The Guided Inquiry Design Institute

Gearing up for the Guided Inquiry Design Institute is always a time of exciting inspiration for me.  Each time, I think about the audience, consider the perspectives and as I go over my slides I reflect on what is to come.

This institute is such a joy for me to lead because not only does it give me a chance to share the power of the process with teams of teachers and librarians and to some who have never heard about the ISP or GID before. But not only that, the teams get to experience it.  And out of three days they learn so much.  They learn about the process as they themselves engage within it, for designing a unit of study is an inquiry of its own. They learn about themselves as a teacher, and as a learner. They learn strategies for effective instruction and have time to collaborate DEEPLY with their colleagues and teammates. It’s an intensive both ‘oh so worth it’ three days.

This school year I have had the wonderful pleasure to work with Norman Public Schools.  (Have you noticed how many from Norman have contributed to this blog?  Well this is why…) They have partnered with me to provide the full 3 day GID institute for over 100 educators district wide.  Each school has sent a team and now we are working on getting more teachers onboard with two more summer institutes and another coming up this fall. I am more than thrilled because of my passion for this work, sharing this process empowers educators to use a learning centered approach that gives them the process, and flexibility to teach “the way they’ve always wanted to teach.”  This week I have the privilege of working in this brand new school, with over 45 educators to design 20 units of study from Kindergarten to 12th grade in every content area, math, science, social studies, language arts and literature.  It’s been amazing.  We are on day 2 and tomorrow is the final day of sharing, revising and reflection.  Things are HOPPING in Norman.

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Leslie Maniotes

New Kid on the Block

Hello from Norman, Oklahoma!  My name is Terri Curtis, and I am currently a library assistant at Whittier Middle School.

First and foremost, I’m a mother to three fabulous teenagers.  I know what you are thinking.  Did I actually use fabulous and teenagers in the same sentence?  Yes, I did.  I genuinely like teenagers, and I’m kind of partial to the ones with which I share a home.  This is the end of an era for my family as it is the last of 9 consecutive years with a middle schooler in my house.  In that 9 years, I’ve learned a few things.

  • There is never a dull moment.
  • It is never quiet.
  • Someone is always hungry.
  • Kids have a lot of important things to say and want to be heard…  just like adults.
  • Their feelings and emotions are very real.
  • There is no point in buying new carpet until everyone moves out.
  • They don’t all think and process things the same way.
  • Don’t ask them what they think if you aren’t prepared to listen to an honest answer.

I truly love this age of child, both as a parent and as an educator.  I get to laugh every single day, and I look forward to seeing my home kids and my school kids as often as humanly possible.  This is a picture of me with my favorite middle school student.  He also happens to be my son.

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In my early parenting years, I got a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.  I used this degree while serving as a director of the preschool in my church.  Once my children got a little older, I decided to head back to school to get my MLIS degree.  I graduated last December, and I’m excited about the thought of having my own library in the future.

As a library assistant in a middle school in Norman, I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to GID.  This past school year, our district sent many teams to GID training, and I was happy to have been included.  I’ve been involved in planning and implementing a few units at the middle school level.  I’m excited about GID and the authentic learning that happens when a team of educators collaborates to design and facilitate inquiry-based units for their students.  We truly hold the key to raising a generation of thinkers.

Terri Curtis

It all begins with a team

 

A few weeks ago, my dear friend and partner in crime, Jennifer Danner, beautifully crafted our Guided Inquiry journey. We are a small district about 20 minutes outside Columbus, Ohio. We are experts in being handed lemons and creating lemonade. As Jennifer said, I stumbled across the CISSL institute and we were encouraged to attend. Attending CISSL, changed our focus and impacted our teaching and has helped reshape our culture.

When we returned from CISSL, we sat down with our assistant superintendent and superintendent and eagerly explained all we had absorbed and our mission to share with others and our desire to impact learning. After that meeting, it was full speed ahead. A couple of months later, we began our own Professional Development community comprised of more than ten teachers and administrators.

Over the next school year, we were able to purchase everyone in our learning community a copy of Leslie Maniotes, book “Guided Inquiry Design a Framework for Inquiry in Your School.” Our teaching and learning environment became one of questioning. As Jennifer stated, we encouraged our students to question everything. We encouraged our teachers to incorporate inquiry into every possible lesson.

