The Importance of Librarians with GID: A classroom teacher’s testimony

I have learned so000000 much about GID  through working with my school librarian.  My students and I have had many successes with GID because of our school librarian.  And there is no doubt that I am a better teacher because of collaborating with Anita Cellucci (@LibraryWHS)–our school librarian.

A pathetic confession:  over twenty years ago, I was taught that a school librarian could help me find a book I needed and then check out that book.  And that’s it.   And fortunately, it was ten years ago when Anita taught me that librarians do much more!  And it was Anita who suggested we attend The Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) Summer GID Institute for Student Learning at Rutgers University four years ago.  Thank you, Anita!


Anita truly embodies the role of the librarian in the GID process.  In Figure 4.3 in Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century (Kuhlthua, Maniotes, and Caspari 57-58), the roles of the librarian are described as Resource Specialist, Information literacy teacher, and Collaboration gatekeeper.  I can attest that Anita fully defines these roles in our GID collaborations that have occurred for twice a year for the past three years.  She began by creating a LibGuide for my course and for our GID (  She helped me contact speakers from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as part of our OPEN stage.  Anita taught the lessons on information literacy and research.  She facilitated the creation of all the students Inquiry Questions (including how to write a quality inquiry question)…each step of the process, Anita was right there.  As I mentioned in my previous post there was such freedom in letting go of picking research topics for students; well it’s equally freeing to co-teach with Anita and share the teaching responsibilities.  Like I shared at the beginning of this post, Anita has taught me a lot about informational literacy, trusting the GID process, and having patience with our students as they navigate their GID journey.

Here is one student example of how Anita supports our students.  The following response is from the student’s reflection at the end of her GID experience.

Identify at least one difficulty you encountered during your inquiry?

One difficulty that I found during my inquiry is finding articles related to my project. It was hard to find mental illnesses related to trauma, and PTSD that wasn’t related to people in the military since not one article explained all the mental illnesses related to trauma. Most of the articles that I found about mental illnesses related to trauma was PTSD, and this was also mostly related to people in the military. This was interesting, but not related to my question. Another difficulty I encountered was finding mental illnesses related to trauma. The articles that I originally found didn’t say what mental illnesses people may develop after experiencing trauma, which then made it hard to answer my question.

How did you overcome the difficulty?

I overcame this difficulty by first asking Mrs. Cellucci for help. We decided that I needed to use more Boolean Operators to narrow down the search. This made sure that I was pinpointing exactly what I wanted to research. One of the new searches I used was PTSD not veterans. I found many more articles related to what I was researching this way. To solve my problem with more mental illnesses, I started to look up mental illnesses that I thought may be related to experiencing trauma, and soon found many mental illnesses that way.

As one can read from the student’s responses–I asked Mrs. Cellucci for help–to collaborate with Anita is to offer our students two educators with whom to work.

And this year, Anita was mentoring a student teacher–Luke Steere who actually blogged recently for 52GID.  This past semester the three of us joined together to teach GID to my senior seminar Psychology in Literature.  It was a classroom teacher’s dream come true–three educators working with twenty students.

I’ve heard classroom teachers say they don’t have time to collaborate with their librarian or the classroom teacher can “teach it all.”  I contend that we actually create more time for ourselves when we collaborate with our librarian and no teacher can teach it all.  It’s also a wonderful experience to connect with a fellow educator.  We have a heck of a lot of fun–Anita and I laugh  many a day–and we also have shed some tears.  Thanks, Anita, I look forward to teaching GID with you next year! 



Vulnerability in GID

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity…”

–Dr. Brene Brown, research professor/author

Happy Summer!  My name is Kathleen Stoker and I am a high school English/Journalism teacher.  I teach in a small town 40 minutes west of Boston, MA.  I am beyond grateful to say I have been part of the GID community for more than a few years now.  I believe this is my third time guest blogging for 52GID–and it is in this round that I have come to the realization that vulnerability is an integral part of the GID process–for both the educator and the student.  The aforementioned quote by Dr. Brene Brown sums up my professional and personal experience as an educator leading my students through the GID process in my senior seminar Psychology in Literature.  In this post, I will share how vulnerability was also a critical part of my student’s experience.

Every semester my co-educator and librarian Anita Cellucci (@LibraryWHS) and I embark on GID with our students, I feel excited, anxious, and well–vulnerable.  To go through GID with students is to be vulnerable as an educator because I don’t know what my students will choose to explore.  I don’t know everything (and sometimes anything) about what information they will gather.  I no longer have any perceived control that traditional research assignments could have–and guess what?  I LOVE the freedom that comes with the vulnerability in GID!

