Special Education and GID- About Me!

Hello GID fans!

My name is Amanda Biddle. I work at Henry Clay High school in Lexington, KY. Henry Clay is the largest high school in Kentucky with about 2, 400 students from grade 9 to 12. I am currently the building assessment coordinator, however I was, and will be again, a special education teacher in our building. I have two lovely little boys, 6 and 2.

I have experience teaching special education in all subject areas in elementary school, special education in middle school, and special education algebra and geometry in high school. I have a passion for working with students who are struggling learners and finding ways for them to learn how they learn best. I believe that each student can be successful if they are given the right tools and encouragement.

I was introduced to Guided Inquiry through my husband, who is a social studies teacher. While completing his masters program in library science, he had the opportunity to study and implement Guided Inquiry. He started with advanced classes and worked his confidence in to the general education, co taught classes. It was through long nights of planning his lessons and unit together that I started to understand how this model of teaching and learning could benefit, my then language arts students who were in special education. I was able to take his knowledge and work with him to form a unit on guided inquiry. That was three years ago.

After my year as a middle school special education language arts teacher, I transferred to Henry Clay high school, and started teaching math as a special education resource teacher and a special education co teacher in math. My first year as a high school teacher, I rarely thought about GID and did not implement any units or lessons as I wasn’t comfortable with how it would be implemented in the math classroom. However, my second year, I was introduced to another math teacher who was implementing at least one GID unit each semester. It was amazing. I was also very motivated to make this work for my students. I attempted my first math GID unit at the end of last school year. (May 2016)

Once the librarians, other math teachers and I started working together and really looking in to GID and how it could benefit our students, we were able to sign up for the GID Institute at Rutgers this summer. We formed a team of 1 math teacher, 1 English teacher, 2 librarians and me, the special education teacher. Going to the institute and working 45+ hours on one unit was exhausting, but worth every minute. I was able to come back this school year, ready to start the year by giving students a new perspective on how they can learn and explore math.

I am excited to be a part of this 52 week challenge.

See you tomorrow,

Amanda Biddle

Natural Phenomena – Students Questions from the Middle

As Hermine approaches on the east coast this Labor Day weekend we have a relevant post about student questioning from the middle school level on the topic of natural phenomena. Yesterday, I shared some examples of high school student questions from two different content areas. Today, I’ll be continuing our discussion of student questioning in the Guided Inquiry Design process as we move down the grades to examine some examples from Middle School.

At any level, student questions in Guided Inquiry are a cornerstone to the approach. Inquiry based learning can be defined as an approach to learning where students ask their own questions. Guided Inquiry is uniquely positioned to support teachers to design instruction where a path is paved that supports student questioning through the early phases of the process. 

Paige Holden, a middle school language arts teacher with her team designed an inquiry unit using the Dust Bowl as the starting point for study about natural phenomena.

The overarching question for the instructional design was, “What are the social, environmental, and economical effects of natural phenomena?”

In the design, the team of teachers and school librarian collaborated to determine a concept and overarching question that drove the instructional design. Next, a learning sequence was determined to address the content as students become curious and connect the content to their own lives and interests in the third space. In this unit, Paige and her team examined the standards and focused the inquiry path on social, economic and environmental factors of natural phenomena. They wanted all students to have a grasp of those components.

You can read more about the entire unit from Paige in her posts here and here and here.

The students identified their questions after substantial investigation through the first three phases of the design process. As you read the students’ questions you’ll notice their connection to

  1. Natural phenomena and
  2. One or more of the aspects in the Learning Team’s overarching question. (social, economic, and environmental factors)

Students Questions

What past theories have been developed to explain the Northern Lights, and how have the lights affected tourism in areas where they can be seen?

How did the formation of the Ice Age Impact the Earth and humans?

How do bioluminescent waves affect the ocean and its inhabitants?

How have the discovery and exploration of blue holes impacted different fields of scientific research?

What myths about the cause of the rainbow are evident in cultural and religious traditions?

What is the relationship between disappearances at sea and the Bermuda Triangle?

TAKING LEAP – the Inquiry Trust Fall

Inquiry based learning requires moving away from covering content and opens up to a more facilitated approach, where the teacher acts as a guide. Letting go of covering content is a shift for many educators for a variety of reasons,

  1. The testing climate (we teach so that our students can perform on a test)
  2. The perception of a need to control what students learn
  3. The pressures from outside related to content (curriculum and pacing).