Jennifer and I had always been a team of two; the team expanded. In fact, our superintendent began to refer to us as a cult! It all begins with a team. I have always stressed collaboration among our staff. Inquiry became the glue that held teachers together. Inquiry was and and is still an essential ingredient of collaboration and multidisciplinary projects. Jennifer and I have been trained as new teacher mentors. Our new teachers are immersed in inquiry and we work together as a well oiled machine. Our library has been transformed into a learning center and is literally bursting at the seams.

Last year, our district hired a technology integration specialist. I jumped at the opportunity to offer her an office in the library. Yes, you guessed it. Nicole Schrock is now part of our cult! Nicole works with us daily to incorporate these strategies into her workshops and presentations. As a team, we are impacting students across disciplines and across grade levels. Just this morning, we discussed workshops Nicole is conducting for our district. The focus is blended learning/project based learning. Nicole has asked me to be on hand to offer a mini workshop on inquiry. After all, one can’t effectively teach project based learning without inquiry. Again, the culture in our building and now district has changed.

Dana Wright, Librarian

Jonathan Adler High School

Meet the Team

Happy Thursday, and happy Dolphin Day!

Now that you’ve been introduced to Buffy and me, I’m going to introduce the rest of the team involved in developing a Guided Inquiry unit for our 5th grade science curriculum.

Kathryn Lewis is the Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology, and she is credited with bringing Guided Inquiry Design to Norman Public Schools.

Jeff Patterson is the Science Curriculum Coordinator for NPS. He has been involved in the Guided Inquiry process in Norman from the beginning, helping teachers to break down the science standards in our units. In this unit, he is in charge of the experiments and hands-on investigations that the students will be doing.

Lee Nelson is the Technology Integration Specialist at NPS. She is helping our team as we look at where and what technology to integrate in our unit, as well as how the unit could evolve in the future as we acquire more technology. This is especially exciting, as a recent bond will give us LOTS more tech in the classroom!

Teresa Lansford is the National Board certified teacher librarian at Lincoln Elementary in Norman. She has previously worked with Jeff on designing a similar Guided Inquiry unit for the 4th grade science curriculum, so she has been a great asset in getting our team going.

Glen Stanley is the teacher librarian at Roosevelt Elementary in Norman. He is also a former science teacher and very familiar with the content of our unit.

Toni Gay is the librarian at Reagan Elementary in Norman.

With Buffy and me, that makes up our team! We are a diverse group, with different interests and specialties, but we all bring something unique to the table as we go forward designing this unit. I think that is important to help us design a unit that gives students the experience of the Guided Inquiry process, but that is still accessible (read: not overwhelming) to teachers who may or may not have gone through the institute with Leslie.

We were first asked to collaborate on this unit in February. At our first meeting, Jeff introduced the topic and broke down the content for us. I will be honest — at this point, I was feeling very overwhelmed!  With a background in languages and literature, the content of this unit was foreign to me. I probably had not thought about the hydrosphere or biosphere since… 5th grade science!

But that’s the great thing about Guided Inquiry: I don’t need to know everything there is to know about a topic, and my students can ask questions that exceed the scope of my knowledge. It feels uncomfortable, sometimes, to not know the answers that we want our students find; this is the biggest hurdle that I see teachers struggling with in Guided Inquiry units.

In our second meeting, things got real as we started breaking down the unit. Teresa and Jeff came with some great ideas for activities, but we were still only working with pieces of the unit. We knew the learning goals, but how would students show their learning? How would the investigations fit into the unit? And most importantly, how could we encourage collaboration between teachers and librarians while giving teachers what they need to implement the unit in their classrooms?

Thankfully, Jeff shares my love of sticky notes, and after we filled in what we had, we could more easily see the gaps we had to fill. I guess this is why Leslie’s lesson plan template says “design with the end in mind” at the top: you can’t know where to start until you know where you’re ending up.

GIANT Stickies!!!

GIANT Stickies!!!