In the last weeks of the course, we ask our seniors to reflect in the OPEN, IMMERSE, And EXPLORE stages of GID on what they have learned over the semester in our class.  The course is filled with different types of literature that help students to destigmatize mental health, incorporate positive psychology into their daily lives, and navigate their own personal experiences.  Students IDENTIFY a topic of their own choice with guided support from Anita and me and then students move into their GATHER stage.  Of course there is a lot that happens within those beginning stages…

In Leslie Maniotes book Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari, 2007), there is a section labeled “An Important Discovery” (17) in which inquiry is defined as “initiated by someone who has something that needs investigation, a fundamental question, pressing issue, or troubling problem that requires further information.”  This definition directly applies to one of our students named Samantha.  I have Samantha’s permission to share her story as she hopes that other educators and students will see the benefits of the GID process.  Samantha truly needed to investigate a pressing issue that was as personal as it gets…

Two weeks before school started this year, Samantha and her family tragically witnessed her uncle drown during their annual family vacation.  They also witnessed the near death of Samantha’s younger brother and her cousin.  The trauma that Samantha and her family suffered was profound–to say the least.  Samantha entered our senior seminar in shock and in grief.  She never thought she would enter her senior year mourning the loss of a beloved one.  And the irony was that the first book I teach in our course is Ordinary People (Guest) about a boy who witnesses the drowning death of his brother.  Upon Samantha and her mother sharing with a guidance counselor what they had just experienced, we decided to meet to discuss the course’s content.  Samantha decided to stay in Psychology in Literature; our hope was that the course and our classroom would offer her a safe space to experience her grief.  She would also see our school adjustment counselor on a regular basis.  We decided that she would read an alternative text and would stay in daily class as long as she could when we were having class discussions.  Anita offered the library as another safe space that Samantha could spend time if class conversations hit too close to home and became too overwhelming.

Anita and I watched and supported daily as Samantha would sometimes choose to go to the library to work independently or would stay to endure a class conversation on grief, family trauma, depression, the pros of therapy, etc.  We observed as Samantha time and time again showed courage and perseverance to sit in her own grief, discomfort, and pain.

Flash forward to the end of the semester when we started GID, I can remember being overwhelmed with emotion as Samantha worked through her inquiry question with Anita and shared it with me:  How does experiencing a traumatic event affect a person psychologically and physically, and what are coping mechanisms and treatment options? Samantha was at a space in her grief process that she was able to truly explore and to research what she had been through and was going through.  

Later in a reflection on the GID process, Samatha answered this question.

Describe the process of how you developed a specific topic within the inquiry question?

Based on what had happened over this past summer, I was very interested in what trauma really was and what mental illnesses can happen because of experiencing trauma. I was also interested in what treatment options were most effective. I first thought of researching one specific treatment that I had known of, but thought that this topic would be more broad and I could always add in the treatment option…

Samantha dove deep into her research; she often wanted to be left alone to do her research, which was part of her grieving process.  Anita and I continued to support her, but we also knew she needed time to research and time to digest how close the research was to her personally.  Samantha learned that she was experiencing PTSD and was feeling depressed as a result of the trauma and profound sadness she was feeling at the loss of her uncle.  And she also learned that building resilience was a way to persevere through her trauma–and that is what she had been doing all semester–building resilence. In the CREATE phase, Samantha created a google slide show of her research findings.  The last slide is resilience in which she shares the definition:

  • Resilience is the ability to adapt in a healthy way in order to become strong in the face of trauma, adversity, tragedy, severe stress, or difficult life-changing events
    • This generally refers to the ability to bounce back from stressful, traumatic, or tragic situations such as divorce, death of a loved one, loss of employment, having a parent with a mental illness, or experiencing abuse  

Samantha went on that semester to run a half marathon that she had planned to run before her uncle’s death; she had wavered as to whether she should do it and then decided he would have wanted her to.  Samantha was able to go to her most vulnerable place that semester; the courage she embraced to feel her feelings, to explore the trauma she was experiencing, and to learn the power of resilience truly showed how powerful the human connection can be.

Reflecting back on that teaching experience, I truly believe to have the space, time, and methodology through GID was an empowering vehicle for Anita and me to support Samantha.  Throughout the process, Anita and I had frequent conversations as we were feeling vulnerable in wanting to make sure we were guiding Samantha.  The keys were our check-ins with Samantha, Samantha’s mom and I emailed each other regularly, and Samantha was receiving professional support.

On the last day of school, Samantha came in to say good-bye.  She gave me the most beautiful card and thanked me; and yet, we educators know–we often find ourselves thanking our students for the journeys we walk together.