We know that covering material doesn’t ensure students will learn it. Even so, have you ever heard teachers say, “We went over that!” “We covered that, I don’t know why they don’t know this!”

People using an inquiry learning model have taken a leap to trust the inquiry process and their students, that they will learn the content through the process. These questions show this is possible.

Interest has staying power with regards to learning, where material coverage does not. These students’ questions are a fine example that although each student won’t learn deeply about each one of the factors that the Learning Team indicated as essential, they will learn deeply about at least one as it relates to something they are truly interested in.

Let’s look at the student questions related to each factor. Keep in mind that although each student isn’t addressing them all by way of their own question, they are all part of this learning community (or Inquiry Community). From these questions we know that each student will walk away with two important understandings

  1. what a natural phenomenon is.
  2. natural phenomena do not occur in isolation and that it will have an effect on other things

Once the students gain an understanding of those key ideas as related to their own interest they come back together as an Inquiry Community to share their own learning. As they have gained expertise on their question, they will listen to what others have learned with a new layer of knowledge. Their own research will allow them to understand and connect to the other students’ content and be able to apply their own understanding to new content in all three areas. (Think transfer task!)

So how much of these questions will address what the teachers were looking for?

Social – Four of the six sample questions had a social element to it.

  • Tourism is a social activity,
  • impact on humans implies social connections,
  • cultural and religious traditions are socially constructed,
  • and human disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle has social implications.

Economic – It seems one student addressed the economic factors in the question about tourism.

Environmental – Each of these questions being around a different natural phenomenon will provide opportunities for every student to learn about the environmental factors as they learn about the phenomena itself.

The questions about the Ice Age and bioluminescence were centered in the environmental factors.

It’s clear that the learning team allowed students to branch off into areas of interest as long as it was related to natural phenomena and one (or more) of these factors. The variety of questions shows a commitment from the Learning Team to students finding their own interests within the content.

Asking real questions around the content through an inquiry based model while closing down time for covering content, opens up time for deeper learning and applying what students have learned to other essential learnings in authentic ways.  Thanks Paige for the great work and material to reflect on again.

More tomorrow on questions from our smallest inquirers!

Leslie Maniotes

Author Guided Inquiry Series

Beginning with the end in mind – Student Questions from High School

This week we are talking about student questions, what questions students come up with within the context of a GID unit, and how they relate to and address the content of the curriculum.  With these posts, we hope to inspire you to let go and structure your learning using the GID process so that students are doing the asking.

Let’s start with the end in mind.  I’ll begin with high school so that you can get a feel for the level of questioning that occurs in academic content area courses in high school.  Then I’ll work down through middle school onto elementary to show you how those questions look as well.

So, we begin at Westborough High School in Westborough, Massachusetts.  Anita Cellucci and Kathleen Stoker are a GID learning team extrodinare.  Anita, just this week, was named as a finalist for the librarian of the year award by SLJ and Scholastic! Congratulations to one of our best! And her teammate, Kathleen teaches a course on Psychology and Literature that she described on our blog in April. Their work together is what every collaboration aspires to do, their collaborative work raises above and beyond what either of these two could do on their own.

In their course that was expertly designed using the GID process, students had questions that were personally relevant, interesting, and were centered within the content of the course.  The process of Guided Inquiry support your learning team to get students there.  As you read these questions- see if you can

  1. determine what learning goal Kathleen had for her course
  2. see how students are interested in what they will study
  3. think about what might have been something the students had been exposed to or asked to consider before identifying their question

Here they are:

“How are veterans affected by PTSD and what are some ways they are treated?”

“What is stress? What physical and emotional impacts are there due to stress and what are ways to cope with it?”

“How does music therapy affect an individual mentally and physically, and how can using music therapy benefit the patient over other types of therapies?”

“How are students affected by sleep deprivation and what can schools to do to help students?”

“How does art therapy help in ways that other therapies do not?”

“In what ways can technology be addictive and how can this problem be addressed?”

