Getting STEAMy with GID, Alexander Calder, & Balance and Motion

For our final post, we wanted to share about a unit on which we have actually collaborated! Carole, our fabulous fine arts teacher Carrie Howes, and myself came together to create an integrated science unit. While it is still a work in progress, the students (and teachers) have learned a lot and are incredibly passionate too!

The beginning:

On the same day, both Carrie and I talked with Carole about presenting at the HOT Schools Summer Institute. This week-long experience brings together other HOT school teachers, artists and many others for incredible learning opportunities. This summer, the focus is STEAM. The idea of collaboration between the Library, Art room, and classroom was born. As we began planning, GID was a natural fit. The three of us met several times during lunch breaks to brainstorm and lay the foundation for this work.

Carole shared about the concepts and curricular areas that her class would be focusing on. I suggested and found a copy of The Calder Game book to spark the curiosity of the students. Always on the lookout for STEAM connections, I also wondered if sphero robots could add to this unit of study with their connection to motion. Carrie began to research the works of Alexander Calder and connected the concepts of the mobiles to balance and motion, the underlying curricular theme. She also collected and gathered materials for the students to use when creating their group mobiles. Carole created the student groupings and loved every moment of researching the art, science, and technology that would make this unit come to life for the first and second grade students. In addition, our technology teacher Bridgette Schlicker has been partnering with us. We became so excited about this unit and will indeed be sharing it during the HOT Schools Institute!

As with anything, the GID process for this unit has not been linear. One of the hallmarks of HOT schools is student voice and choice. So while some of this unit could be planned, at times we worked flexibly as students helped decide the directions we would go.

Here are the steps in the GID process and how they worked with this unit.

Open:

Carole used several items for the Open phase. The class read aloud is The Calder Game. Together with biographical information on Alexander Calder and pieces of Calder’s art, students were immediately hooked!

Immerse:

Much of the immerse phase took place in the classroom. Students watched YouTube videos of Alexander Calder’s mobiles, museum exhibits, Calder working in his studio, and his circus. Students selected a focal art piece to display in the classroom and spent time looking at Calder’s stabiles. In library class, I had curated as many websites as possible using Symbaloo and students explored these sites. All of this added to their knowledge of Calder and his work. Throughout, the ideas of balance and motion were discussed, although they were not the focus yet.

Image from idaaf.com

Explore:

Again, much of the explore happened in the classroom. Students made stabiles out of paper with partners. They explored balance scales and weights. While reading The Calder game, students drew a five piece
mobile. Extending this further, students then added a numeric value to the pieces to make a balanced equation. An Art Farm performance of the Little Apple Circus continued to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of balance and motion concepts.

In library, we worked with Sphero robots to gain experience with moving them around the room, first using the app to just drive the Spheros and then using the Tickle app which utilizes coding to move the robots.

Identify:

The identify phase has probably been the most difficult. These are first and second grade students and they have constant questions and also this unit almost has two areas of focus, balance and motion and Calder. In library, we created a list of questions about Calder together and then learned as much as we could. I don’t think that these questions were as deep as they could have been. However, I believe that when Carole and her students began to think about balance and motion concepts, these became those deeper types of questions. This works well because the balance and motion is the major focus of the unit.

 

Gather:

In the library, the classroom, and in technology class students collected all kinds of information. We used this Gather phase to integrate some information literacy, such as citing sources and note taking.

Create:

A variety of creations are happening with this unit. Carole began to have her students create Calder curations. She asked them to select three favorite pieces using Safe Search. Students then created a Google doc with an explanation and reflection of each art piece. This was begun in the classroom and continued in library. The Eli Whitney Museum is nearby and students used kits from the museum to build a balance and motion circuses. Mobiles are being created collaboratively with inspiration and information from our art teacher as students focus on craftsmanship. These 2D mobiles will (we hope) be made into 3D objects to use in the share that we are imagining.

Collaborative Mobiles

 

Carrie Howes, art teacher, creating mobiles.

