Hello from Australia

Erin Patel

Erin Patel @ezpatel

Hello everyone. My name is Erin Patel and I am a teacher librarian at Kambala Girls School in Sydney, Australia. Kambala is an Independent girls school which provides for students from 6 months to 18 years. My role focuses in the senior school library, from year 7 to 12. Although I have been a classroom teacher since 2008 and a teacher librarian for almost three years, this is my first year at Kambala. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with inspirational teachers and students, as well as having access to an innovative IT team which has implemented technological tools which enable me to get creative with Guided Inquiry.

In fact, although I have used Guided Inquiry and the ISP to guide my teaching in the past, Kambala has really embraced the model as a tool for improving student learning and therefore has been central to the approach I have taken in undertaking collaborative projects at Kambala. Having only recently graduated with a Masters of Education, Guided Inquiry was the focus of much of our training. I connected with the constructivist nature of Guided Inquiry which specified that students come with their own experiences, understanding and interests and in order to deepen their understanding, we need to find a way to connect this with the content and skills (and creating a third space in which this learning is extended), while we guide and intervene as necessary.

Having the space to explore Guided Inquiry in my teaching has been a very positive experience. Not only has it enabled me to make connections with teachers through collaborative projects, it has allowed for the building of information and transliteracy skills across a year group. I have collaborated on three projects this year alone, which built upon transliteracy skills on a single year group of  Year 9 students. What began as a new process, became almost second nature and largely independent by the third project. This enabled me to measure my own impact upon the learning of students (often a difficult task for teacher librarians who may not be involved in the formal assessment process). With each project, I adapted my approach according to the time constraints. For example, the first project was run over two weeks of five lessons per week. This required a different approach to the second project which was over ten weeks with only one lesson per week. In the second project, I implemented a flipped classroom approach to ensure that the students could make full use of the classroom time to work on their projects and provide one on one support, whilst also allowing students to work at their own pace.

This collaboration has had an incredible impact upon the relationships I have built with subject teachers. Implementing a model that is based on best practice and research improved my credibility as a teacher. This is a very helpful way to advocate for your library. In fact, one project turned into another and before long, I was working with various faculties and teachers on vastly different projects, but all modelled on Guided Inquiry.

This week I would like to share my experiences using Guided Inquiry. I hope we can all learn from each other in this community and that I can contribute something that may trigger ideas for others, as others have contributed to my own understanding of Guided Inquiry.

Erin Patel

Twitter: @ezpatel

Rutgers University the Birthplace of Guided Inquiry Design

It is going to be a very exciting, challenging and transforming week for Guided Inquiry. This week, the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CiSSL) will host the 4th Fourth Residential 
CiSSL Summer Institute: “Guided Inquiry for Student Learning” to take place on the Rutgers Campus from Tuesday evening 19th July to Friday 22nd July.

CiSSL Anticipation

It is exciting for several reasons. First, Rutgers University is the birth-place of Guided Inquiry! Rutgers Distinguished Professor Emerita Carol Kuhlthau’s groundbreaking research over several decades generated the highly cited and acclaimed “Information Search Process” model. This model has shaped a considerable number of research agendas around the world, and is the research-validated basis for “Guided Inquiry Design”, the constructivist approach to empowering and enabling students to engage with information in all its forms and formats, to develop their own deep knowledge and understanding, to think critically, creatively and reflectively, and to be innovative thinkers that empower global, social and cultural wellbeing and change.

Second, Distinguished Professor Emerita Carol Kuhlthau, together with Dr. Leslie Maniotes, who are co-authors and developers of Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century and Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in your School will be the Institute leaders! Participating teams will have a wonderful opportunity to engage directly with the experts! Get right to the source, so to speak. It simply does not get better than that!

Third, the Guided Inquiry Institute will be design in action. Participating teams will engage in active, design-based thinking, sharing and critiquing ideas together, reflecting and reporting, shaping and reshaping, building and rebuilding. Having attended previous Institutes through CiSSL, this will be a thrilling and empowering process. I know. Participants will engage directly with the design process as they develop an inquiry unit for their schools. The professional development cycle, for each participating team, will be directly experiencing the process in a richly personalized, attentive and collaborative way.

Fourth, participating teams in this year’s Guided Inquiry Institute will be part of history making at Rutgers University. This year, Rutgers University is celebrating its 250th anniversary, and its theme is “Rutgers. Revolutionary for 250 Years.” On November 10th, 1766, William Franklin, the last colonial Governor of New Jersey, signed the charter establishing Queen’s College, the predecessor of Rutgers University, and New Brunswick was chosen as the place. The first classes were held in a tavern in the city! The first graduation was held in 1774, and the title of the graduation address, given by Rusten Hardenbergh, was titled “The advantages of education”. It wasn’t until 1825 that Queens College was renamed Rutgers University, in honor of Colonel Henry Rutgers a Revolutionary War hero.

This is probably a long winded way to say that Rutgers’ tradition of revolutionary teaching, research, and service has endured for nearly 250 years. Guided Inquiry is up there with the best of Rutgers has offered for 250 years. You are experiencing the best.

Fifth, participants will experience a game-changing pedagogical process. One of the great and unforgettable experiences for me during this Rutgers year of celebration was to be part of the university’s graduation where President Barak Obama was the graduation speaker. For me, it was a truly remarkable day. I have to say I was excited to be there to hear him in person, and to cheer on as he was awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa. Regardless of his (and your) politics, his words from his Rutgers address are the spirit of inquiry: “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is”. (Full speech is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ9jJm_q5Jo).

Guided Inquiry is revolutionary. It is visionary. It is a powerful approach to learning for breaking down intellectual walls, opening windows and doors to the world of ideas, and making a very real contribution to the development of a thinking nation. Be part of this journey. It will be game-changing.

Dr Ross J Todd

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Library and Information Science

Director, Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL)

School of Communication & Information

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey