Librarians as Instructional Specialists- Effective Practice Post 2

In the CO Teacher Effectiveness Framework STANDARD 2 addresses instruction, including the instructional planning an implementation of lessons.  In this post, I’ll address how GID supports librarians and teachers to achieve Exemplary status in instruction through collaborations and the through the use of the instructional design of Guided Inquiry.

A. Collaboration – librarian collaborates with most staff co teaching is an expectation/collaborates with staff, and community/students collaborate and provide evidence of new thinking

Guided Inquiry Design(R) professional development supports teachers and librarians together, to integrate content and information literacy along with digital literacy to differentiate for student needs in an interdisciplinary context.

In the delivery of lessons, Guided Inquiry is often co-taught between teachers and librarians when they are trained together in the GID institute. At the institute they design the unit together from beginning to end and can co-teach, as well as share the teaching task as needed bouncing from one to the other, through the phases.

GID also includes community resources that show teams how to use human capital from within the school and the local community as a resource for varied information and expertise.

Collaboration is one of the researched 6 C’s that students named as a support to inquiry learning. Guided Inquiry Design embeds collaboration in the large Inquiry Community as well as in small groups in Inquiry Circles.

B. Instructional Planning- backward plans to integrate digital literacy with content/interdisciplinary/students apply digital skills to demonstrate content

As for instructional planning, Guided Inquiry Design is grounded in effective teaching best practice and supports teams of teachers and librarians to shift their instruction to a facilitation of learning from teaching as telling. It is backward designed from standards and embeds information literacy and technology into content learning. (Interdisciplinary with the application of digital skills to demonstrate content)

C. Delivery – implements a variety of delivery methods/instruction is differentiated & includes reflection/ students are actively involved in using inquiry methods.

Students in the Guided Inquiry learning space (classroom or library) are engaged in inquiry learning lessons and inquiry learning process. Within each session plan the GID process encourages the use of objects, primary sources, movement, art, multimedia resources and conversation.

The GID workshop supports librarians to differentiate instruction, include reflection in every session. Our session plan template includes reflection and the inquiry tools support teachers and librarians to ensure reflection every step of the way on process of learning and content. Students are continuously engaged in their learning. Through the model, third space (Maniotes, 2005) is achieved where students are actively seeking their own interest in the content making learning meaningful and authentic.

D. Evidence of Student Growth – formative an summative assessments/shared with students and student input in creation of assessment

Teachers determine assessments with librarians in the backward planning of units through the design phase. GID embeds formative assessments throughout the learning as evidenced in the Inquiry Tools. Inquiry Tools are used through the process as evidence of student learning of content and information literacy. Data can easily be collected on student impact when using these tools.

Through the GID institute, many learning teams plan for students to engage in the creation of the assessment of the final product.

E. Reading Development –develop critical, creative and independent thinking/foster curiosity of learning/student share interests and joy of reading

Through Guided Inquiry, particularly during the Gather phase, students read with a clear purpose to critically analyze content. In the Explore phase students skim and scan texts to determine their own interest in the content of the unit of study.

All through the process students are encouraged, by multiple means, to think critically, develop creative and independent thinking as they question and wonder.

Reading/authentic literacy are practiced and applied through the GID unit as students read content area information. When relevant, literature is designed to be woven into inquiry learning to enhance understanding of a concept or add a human dimension to the course of study.  (Great example here from Kathy Stoker https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/04/01/differentiation-student-choice-and-reflection-oh-my/)

The focus on the third space and how to facilitate students questioning and determining their own interest in the content in the first three phases is a crucial component of the GID process.

F. Digital Literacy Modeling- librarian works with teachers to embed information literacy into content/students are empowered to act using digital skills

Within Guided Inquiry Design, librarians have the opportunity to engage in the mentoring and coaching within the context of collaborative planning and unit design with teachers. By doing the work together they can support teachers in authentic ways, share resources and act as leaders in the school. In these meetings and GID unit implementation, librarians can meaningfully embed 21st century skills, digital literacy into the content.