Kathleen Stoker

Westborough High School

Westborough, MA
















Exploring Methods: Trial and Error

In the comments of my first post this week, I explained that the open and immerse primarily take place in the English IV classrooms as students address social issues through companion texts and other medias related to their curriculum. In November, seniors are ready to explore social issues, which takes place the in the library. Teaching middle school, we easily spent two to three days for students to explore topics, jotting down ideas of interest, usually using stations. In a high school, especially when there are twenty or more sections of one course, scheduling can influence the number of days assigned to different phases and assignments. Understanding that the explore phase significantly impacts student interest and commitment to the long-term project, the English IV teachers scheduled one or two days in the library where students could jot down ideas of interest for their Senior Research Project (SRP) with a focus on a social issue. Over the last four years, we have tried three different methods for exploration, which I share below.

I selected a few social issues that were common interests of many students based on an interest survey completed in the classrooms and created pathfinder guides on our SRP LibGuide. Each pathfinder provided an overview of the topic, possible perspectives, articles from multiple databases, print and digital books from the library collection. Students were provided with a Stop and Jot form for their note-taking.


  • Students realized there are more “sides” to an issue than yes and no, or left and right. They were able to see the opinions and perspectives of social issues on a spectrum.
  • Students gained quick exposure to a range of resources.


  • Assembling the pathfinders was very time consuming. I felt like I did more work than the students. A seasoned colleague once told me, “School is not a place for young people to come watch old people work!”
  • Students were exposed to depth of the topics but not breadth. The pathfinders provided too much in-depth information rather than an opportunity for exploration and discovery.
  • Students were limited to exploring the topics provided. While they were the most popular, they weren’t for everyone.

Considering the appeal of YouTube videos to teens and recently popular documentaries on Netflix, we provided links to PBS documentaries that related to a range of social issues on a LibGuide. Students were provided with a Stop and Jot form to notate their interests and reactions to the videos.


  • Students were highly interested in the documentaries, even the brief clips.
  • Students benefited from the passionate perspective of the filmmaker.


  • Students needed more time that what was provided during class. Some continued to watch the documentaries at home, but not all.
  • Students were still limited to the social issues addressed on the list.
  • Some documentaries did not present multiple perspectives of the issues.

Eight topics were selected based on the issues grouped in some of our databases. Students chose five of the eight topics to visit in 4-minute rotations. During each rotation students discussed examples of issues and events related to the topics, and documented their conversation in a web-like format. Remaining time was spent for students to revisit the topic webs they found most interesting so they could notice new contributions and jot down their ideas.


  • Aligned perfectly with information in the databases but still allowed students to explore their interests.
  • Webs were visual and were displayed for students in other classes to view for topic inspiration.
  • Students learned from other students by asking questions and holding conversation.


  • Absent students missed the experience. Some students chose to come during their lunch the following day to participate with a different teacher’s class but rarely.

Christie Gudowski
Reagan High School, San Antonio, TX

Bridging GID from Middle to High School

close up photo

C. Gudowski at Reagan HS, San Antonio, TX

Hello, my name is Christie Gudowski, and I serve as the school librarian at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas. Reagan enrolls approximately 3,600 students in a suburb of the city with a predominately hispanic and white population and 12% SES, according to the state report card.

I became interested in Guided Inquiry Design as an 8th grade reading teacher. Members from my school district attended the GID training at Rutgers, including my planning partner at the time. Our incredibly compatible work relationship made the venture into GID approachable and successful. We were looking for a new research method and our students were willing to take the challenge with us. Our approach was to follow the framework and not be afraid of adjustments in our implementation as needed. We planned closely together and debriefed sometimes between class periods if we felt the need to tweak the lesson. Though we initially struggled with question-writing, like many others, the benefits of GID were apparent with on-level and advanced classes. The process made so much sense because GID was a way of organizing research in a manner that would scaffold our students’ metacognition, differentiate the process, and guide our students to success. It was what we were unknowingly looking for to deepen our student’s curiosity about the world around them and love for learning. Utilizing students’ excitement and curiosity about the 2012 Olympics, we invited Josh Davis, a local Olympian, who willingly addressed our students and shared his story during the OPEN phase of the process. This was a synergistic opportunity to share GID with our 8th graders!  We were extremely pleased with the results. Our students voraciously researched, read, and shared their newly found knowledge about Olympians, Olympic sports, or Olympian history. Students’ reflections demonstrated their pride in their inquiry journals and the project overall.

