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…

So Much Learned, So Much Gained

After the Mesopotamia project, we felt that it was important to reflect upon what we learned from this process. While we have learned much more than what we can possibly list, here are the top ten lessons learned from some guided inquiry newbies.

Top 10 GID Lessons (5)

Did what we learn change our approach in future units? ABSOLUTELY! Even after completing additional units on fracking and the Native American mascot controversy, we continued to learn more about what worked and what didn’t. Above all, we have learned that there is still so much more to know. That is why we are especially excited to be attending the CiSSL Summer Institute at Rutgers this summer. We can’t wait to learn more from Leslie and her team of experts on how we can improve this process and better help our students succeed.

Thanks to those of you who have followed our journey. We hope that we can continue to share our progress after learning more this summer.

Donna Young and Peggy Rohan
De Pere Middle School

Wisconsin Reflections

Collaboration – I took the lead as the main presenter and grader. The Dean and I discussed the assessment process and grades. I shared all PowerPoints in a Google Folder with students, Dean, Social Studies teacher, and Special Education Teacher. The Dean was new this year and appreciated being a partner. The Social Studies teacher added knowledge and credibility, as he was a former National History Day Judge. A current National History Day Judge came to campus and mentored our students on how to narrow their topic. We all learned from her tips. The reference librarians at the public library were invaluable guides for our students when we spent a day there gathering information.  The Dean, social studies teacher and I sat down after the project was completed to reassess time commitments for next year, school calendar, and what need to be tweaked as far as content and process. Next year we want to include a day at the Wisconsin State Historical Library because they have a huge amount of primary sources and they encourage high school students to come there. They will give our students an orientation when they arrive.

Third Space – Every student chose their topic based on a passion they had for a seminal event or person or groups of people that impacted history.  They had much to learn about the importance of primary sources and citing them. Many thought they could just report on their prior knowledge and information they got from secondary sources. They learned how to analyze their sources and how to create meaning from all their notes. They had choices on how they would  share out. The research topics were as varied as the students:

  • The impact of psychedelic drugs in the 1960’s on artists’ creativity;
  • The Saturn Project;
  • The Challenger Disaster;
  • Rosemary Kennedy and her impact on Special Education laws;
  • Ballet;
  • John Deere;
  • Trench Warfare;
  • Animal Testing;
  • The Little Rock Nine;
  • Jamestown Virginia and the tobacco industry;.
  • Homer and Greek Warfare;
  • World War 2 battles with Japan and China;
  • Hawaii and the impact of the Protestant Missionaries and the Pineapple Industry.

Their choices. Their passions.

The projects that competed at Regional National History Day competition in Madison Wisconsin were:

Individual Exhibit, Trench Warfare: A Death Sentence for Thousands

Individual Exhibit, The SLS-51-L That Failed The Tragedy That Haunts Humanity

Individual Exhibit, Apollo Program: Changing the World for Half a Century (This project advanced to state competition)

Group Web Site, Animal Rights: Testing in Experiments (This project advanced to state competition)

Student Questioning – this was the biggest challenge as the students did not have previous experience with creating higher level questions, historical analysis, and building a strong thesis. I used the work from New York State as a guide. Empire State Information Fluency Continuum. http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/1A931D4E-1620-4672-ABEF-460A273D0D5F/0/EmpireStateIFC.pdf

Technology – all students have a Mac Book Pro. This is a 1-1 school. It was a challenge to have them not use Google. I guided them to curated resources that I included on their school’s online catalog. If you want to see these resources click on https://sdj.follettdestiny.com/common/welcome.jsp?context=saas40_4832480&siteid=100&districtMode=0 and then click on Rock University High School . We encouraged them to use Noodle Tools. It  is such an efficient tool for building bibliographies, note taking, and outlining. I need to learn more about the capabilities so I can better inform the students. They were not motivated to view the Noodle Tools tutorials. They wanted to “get er done!” I had the students share their Noodle Tools work and their work they completed in Google Docs with me. I commented within 24 hours.

Parents Comments at Open House and a Regional Competition

We judged the final projects at an Open House for parents. All parents came to the Open House. In many cases, the parents commented that this was the first academic challenge their child had ever participated in. The parents were extremely proud of their teenager’s work. As we judged the projects, based on the National History Day Judging Criteria, we had conversations with the students and their parents. We wanted as many students as possible to consider entering their work at Regionals. It was their choice.