Using GID the students have access to embedded interdisciplinary lessons that are authentic and help them to make connections between school and the world.

Good Stuff.

Leslie Maniotes PhD

co-creator of guidedinquirydesign.com

 

3 Key Concepts in Effective Teaching – Differentiation, Self Direction, and Innovation

When I think about all the rubrics for effective teaching, whether is the Danielson Rubric or a state or district created document- there are a few key concepts that we all are striving for in future ready classrooms.

Here I’m going to show how GID is a framework that helps educators to achieve each of these concepts.

  1. DIFFERENTIATION

One of our biggest challenges in classrooms is to make sure that all of our students are engaging in increasingly challenging material for their abilities. Differentiation is the work we do to accommodate all our learners to ensure that they have access to a high level of instruction. That they are each successful with their work so that they are challenged and continually progress.

The Inquiry Tools of Guided Inquiry Design are a part of the framework that supports educators to differentiate learning through inquiry. The Inquiry Tools are based on the strategies that students named, in Kuhlthau’s research, as things that helped them persevere through the inquiry process (Kuhlthau’s 6 C’s – see below).

*Chart of 6 C’s in (Guided Inquiry Design, 2012, p 37)  and (Inquiry Tools in Guided Inquiry Design p. 40)

The Six C’s (Kuhlthau, 2004)

Collaborate Work jointly with others.
Converse Talk about ideas for clarity and further questions.
Compose Write all the way along, not just at the end; keep journals.
Choose Select what is interesting and pertinent.
Chart Visualize ideas using pictures, timelines, and graphic organizers.
Continue Develop understanding over a period of time.

In GID we translated the 6 C’s as Inquiry Tools that would be embedded throughout each phase of the process. It’s hard to keep all those strategies in our heads all the time while teaching and planning lessons.  Guided Inquiry Design makes it easier. Teachers use the Inquiry Tools to differentiate and support learners at all levels to deeply engage in their learning. Routine use of the Inquiry Tools facilitates active learning through the inquiry process.

Guided Inquiry Design: Inquiry Tools (Figure 3.2 in Guided Inquiry Design p.40)
Inquiry communities

for collaborating

An inquiry community is a collaborative environment where students learn with each other in a large group.
Inquiry circles

for conversing

Inquiry circles are small groups organized for conversations about interesting ideas, meaningful questions, and emerging insights.
Inquiry journals

for composing

Inquiry journals provide a way for individuals to compose and reflect throughout the inquiry process.
Inquiry logs

for choosing

Inquiry logs provide a way of keeping track of the quality sources that are chosen as important for addressing an inquiry question.
Inquiry charts

for charting

Inquiry charts provide a way to visualize, organize, and synthesize ideas in the inquiry process.
Inquiry tools

for continuing

All of the inquiry tools are for continuing and sustaining the inquiry process to completion.

See this blog post on IEP’s and student learning with GID (Post from our blog in 2016)

  1. SELF DIRECTED LEARNERS

We all want engaged students.  Self direction and engagement go hand in hand.

For learners to become self directed, they must first understand themselves as a learner. Then they can come to know strategies that support their own learning. Within the phases and sessions of Guided Inquiry Design students have the advantage of consistent self reflection.  Through regular and routine reflection, students have time to think about, not only, what they are learning, but how they are learning it.

In these reflections, students reflect on their use of the Inquiry Tools.  The tools keep them active in the process as they write, talk with others, collaborate, chart and choose.  At the end of each session each day, students reflect on how these and other tasks supported their thinking and learning.

Teachers and librarians alike benefit from professional development on how to embed these tools into inquiry based learning.  The GID institute supports the efficient use of these tools so that the learning team of teachers and librarian can gather important student data on learning and support them to know how they can direct their own learning as a result. Knowing our learners is a first step to helping them know themselves and the Inquiry Tools are a structure that helps you to do just that.

  1. INNOVATION

Creating is the product of learning-  creation of new thinking, new connections, and new understandings.  The process of Guided Inquiry Design leads students to a meaningful Create phase.  In the CREATE phase students take time to consider what they have learned and what they can create in order to share that learning and information with others.

