How I Fell in LOVE with Guided Inquiry Design (1)

Hello!

My name is Gordana Sutej and I am a teacher librarian at Ivan Goran Kovacic School, an elementary school in Duga Resa, Croatia. I am honored by the opportunity to share my thoughts about Guided Inquiry with colleagues around the world and grateful to Leslie K. Maniotes who encouraged me to write for this 52GID blog. I am enthusiastic about Guided Inquiry and trying to implement it in my school (it is K8 in US terms) and to spread the word about it to my colleagues in the district where I live and at the national level whenever possible.

Let me say a few words about Croatia, first. It is a country in Southeastern Europe with national territory of 56 594 km2 (there are probably farms in Texas bigger than that ūüėä). Although a small country, Croatia boasts with diverse and beautiful landscapes and numerous historical monuments.

Photos of Zagreb and Croatian landscape by, Mario Fajt (sobrecroaCia.com.).

We have a population of 4 million people. There are some 1200 school libraries here. Every school must have a library according to law. There are standards for school libraries, but government, who impose those standards do not secure financial means to fulfill the standards. Therefore, we have varied school libraries, ranging from excellent ‚Äď spacious, well equipped with all sorts of resources and devices, to small ones lacking books, computers, and almost everything.

School library where I work is a small one (70m2) with 4000 books, 3 computers, LCD projector and a smartboard. Although not big, it is comfortable and appealing space, and everything in it is selected with love and care. The school has 410 students and 50 teachers and other stuff members. Both students and teachers visit and use library often. I am happy that they enjoy spending their free time there, but they also like having lessons in the library. We have many extracurricular activities in school which are very popular with the students. I lead school journalist, a book club, library helpers and poetry academy groups.

I started working in a school library in 1999, after seven years spent in a small public library in my home town. Discovering what are the possibilities of school library to help students become readers and critical thinkers was interesting, but not always easy. I wondered for a long time how can I accomplish to fulfill my responsibility for fostering information literacy in school if I do not give assignments to students and do not participate in evaluating their work.

The answer came to me in a lecture by prof. Ivanka Strińćevińá at our PD, Spring School, as we call it, in 2010. Prof Strińćevińá said: ‚ÄúKuhlthau says there is no point in teaching information literacy without context, it should be integrated into school curriculum and carried out through Guided Inquiry.‚ÄĚ I did not know how to spell the name, Kuhlthau, at that time, but I managed to find it on internet, and since that day, I did not stop searching, discovering, learning about Carol C. Kuhlthau, her research, ideas, concept of Guided Inquiry she developed together with her daughters Leslie K. Maniotes and Ann K. Caspari.

Their work Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century is not translated to Croatian, it cannot even be found in our National Library. The only way to get it was to order the book from USA. What a thrill it was to read it. I believe you know the feeling when you read astonishing text and you cannot believe afterwards that the world is still the same. You ask yourself, why does not everybody read it and take it seriously? Why do we not transform our schools according to Guided Inquiry Design? It is so clever, so logical, so true! How cannot everybody see it? Anyway, I made a pledge to do everything I can to make it work in my school.

Gordana 

From a summer lake in Finland to a research study on GID

As you read in our last post, educators from far and wide are leaving their summer places behind and headed to Rutgers University today. Here’s Dr. Heinstrom’s story.

Summer in Finland

Summer in Finland

July 13, 2016. I am sitting by the lake with a book in my hands that I cannot put down.

It is not the first time I read this book, and it will not be the last, but this time the reading has a special meaning. The book is Guided Inquiry Design by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes and Ann K. Caspari and I am preparing for next week when I will be attending the CISSL Summer Institute on Guided Inquiry Design (http://cissl.rutgers.edu/summer-institute-2016).

Guided Inquiry Design is an important book for me in many ways. GID is a solid research-based method on how to guide students’ learning in today’s information world. The foundation of the method lies in the highly regarded work of Professor II Emerita Carol C. Kuhlthau. Carol’s research on the Information Search Process (ISP) is a multiple award-winning scholarly work which has been confirmed and established within Information Studies. Carol’s work has, however, not only inspired research and teaching, it is also widely applied by professionals. This work has culminated in Guided Inquiry, where the ideas of the ISP is combined with Dr. Maniotes’ insights from educational research on the importance of Third Space, and Educational Specialist Caspari’s expertise on informal learning with use of museums and community resources to link together classroom learning with students’ experiences outside of school.

This summer I am reading Guided Inquiry Design from a research perspective. Next Spring,
I will be conducting an explorative case study on GID in a US high school with several years of experience in implementing the Guided Inquiry framework. The study is part of the ARONI (Argumentative online inquiry in building students’ knowledge work competences) research project.

ARONI, funded by the Academy of Finland for four years (2015-2019), is a collaborative project between research teams from three partner universities: University of Tampere, University of Jyväskylä and Helsinki University. The aim of the project is to develop an instructional model for online inquiry competence for upper secondary schools in Finland. The project strives to build a deeper theoretical understanding of students’ online inquiry and clarify how their competence can be enhanced in upper secondary education. In Finland, a new national curriculum, developed by the National Board of Education, will be effective from this fall, 2016. The new curriculum emphasizes multi-literacies, including online inquiry competence. We, however, still need a deeper understanding of the best way to support students as they develop these competencies. We believe that our research on Guided Inquiry Design will provide insights that will be highly useful for us as we develop our instructional model.

I close my book and walk up to the house. It is time to apply GID in practice: Immerse, Explore, Identify and Gather what I need to pack for my trip.

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Jannica Heinström, PhD

Senior Researcher, University of Tampere, Finland; Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland; Docent, University of Borås, Sweden

Link to my Research Gate page

Reflections on a Unit

Today I’m going to tell you about a unit I worked on with 4th Graders that was designed to address the¬†societies of Native American tribes and their influences on American culture and history. ¬†I am not going to focus on the steps we went through in the Guided Inquiry process as much as I am going to explain what worked and what didn’t work. As a reference point this unit was designed during a three day Guided Inquiry Design Institute by Kennedy’s Gifted and Talented Teacher and myself. ¬†Classroom teachers were not able to attend the institute due to scheduling constraints.

What Didn’t Work?

Obviously, the main obstacle for this unit was not having a teacher on the design team.  Classroom teachers did provide a standard to work with and we knew they would willingly run with us as we dived into the process.  As soon as we began planning the unit we realized how crucial at least one classroom teacher was to the development of this process.  One, for their content knowledge.  Two, for their understanding of where it would fall in the curriculum.  Three, for the buy in they would be able to get from the other teachers on their team.  The inability to have a teacher as part of the design process was a stumbling block throughout the unit, because we were never able to fully articulate the process well.

I would say the second obstacle to this unit was in large part me. ¬†You see, I tend to want to go all out with something and try everything to make the process smoother. ¬†For this unit that meant providing composition notebooks as a tool for student to keep their inquiry log/journal in and later rolling out a similar format via Google Docs while using Google Classroom. ¬†Students never really latched onto the electronic log/journal, so it wasn’t too big of a hindrance. ¬†However, in hindsight I see that it was something that was not needed. ¬†I also admit to not utilizing the journal effectively.

What Worked?

Partnership with the Gifted and Talented Teacher. ¬†My colleague and I did a lot of team teaching on this project, tag-team style. ¬†She was able to push into classes and teach how and what’s of the create stage. ¬†In addition, we teamed with teachers during the gather stage to help guide students along the way. ¬†She was a phenomenal asset and it was great for both of us to see how we could work together in the future.

Willing classroom teachers.  Even though the classroom teachers were not able to attend the training or help plan the unit they were always willing to do what we asked. The teachers also provided ample opportunities for students to research and work on their products during the create stage.  We could not have done this unit without their support.