One parent stated, “I could not believe how involved he was. I never once saw him using his computer to just watch You Tube music videos. He wanted to do such a good job.” This student made it to the State competition.

What questions do you have about our project?

What tips do you have that you would like to share?

What projects do you work on with teachers?

What are your challenges?

Thank you for participating in the BLOG postings. Keep up you dedicated work.

Kathy Boguszewski

Wrapping it all up

Previously, I shared the beginning stages of our GID project, Challenge and Change.  At this point, students are now in the process of gathering information about their topic, hence the GATHER title for this stage.  This is the part where I as the librarian am the most valuable resource to our students.  As a part of this process, I am also able to meet the demands of my own curriculum though the implementation of mini-lessons.  Each mini-lesson addresses things like database use, keyword searching, Google searching, citing sources and even basic note taking.

After gathering, students begin the steps to determine how they want to share out their information in the CREATE step.  We provide the premise to students that they will be presenting an award to the person they selected for their research.  They are to come up with the name of the award and their research will support the reasoning behind it.

The most practical thing we did in planning for this was to make a very specific requirement.  Their award presentation had to have a VISUAL and a VERBAL component, and they could not be one and the same.  This prevented the painful situation where we sat and watched 100 PowerPoint presentations in a day.  In fact, this year I have banned the PPT completely!  The only option for PPT of any kind is that students could use a single slide to create a digital poster board, or award.  Otherwise, students could create or present however they want.  They can create a poster and give a speech, have a single award PPT slide and read journal or diary entries, they could write a song and make a CD cover for an album, create a webpage and read a poem…the possibilities are endless.  These final projects are then SHARED in our Challenge and Change awards ceremony.  Finally, we have students reflect on the process as a whole, in the EVALUATION step.  Here students respond to a digital survey through Google Forms which asks them to reflect on the process and provide feedback.  We are not that far in our current project, but here are some sample responses from last year. They have not been edited 🙂

What was the BEST part of the project for you?

“I enjoyed researching Bethany Hamilton because she is such a huge inspiration.”

 “My Favorite Part was wrinting the Speach. I like to write. So when I was able to Express my opinion on Malala Yousafzai It was really fun to write.”

 “I liked how we had the freedom to pick what we wanted to do for our project. We could make like actual awards and word clouds to express our freedom with this project.”

 “Putting together the project!!! I liked it because you could put it together and then you could admire it. I hope we can do it again VERY soon!!!”

 What was the MOST challenging part of the project for you?

“When we had chose our 6-7 questions then answer them. Cause if we did not have a response to that question we would have to think of another question.”

 “The most Challenging part was when I had to find the research to match my questions so I would have to read a lot of texts to be able to get the information I need .”

 “The most challenging part was probably writing the speech. I learned so much information that i had to pick and choose what i wanted so i didn’t have 4 pages of stuff!”

 “Choosing my person so many people have inspiring storys and I wanted to explore all of them but sadly i could only could choose one”

As you see in the graphic below of the process, it may seem odd that the steps are not in an evenly spaced track from bottom to top, or even a nice neat row, but it is quite intentional (based on the research of Carol Kuhlthau) and accurate when you look at how students respond to the process as a whole.  You can think of the placement of each block as the excitement level of your class as you being the process.  Personally, my students start off apprehensive, get more excited as we begin the immerse stage and then get overwhelmed a bit when they start to explore.  However, once they narrow their topic their motivation and excitement increases and grows throughout the completion of the assignment.

As the subtitle of this site specifies, this truly is a way of instructing that will change how you teach.  I am so happy to have been able to participate in blogging this week and to have been exposed to the GID process with instruction and guidance from Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Maniotes and Ann Caspari.  Each of the research projects which I now develop with teachers, all mirror the process above.  I know that changing how teachers teach a project can be difficult to influence, however my strategy has been to slowly incorporate elements, piece by piece each year.  As teachers see the motivation and excitement of their students grow, as well as the quality of their final product improve, they are more willing to let me slide in a new step.  It is not just the steps which are so valuable, it is also the small strategies and tools which are present in the process which also work to empower students and provide them with the opportunity to reflect on their own thinking and learning, which is truly a life skill.

Good luck to each of you as you being your own journey of discovery with Guided Inquiry Design!

Cheers,

Sarah