 

Share:

At this time, we are planning to create the “Four Ring Circus” with each group programing a Sphero robot which will be used to show balance and motion concepts. They will also use the elements from their 2D mobiles and translate them into 3D objects in the ring for the “circus act” to engage with. This work will be shared in part at an Assembly (which are held each Friday afternoon) and in whole for the school wide Share Fair.

Image from: superradnow.wordpress.com

Evaluate:

The students will have a rubric to complete for each “circus act”.  They will search for evidence of balance and motion, Calder inspirations, and technical use of the Sphero as they watch each performance.

Final thoughts

From the classroom: If time allows (we are getting very close to the end of the year!) the students will be able to design an individual balance and motion experiment to further test one of their “big questions” about this concept. By combining GID and STEAM elements together, this project has become totally purposeful and engaging for everyone involved.  All learners were able to shine in a strength area with their group as there were so many styles of learning that were needed for the different stages of learning.  So much of the work was hands on and experimental which also raised engagement. The kids were using the language of the 4Cs of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity to describe this work. Students had to push their thinking further in each step. It was astonishing that not one group struggled to balance their mobiles. Because of the groundwork, they have a great conceptual understanding of how to construct a balanced mobile!

From the library: I have loved every minute of this process. While there are days when we literally go by the seat of our pants, the learning has been amazing. Echoing Carole, the student engagement has been so much fun to watch. In the future, I would like to be more intentional about the information literacy skills that are embedded and also assess those more. I would also like to include more student reflection throughout.

We will update this post with pictures of the circus that I am confident will take place!!!

Thank you for learning with us!

Jenny and Carole

 

Inquiring Minds want to Know: Taking our GID Journey on the Road

Last month, I did something completely out of my comfort zone: I presented GID at a state conference. Let me just mention that presenting to a group of like-minded peers on a large stage has been one of my greatest fears. What if I mess up? What if people do not like what they hear? What if I forget what to say? Yes, I know- these fears are all highly illogical, but nevertheless, these questions are what prevented me from stepping up in the past.

But now, I feel a responsibility, and as a type A overachiever, I never shy away from fulfilling my duties. After attending the Rutgers institute and spending the year working as hard as we have on redesigning our units using GID, I feel that it is now my duty to share with others in the state more about this model.

The Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA) is a state organization comprised of Wisconsin’s leading library media and technology specialists. Each spring, the state conference attracts leaders who volunteer to share the latest and greatest innovations in education. This year, I felt that it was my time to step up and share what I have learned. In my opinion, what we are doing with GID in De Pere is special, and I want the rest of the educators in Wisconsin to know more about how GID can change the culture of learning.  Besides, there isn’t a better model out there that supports the role of the library media specialist as the expert on information literacy.

After applying to present and receiving acceptance, my team- Peggy Rohan, Literacy Coach, Cara Krebsbach, Science/Social Studies Teacher, and Betty Hartman, Principal- and I shared our story on an early Sunday afternoon. Our goal was to not only expose others to each step in the GID model, but to also share our unique examples and strategies. In essence, our presentation was about our journey and what we have learned through engaging our students and teachers in the GID process. As a result, our session attendees left with practical, ready-to-use tools that they could immediately incorporate into their own classrooms. Isn’t this what all educators are looking for when they attend professional development sessions?

While I still consider myself an introvert, this experience opened me up to the importance of sharing with others in the profession as much as possible. While I am by no means a GID expert, I realize that I am helping others simply by sharing my experience. Education is a hard profession, and the only way to survive is by supporting and sharing professionally with one another. I constantly rely on others who share. It is only fair that I give back as well.

With that, here is our WEMTA presentation.  You will find examples of our units, student products, and our handouts. We welcome your thoughts and feedback and hope that you will share your examples with us as well.

Finally, Twitter is a great way to share all of the good and exciting work that we continue to do with GID. I vow to share frequently and widely. In this day and age, it is especially important that we positively promote the good happening in public education. Please follow me on Twitter @donnalynnyoung to see the good happening at De Pere Middle School. I would love to follow you back and see GID in action at your school as well!

I look forward to continuing to learn more about GID and how to best meet our students’ needs from you. Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.

Donna Young
Library Media Specialist
De Pere Middle School

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

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

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

Image 1. Collaborative Google Spreadsheet for Equipment Budget

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

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

Image 2. Pennies for Pasta Storyboard

Image 3. Collaborative Google Slides writing video script

Image 4. Student ‘interviewing’ cook for video

 

Image 5.  Recording footage for video in Bulldog Brilliance Lab

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

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

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS

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

Reflections of GID over the years and across the grades

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

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

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

img_0178 img_4760

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alinda Sheerman

a.sheerman@broughton.nsw.edu.au

Head of Information Services/Teacher Librarian

Broughton Anglican College,

Menangle Park, 2560

NSW, Australia

Take care of the seeds and they will grow…

growing-seeds

Image credit – http://flolly.com/how-to-grow-seeds/

Now, in the summer of 2016, I have a year of teacher training behind me. Ten teachers chose voluntarily to attend in service training in Guided Inquiry here in Sweden. I have re-read Guided Inquiry Design and have tried to put the teachers in the position of the students. I have tried to model, encourage and listen. We had some kind of a crisis at Explore – believe that most of them had the intention of start skipping class and blaming me and their fellow group members for the fact that we were not getting anywhere, neither individually nor as a group. But we hung in there and at Share and Evaluate our principal was attending – of course by coincidence, but what would we be without it? And I had “a sense of completion suited to the audience.” And also a sense of pride in the room.

I am at this point invited into a number of teams, in school and at other schools. The most important aspect for me right now is that I have stayed true to my vision and my method, what suited me and that it worked for us. We don’t know if and in that case how it will spread but we feel confident that something is achieved. We have taken care of the seeds and some of them are definitely thriving.

I have seen myself as a half. I believe I know certain things and the teachers believe they know certain things. When we meet we learn both about what we thought we knew but also about what the others thought they knew. The difficult part is to get the meeting. Me being the person that has taken every single initiative also tends to put me in the position of the one who is supposed to know. So to have the courage to back off from those expectations but keep the teachers in the conversation is an advanced assignment.

So far I have been the one telling stories. Like the one you’ve just read. The story of me and my journey with ISP/GI, the story of third space, the story of student voices from evaluations and now the voices of teachers’ evaluations from their journey this year. I would like to move on from there. And I believe I am.

A couple of colleagues from another school were so inspired by my stories that they applied for and will attend the summer school at Rutgers this summer, my much younger colleague here at my school is involved in all the digital tools projects that exist here, a couple of teachers are in charge of a full day programme at an in service training for teachers in our region and another teacher is including GID material in an educational website that she’s creating for the Swedish National Board of Education. There will be a chapter about us in the book about the varieties of inquiry across the globe by Lee Fitzgerald coming… sooner or later.

So, I thank you so much for having me on this blog and if anyone would like to get in touch for asking questions of any kind, please do. my email – Lena.Fogelberg-Carlsson@linkoping.se

I wish you all the strength, imagination and persistence to keep on giving young people the best education in the world.

Lena Fogelberg Carlsson

Breaking the Rules

Instructions for this blog are to post three entries during the week. I guess in addition to being risk adverse I am also a rule breaker. While preparing for this week, I was totally unable to put my thoughts into three entries. So, if this has been too much, my apologies. My interest in this topic is robust.

The next week of the adventure was spent in the library, five days, one period a day spread across the four areas of study. Each classroom teacher gave up one day of instruction with the English teacher giving two. The students spent that period in the library using print and electronic sources to gather information, take notes, and record citation information. The library space is flexible with moveable tables, quiet study carrels for individual work and open access to myself for one-on-one discussion. This provided independent time to search for, select, and use information with guidance from myself and the classroom teacher.

At the end of this week, we provided opportunities during study hall and free periods for students to seek help from the librarian for source help, the English teacher for writing and citing help, and the topic content teachers for content help. In addition, as the time progressed, students worked on rough drafts with parenthetical citations and practiced peer editing during English classes. The total project covered six weeks.

The final step of Reflection took place through at short online survey shortly after the due date. We asked the students to reflect on these five questions:

  • How did your expectations of the process and tasks match your actual experience?
  • Which type of sources were not useful to you during your research?
  • Which experiences with the librarian were most beneficial to your experience with this project?
  • Please give your thoughts on eBook sources(s).
  • What questions should the English teacher and the librarian have addressed earlier in the process?

The responses are as varied as the students yet there did not seem to be any extremes. Many students felt that the experience was much less difficult than they had expected, many commented positively on the guidance they received from both instructors including the ability to come to us during their free time for one-on-one help, and the variety of sources they found most useful covered the entire spectrum. The final question produced some very insightful comments which we will take into this year’s project.

As we instructors debriefed while mulling over these comments, we noted that we observed great improvement in the quality of the work done throughout the process and as a result great improvement in the quality of the final product. One conclusion we immediately found was that waiting until January to start instruction in the process is too late in the year so we have made changes to begin this year with a smaller inquiry project in the World Geography course. Students began this in August with instruction on ISP and different types of resources and their uses.

We also use the T.R.A.I.L.S (Tool for Real-Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) tool from Kent State University Libraries to assess the success of our teaching and projects. Improvements within the freshman class over the school year were an average of 8.2% over the five categories with the largest gains in the areas of Develop Topic and Evaluate Sources and Information. These are the largest gains we have seen since we began using this tool. We believe that the improvements we made to this project and the adding of smaller projects to practice the process during the school year resulted in these gains.

As a result of this collaborative project and the success we all feel is evident, I brought this information to the Middle School and Lower School  librarians. After showing them what we had done, how it came to fruition, and the positive results, together we came to the realization that using Guided Inquiry at every grade level was the perfect next step in the evolution of our curriculum. I ordered copies of all the professional books and compiled a collection of professional articles for each librarian and we spent the summer reading and thinking. Our department goal  is to re envision existing research projects at all grade levels with the goal of moving them to Guided Inquiry and change one or more during this school year. A big job which we feel will reap real rewards for our students, teachers, and libraries.

Jean Pfluger

Overall

My apologies for loading three posts at once, I am travelling to NZ tomorrow for the IBBY Conference. (International Board of Books for Young People) so I need to finish my contribution to the blog.

Overall, Guided Inquiry provides a great framework for inquiry. In Australia we have recently overhauled many of our syllabus documents, particularly History, Geography and Science. Each of these syllabus documents now contains the language of inquiry. It has been a great step in the right direction.

Thanks for allowing me to share my journey.

Margo

GIDesign @ BCPS: Challenges and Next Steps

As we begin our fifth year of using the GID model for student research and inquiry in BCPS, we have some goals for expanding and enhancing its use, and some challenges to address. Our district has in the last few years embarked on a digital learning model supports transition and ongoing 1:1 device rollout called S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow). The GID model we use to design our Online Research Models (ORMs) for extended, in-depth inquiry supports the S.T.A.T. initiative’s focus on critical and analytic thinking and personalized learning in a blended, learner-centered environment. We anticipated that there would be more opportunities to incorporate our Online Research Models into curriculum across grade levels and content areas in conjunction with S.T.A.T. Instead, in recent years there have been fewer requests for ORMs from content curriculum offices/writers and an increased demand for brief, focused research tasks. (BCPS adopted Dr. Jamie McKenzie’s Slam Dunk digital lesson as our model for brief, focused inquiry in 2004; these are labeled “Slam Dunk” on our Research Model index). One reason for this may be the PARCC assessment, and a tendency to target only those research skills that will be assessed on the standardized test. We know that students need to develop a broader range of skills aligned to the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learners and other 21st century learning standards—not only for “college and career readiness” but for life. Another reason is time—the Slam Dunk lessons take only a couple of class periods to implement compared to extended research tasks and the information literacy skills instruction they include. We often hear that there is not enough time to engage students in an ORM/guided inquiry and still “get through all of the curriculum.” Our Library Media team believes that multiple content curriculum objectives can be addressed in an Online Research Model structured according to GID. We need to convince our curriculum partners that we can design ORMs to achieve this, and that students need multiple opportunities each school year to engage in extended, in-depth inquiry and to learn and develop the associated skills.