Information Literacy Skills. ¬†Students were able to learn the proper way to cite sources during this project. ¬†They were able to learn how to “search smarter, not harder” using boolean operators. ¬†They were able to navigate EBSCO using the Explora database and found article were helpful for their research questions. ¬†Let’s be honest here folks, that is a difficult task for most of us and 4th graders were able to do that successfully multiple times. ¬†I often overlook how integrated information literacy skills were in this unit, but reflecting on all that students were able to do with them is one of the best things I am taking away from this unit.

Immerse.  The immerse phase was my favorite part of this unit.  As part of immerse we were able to visit the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History on the nearby University of Oklahoma campus.  The GT teacher was able to acquire a grant to the museum so that we did not have to pay admission for any of our students or chaperones.  This museum has an exhibit called the Hall of the People of Oklahoma that the sole focus of dovetailed superbly with our content standard.

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We were able to download resources from the museum and have students paste them into their journals that they were able to keep notes on as they were guided through the exhibit.  Students were also given journal prompts in the exhibit and given the chance to reflect as they explored the exhibit.

In addition to an exhibit students were led through a fifty minute class called, “The Bison Hunters: Native Americans of the Plains.” ¬†We had never been through a program at the museum and were skeptical of how this would go. ¬†We had nothing to be afraid of. ¬†During this program students were able to explore specific items in a group and tasked with identifying what they were made out of and what their possible uses were. ¬†Every student was engaged in this activity and they were all excited to see what their items were. ¬†Following the exploration time and comparing to identified materials the museum educator led the classes through what each item was and what it was used for. ¬†Students were able to create lists in their journals that they referenced during the rest of the process.

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Student examining artifact.

 

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Items identified by museum staff that students used to compare to their artifacts.

Google Classroom. Google Classroom was used to push artifacts and links to students during this unit.  This was an effective way to get feedback from students as well.  I used Google Classroom to provide templates, links and survey questions.  Students completed surveys as an evaluative tool for their projects as well.

The extended learning team. The staff at the Sam Noble Museum knocked it out of the park in the classes that they taught.  The exhibit was exactly what we needed to provide greater background knowledge for many of our students. Our district technology integration specialist, Dr. Lee Nelson also provided templates for students to use in the create phase.  This help let the teaching team focus on helping students create from the template and not to worry about how to create the template.

Moving Forward

This post has been difficult for me to write because there are things that went exceptionally well with this unit, but there are many things that the team will improve upon when we implement this unit again in the future.  At this time two teachers from the grade level have since been to a Guided Inquiry Design Institute so that will be extremely beneficial as we go back and identify what we need to change in this unit.

I am glad that the students and teaching team were able to go through this process. ¬†I’m glad that students were really forced to think and struggle with content in a new way and as a result create new knowledge from that struggle. ¬†I’m glad that I struggled with this process because it makes me look forward with instructional tools that I can use to make future units better. ¬†I’m glad that my GT teacher was able to such an integral role in the design and implementation of this unit because now she is my Guided Inquiry Design BFF. ¬†I’m glad that the classroom teachers from this team were able to see the process before they attended a GID Institute because they were able to make connections to what we did as they learned about the the process.

-Stacy

@StacyFord77

 

Experimenting with Guided Inquiry in primary school

In this second post of my week in 52 weeks of Guided Inquiry I want to tell you about some of the observations I did during experimenting Guided Inquiry in Finland. As I wrote to you my background is in school libraries. In Kaarina city I had collaboration with two schools, where I connected with two teachers who were eager to try out new ways of working. One of the schools were Finnish speaking and the other was Swedish speaking. With the latter school we had already done a project for a national reading program in form of a reading diploma with exercises done also with a tablet computer.

In these two schools we tried out GI in following groups and subjects:

  • Geography project with a combined class of student in the 4th, 5th, and 6th year students
  • Space project with 5th year students
  • Human¬†biology with 5th year students

We entered Guided Inquiry from information seeking perspective and tried to work on amplifying the information seeking process according to Guided Inquiry Design. We did not use inquiry circles or journals. I am not going to present every project individually, but rather listing some issues that were interesting along the project. The last one, human biology, was the only one I did some information gathering of during and after the project.