I know that not everyone is as visual as me, but I really recommend my “sticky note” method for designing a Guided Inquiry unit. It is so helpful to view the entire unit at one time. This strategy makes it easier to see how each step informs the next, how the individual phases blend together to form a cohesive unit.
So what you’re seeing here is really the birth of a unit. It’s not perfect, and it’ll evolve and update over the next few weeks as we write it, and I’m sure we’ll have edits to make after the first time it is taught. But we are off to an exciting start, and I can’t wait to see where the planning takes us!

No Cheese Fondue, but What About Wheat Fields, North Dakota, and a Small Town Girl’s Guided Inquiry Story?

My name is Buffy Edwards and I am the Library Information Specialist for Norman Public Schools, the most awesome school district in the state of Oklahoma (and country!). I also have the privilege of being the Teacher Librarian at Dimensions Academy Alternative School here in Norman. Thank you Leslie for this awesome opportunity of sharing.  Thank you also to Kelsey, your compliment was so kind and I appreciate it.  I want you all to know that Kelsey’s pretty amazing in her own right and she won’t tell you that she was just awarded the Outstanding New Librarian Award by the Oklahoma Library Association.  You rock!Buffy

Here’s a little background on me. I’m originally from Wimbledon, North Dakota, population 211 counting dogs, cats, and goldfish. Lots of people are afraid of the winter up there and rightfully so — it can be brutal.

I don't see anything to be concerned about!!! Ha ha!

Main street in the blizzard of 1966. I don’t see anything to be concerned about!!! Ha ha!

I would argue that there is nothing more beautiful than a fresh snowfall in winter or a field of wheat waving in the wind in the summer.  The area where I grew up is prime farming country. If you’ve never experienced it, the sound of the wheat dancing back and forth almost sounds like water washing on the shores of a beach. I am the youngest of seven children. My hard working mother, widowed at 38 with seven children and a 10th grade education, instilled in me that adversity wasn’t an excuse and I could anything if I set my mind to it.  

My dream was to teach music in a rural K-12 school in ND.  WHAT?  Yep, but that didn’t happen because as I was earning my music degree, my work study ‘stuck’ me in the library. Of all places, the library! What it turned out to be was something wonderful and I became so interested in the behind the scenes working of a library that my life course changed completely and I found myself in Norman, Oklahoma pursuing my MLIS. Now, you are probably wondering how the leap was made to school libraries and I would be too. Newly married to a wheat harvester — wheat harvest is a hard work, gypsy lifestyle where you travel from Texas to Canada harvesting grains, milo, corn etc. — we decided a school year coincided more closely to the harvest trail so I used my education background with my MLIS and found myself in a perfect fit landing in an elementary school library. I was home and it was in that first job I experienced how school libraries change lives. A passion for teaching and learning, a love for working with young, creative minds and a drive that is as fierce as the Oklahoma winds, I am still going strong. Now I have K-12 experience and still love them all! Oh yes, along the way I earned my PhD in Instructional Psychology and Technology – NEVER stop learning. This is now my 28th year in public education (25 of those years in Norman) working in school libraries and I LOVE my profession.  Did I mention I love what I do?   I guess that’s what happens when you are doing something that doesn’t seem like work. Transforming the learning and lives of children through school libraries is truly a blessing and I value each and every day.

And now on to Guided Inquiry and Dr. Leslie Maniotes.  As Kelsey shared yesterday, we lucky folks in Norman had the opportunity to learn about Guided Inquiry from the master herself. Thank you @Normanps!  I think I’ve been a Leslie ‘groupie’ long before she came to Norman though – I read (no, devoured) her professional writing and one year I was at AASL, fought to get in a room where she was presenting, squeezed into a packed row of chairs with almost no space between them to learn about Guided Inquiry. I couldn’t breathe! It was so hot in the room, I was seeing someone whose work I had read, believed in what she said, but …… could not stand to stay in the room because I thought I was going to be sick. Are you kidding me? Yes, I had to leave.  I was sooooooo mad but little did I know I would be able to tell her my story face-to-face one day.  We had a good laugh!  

Buffy discussing Choice Board project formats with English IV students.

Buffy discussing Choice Board project formats with English IV students.