Rather than creation for creation sake, students follow the path of research to ask meaningful questions, seek relevant information and create to communicate their ideas and understandings with the world, to make a difference, tell a story, or invent something new.  Invention is part of the GID process, and GID practitioners recognize the importance of the guidance we can provide to have our students reach higher places with their research and innovation.

 

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-creator of guidedinquirydesign.com

 

 

We all want to be Highly Effective!

hello everybody!

While I take some time to set up the schedule of the blog for 2017, I thought I would post some of what I have been thinking about and working on as of late.

All across the U.S. we have had a major movement in teacher effectiveness.  I became a part that movement when I joined the group of educators in Denver Public Schools called the Teacher Effectiveness Coaches.  Through my years with that group- we studied effectiveness in teaching.  We learned and collaborated together on how to foster increasing effectiveness through coaching at the school level.  It was very challenging work, and I learned so much through those years.  Since my awareness has been heightened to what it takes, emotionally, organizationally, on stage and off stage to be an effective teacher,  much of what I learned through those years has been applied and embedded into Guided Inquiry Design. I was working on the creation of GID while in those positions. Whether it is in the session planning, or in the workshops I do, when I train teams on how to design and implement inquiry based learning, effective teaching practices is core to what we do.

So, when the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) put out a Highly Effective School Library Program rubric, (which you can view here) I was really excited.  I believe in standards.  I think it’s important that people  know what to look for, and what is expected of them and that those expectations are clear.  When people have clear expectations, they can reach to higher heights as long as the bar is set high. From an administrative perspective, rubrics and standards of the field help us to hold people accountable to a high standard.  But what’s most important is that we are each pushing for that in our own work. And that’s why you’re here reading this right now, because you want to learn and grow as a professional- GO YOU!!

Through  my professional development workshops around the country and abroad and in conversations with excellent educators about GID, I have come to recognize that GID is a complex approach to teaching that requires a high level of our craft.

When I got my hands on the CDE rubric, I couldn’t wait to make connections to GID. I wanted to see if it would align and how GID might be used as a means to support CO educators to reach the highest level of their craft for the benefit of our students!

In the next couple of posts I am going to share my explanation of GID as a means to a highly effective library program.  I’m hoping this will begin a larger conversation around effective library programs and GID’s role in that for future ready libraries and schools!

So #1 on the Rubric is  Planning

By planning the authors meant having professional goals- (This document intentionally reflects the same wording as the teacher effectiveness framework in CO.  The library rubric was meant to support administrators to evaluate librarians in their role as teachers, valuing the difference in the work that they do, as well as making clear connections to how librarians are/can be most effective teachers.)

STANDARD 1

Program Standard 1: Planning

Planning for the future is an essential role for a successful teacher librarian and library program. Annual review of school focus goals, library data and collaborative input from the school community is part of developing a plan of action for continuous quality improvement

Component A: Planning

The teacher librarian, along with the principal, creates and uses school-aligned goals as a guide for developing a library program and instruction that positively impacts student achievement and helps students thrive in today’s society.
The teacher librarian uses data and reflection to measure implementation of goals.

Planning

Though you might not think that GID is related to teacher goal setting, it very well can (and maybe should) be. In one amazing school, the principal (knowing the research of the ISP) saw the connection between what it might take for teachers to identify goals  to work on for the year and the GID process. She saw that teachers would probably set better goals for themselves if they had time to Open, Immerse and Explore before they identified their yearlong goals. Because she knew about GID, she took the opportunity in her yearlong professional development to use the GID process with her teachers. Through the PD, the staff learned about the language and phases of GID from a personal perspective as they worked to clarify their own professional goals for the year. As a result, this school is a highly functioning GID school.

I bet that makes you think!