Through examining these questions, the students connections to their own experiences jump out at you, their interests are clear, and the content is also evident even without knowing the syllabus for Kathleen’s Psychology in Literature class.  It also seems that they had some idea that there were therapies that could help people, and most students were interested in knowing about the problem as well as the solutions that exist for that problem.  Pretty exciting topics and worth sharing with a wider audience, don’t you think!?  To read more about this unit, read Kathleen’s posts from April.  They’ll be doing this unit again this year, so maybe we’ll get a round 2 of blog posts to hear how it went this year! 😉

The next unit offers us a little sneak peek into the book coming out in December as this unit is described in detail there!  The book is Guided Inquiry Design in Action: High School.  In it we have four units of study just like we did in the Middle School book!  The unit Anita and Marci did was described here in Marci and Anita’s posts. They worked together on a Physical Science unit for ninth grade. Through the process they built a large inquiry community with the many sections of this course and they met in the large library 2 sections at a time.  When it came to Identify the students wrote their questions on chart paper that were posted around the library so that all the students could see the variety of interests across all groups in the larger InquiryCommunity.  Here’s a picture of one of the charts.IMG_8371

Some of the students questions

What is the role of gravitational force in our everyday lives? And, in what ways can it be changed into a different form of force?

How do different types of media effect sound waves and how does this relate to communication?

How are Newton’s laws related to earth and in what ways is this information used to explore other planets?

In what ways does the architecture of a building effect it’s stability in the wind?

What is the role of force and friction in field hockey?

How can a figure skater improve by studying physics?

Again, with these questions you can see a direct tie to the content of physical science and physics.  Students have a real desire to know the answer to these questions.  The questions connect to their lives and are bridges to the Third Space.  There is higher order thinking going on as well as interpretation and application of content from the first three phases evidenced in these questions.

I like how a few of them use the beginning frame of  “In what ways… Or what role does…”  Notice, we often say “why questions” are the most open ended, but “what questions” are really useful when students know enough background knowledge to ask a “what question” that will take them deeper into the content, as these do here.

So this sample of REAL questions are examples to you, to calm your fears of students asking off the wall questions that won’t relate to the content of the course.  And to help you trust the process, because when you design units using EVERY phase of GID, students identify wonderful useful questions.

Thanks again to Anita, Marci and Kathleen for sharing their work with me and all of us!

More on middle school questions in the next post!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author of the Guided Inquiry Series

A-HA Moment

A-ha moments

As I close out my fourth year of the GID project, I am thinking about some of the connections that my students make.  First, I believe that science gets a bad rap.  Yes, it IS hard, but not impossible.  Students seem to have roadblocks in their minds about science and what it really means.  Students were asked to connect their inquiry question with any part of a topic in physics.  As soon as I said the word physics, students’ eyes got huge.  They were not confident they understood what physics was.  As we plugged along with the project this spring, I kept reminding students that they needed to relate their research back to physics.  

But, what did that mean?  These kids were really stressing out.  So, one day, we took out the old-fashioned textbook.  I asked students to flip through the book and see if there were any words/phrases/topics, etc. that they have seen within their research.  The goal was to recognize that physics was embedded in their current research – it was implied through the articles that they were already reading.  

For example, one student came after school one day.  She really was panicking stating that there were no physics connections to her topic.  I asked the student just to tell me, in her own words, what she had been reading.  After the student says that ‘nothing about physics,’ she proceeds to describe the aurora borealis.  I let her speak for about a minute.  I stopped her and repeated one of her sentences….the aurora borealis consists of light (physics) with different wavelengths (physics) and speed of light (physics times two)….  I then asked – what are waves, what about the electromagnetic spectrum?  The surprised look on this girl’s face when she realized that she was already reading about physics and it wasn’t a formal chapter that she had to learn about was fabulous.  

I did, in fact, have several of these types of conversations with my students.  It was great to see the relief and awareness that they had already made meaningful connections.  While the textbook was helpful, conversations were also very important.


GIDesign @ BCPS: Moving Forward

Hello again from Baltimore County Public Schools!  Since adopting Guided Inquiry Design as the process for our Online Research Models (ORMs) in 2012, we have provided professional learning for school library media specialists and teachers to promote and support its use with students.

At the start of the 2012 school year, we purchased a copy of Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School for each of our school librarians. We engaged in a book study during the 2012-13 school year, coming together in Elementary, Middle, and High school groups to discuss our learning at quarterly half-day Professional Development sessions. This helped to ensure that all school librarians had a solid foundation in the GID model and would be able to use it– not only for facilitating our curriculum-aligned Online Research Models district wide, but also for designing customized research tasks in collaboration with classroom teachers at their own schools.

Since 2014, the BCPS Office of Digital Learning has offered an after-school workshop called Facilitating Student Research each fall and spring to support K-12 teachers in all content areas with using our ORMs and Guided Inquiry in the classroom. This workshop is a module in our Digital Learning University (DLU) continuing professional development course. DLU allows teachers to design their own professional learning by choosing 5 workshops from a variety of offerings during the school year for credit. The Facilitating Student Research workshop features our Online Research Models and highlights the 8 phases of GID.

In 2013, the Library Media team was asked to design a research portal for a Grade 6 Reading course focused on CCSS-aligned skills for conducting research to build and present knowledge. The portal would structure the inquiry-based process, connect to curriculum lessons, and curate resources for the Performance-Based Assessments (PBAs) for each unit. We used GID to create this Grade 6 Reading Research Portal, which has been used for the last three years and will be revised this summer based on curricular changes and ongoing feedback from students, teachers and librarians.


In 2014, we began designing an online Grades 5-8 Research Guide structured using the 8 phases of GID. Our idea was to curate skill-building resources and tools aligned to each GID phase. We also plan to link to resources in this guide in our ORMs. We plan to continue revising and improving this resource this summer.


Our work in promoting and facilitating the use of Guided Inquiry in BCPS has not been without its challenges. We do have some goals for expanding our use of the model, and for using it in more impactful ways for students. I’ll talk about our next steps in another post later this week.

Kelly Ray, Library Media Resource Teacher
Office of Digital Learning
Baltimore County Public Schools

Singing a New Tune

A.B. Westrick here. I’m the author of BROTHERHOOD (Penguin Young Readers). If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be writing and speaking about GID, I might have said, “Huh? GID, what? Guided Inquiry Design? You must have me confused with someone else. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Brotherhood COVER ARTNow it’s 2016, and boy am I singing a new tune. I wish my teachers had used Guided Inquiry when I was growing up. I’d especially have welcomed it in history classes, which I generally found to be dreadful. Having to memorize dates and names of dead white guys and strategies that won or lost wars? Spare me. Please.

But I’m not going to post here about history, not really. Only kind-of. I write fiction—not the first outlet that comes to mind when educators talk about GID. But as it turns out, my novel inspired two middle school librarians and a 7th grade social studies/language arts teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester, VA, to plan a dynamic GID unit. Next month—on June 25, 2016—during the AASL Awards session at the national ALA conference in Orlando, that team is going to receive the Collaborative School Library Award. Go, team!

So, how did it come about that fiction inspired their GID unit? Well. Read on. For today, I hope to make you curious, just as GID encourages you to do with students during the “Open” stage. Check out my book trailer (only 53 seconds long):

And if you want the full experience of the “Open” stage of the Carver Middle School unit, read chapter one of BROTHERHOOD. (Here it is at Amazon.) I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the “Immerse” stage and the rest of this GID unit, but if you’d like a sneak-peek, check out this “Blendspace” page. (I also link to the “Blendspace” page from the “Teachers” page of my website.) The Carver team posted everything there, including parental permission forms.

In my next post I’ll go into detail, and you’ll see that the unit was rather involved. The students loved it. But when it occurred to me that some schools wouldn’t have the resources to do the whole unit, I developed a scaled-down version that’s essentially a writing workshop based on GID. And history. Yes, I have to come back to history. (My book is historical fiction.)

WestrickABIn my third post, I’ll talk about the writing workshop, and you’ll see that it’s not about teaching history as much as it’s about getting students excited to ask their own questions about history. What I especially love about GID is the way it encourages students to lean how to learn. More tomorrow…

“Get Your Fresh Popcorn!”

“Get Your Fresh Popcorn!”

When my colleague, Jenn, and I attended the CISSL workshop a couple of summers ago, we went there knowing there were steps missing in our research/inquiry units. We knew we were headed in the right direction, but there was a piece or two of the puzzle missing. As soon as the presenters began to instruct and we began to understand the model, we realized one major component we were missing. That step was open. Open and Immerse were the orphan children of our process. We were skimming over or leaving out these two critical steps. Students and teachers would come to the library and I was ready to jump into explore and beyond with little or no problem. However, we as a school were not spending the time on Open and Immerse. Now, anytime a teacher or group of teachers include me in a project, I do all I can to stress these two important steps.