 

So here we are to today and now I must get more serious in my writing. As a Teacher Librarian at Dimensions Academy, a K-12 alternative school, we have started implementing Guided Inquiry and it has been challenging but rewarding. Challenging because students are content with a prescriptive education model –teachers tell them topics, teachers tell them questions, teachers tell them format, it’s just the way it’s been done for a long, long time.  GI makes them step way outside that comfort zone and really think for themselves (that’s beautiful thing when that happens BTW).   Our school has been traditionally more packet/worksheet driven due to the nature of academic needs of students so the idea of a GI unit was very new and different. Following the GI institute with Leslie last October, where our English IV teacher, science teacher, social studies teacher and myself planned the unit, we took a leap of faith to implement it and did it ever pay off!  The instructional unit planned was done primarily through English IV where students were given the opportunity to earn credits in multiple content areas. So for example, a student who needed to recover credits in social studies, could focus their project with more emphasis in the subject content area while still meeting English IV standards.  It was amazing – students were really motivated to earn those multiple credits. I will share a little more about this unit later in my posts BUT there is a whole chapter about  this unit, written by yours truly, in Leslie’s new GI book for high school. This project required students to learn to trust in themselves and the process. When they were able to open their hearts to learning, great things happened for them.  Students who were initially in the class only in body became really involved in their own learning. Once we helped them understand it would all come together, they let go of the anxiety and replaced it with drive for their own learning.

 

Africa Mission Trip Feedback Carousel (1)

Feedback Carousel using Vis-a-Vis pens on the desk. (Kids Loved writing on the desks!)

Kelsey mentioned that we are on the same team developing a very cool Guided Inquiry unit for 5th grade science and we will share details about the unit through our back and forth blog over the next two weeks.  

It’s been a pleasure sharing with you today.   Oh yes, and I forgot to say that I visit my home state of North Dakota as often as I can (during the decent weather months) and it is still as beautiful as ever.  I never, ever forget my upbringing and really wouldn’t change it I guess because it made me who am I.  The message I want kids to learn by my actions is that by all measures, I probably should have been a failure but nobody told me that so I just went ahead and carved my own path and continue to work for success.  

Buffy Edwards

Teacher Librarian/Guided Inquiry Groupie  

Norman Public Schools

Norman, Oklahoma

Cheese Fondue, Guided Inquiry, and Other Awesome Things

Happy Monday… and Happy National Cheese Fondue Day (nope, I’m not kidding)!

Kelsey Barker

I challenge you to name another job that involves Lorax mustaches.

My name is Kelsey Barker and I am a teacher librarian at Eisenhower Elementary School here in Norman, Oklahoma. That’s right… we are back in Norman, where we have been working hard as a district to implement Guided Inquiry at all levels. I’m so excited to tell you all about the awesome things we are doing here, but first, a little about me.

I guess you could say education is in my blood: I am the child of two public school teachers-turned-administrators (not sure what happened to my business major sister), and despite insisting for 22 years of my life that I would NEVER be a teacher, I find myself in my second year at Eisenhower and loving it every day. Ike is a great place to work: we have a motivated, hard-working staff, supportive administration, and this year, we are undergoing a major renovation. That means a brand new library, complete with Makerspace rooms, is in my future! We serve about 615 students from a huge variety of backgrounds, and a relatively young teaching staff means that we are working in a constant mindset of growth and innovation. Fortunately for me, this means that the teachers in my building are willing to try new ideas all the time!

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Cards and pictures from my students on National School Librarians Day.

When I’m not working at Ike or on projects for the Oklahoma Library Association, I enjoy reading an eclectic mix of children’s, YA, and adult books, doing yoga, going out to eat with my husband (Leslie’s right… we have a lot of great restaurants here!), and spending time with my friends, who double as my mastermind group.

Growing up in Oklahoma in a teaching family, I have no illusions about the state of public education here. Right now, we are facing our worst budget shortfall in years, and it is hurting Norman schools badly. Just last week, we found out that we will not have library assistants next year. For me, this means I will have to get creative with how to keep my current standard of teaching while also managing the daily administrative tasks of the library. While that seems daunting, it also motivates me to work harder to continue doing innovative things and providing the best possible learning experiences for my students. Thankfully, I work in a district that is constantly working to promote learning for students and teachers alike, and will continue to support movements like Guided Inquiry going forward.