Do you have to arrive at professional goals in your school? How are you guided to come up with meaningful goals that can move the needle for your school?  How do you feel about the data you collect? Are you going through the motions? Or is it a worthwhile process to see all you’ve accomplished through the year?  how have you managed to make this a meaningful process for yourself?…. Somethings to think about.  We should return to this post in August? Or maybe even July… right?

Love to hear your thoughts-  More tomorrow on the other aspects of teacher effectiveness and GID…

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

co-creator of GID

For more on what we do and the PD we offer see our website guidedinquirydesign.com

Testimonials

 

 

Top 5 Bloggers/posts this year!

I’ve been crunching the numbers and checking out the stats for our year on the blog.  The numbers are exciting and we have some celebrations to share!

So, I’m here today to announce and celebrate our

Top 5 Bloggers for 2016!

These top five blog posts were determined by the number of views to their posts.  Congratulations to all of you!

  1. Paige Holden with 643 views of her post Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming… | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry  On this post, Paige explained how she scaffolded her middle schoolers questioning in the Identify phase.  She expertly guided her students to expand their understanding of questions using Webb’s depth of knowledge to support and other strong scaffolds.  The post goes on to describe the actual student’s questions as a result.  She moves into the Gather and Create phases including information literacy skills embedded in the unit.
  2. Lizzie Walker aka Curious St George had nearly 400 views of her post Avoid Cheetah Reports in 8 Easy Steps! | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry where she summarizes a fourth grade science unit where she flips the traditional animal report on its head! Using the concept of “All living things and their environment are interdependent,”  the students engaged in the GID process to dig deeper and in more interesting ways into the animals they know and love, and some that they had never heard of before!
  3. Kathryn Roots Lewis takes the third place with 200 views to her post GID-Making a Difference in Teaching & Learning | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry . Kathryn brings a unique leadership perspective as she is the library leader in Norman, Oklahoma where a national model of Guided Inquiry Design is taking hold.  In this post nearly 200 people read about how the GID movement began and the far reaching effects of the practice in her district. Thanks, Kathryn, for sharing this important leadership perspective.
  4. Kelsey Barker and Dr. Buffy Edwards represented a team who was working at the district level to create a fifth grade science unit on biospheres.  In this post with 198 views, Taking Steps Back So We Can Move Forward | 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry the team, in the middle of the design process, took a step back to look at what they were planning from a student’s perspective and that shed new shining light onto their work.  It was fantastic to hear about their process and how it unfolded and what resulted from this team’s work together.
  5. And the fifth most read post was by yours truly.  People had been asking me in my GID workshops about REAL student questions and what questions arose out of this Guided process.  Educators are often worried that kids questions will be so far afield of the content and need some reassurance. In this post, viewed by 198 readers, I wrote about the exemplary model from Westborough High School in Massachusetts. I shared the questions from a unit in our recently released high school book as well as some of the questions from Kathleen Stoker‘s students participating in the psychology in literature class. Once you see the real questions that students have, and the level of these questions, as well as how they are relevant to topic, and have students passions embedded within them, you just have to give GID a try! 😀

Thanks all for the wonderful descriptions of what you have been working on this year using the Guided Inquiry model to make a difference in teaching and learning for your students!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all.

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-Author of the Guided Inquiry series

Professional Developer

guidedinquirydesign.com

 

Image credit https://goldsmithdolphins.com/2013/05/21/end-of-year-celebration-times-updated/

 

What a year it has been!

I took on this challenge of a year long shared blog with no idea of how it would work out, no idea if we’d have enough practitioners to fill the weeks, but a willingness to fill in when there were gaps, and some very high hopes for what reflection on what Guided Inquiry can do, for learners and for a growing community of educators.

Over the next few days I will reflect on the year and share some data about our collective accomplishments together.  I hope this will inspire people to continue with us next year and inspire even more folks to join in our community of reflection and practice on this blog.

So for my first post of this week,

Who we are?

As I began this yearlong journey, I had a long list of people I have worked with, trained in Guided Inquiry, and of whom I value their use of the Guided Inquiry Design. I knew these folks were smart and had the ability to be humble and reflective – meanwhile get that taking risks is often well worth the effort!  But, I didn’t know who would or could take the time and make a commitment to sharing their work in this very public and sometimes scary public platform.

The wonderful news is, that many people really enjoyed sharing on our blog this year and many learned that blogging isn’t so hard, but actually fun!  Furthermore, many people want to do it again!

I was hoping for a wide variety of respondents- I knew because of the strong connection between Guided Inquiry and teacher librarians that many would hold that role on the team.  I was happy to see that district level leaders, and teachers, as well as researchers and other friends of Guided Inquiry would appear.  I also appreciated the international perspectives that were provided. And members were wonderful to include through images and quotes, the voices of our students.

WOW! The stats on our Blog this year showing the variety of participation!

We are a group active in social media, especially using twitter as a PLN.  Here we are represented on Twitter!  You have an entire PLN of folks who are dedicated to GID here!

  @lesliemaniotes @52_GID  @InquiryK12                          Denver
 @ldharring-                                                                          New Jersey
@patrice4books                                                                          Virginia
@anitacellucci @libraryWHS                                                        Mass
@aholmes1517 @TeachingMuse                                         Wisconsin
@thebossysister                                                                       Maryland
@donnalynnyoung                                                                       Texas
@MrsDanner_72,                                                                         Ohio
@JALibrarian                                                                                Ohio
@tjbcurtis                                                                                Oklahoma
@paigemholden                                                                     Oklahoma
@StacyFord77                                                                        Oklahoma
@KelseyGourd                                                                       Oklahoma
 @Kelseymbarker                                                                  Oklahoma
 @jluss                                                                                    Connecticut
@kujawaIBLibrary                                                                    Texas
@Jean Pfluger                                                                            Texas
@rgrov1013                                                                              Virginia
@KatBogie                                                                              Wisconsin
@HCHSLibrarian                                                                   Kentucky
@MDWestborough                                                                    Mass
@stokerkathleen                                                                        Mass
@nd4Buffy                                                                      North Dakota
@mrsreinagel                                                                        Virginia
LIBRARY LEADERS
‏@Katlewis25Lewis                                                               Oklahoma
@nomoretwist                                                                       Virginia
@LoriDonovan14                                                                   Virginia
@krayz4libraries                                                                    Maryland
 INTERNATIONAL
 @bloomingcherry                                                         Turku, Finland
@marc_crompton                                                 Vancouver, Canada
@curiousstgeorge-                                                 Vancouver, Canada
@margoannep                                                North Sydney, Australia
@ezpatel                                                   New South Wales, Australia
@AlindaS                                                 New South Wales, Australia
@leefit @TLs_forever                           New South Wales, Australia
YA Author
@abwestrick                                                                             Virginia

And of course we had people who have just started with GID all the way to people who have been working on it for a few years! My favorite part was the many, many perspectives represented and the stories that came from not one perspective to show what we can do with this model, but from so many!  Thank you all.  If you haven’t already- add these folks to your PLN today!

Before the new year rings in I’ll share a little more of a year summary including:

What we’ve accomplished.

AND What we hope to be!

Happy Holidays all!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

 

Conferencing Throughout the Process

It is the last day before winter break, and like many of you my brain has been working in overdrive.   However, I know that my final post is probably my most important, because it is about listening to students discuss their learning throughout the inquiry process.

As a former English teacher, I always understood the importance of conferencing with students during reading and writing, but I had never thought of it for research. It wasn’t until I became fully immersed in Guided Inquiry Design that I understood how essential conferencing is at every stage of the inquiry process.

Students need the opportunity to reflect on their learning. Conferring with students allows them to express questions they may still have and determine what tools will help them accomplish various tasks necessary to the process.  The key to conferencing is being a good listener.  In other words, you do not tell them what to do, but instead listen to them and guide them to the strategies and tools they may need.