In our new/revised ORMs, we hope to provide students with more opportunities to generate their own questions and engage in reflection during the process, and to increase student choice of topic, process, and product. While most of our ORMs include some student choice at various steps in the inquiry process, in some cases student choice has been limited by the demands of the curriculum. For example, our ORMs have always included an “essential question” aligned to content curriculum. This is not necessarily the same as an “inquiry question,” which might be more focused and could be developed by students themselves as part of the process. Students also need more opportunities to locate information sources on their own (both in our licensed digital content and on the open Web), and to develop skills like identifying keywords, building search queries, and evaluating search results. There has been a tendency to provide lots of targeted information sources in our ORMs, in an effort to “save time” by steering students directly to sources that include information required to address the research task. This is a missed opportunity for students to develop some essential information literacy skills.

Another goal we have is to fine-tune the skill-building resources and tools in our Grades 5-8 Research Guide. We would like to link directly to skill-builders and tools aligned to specific GID phases in our Online Research Models. For example, a student engaged in an ORM who needs help with note-taking/paraphrasing during the Gather phase would find a direct link to a tutorial from the Guide at the point of need, or the teacher/librarian could readily utilize these resources with students as they identify “zones of intervention” during the research process.

In closing, I want to mention that I purchased the new Guided Inquiry in Action: Middle School book earlier this year. I am so excited to incorporate ideas and insights from this book as we revise some of our existing middle school Online Research Models and design new ORMs this summer.

GID_in_Action

I really appreciate having had this opportunity to share some of Baltimore County’s GID journey with you here (thanks for asking me Leslie!) Any questions or feedback about our work from fellow educators using GID is most welcome!

The Flexibility of GID

When I learned how effective Guided Inquiry could be, I got excited about planning a GID-based writing workshop. I focused on Reconstruction because it’s the setting for my book, but the model could be adapted for any historical time period. On my website I’ve posted the materials you’d need to lead this workshop in a middle or high school classroom, and I’ll run through the steps quickly here.

The “Open,” “Immerse,” and “Explore” stages are the same as I mentioned yesterday: show the book trailer, read BROTHERHOOD, ask students to connect to content, and begin to research Reconstruction. When I visit schools, I show a series of photographs, and students point out the details—clothing, means of transportation, food, etc. My favorite is this shot taken at the wall in front of St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA, in 1865. Notice that the people are wearing coats and hats, but most have bare feet.

St.Johns.Church.people

During the “Identify” stage, I ask students to write a scene based on a newspaper article from the era. I encourage loose, messy, fast writing. I interrupt them with sound effects (church bells, horses, crickets), and ask them to incorporate the sounds into their scenes. The process here isn’t about producing good writing. It’s about entering into the time period vicariously.

Next, students swap newspaper articles and write a second scene—again, loose, fast writing. Then they pause and I ask which scene they liked most. Which did they prefer writing about, and why? What did they find compelling, disturbing, or interesting about the one they preferred? Their answers kick off the “Gather” stage of the GID process—the stage when students begin to ask their own questions. This step is the essence of Guided Inquiry. It’s the reason GID is so effective.

Whether students prefer scene A to B, or B to A doesn’t matter. What matters is that they prefer one. Students will always prefer one. Always. And the moment they articulate why they like one better than the other is the moment they really begin to invest in the subject matter. It’s an exciting moment to watch! They’re given permission to make a choice, express an opinion, and be heard, and the process empowers them.

In the “Gather,” “Create,” and “Share” stages, students’ individual or group projects go in any number of directions, and I leave that part up to the teachers. Some have particular themes they’d like the class to address. For example, in my previous post I mentioned that the teacher wanted students to think about gangs—all types of gangs and the conditions that give rise to them. Or teachers might want students to think about voting rights (who feels threatened by another’s right to vote?). Or maybe students will create and share presentations about citizenship and what it might feel like to live in America today and not be a citizen. Or they might talk about the problem of bullying.