Last year, we put into action a project that is steeped in GID. I had been reading and hearing a lot about Steve Sheinkin’s nonfiction masterpiece “Bomb.” This nonfiction account is one of mystery and spies. It is the true story of the building of the atomic bomb. Thus, it is rich in history and science. I thought it was a perfect book for our freshman. Being the librarian and collaborator I try to be, I am constantly trying to get teachers to teach with books as opposed to textbooks. The year before when I was an inquiry infant, I talked one of our science teachers to teach a biology unit using the historical fiction novel, “Fever” by Laurie Halse Anderson. We had success, but clearly needed to take this concept to the next level and bring in other teachers. I mentioned the book “Bomb” to this same teacher. She read it and was hooked. Last Spring, we bought twenty copies of the book for several staff members and began our own professional development book club. Most of the freshman teachers bought into all freshman reading the same book and a host of
interdisciplinary lessons.

My job was to coordinate the project and I was in charge of Open. As I talked about earlier, the library has been redesigned to take on many shapes. It can be set up as a movie theatre. I decided to find a movie as the open step. We would host a movie on the big screen after school for students that could stay and provide popcorn. Over the winter, I worked with the social studies teachers to find the perfect movie. Then, I contacted the music boosters to see if we had a shot at borrowing the their popcorn machine. Little did I know the president of the music boosters was a retired school superintendent. He told me borrowing the popcorn machine would have to be discussed at the booster meeting. A few days later, he said of course we could use it and the parents were so happy that we were hosting the event, a booster would come operate the machine and there would be no charge.

I contacted one of the technology teachers and asked if her students could design tickets. She was more than happy to work with us. The afternoon of the movie, the booster president showed up pushing the popcorn machine. He was also raving about how the library had benefitted his son and hosting programs such as after school educational movies was greatly appreciated. Before we knew, it the smell of hot fresh popcorn was drifting out of the library. Students who did not have tickets were frantically calling parents! The library filled with eager freshman. Students ate popcorn and were glued to the big screen for two hours. In fact, the booster parent came and sat by me commenting on the engagement of the students and how many of the students stated they were anxious to get their book and begin the unit. The next day, teachers passed the book and students were hooked! Teachers said that students were excited and asking for their copies of the book. Other teachers poured into the library the next day commenting in disbelief that so many students stayed after school to watch the movie.

This open activity was such a hit, we plan on using this concept once each grading period next year. In fact, a social studies of over twenty years was in this morning asking if over the summer, we could find our first movie to host an open activity next fall. It is vital to spend time open. Open takes time and creativity. As we learned that summer, it takes a team. Our team at Jonathan Alder keeps expanding and growing. We have been asked to present at other institutions. I have written a grant to expand our teachers area/clubhouse. What we have is contagious. Others want to know our secret. As I have stated before, we have developed a culture of inquiry and collaboration. We will continue to grow and work together and craft our skills as inquiry guides!

Teacher’s Need to “Play”

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
-George Bernard Shaw

How important is it for children to engage in play? Childhood play is under the microscope. Studies are being conducted at universities everywhere on the importance of adding more play time and recess into the school day. However, we need to stop and think about play as adults. I don’t know about you, but I have surrounded myself with educators that I love to work with and collaborate. I surround myself with those who are passionate about teaching. Earlier, I talked of taking a road trip to CISSL with one of my best friends and peers. For us, the journey we began when we explored GID was one of adult/teacher play. Nerds of the world unite. Everyday over lunch, we plan, and explore lessons and strategies in order to become better educators. When we do this, we are playing. We are having fun. It’s vital for teachers to enjoy the learning experience and maintain enthusiasm. Students know the teachers that are excited and love teaching.

When we came home from the CISSL that summer, we began to share and collaborate with other teachers. As I stated earlier, we became an inquiry cult. We realized we needed a place to play. We needed a place to grow and share our work. Thus, our “Teacher Clubhouse, Inquiry Projects in Progress” space was born. How did this happen? It began with a project. We have an innovative and creative young math teacher that uses the library. Yes, we often have math in the library. This teacher incorporates research and inquiry into her units and projects when possible. She wanted to have her geometry students design a new school using geometry concepts. Of course, my thoughts were to create an inquiry unit and redesign the library. Earlier, I had been asked by the administration what changes I could make to the library with a few thousand dollars. Teachers and students were pouring into the library everyday almost every period. Who better to design the library, than the students that use the facility?

Students began asking questions. What makes a good learning space, what colors should be used, what type of furniture is best and why, does the environment make a difference? Students began researching learning spaces. I felt a little selfish, but I asked if one group per class would take a look at the library teacher workroom and perhaps design a teacher clubhouse; a place for teachers to play; a place for teachers to design engaging lessons and support each other. Every class had a group excited to work on the teacher clubhouse. Students called vendors and put together proposals. They put their inquiry skills into overdrive and became creative. They could not fathom their ideas were going to happen! Each group put together a proposal. Again, some were for the student sections of the library and some for the teacher clubhouse.

By the time school began this year, most of the changes were complete. Also, the teacher clubhouse was a better space. Last week, a group of seniors completed a Shark Tank project for a panel of judges which included our Assistant Superintendent and Principal. One Shark Tank project was based on the need to paint and make the hallways throughout the school more appealing. I thought my heart would explode when I heard these students say that the library was the most appealing and fun place to be in the building. Students in the audience agreed!

We are adding more features and more updates this summer both to the library student space and the teacher clubhouse. Our collaboration and inquiry cult is growing. Almost every week, the library is filled and more and more teachers who are collaborating and sharing. Recently, I was asked to host a group of central Ohio librarians. The chairperson asked if our presentation would focus on building our teacher clubhouse and how Jonathan Alder has become a culture of inquiry based learning and collaboration or as we like to call it “teacher play!” I can’t help but think of the movie “A field of Dreams.” “If you build it, he will come.” Begin in a small space or corner. Create a space for teachers to collaborate, share, and play.

Battle Spheres: Gather, Create, Share, and Evaluate

Kelsey set up the first four phases and now I will pick up with the remaining 4 phases, Gather, Create, Share and Evaluate.

Since we have not actually implemented this unit, these are the ‘best laid plans’ at this point, however; the team has spent a lot of time really processing the standards, thinking about Guided Inquiry, allowing for all team members to contribute and what has unfolded is a wonderful plan for a very engaging unit.  We actually meet tomorrow to develop the session plans and I am really looking forward to it because there is great energy when we get ‘toGather’.  Oh, speaking of Gather, let me move into discussing it.



Using the Inquiry Circles that were determined in Identity, students will gather information learning about the sphere and the interactions between the two spheres chosen by members of their group. Recall students would be grouped according to the combination of spheres THEY were most interested in learning about — self-selection of topic supports the idea of 3rd Space! Each inquiry circle will complete a hands-on task along with further research to add to their understanding and answer their questions. While most students will use the resources provided during the exploration phase, students who want to use outside resources will need to use a website evaluation form before including the source. So part of the Gather phase will be reviewing how to evaluate resources to ensure information is reliable.  One thing the team wanted to do was to make sure that we included a scientific investigation as outlined in the standard for this unit.  Typically, Gather takes longer than anticipated because as student begin to really learn and discover information, they tend to want to learn more and more (which is a very good thing!) but even given that, the team planned 2 to 3 sessions for Gather.



The objective in this phase is that students will create a product that shows the interaction between 2 systems demonstrating their understanding of the content.   Students will work in pairs to create an infographic showing the interaction between their two selected spheres using Piktochart. A screencast of how to use Piktochart as well as a template will be created to scaffold student learning.  The team felt that using a template would provide the ‘basics’ and groups could add more as appropriate. A rubric will be used to assess the student’s work, so to avoid a moving target for the students, the rubric will be shared so they understand expectations and objectives. To further challenge students, they will have the option once they finished their first infographic, to build on it and create an infographic demonstrating how 3 systems interact.  The team selected Piktochart as the format for the project because of the versatility of what media can be included giving students the freedom to express their creativity.  In addition, the final products can be shared electronically and/or downloaded as pdf for sharing.



Sharing is the time where students and schools learn from each other and celebrate their success! The objective of sharing is for  students to share their product with one another and other schools in the district – and even broader if possible.  Using a shared folder in Google Drive, students will upload their infographics (saved as pdf) to one of 12 ‘sphere combination’ folders.  To assist students with uploading their infographic, a ‘how-to’ screencast will be provided and students will also be free to do peer-to-peer training helping each other along the way.  Teaching someone else, as we know, is the best way to internalize new information!



After viewing infographics from their class and around the district, using a reflection log, students will evaluate their own work and learning reflecting on what they did well and what they wish they could improve upon.   Teachers will use a rubric to assess content and product.  

Tomorrow this skeleton plan will become much more concrete with daily session plans. Kelsey and I will reflect together to bring our two weeks of guest blogging to a close.  The planning of this unit has been collaboration at its best and I appreciate the chance to work and share with the team.  We know there is a gap between a lesson plan and the reality of implementation but the key difference for the potential of success is the time spent in preplanning, preparing, and organizing – the heart of this unit!