Information literacy is used in universities, but the concept has not reached the primary or secondary schools in Finland. Information seeking instruction or information literacy instruction are not a part of teacher studies per se. Surely teacher students are seeking information for their own needs, but it is another business to instruct the students at class. Information seeking instruction is quite often considered to be the job of a librarian. And it is usual, that in the 7th grade a librarian comes to visit the class for 45 minutes during the year to show how the local public library database works. We do understand, that this is not enough. It is usually not combined to some actual learning situation. This is not advancing the information literacy skills of the Generation Z or post-millennials, whose understanding of information environment is totally different than those of the previous generations. We clearly are in need of other kinds of methods.

You have surely been reading about the Finnish schools during the years: Why are Finland’s schools successful?

Finnish education chief: We created a school system based on equality.

ajatuskartta

Picture: Jonna Hellsten-Impivaara

And an American on Fullbright scholar in Finland 11 ways Finland‚Äôs education system shows us that ‚Äúless is more‚ÄĚ.

I am not going to go into how Guided Inquiry would change the education as such but rather concentrating on how this would change our perspective of information seeking in Finnish schools. I will not refer to any studies in this blog post. Several of my writings in my own blog refer to same sources.¬†There are several studies that are showing that students tend to look for facts and also, teachers tend to make assignments so that one can carry it out by finding facts. We all know that the digital native reference is a myth and thorough deep information seeking is not common in daily classroom situation in Finland. I often like to refer to the ‚ÄėPrinciple of least effort‚Äô by Zipf in 1949 as well. It feels oftent that the result is more important than the journey.

Here are a list of some observations I want to take up:

  • First of all, the students were puzzled about the Open phase. Where are we going with this?
  • They were not used to seeing the librarian in the classroom. (!)
  • As the students relaxed, the Immerse and Explore phases were cozy, they really got interested and talkative!
  • They found it very difficult to come up with research questions, it was nothing they really had done before. They usually get the assignment from the teacher.
  • At a very early stage they just insisted on starting to write the actual presentation, which indicated to¬†copy/paste information behavior.
  • They all had their booklet where they draw the mind map, writing up keywords and search terms and wrote down the sources they wanted to use. Information management in form of¬†managing sources is poor. Inquiry Journals would have been perfect here for them as well!
  • Mapping out the topic of their choosing was very difficult for some of the student. The mind map could be as large as 8 notebook pages.

But, then positive things from the feedback questionnaires.

  • Students liked the new way of doing things!
  • There is still some curiosity left in a fifth grader!
  • On a scale 1-5 they rated themselves in self-evaluation to 3,9
  • Most difficult phase was presentation!
  • They were learning about information seeking right then and there, while working.
  • They did see, that one needs several sources (to find out which animal was¬†sent to¬†space first!)
  • Second and third most difficult phases were coming up with¬†a topic and structuring it.
  • They strongly felt that they learn something new, it was a different way to learn and it was fun!
  • The teachers was happy that she had finally gotten a partner and she learned too!
  • The students learned to see the librarian in some another role¬†than just lending books and the professional role of the librarian was changed.
  • This way of working brought also long term effects as the students started to use these methods even in the following assignment.

These were the major issues I wanted to take up. The overall feelings of trying out Guided Inquiry were very positive and supportive, both from the students and the teachers. Me as the librarian in the project just loved working like this! Being among the students, involved in their work, guiding them and making an intervention when needed. Giving the student the freedom of doing research, they do manage it. In my mind Guided Inquiry is an excellent way of working, already from the primary school all the way to gymnasium. Now even more important than before.

In the third blog post I will tell you about the educational change we are going through in Finland, about the new core curriculum, and how do I see Guided Inquiry fitting in. And it would fit perfectly!

Best greetings,

Anu