Once I understood that conferring with students was just as important in the inquiry process as it is in the writing process, I built essential conference time with my students into every GID unit plan. When students are exploring resources for interesting ideas, conferencing helps the learning team determine if students are examining new ideas instead of accumulating facts. In the Identify stage, conferencing helps students narrow their topic.  During the Gather stage, conferring with students can often ensure that a student does not go off track while they collect detailed information.  Giving students the opportunity to articulate what they know is crucial to their learning, and essential in the inquiry process.

It has been wonderful sharing some of the things I have learned over the years using GID. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and the best 2017!!!

 

Patrice Lambusta

Librarian

Passage Middle School

Newport News, Virginia

Building a Foundation for Inquiry

img_0092

As stated in my prior entry, the first unit I taught as a librarian on inquiry was on pop culture. Students and teachers were excited about this unit because pop culture encompasses so much which allowed for student choice on topic.  The problem occurred with the old NNPS Inquiry model.  It became abundantly clear that “Starting with what you know” and moving directly into creating questions was not working.  My students were struggling with creating questions as a first step to inquiry, because they had nothing to base it on.

Passage Middle School is an inner city school.   We are now close to 70% free and reduced lunch with an eighteen percent special education population.  A lot of our students have not been out of the neighborhood, much less the state.  Because of that, we need to create a strong foundation for learning by building background knowledge.  GID gives us the platform to do this.

In the summer of 2012, a team from my school (which included my principal, reading specialist, science teacher and me) were fortunate to attend the CiSSL Summer Institute at Rutgers University. It was while I was in attendance there that I had a major “ah-ha” moment.

Our team created an inquiry unit on forensic science. I have written about that unit in our book, Guided Inquiry Design in Action: Middle School. The unit was highly successful and allowed our students to collaborate in teams as they explored careers in forensics.  However, it would never have been as successful if we hadn’t spent so much time on the design and implementation of the Open, Immerse and Explore stages.  (In the NNPS model these three stages are rolled into one and called the “Explore” stage, but it is closely aligned to the GID model.) These beginning stages incorporate hooking students, immersing them in information designed to connect them to the topic, and helping them to explore interesting ideas and begin formulating their inquiry questions.  This is huge!!!

Once I discovered the importance of these stages, my teaching changed. I began developing lessons that scaffolded the learning but also engaged students in the learning process.

A Librarian’s Journey to Guided Inquiry Design

Hello from Hampton Roads, Virginia!

My name is Patrice (Patty) Lambusta and I am a middle school librarian at Passage Middle School in Newport News.

Like many librarians, I am a former English teacher who loved to teach reading and writing, but would grow sick at the thought of teaching another research unit. I absolutely loathed Science Fair because I was responsible for the paper, which meant I was also responsible for the research.  Like many before me, teaching thirty ‘tweens how to create questions, locate and evaluate information, and synthesize that information into a paper on a topic assigned to them by the science teacher, was more than I could handle.  Index cards became my nemesis.

I had a wonderful librarian at the time, who tried to get me to collaborate on an “inquiry” unit. I remember running from her in the hallways, because I thought she was just using a fancy word for another traditional “research” project.  It wasn’t until I became a librarian that I realized “research” is embedded into the inquiry process.  It is the process that supports student learning.

I was fortunate that my district library program had already created an inquiry process model and was in the process of integrating it into the district curriculum. At my school, I had created an inquiry unit on pop culture using Newport News Public School (NNPS) Inquiry Process Model.   Students were allowed to pick any pop culture topic they wished.  Although students were highly engaged in the unit, they struggled with the first stage of the original model, creating their own questions.  During 2012, while librarians (myself included) were trying to create rubrics to support the process, we discovered that there were issues with the process itself, namely having students create questions from the very beginning.

As we struggled with how to fix this issue, district librarians began professional development on Guided Inquiry Design with Dr. Leslie Maniotes. We also read the publication Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School, coauthored by Leslie.  Through the professional development sessions and the book study we were able to adjust our Inquiry Process model so that it was more effective.  Our model is now closely aligned with GID.

In the coming two days, I will focus on the importance of the Open, Immerse, Explore stages and conferencing with students throughout the process.

nnpsinquiry-model

Little Kids and GID?

Yes, Guided Inquiry is a design that you can use with the littlest of kids. The first GID unit we implemented in my building was kindergarten! That being said, there is a little extra planning and preparation that comes with using GID with primary grades.

Challenges that come with primary grades:

  • Writing independently
  • Needing more movement and hands-on engagement
  • Needs more background knowledge
  • Reading independently
  • Providing choice without loosing structure

Those are some pretty big challenges if you don’t think about them throughout the planning process. If you keep these challenges in mind while planning, you can easily integrate various supports that will allow your primary students to find success and love learning with the Guided Inquiry Design!

Possible solutions:

  • Find opportunities to use centers
  • Use drawing as a writing option
  • Use interactive notebook strategies for the inquiry journal
  • Spend more time during the immerse phase if they need background knowledge
  • Find resources that will read to them
  • Work in small groups as much as possible!

 

For our first kindergarten unit, we focused on the social studies essential question of ‘How Can I Take Care of the World?’ This is a pretty big concept for kindergarten! The learning team (myself, the gifted teacher, and classroom teachers) planned an incredible unit that included inquiry journals, inquiry logs, writing, hands-on centers, guest speakers, and art. It can be done!

  1. Open: In the first page of your inquiry journal, draw a picture of you taking care of the world. That was the only prompt we gave them. Then we reviewed various photographs and students discussed whether it was taking care of the world or not. For example, trash on the beach, putting out fires, teaching children, oil spills, etc. We made sure to include photographs representing the scientific/environmental way of taking care of the world and the community building/relationship way of taking care of the world. After going through that as a class, students had a picture sort in their inquiry journals using a mixture of those photographs and others.
  2. Immerse: We invited various guest speakers to give a 10 minute speech about what they do and how they take care of the world. After each speaker, students drew a picture and had a sentence stem in their inquiry journals. Speakers included fireman, small business owners, water conservationist, recycling person, veterinarian, and public librarians. Again, we made sure to include science and community.
  3. Explore: This was probably my FAVORITE lesson out of all the phases. I had pulled many nonfiction books that were kindergarten level about the science and community aspects of taking care of the world. I taught the students how to browse a book by flipping the pages, looking at the pictures, and trying to read bold words. We talked about how we can get so much information from a book just by browsing. Students worked in pairs and rotated through tables. At each table, there was a book, red crayons, glue sticks, and pre-cut tiny images of the book cover. Students had 30 seconds to browse and then 10 seconds to glue the image onto their inquiry log. Then they either colored a heart or an x to indicate their preference of the content. When explaining the directions, one student said

    What if we only kind of like the book? Should we just color half the heart?

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  4. Identify: Before we moved to this phase, the teachers and I worked together to split the students by what they were interested. It ended up being about half and half. One half really liked all the science books and guest speakers, and the other half really enjoyed the community-building resources. I took one inquiry community and the classroom teacher kept the other one. This is when we used a guided discussion to identify our inquiry question. Yes, it was a struggle to get to a higher level question with kindergarten. But that is where the guided part of Guided Inquiry Design comes to play. We used various brainstorming/mind-mapping strategies.
  5. Gather: This can be especially challenging with kindergarten students because they can’t read independently and they can’t take notes. So what does the gather phase look like? We decided the make it a center. For a week, I was one of their literacy centers, which lasted about 15 minutes. They came to me with their inquiry journals. I introduced them to our PebbleGo database, which is an incredible resource for primary age students. There were different sections that had several articles in each that were related to our topics. For example, there was an entire section full of 8-10 articles about community helpers. There was also an entire section full of 8-10 articles about helping the environment! PebbleGo reads the articles aloud in a non-robotic voice, so I let the students click around and get information. At the end of the center, they drew a picture in their journal about something that was interesting to them or something they learned.