For me, Guided Inquiry is all I have ever known: I was introduced to GID through professional development with other Norman Public Schools librarians in the fall of 2014, when I had just started at NPS. I hear talk of the Big Six and other methods from my fellow librarians, but for me, it has always been Guided Inquiry. We read the book, and I immediately fell in love with the idea that, through the process, students take ownership of their own learning. I could easily see how the elements of engagement, relevance, and especially student choice lead to those outcomes that all educators are aiming for every day. I was excited to try it out!

Over the course of last year, I began slowly implementing pieces of the process. Using only the book and the PD we had done, I designed my first Guided Inquiry unit last spring, using first grade as my guinea pigs. Looking back on this unit after completing the 3-day PD with Leslie in October, it’s embarrassing how many important pieces of the process I missed! But we were trying, and even with incomplete, imperfect lessons, I could see the magic of Guided Inquiry coming to life with my students, and I was sold.

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First graders using PebbleGo in the GATHER phase of my very first Guided Inquiry unit

After teaching that unit (and presenting it at a district conference), I became an unofficial champion of Guided Inquiry, especially for use with primary grades. My first unit was designed for first grade mostly because of the willingness of the team and the fact that 3rd-5th grades were testing that month, but it was obvious to me that this process WORKED, no matter the age. That’s why, when it came time to choose a classroom teacher for the Guided Inquiry Institute our district sponsored in October, it was important to me to choose a primary grade teacher to join our Gifted Resource Coordinator, Instructional Coach, and myself. I wanted to prove to everyone else what I had already seen first-hand.

Team Ike at the Guided Inquiry Institute in Norman, October 2015. (Leslie now has her own matching Ike shirt). From left: Maggie Allen, Gifted Resource Coordinator; Karen Campbell, 1st grade teacher; Lisa Raiber, Instructional Coach; Kelsey Barker, Teacher Librarian; Leslie Maniotes

Team Ike at the Guided Inquiry Institute in Norman, October 2015. (Leslie now has her own matching Ike shirt).
From left: Maggie Allen, Gifted Resource Coordinator; Karen Campbell, 1st grade teacher; Lisa Raiber, Instructional Coach; Kelsey Barker (me), Teacher Librarian; Leslie Maniotes

If I do say so myself, Team Ike killed it at the Institute. We developed an in-depth study of the impact of human beings on the environment for first graders. This science unit falls in April, so we are just getting started with it now, but I am confident it will be an awesome learning experience for our kids.

Team Ike planning away at the Guided Inquiry Institute!

Team Ike planning away at the Guided Inquiry Institute!

As Leslie told you last week, I’ve led a few more Guided Inquiry units at Eisenhower since the institute, and I would say we are on our way to having school-wide Guided Inquiry implementation by the end of the school year.

In February, I was asked, along with four other NPS librarians, to be a part of a team developing a Guided Inquiry unit for 5th grade science curriculum. It has been an awesome experience so far, but I’m going to leave you in suspense on the details. You see, it just so happens that next week’s 52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry guest blogger is a part of that team, too, and we have decided to shake up the format and spend the next two weeks taking turns telling you about our experience. Tomorrow, you’ll hear from Buffy, who won’t tell you that she is one of the most incredible librarians out there, mentor to many and admired by everyone who knows her. I’m excited to share these weeks discussing our science unit with her, and as readers, you’ll get to see two different perspectives on the same idea.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have some cheese fondue…

 

Kelsey Barker

Teacher Librarian

Eisenhower Elementary School

Norman, OK

when learning runs deep

I love twitter!  There, I have met some awesome educators, had great little conversations with amazing folks about education and my PLN (personal learning network) has grown since I started tweeting eight years ago… I didn’t like twitter at first, but once I realized the potential for connecting and sharing with other educators, I was hooked.  I realize that my work in education is one thing in life that gives me incredible joy! I love this work, the creative component of designing instruction that makes kids laugh and love learning motivates me to work hard and for long hours (I’m known as a hard working’ momma in my house).

Sometimes twitter brings me little gifts that are presents from people whose lives I’ve touched through the professional development I have led on Guided Inquiry Design.  And today, just now, was one of those moments. And so in the spirit of my Quaker education I have been rightly moved to share this with you all.

