery walk with stations.

In this screenshot, SIRS Issues Researcher (a ProQuest product) suggests various subtopics related to Military Ethics and represents those subtopics by questions!

In this screenshot, you can see how SIRS Issues Researcher provides a few critical thinking questions when students click on a topic. Don’t miss the essential question in the background!

I will feature ideas and student work from Sarah Plant and my library service learners in tomorrow’s post to continue the discussion about questioning, and I will include how we focused on developing concept-based research assignments. Stay tuned!

-Jamie Gregory @gregorjm jamie.gregory@spart5.net

Guiding Students to History Day: An Honest Reflection

At the start of the History Day project last September, the single biggest challenge I confronted was designing instruction to assure that all students ended up choosing a workable topic for a project about a subject they were passionate. At the same time, I wanted them to be open to learning about new things, so I did not want them to select something entirely familiar either. I wanted to see an increase in passion and interest as they progressed in their research.

As I mentioned before, the History Day timeframe allows for an unprecedented amount of time to develop a thesis, and I wanted to maximize this time. Still, my instructional time with the students was only 6 days of 45 minute periods from the open and introduction of the NHD theme and the due date of the Thesis.

I consulted numerous sources for ideas, including the GID Design book and a blog post by Buffy Hamilton regarding “pre-search” strategies.  I was completely overwhelmed with the task of fitting stages of GID from the Immerse to the Gather stages or the full pre-search lesson cycle in the time allotted, so I tried to identify the essential ingredients of both and put a lot of emphasis on reading outside of class.  I wanted the students to begin with the entirety of world history and pick and single individual or group that they felt met the HND Theme criteria for “Taking a Stand” and the stand should be meaningful to the students in a deeply personal way.

Additionally, I was looking for ways to truly individualize and differentiate the instruction so that could guide each student or group toward a better topic and better reading material on their topic.

My plan combined formative assessment strategies using Google forms to checkpoints in the form of worksheets that asked students to back up their current thinking with credible sources of information.

Another aspect of my plan involved a 30 minute meeting with each group. The students would set an appointment with me using appointment slots on Google Calendar. In these meetings I could help groups with any number of issues, ranging from group dynamics to locating suitable sources. This was the most useful strategy albeit a very time-consuming one.

These meetings with students were incredibly revealing regarding the success of my teaching strategies. The truth was that half of the groups did not do nearly enough outside reading on their topic to constitute real inquiry on their part. With the other half of students, I was satisfied that they read broadly enough to select a good topic with sufficient evidence to support a thesis aligned with the NHD theme.

What were the shortcomings of my plan?  While it is tempting to blame the students for being too lazy to do outside reading, I must admit that the students did not all have intrinsic motivation and a clear purpose for reading. My plan certainly lacked good scaffolding for the vital Immerse and Explore stages of Inquiry, and my initial library lessons emphasized skills for the Gather stage.  I also put Gather before Identify.

In spite of my instructional shortcomings, I was immensely proud of the students’ work and can’t wait to see what next year’s group does. Here are a few of the judges favorites.

Webiste: Henry VIII Divorcing a Religion

Film: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Film: Alan Turing: Untold Hero of WW II

I am writing this blog post as a means of reaching out to fellow inquiry fans who are interested in National History Day.  I sincerely hope I have inspired some of you to undertake History Day next year and I would love to have dialog with the GID community refine teaching strategies that help students find a compelling topic and go deep within that topic and create an inspiring NHD project. Thanks for reading.  Please connect via by email or Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Neil Krasnoff

Librarian

Highland Park High School..

Predicting the Future Through Narrative

Today, I’m going to try to explain the current GI unit that my students are wrapping up. This year was my first year teaching English 11 and, therefore, my first time teaching this unit. I was very excited for the unit as many of my grade 11 students are opinionated, motivated, and informed, and I was interested to see how they would communicate their ideas through dystopian fiction—a genre that they have read quite a bit of but have probably never written before.

This unit proved to be rewarding and inspiring for me as a teacher because of the thoughtful and powerful ideas that my students were able to tap into in their narratives. The unit also proved to be challenging for other reasons: I was off work due to a concussion, so we started the project a little later than intended as I sorted out unit/lesson plans with teachers covering for me. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to host our book launch party, but we are still planning to publish an anthology in ebook format to keep in the library.

The objectives for this unit were:

  1. Understand how to communicate opinions and ideas through fiction
  2. Apply understanding of dystopian fiction to own writing

The first objective was important to me because I often teach students how to write stories, but I don’t necessarily ask them to use story to communicate a message. This requirement adds a layer of complexity and causes the students to be more selective in devising their plot.