After becoming a high school librarian in 2014, I strongly believed that I need to incorporate GID into research projects as I collaborated with teachers. In middle school, it is acceptable and common for teachers to spend 3-4 weeks on a single project. For factors that would take up an entire blog of their own, our high school teachers do not have that sort of flexibility in their scope and sequence. I could not abandon GID, so I found ways to introduce it to teachers in small bites throughout the school year. During my first year I asked a lot of questions like:

  • Can I help your students find that information in the databases?
  • What introduction would make this topic more appealing to your students?
  • What questions do your students have about that topic?
  • Where do you see students doing the most thinking in this lesson?
  • Do you want your students to write a research paper or a report?

Reagan’s English teachers quickly realized the benefits of critical thinking required by GID process for students in their future post-secondary education. Understanding that college and career readiness is imperative for our students, the English IV on-level team worked closely with me over the last four years to take our seniors through the GID framework. Incorporation of other resources, such as Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog by William Badke, helped us create Research Road, on which we travel from November to May, as a visual for students to understand the pace and process. Research Road is an on-going work in progress, however I believe we’ve needed fewer major changes as our experience grows.

Research Graphic

Research Road

So, that’s what I’ll be sharing with you about this week: some of my experiences on how to bridge GID from middle school to high school.

Christie Gudowski


A Year of Firsts!

Hello everyone! My name is Rachelle Johnson and I am the guest blogger this week. I am a Secondary Science Teacher in Norman, Oklahoma. I teach Biology and Zoology at Norman High School (GO TIGERS!). Not only is it my first year doing a Guided Inquiry unit; it is also my first year at NHS and my first year in Oklahoma, needless to say this is turning out to be a very fruitful year!

In the past I have struggled with student engagement and am constantly met with the “why is this important?” question. So I love finding new ways to engage my students in meaningful scientific discussions. Guided Inquiry sounded like the solution to all my problems. It offered an opportunity for my students to discover why the things we learn in Biology are important to them as  individuals.

I first learned about Guided Inquiry through our Librarians during a professional development day in the Fall. Not really understanding what it was and just hearing the word “research” I instantly thought: Not for my Freshmen. That was definitely closed-minded thinking on my part. Luckily my district values student lead learning and sent me along with other colleagues to training early this spring.

The first thing I learned is that any student can do this. It doesn’t matter what grade you teach or whether you have English language learners or you have a group of special education students integrated in with your general ed kids. Everyone is capable. The second thing I learned was that I was already doing some of the stages in Guided Inquiry! Minor changes to my tried-and-true lessons and they fit right in.

And here it is the cherry on top of an already irresistible sundae — it helps students delve into ideas they are interested in, things that we wouldn’t normally have time to cover in class.

I am definitely sold on the effectiveness of Guided Inquiry. I love it. I can’t wait to share how our unit went!

Rachelle Johnson

Norman High School

Inquiry is Fluid and Flexible: Part 2

Yesterday I attempted to discuss this wiggly topic of how GID is not lockstep.  In GID, our job is to guide students to find their own direction for inquiry in this fluid flexible process.

So, what are some key concepts that you can keep in mind as you try to follow the students and stay true to the process.

Think slime not concrete.

Maybe I’ve been hanging out with my 12 year old daughter and her slime too much, but it’s not a bad mental image for the difference between flexibility and rigidity. Slime vs Concrete

Being flexible takes deep understanding of the process. In order to deviate from the norm, we have to fully understand the norm, first.  So knowing the process deeply from a theoretical standpoint and a practical “in the classroom” view helps us to be confident in our variations from that norm, to know what is in bounds and out of bounds. With that knowledge, we can balance trusting the phases of the process, with following the students  as we get to know our students in the process.

Know the phases.

Knowing the process phases and the intention of each phase help

s you to know when we are ready to move on.  The bullet points for each phase are a great checklist for you. The more practice you have guiding the process with students, the more you know how it feels, how students interact, and what they need from you at each phase.


Know the research.

The more you understand the research behind GID, the more fluid and flexible you can become, in the moment. Here’s a link to some of the core research on the ISP – remember it is a user-centered design, meaning it came out of a need to better the experience for students who were learning through information in school. It doesn’t come from another industry, but is focused in education and on student learning.

Have an Inquiry Stance (or mindset)

Too much adherence to the plan, you’ll get concrete – and less learning. Inquiry learning requires us to Listen to our students, where they are struggling, where they are becoming inspired, in what direction they are leaning, will help you to “go with the flow” within the process.

In Guided Inquiry Design the learning team designs and plans activities that support students to accomplish each phase.  Having an inquiry stance or mindset is critical to your flexible use of the GID process.  Your inquiry stance is evidenced as you

  • observe students (kid watching),
  • talk with them,
  • ask questions about their ideas,
  • read their journals with an open mind and heart.