Yours in Guided Inquiry Design,



“I’m Not a Teacher, I’m an Awakener!” Greetings from Massachusetts!

Happy Spring!  My name is Kathleen Stoker and I am an English/Journalism teacher at Westborough High School in Westborough, MA.  I have been teaching high school and college students for twenty years–four years in New Hampshire and the past sixteen years in MA.  I currently teach Journalism I and II, sophomore English, and a senior seminar.  And oh my gosh, where does the time go? And yet, after all these years in the classroom,  I still find it refreshing that I continually am inspired by colleagues who continue to dig deep in their classrooms for ways to motivate and engage students in the learning process.

Early on in my teaching career, I read a quote by Robert Frost that has remained at the heart of my teaching–“I am not a teacher. I am an awakener.”  Of course I teach my students many things–but at the center of my teaching is my goal to awaken my students to their passions, interests, curiosity, skills, multiple intelligences–the list goes on.  And that is where Guided Inquiry Design comes in…

Two summer ago, my school’s amazing librarian educator Anita Cellucci (@librarywhs) was providing me research support for a senior seminar I teach called Psychology in Literature.  Anita asked me if I had heard of GID because she thought GID would work perfectly with the type of research I was asking my students to conduct.  She took the time to conference with me by providing an overview of the process. She then shared her copy of Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari.  Before I knew it, I was hooked.

There are many many reasons why I am interested in GID; however, for this first post I will highlight my top two reasons.  The first one is Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process.  I don’t think I had ever read about a research process in which the educators connected the research steps to students’ feelings in the process.  When I studied the model I felt a great sense of validation. Here’s why:  for a good part of my teaching career, I have had to spend time proving to some colleagues the importance of teaching, observing, and acknowledging emotional and social knowledge, intelligence and skills in our students.  Students actually feel many emotions in their learning process–let alone the research process.  To see the work of Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari was not only refreshing, it was life-changing for me as a teacher.  I could now offer my students a vocabulary in which we could communicate back and forth how they were feeling.  For example, often students feel confused and frustrated when they are exploring sources to answer their GI question(s).  To be able to validate students’ feelings by saying these feelings are normal helped the students stay with the process versus in previous experiences students may have quit, started over, or attempted to plagiarize as an escape from the challenges of the assignment.

I then asked Anita to help me implement GID with my Psychology in Literature students the following year.  But wouldn’t you know, later that month, Anita shared with me that her application for a team of educators from our school to study at the GID summer institute was accepted!  Later that summer, Anita, a science teacher, our assistant principal, and I drove down to Rutgers University for an intense study of GID with Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari.  The professional development opportunity was amazing!  We ourselves went through the GID, step by step.  We were able to work on our GID curriculum to take back to our schools.

The second reason that drew me to GID was the awareness of third space.  “In order for students to be able to create understandings of their own, educators must bargain by listening to them” (29).  Third space is an equal interaction of personal experience and curriculum content.  Often at the high school level, our focus is strictly curriculum with little recognition of “the students’ world as first space.”  I have had many a conversation with colleagues arguing that yes, curriculum is important, but the students’ world is equally valid.  How can I expect a student to fully access the curriculum if I am not acknowledging the experiences or non-experiences with which my student is living?

For example, this past semester one of my seniors named Michael chose to conduct his Guided Inquiry research on addiction.   It was an emotional journey for Michael because he shared early on in the journaling portion of the immerse step that he had a couple of close family members who were addicts.  GID gave Michael permission to move through the steps with fluidity, adaptability, and support.  When Michael got “stuck” in the gather phase, Anita and I could offer him support.  The reason he got stuck in the gathering phase of his research on addiction was because he was learning all about the symptoms and effects.  This knowledge was bringing up a lot of emotions and personal experience.  Fortunately, Michael was ready to face therapeutically his personal experiences and he asked if I would connect him with our school adjustment counselor.  The GID process worked for Michael because he was able to access the curriculum while acknowledging his very personal experience.  Anita and I were so grateful that we could support Michael through the research to the level that he was ready to ask for help.

So as shared earlier in my post, awakening students’ minds and hearts are very important to me.  GID provides a vehicle for educators to awaken their students in one of the best ways possible–by acknowledging students’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences while interacting with the curriculum.

Kathleen Stoker