The second objective was more summative in nature considering we have read many dystopian texts throughout the year. Students have shown understanding of the genre and the messages these authors communicate through analysis pieces but had not had a chance to experiment with the genre themselves. In my mind, this application piece was the students’ opportunity to show a fully developed understanding.

Please note that while students consulted dystopian texts and news articles through this unit, they were not directly quoting or paraphrasing information in their narratives. Therefore, their Works Cited page became a list of sources that informed or inspired their narrative rather than a list of sources that were referenced in the traditional way within their final product.

Below is a rough outline of the unit:

Open
  • Discussion of what we’ve learnt from literature and how communication through fiction differs from non-fiction formats
Immerse
  • Read and analyze Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Read and discuss “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Explore
  • Daily journal about a current event in the news that they found interesting/applicable
  • Record articles referenced in journal
Identify
  • Create a premise for the narrative
  • Create a list of sources that were most influential/informative for generating the premise
  • Create assessment rubric as a class
Gather
  • Consult both dystopian fiction examples and non-fiction sources to find more information
  • Write a character description and a setting description—conduct more research if more details are needed
Create
  • Generate a first draft
  • Peer edit first drafts
  • Revise and draft a final version of the story complete with an MLA Works Cited page for sources of information and inspiration
Share
  • Format stories into a class ebook to be published in the school library’s collection
  • Have a “book launch” party to celebrate their achievement
Evaluate
  • Self-assessment on the rubric
  • Reflection on what they have learnt and what they would do differently next time
  • Teacher evaluation of final product and self-regulation through the process

Through conversations I have had with students over the last two weeks, most students are quite pleased with their progress and the project itself. Not once have I had a student ask, “Why can’t we just write an essay?”—a lament that often occurs in longer, inquiry-based units. Furthermore, students have been exploring some very interesting concerns from their lives: stigmas towards students with accommodations, the impact of elite athlete training, schools of unlearning to train students to think a certain way, the impacts of climate change, growing economic divisions in societies, and more!

On Friday, I hope to share more of my reflections and even some excerpts from the students’ writing to further highlight the process of this unit and the overall results of it.

Thanks for reading!

 

Jennifer Torry

English Teacher

St. George’s School

Power of Sharing

Never underestimate the power of sharing.

For the library renovation project, students knew to market their proposals toward school librarians and other relevant district personnel since the county is planning to complete such a project within the next few years. Perhaps what was a surprise to them though was the extent to which guests would listen and take into consideration their suggestions!

Not only did school administrators, district curriculum directors, school librarians and the district superintendent watch our students present their rationales and suggestions for the school library renovation, they also saw the impact of student choice and student voice in authentic assessments. Students were invested in this assignment. They prepared for the part, dressed the part, and spoke the part. Their ideas were original, varied, and focused on making our school library different from all the others in the city. Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk told me after a series of presentations he observed that these students’ feedback would definitely be included in the decision making process when it’s time for our school library to be renovated. That’s powerful!  

Other guests in the audience were intrigued by what they saw in the presentations and out of that came great (but unexpected) PR opportunities as well. Feature articles were written by district personnel and the city’s local newspaper. You can read those articles here and here. The superintendent, too, is creating a video series about student choice and its impact in schools and found many sources to interview for inclusion in their project. How cool is that?

While the attention this project garnered is by no means the goal, it is evident that school and district leaders value these types of learning experiences for all students. Any why not? Having student choice and student voice embedded throughout the year helps to create ownership of learning and student engagement increases as a result. Perhaps as a result of publicity, there may be other teachers now willing to incorporate guided inquiry design into their classrooms and experience the impact it can have on student engagement and academic achievement for themselves.

So what’s next? In less than a week, the core learning team will be presenting a session about Guided Inquiry in mathematics at the Innovations for Learning Conference to share our experiences. It is our hope that others will be inspired to try it too. After that, we will continue to brainstorm ways to bring guided inquiry into additional units and disciplines and seek other venues to share our GID experiences with others.

Let’s keep the conversation going about Guided Inquiry Design! Please post comments about today’s blog post in the comment section below and consider contacting Leslie Maniotes about blogging about your Guided Inquiry experiences so that we can learn from you!

Thanks for reading, reflecting and sharing this journey with me!

Amanda Hurley, National Board Certified Teacher

Library Media Specialist, Henry Clay High School

Step One of Implementing GID

Guided Inquiry is a concept that I was first introduced to last year.  Our amazing librarian Jenny Lussier arranged for first grade teacher Jessica Loffredo and myself, Carole Sibiskie, to attend the GID Institute.  It was an absolute privilege to be able to participate in the CISSL Summer Institute at Rutgers University last summer.   As someone who has engaged in Project Based Learning for over a decade, it was a curious process to see where GID and PBL overlapped and where they differed.  Through the institute, our team worked on a Social Studies unit to implement with a multi-age first and second grade classroom.  

Jessica Loffredo, Leslie Maniotes, Jenny Lussier, Carole Sibiskie, and Carol Kuhlthau at GID Institute Summer 2016

The Family Heritage unit is one that we have covered in the past, but at the institute we were able to “redesign” with a collaborative inquiry focus.   Our team made changes to fit the unit into the design template and to strengthen the framework.  We extended opportunities for the open.  It was clear that one area that needed to be lengthened was the process of immersion for the students in the content.  The largest change came in adding the explore area.  Prior to our introduction to Guided Inquiry Design, this was an area that was missing in the process. Time was added for the children to develop their own areas of personal interest in a much more meaningful and purposeful manner.  The GID Framework encouraged us to also dig deeper into the phases of identify, gather, create, share, and evaluate. There was so much more to consider than in the past.

The reality of implementing the plan hit during the school year with many celebrations and many challenges.  The biggest challenge was to find time to collaborate.  Snippets of time were found during the day, and there was electronic communication, but it is an effort to find extended amounts of common time.  Also, as the classroom teacher, it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to reach out to connect.  We made sure to connect for the important aspects, even though we weren’t always able to be with the kids at the same time.  Additionally, several of the experiences and opportunities moved from open to immerse and vice versa due to time constraints,  connections to other curricular areas, and the lack of large chunks of time to give undivided attention to this work.  It wasn’t exactly the way we laid the plan out on paper, but it worked nonetheless.

The highlights were the moments with the students fully engaged in the process, and they were many!  When we finally found the large block of time to integrate “the open”, a simulated Ellis Island experience in the classroom, the children had already developed a lot of background information related to Ellis Island through read-alouds.  This actually made the experience more relevant to the students as they cheered, “We are at Ellis Island!” upon entering the classroom.  When the first student was marked with chalk, they exclaimed, “Oh, no he is sick.  He might not be let into the country.”  So it seems we had a “soft open”, that enriched the actual open!

One of the most powerful explore areas arose as the students planned a school assembly share.   They decided to represent each of their family heritages through folk music and choreographed invented folk dances.  YouTube was used to select the “just right” songs using democratic practice.  There were many whole class conversations about how music and dance impact a culture and vice versa.  Students studied related flags, texts, and maps as they planned this share.  Students greeted the audience in their “native” languages and danced for each of their countries of origin around the tree they decided to create using photos to represent ancestors on the bottom and generations at the top.  Several of the children had more than ten countries of origin!

Students also worked with resident artist Sally Rogers to write and create a family heritage song and old fashioned cranky to illustrate their song.  The students decided the song would be about immigration.  This process helped them move from the explore to identify phase as they collaborated on this project and found their personal interests in different areas.  Students also had old photos of ancestors which they wrote an invented realistic fiction story which they produced on Seesaw to share with classmates and their families. Their research and information from read aloud texts came through loud and clear in these pieces.

Individual research occurred with much support from families to provide needed background information. The students learned about geography, languages, music, dance, genealogy, history, foods, and numerous other aspects of culture.  Additionally, respect was developed for the diversity and variety of cultures including the 19 countries of origin for these children!

Each student developed an independent project to share their family heritage with the class.  Students used “passports” to reflect upon the learning in the unit.  The students were more driven and clear with their path than prior years. The GID process enabled us to build an inquiry stance where all of our community members developed a more purposeful mindset.  This first attempt at Guided Inquiry Design was far from perfect.  We are building on this experience and are currently rolling out another GID inspired STEAM unit.  Stay tuned…

Carole Sibiskie

John Lyman School

Regional School District 13

Connecticut

Plans: When they Fall Through and Making them for the Future

Happy weekend, GIDers! It’s Kelsey Barker again. I hope you have had a wonderful week. Mine was really busy! May always seems to be jam-packed with meetings, banquets and ceremonies, retirement and graduation parties, field trips, and other special events that make it fly by. We only have 14 more days of school here in Norman, and the kids (and teachers!) are feeling the nearness of summer vacation!