The results of those observations and interactions takes the form of shifting and differentiating conversations, groupings, lessons, and directions as needed by students. That’s how we become flexible within the model, by paying attention to how our students are engaging.

Use the Inquiry Tools

The Inquiry Tools inform you of students’ needs. The example I described yesterday shows when you put in the work at each phase, you can be confident of your forward motion. In this case, the students had spent ample time in Open and Immerse and at the end of Explore they each had detailed their own individual ideas for the direction of their research all mapped out. Proper use of the Inquiry Tools will help to guide you and the process in flexible forward motion.

Continually reflect on the work.

Conversations with your colleagues, coaches, and teammates can also help you to think through where you are and what students might need as compared to what was originally planned. Just going through the motions of your plans won’t help you to be flexible within the model, that might even solidify the flexible process into a lock step (concrete) approach. But reflecting on each phase, how the students engaged, and the intention of each phase can drive your flexibility within the process.

With that, I invite you to join us with your reflection here on this blog. That’s what this blog is for. It’s for you to have a space to reflect within our community and with my support!  Because Guided Inquiry is better through reflective practice we created this space for you to practice, try and reflect.  Here we are not looking for perfection, but an inquiry stance, that you’ve tried something and are learning from each attempt!  Through you we can all learn and improve.  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll give it a go.

Leslie Maniotes, PhD ( )

Author/Professional Developer for Guided Inquiry Design



Top Posts in 2017! Thanks to all bloggers and readers!

Hi GID’ers!

As we close out another year of our blog we want to celebrate all the innovative educators who committed to sharing their reflective practice with us and our community! We are making a difference, telling positive stories about our work in schools and helping others to find new ways to innovate and think differently about teaching and learning in their schools.  This year our 52GID blog had almost 4,000 new visitors with over 13,000 page views!


In this second year, we had over 30 participants with 100 posts from all over the US, Canada, Australia, Finland, Pakistan, and Croatia! There have been all kinds of cross curricular examples in all areas math, english language arts, arts, psychology, history, science, leadership and more. You’ve had a great year of growth and as each person shares, we all grow in our understanding of the process, its multitude of variations, and how it looks with different learners.  If you’ve missed some posts, relax over your holiday break and take some time to search some topics interesting to you. There’s  a lot to read about here!


Congratulations to our top bloggers of the year:

Coming in at #3 Marc Crompton Teacher Librarian, St George School, Vancouver, BC

Marc came in third and had more than 100 views on his entry called “The Questions that Drive Me Forward” where he reflected on a topic near and dear to him- connections between Design Thinking and GID.  These two processes are mutually informing and Marc continues this conversation on his own blog later in the year.  Read more from him on his own blog Adventures in Libraryland – here

#2 is Trisha Hutchinson – Teacher Librarian, Monroe Elementary School, Norman, OK

Almost 200 readers enjoyed Trisha’s reflection on moving from Librarian to leader through collaborating with teachers working with Guided Inquiry Design.  Trisha is a librarian in the district in Norman, Oklahoma where over 400 teachers and all librarians have all participated in the GID Institute and the process is becoming the way students learn across the district.  In her post “From Teacher Librarian to Leader” she explores how GID grew across her elementary school building through her leadership and knowledge sharing on the process and through various attempts at different grade levels.

Our #1 blogger for 2017 is Jamie Rentzel – Norman High School Math Teacher, Norman OK

With over 450 views, Jamie Rentzel topped the readership this year with her post on using GID in math.  Her post Guided Inquiry in a High School Math Classroom, Really? was a huge hit with readers.  In this post she connected the need to link students of mathematics to real world applications and GID is just the platform to do that important work. She goes on to explain how she did just that in her unit on  Sequences and Series.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful reflections throughout this year of growth, helping our readers expand into new thinking about GID as a means to dig deeper into design thinking, leadership and new ways of approaching content learning for big gains with our students.  Win win win!

We hope you’ll join us for this year’s challenge!  Who know’s where 2018 will take us!

Cheers to all readers and bloggers alike!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author and Consultant for Guided Inquiry Design


Greetings from Oklahoma

Howdy, from the Sooner State! My name is Jamie Johnson and this is my first G.I. blog post! I have been an elementary school librarian in Norman, Oklahoma for sixteen years. I started learning about Guided Inquiry in the spring of 2015 when Leslie Maniotes shared her knowledge and experiences with librarians and gifted resource coordinators from across our school district.  I will be sharing a few strategies that worked for me and our second grade team when we used Guided Inquiry to investigate Presidents and First Ladies last spring.

Jamie Johnson, N.B.C.T., M.L.I.S.



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

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 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!)


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