GID allows for flexibility! I began this post talking about Reconstruction, and in only a few paragraphs, I’ve raised a myriad of topics, but that’s because my novel raises them (the Reconstruction-era amendments established birthright citizenship and voting rights; if your class is focused on a different time period, your students will ponder a different set of issues).

From my perspective—hey, I’m a writer, so I have to nudge students to write, no apologies!—an easy exercise in loose writing gets the process going strong. And when students reflect on issues that matter to them, personally, and are in a safe space for reflection, wow! Sharing happens. Listening happens. Learning happens.

I love the way GID promotes a student-centered and student-directed approach to learning (so much more effective than the memorize-and-regurgitate model of my youth). Like I said in my first post, boy do I wish my teachers had used Guided Inquiry when I was growing up. Thank you, Leslie, for inspiring me and the next generation of educators!

The 2016 Collaborative School Library Award

Yesterday I invited you to experience the “Open” stage of the award-winning GID unit developed by two librarians and a social studies/language arts teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester, VA. They based the unit my book, BROTHERHOOD, and posted all of their materials on this Blendspace page so that others can recreate the unit in their schools.

Set in Virginia during Reconstruction, BROTHERHOOD is the story of a white boy who joins the Klan, meets a young black teacher, and comes to question the racial prejudices he’s been taught. The book raises all sorts of questions about identify, race, peer pressure, gangs, etc., and doesn’t provide easy answers. So it’s great for kicking off classroom conversations on a variety of topics.

During the “Immerse” stage of the GID process, in order to connect to the content of daily readings, the students at Carver wrote a tweet a day.

daily tweet.52GID blog

Historians from the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society visited the school, bringing samples of items mentioned in the book, such as swatches of cloth and a copy of a page from an 1867 newspaper. The time period was beginning to come alive for the students.

During the GID stages “Explore” and “Identify,” students continued to read while researching the post-Civil War era. Then they went on a field trip to Richmond, VA, and walked the streets the characters had walked. In advance of the trip, the librarians asked me to audio-record myself reading selections from the book. I posted the audio files online, and during the trip, students stopped at key locations to listen—via QR codes—to me reading. This was an innovative way to use technology, and got the students all the more engaged. Click on this code to hear one of the recordings:

QRCode.FarmersMarket

I visited the classroom and talked about how I came to write BROTHERHOOD—a presentation that includes mention of the Noble Lost Cause ideology, Jim Crow era, and Civil Rights movement. On another day, the school’s safety officer came and presented information about gangs. The class explored reasons why a person might join the Klan or any gang—any group vying for power, control or influence.

During the “Gather” stage, each student’s essential questions led him/her to choose a gang to research further. Students divided into small groups, and for the “Create” and “Share” stages, each group did a presentation about a gang and how they (or society) might stop the spread of that gang. In this way, they progressed through the 7th grade curriculum. For prohibition, for example, one group did a presentation about the Mafia running liquor. For World War II, another group showed how the Nazis gained support by blaming Germany’s ills on the Jews. By the time the curriculum brought them to the present day, they already knew from yet another student presentation that Al Qaida is motivated in part by a rejection of capitalism. I visited the school again, and was blown away by the high quality of the presentations, both from struggling learners and from gifted students. The GID approach excited them all.

Along the way students participated in the GID stage, “Evaluate,” asking questions such as, what surprised me today? What was clear? What was confusing? I love the fact that when you do GID, you don’t leave evaluation to the very end. GID encourages self-reflection at every stage.

This GID unit was pretty involved, and it hit me that some educators might want to add BROTHERHOOD to the curriculum and use the GID approach, but they don’t live near Virginia and can’t easily do the field trip. And that thought motivated me to design a GID-based writing workshop that can be done in any classroom, anywhere. I’ll tell you about it in my next post…