I’m so glad that my blogging week fell in May this year; while I would normally be just trying to get through this month, writing about this unit has required me to pause and reflect. Plus, it’s fun to share with like-minded GID lovers around the world. So without further ado: the rest of our unit!

GATHER

You’ll remember that we left off with students identifying inquiry questions using the Level 1, 2, and 3 questions framework. Their questions were so varied and hit on all periods of history, from Cleopatra to Colin Keapernick. I love that they were able to make connections between their topic and that of their classmates.

In a normal Guided Inquiry unit, I would co-teach with the classroom teacher all the way through the Gather phase. But due to the scope of this unit, that wasn’t physically possible. So I created this document of model Gather session plans to give teachers an idea of how I would structure a Gather session. Some of them followed it to the letter, others used bits and pieces. The important thing is that we provided some structure to our students as they look for information to answer their inquiry question.

We had students start out using the resources provided by National History Day before moving on to databases and web searches to find more resources. Due to the range of topics covered by their inquiry questions, they often had to look for their own resources to help them find answers.

 

CREATE

We provided students with a choice board and rubric they used to create their final products. I was amazed at how many students opted for one of the low-tech products like a poster or skit. This could be a testament to their frustration with the age and lack of reliability of our school computers, or it could be that they spend all day connected and wanted to do something different. I’d love your feedback on this, readers!

 

SHARE

We had planned to set up a gallery walk in the library for one week where every student displayed their product for the rest of the school to see. Due to time constraints, this is not going to happen this year. Instead, students shared their products in class through presentations or displays. Some students who created digital products asked me to publish them on YouTube or other sites so they could share them with their parents. In future iterations of this project, I would love to create an online NHD museum where students and parents could view student work all in one place!

 

EVALUATE

Back in their inquiry journals, students journaled in response to prompts about the content and process of this unit. They also were asked to describe how their idea of what it means to take a stand changed through this unit.

 

REFLECTION

As with any unit, there were aspects of the NHD project I would want to change for next year. We designed the unit to stretch through the year in part because of our lack of computers for students to use. Next year, our district is going 1:1, so that thankfully won’t be a problem! I would love to complete this unit in one month to help students keep up momentum and engagement. In the future, I would also like to be sure to make the Share phase a big deal for our students; they deserve the opportunity to show off their incredible learning.

However, a lot of good came from this unit as well: we can say that every student at Longfellow has completed a Guided Inquiry unit this year, which I don’t think many other schools can say! We developed a common language around questioning and the GID process, and we definitely worked out some kinks and had feedback I’ve already been able to apply in units with other subject areas. And overall, I think our students really enjoyed the process, especially being in control of their own learning. With a couple of units under their belts, I’m so excited to see what this group of kids will be able to accomplish next year. But first, summer vacation!
Kelsey

In Which I Become a YouTube Star

Happy Wednesday!

It’s Kelsey Barker again, back to give you an overview of the first half of our National History Day (NHD) Guided Inquiry unit. Before we get started, here’s a little background: in September, the Longfellow social studies department chair told me that the social studies curriculum coordinator for Norman Public Schools had encouraged secondary teachers to use the NHD program in their classes. The department chair clearly understands the value of a teacher librarian because she came to me about facilitating student research! After some discussion about the depth and difficulty of NHD, we settled on restructuring it with the Guided Inquiry process to make it accessible for all students. Even though no one in our social studies department had been through the Guided Inquiry Institute and I was brand new to Longfellow, the entire department took a leap of faith and agreed to try it. I think that is a testament to the open minds and incredible passion of these teachers!

In order to facilitate this unit on such a large scale, we built a website for the social studies teachers to use as a resource to guide them through the process. A page for each phase featured the purpose of the phase (critical for untrained teachers), a general timeline, estimated duration, resources including anything that students used, and an activity outline. That website can be found here. If there is anything here that is useful to you, please feel free to use it… and let me know how it worked for you! I’m always happy to share resources.

OPEN

Because the concept of this unit (and the NHD theme for the year) was “Taking a Stand,” students viewed videos from a series called “What Would You Do?” featuring difficult social situations. In groups, they discussed the following questions:

  • Who in the video took a stand?
  • What could have cause them to do so?
  • What would you have done in that situation?

The students were dramatically indignant watching some of these videos! This introduced them to the idea that there are many ways to take a stand.

 

IMMERSE

Considering the concept of Taking a Stand, students journaled in inquiry journals about people in everyday life who took a stand, including themselves. Looking back, I would have loved to give them more of an experience: perhaps a guest speaker who took a stand for something significant. But that’s why I love this blog so much: it’s a great opportunity to reflect and learn and grow!

 

EXPLORE

The National History Day organization has an excellent list of curated resources available on their website, and we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel! In Explore, students dipped into these resources and looked for topics and themes that interested them. We created a NHD Google Doc that students would use through the rest of the process. We have since duplicated this inquiry log/journal/chart combo for multiple units, so our students have become used to the format.

At this point, different grade levels had different expectations for their students. Some required a set number of boxes filled in during Explore, and some were less prescriptive about this phase. The unit was designed to be flexible depending on the teacher, grade level, and individual students.

 

IDENTIFY

Immediately, I knew that the Identify phase was where teachers would need my assistance the most. In my experience, the most difficult part of GID for teachers to grasp is that students are writing their own inquiry questions. To facilitate this, we had the Gifted Resource Coordinator, classroom teachers, and myself on deck each day of Identify. Looking back, it’s amazing what we accomplished with 750 students and 5 teachers who had never written inquiry questions before!

We decided early on that we needed a structure for questioning that would become common language across the school. We agreed on Level 1, 2, and 3 questioning, a framework loosely based on an AVID strategy and adapted to fit our needs. I did a day of leveled questioning practice with every single class before we started writing inquiry questions, and due to the scope of the project, made this video about Level 1, 2, and 3 questions to use as a review. Now that video has over 700 views on YouTube… wow!

I’m a believer that conferencing with students is critical at the Identify phase in middle school. There is so much growth potential when a member of the learning team can work with a student one-on-one to craft the best possible Level 3 question that also draws that students’ interest. We continued to use this model in later units.

To this point in the process, we kept the activities very simple. I wanted the classroom teachers to have a positive first experience with GID. It was also the first Guided Inquiry unit for many of our students, so we were all learning together.

Come back on Friday to hear about the last four phases, the lessons we learned for next year, and how I managed to teach 750 students at one time!

KB

Guess who’s back, back again…

Hello again, GIDers!

I’m Kelsey Barker, teacher librarian for Norman Public Schools in Norman, Oklahoma. You may remember me from the last time I blogged with the incredible Buffy Edwards around this time last year. Now I’m back with another year of GID under my belt and lots to share!

This year, I transitioned from my position in an elementary to a middle school in the same district. Middle school has always had my heart, and I’m so happy to back with this strange, delightful, hilarious age at Longfellow. Despite moving up, I’m still a huge advocate for Guided Inquiry in elementary school, and thankfully connecting with librarians across the US on Twitter has allowed me to keep talking about my passion for GID at all ages (shout out to Jen and her team in Wisconsin!).

Working with a new set of students isn’t the only thing that has changed since the last time we talked. I’ve been lucky to have become a Guided Inquiry Coach last summer, and I was thrilled to be among the first ever Guided Inquiry Trainers when our district implemented this program with Leslie in February. My GID journey has been incredibly fulfilling and more fun than I could have imagined, and I’m only getting started!

Here are the first NPS secondary trainers: That’s me squinting on the left, followed by Cindy Castell, Amanda Kordeliski, Martha Pangburn, and Leslie.

 

Additionally, my new school, along with two others in Norman, was chosen to be a part of a half-million-dollar IMLS grant that will study Guided Inquiry and Makerspaces in schools. These last few weeks have been full of ordering Makerspace materials, planning two new Guided Inquiry units, and working with our learning team on what exactly it looks like to teach four full-scale Guided Inquiry units in one year in 7th grade Language Arts.

I have been living the GID life this year, and I wouldn’t change a thing. At Longfellow, we have had 16 teachers participate in 6 Guided Inquiry units this year with plans to expand next year. Every student at Longfellow has experienced at least two GID units this year, and a lucky handful of students have done up to four Between our widespread implementation, coaching and training, and the IMLS grant, I definitely have a lot to say about GID… way too much for a week’s worth of blog posts!

So I’m going to be sharing just one unit, and it’s our most ambitious unit of the year: a whole-school, year-long unit designed around the National History Day program that every single student participated in through their social studies class. With a learning team of seven and not one social studies classroom teacher trained in GID (yet!), it was an exercise in preparation, faith, and flexibility. I can’t wait to share our successes, failures, and lessons learned along the way.

 

Until next time!

Kelsey Barker