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  6. Create: Students created a more detailed illustration to answer the question of ‘How Can I Take Care of the World?’ This is a great opportunity for you to capture students explaining their art with video, then you can compile them all into one exciting video for your class!
  7. Share: Share the video, share the drawing, share the experience!
  8. Evaluate: What did you like about these lessons? What was your favorite part? Look back in the inquiry journals to help with reflection since that can be challenging for primary students. The main question we focused on for this phase was ‘How was your last picture different from your first picture?’ Teacher translation: describe your learning experience and how this Guided Inquiry Unit impacted your learning.

I’m a believer!

My name is Kelsey Gourd and I work in Norman Public Schools as an elementary teacher librarian. As you’ve read here before, Norman Public Schools have embraced the Guided Inquiry Design and has trained MANY of our teachers, and all of our curriculum directors and librarians!

I’d like to tell a couple stories to share with you why I am such a believer in the Guided Inquiry Process.

In 3rd grade social studies, students are expected to learn about 9-11 specific famous Oklahomans according to the Oklahoma Academic Standards. Previously, this unit has been a bore. I’ve tried to approach teaching it with centers, choice boards, and online classrooms, but still students did not retain any knowledge about the people we were studying. They just didn’t care- much less did they grasp why we were learning about these people.

This year, we transformed this unit into a Guided Inquiry Unit, and although we are only in the Identify phase, I have already seen such a difference in student’s engagement and learning!

Open: We started this unit right after our Mock Election, so we opened this unit by reflecting on the leadership characteristics we discussed from the presidential mock election. What types of leadership characteristics are important? Students wrote about a trait they had with examples of how they show it. One student, who hardly speaks, wrote about how he is humble. I mean, this is third grade! I wrote a note in his journal about how impressed I was with his writing and his trait. I told him how his self-awareness is also a strength. Two days later, this student, who I have known since kindergarten and he has only spoken to me twice, started emailing me in the evening. Just to chat!

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Immerse: We dove into learning about Woody Guthrie, a famous folk singer who is from Oklahoma. He is most famous for being the “voice of the people” and writing This Land is Your Land. We read a couple books about him, watched a couple videos, wondered about him, and finally wrote in our journals about what leadership traits he displayed.

Students were beginning to grasp the higher level thinking that I always wanted them to reach, and it was because of the way the instruction was designed. By using the Guided Inquiry Design, after only 2 lessons, students were analyzing biographies  with the skill and reflection of having 20 lessons with the old way of instruction.

Students were leaving with questions, rather just facts.

Explore: This is where we really took our time. We spent one session learning how to use an inquiry log while browsing print materials. We spent a second session continuing the inquiry log with digital resources. Then we decided to go on a field trip to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame! During each session, students were encouraged to wonder, and reflect on leadership characteristics found in these various famous Oklahomans.

Identify: Today, as a whole class, we worked on identify. The teachers and I decided since the students have never created inquiry questions before, that this would be a great opportunity to model the process. Together, we brainstormed a list of questions. Then we revised it with the following thought process:

  1.  Can we answer this question with a yes or no? Eliminate!
  2. If we typed it into Google, would a simple answer pop up on the screen? Eliminate!
  3. Are there any questions that are similar and we can combine?

We went from a list of 8 questions to 3 high quality questions. But they weren’t big enough. This is where the guided part of Guided Inquiry comes to play. The teachers and I guided the discussion until together we came up with the giant overall question: How did they impact me?

 

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I had three marshmallows lined up. ‘How did they impact me?’ was the big giant marshmallow. The one you can barely fit in your mouth. The other 3 questions that were up on the board (What inspired them? What mistakes or challenges did they face? and How did they become famous?) were the jumbo marshmallows- the medium ones. They are hearty and good questions. Finally, all the little questions we had eliminated were the mini marshmallows. You know, the typical ‘when were they born’ or ‘were they married’ questions. We talked about how those answers were still important and how they contributed to the answer of the big marshmallow.

During each one of these lessons, students left groaning, asking when do they get to come back! This has NEVER happened during our Famous Oklahomans unit. And to think, had we taught this unit like a typical research unit, we would have just skipped right over these steps. The Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of the Guided Inquiry Design are probably my favorite part!