This year I have had the pleasure of partnering with Norman Public Schools and it has been so gratifying, mainly because they wanted to do it right.  They insisted that they wanted to cut no corners, and because of that, now, we are all reaping the rewards.  I have made some new friends in Guided Inquiry, met some AMAZING educators, eaten some yummy food- seriously there are so many good restaurants in Norman, OK, you must go and visit the University and dine in the many fun and yummy restaurants around town.  It’s a great place.  Well, and if you know me… if it’s not about education and the people, it’s all about the food!  😀

But I digress… so the leaders (Kathryn LewisShirley Simmons and Beth Spears) in Norman decided to do it right. What does “doing it right” look like?  Well, we have had 3 full Guided Inquiry Design Institutes where I taught teams to “fish”. Librarians, instructional coaches and teachers learned about the design and how to design units of inquiry together. They were looking for K-12 implementation so at lest one team from each school came to an institute this year.

So I got a tweet from Norman today that was evidence that they are fishing, big time!

I have to take it back a little, because today’s tweet has a little backstory. This one  elementary librarian Kelsey Barker, during the institute, decided to visualize the plan for her team.  I love the way she used post-its to mirror the process as a visual aide to her team’s design process. This photo was taken at one of the institutes this fall.  I placed the picture next to the GID process so you can see the match. She used a sticky note for each phase while the team was developing their design and then placed them in line just like the process.  This was a summary of their plans, not their entire thing but a synopsis to be sure they captured the essence of each phase.

Kelsey Barker ProcessGID Process

The district leaders asked each school to implement one unit this school year, but as Guided Inquiry does when people have a deep understanding of the process and all the components, it began to take hold.  At some schools, like Kelsey’s, the people who attended  the PD welcomed more designing and more implementation, as they saw the effects on student learning, and engagement. IKE was one of those places.

A few months later, I got another image, as Kelsey was working with another team at her school to design yet another unit. (See photo) I was a proud teacher at that moment because not only was Kelsey able to continue beyond district expectations, she was still grounded in the materials from the Institute (Institute notebook in the background). She was referencing the phases true intent while designing and clearly showing that “inquiry stance” (as opposed to a ‘know it all’ stance). Kelsey was taking risks and applying everything that she had learned in our time together.

Kelsey Barker Design time2

And, today they have gone BIG!

I just got this tweet showing that they continue to use this format as a way to plan.  This plan is more public. Using large stickies like this is a great way to make a plan and then get feedback right on the phases. It makes the thinking transparent for all to see and opens the conversation.  This happens to be a group of five working to design a unit of science on spheres for the district.  In this case, large stickies was the way to go! That’s Kelsey in the picture and Buffy took the photo, thought of me, and tweeted it out!  Thank you ladies!  These things make me so proud and happy, you have no idea.

Big Design Kelsey

Because of the PD, the educators in Norman are continually showing how they can extend what they learned in those intense 3 days and not just stop with that first iteration. This is only one excellent example of all the good things happening with GID in Norman.  Good learning runs deep.  That’s what we want in our PD for teachers, learning that can be extended and applied in a multitude of ways.  And, it’s what we want for our students. We want to provide a rich context for learning. We want to connect learning to life where what students learn doesn’t only stay in the classroom but connects outward in a multitude of ways. Learning can be applied and transferred to other areas of life when the learning runs deep.

The Guided Inquiry Design Institute did just that for these folks. And, I couldn’t be more proud!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

 

“I’m Not a Teacher, I’m an Awakener!” Greetings from Massachusetts!

Happy Spring!  My name is Kathleen Stoker and I am an English/Journalism teacher at Westborough High School in Westborough, MA.  I have been teaching high school and college students for twenty years–four years in New Hampshire and the past sixteen years in MA.  I currently teach Journalism I and II, sophomore English, and a senior seminar.  And oh my gosh, where does the time go? And yet, after all these years in the classroom,  I still find it refreshing that I continually am inspired by colleagues who continue to dig deep in their classrooms for ways to motivate and engage students in the learning process.

Early on in my teaching career, I read a quote by Robert Frost that has remained at the heart of my teaching–“I am not a teacher. I am an awakener.”  Of course I teach my students many things–but at the center of my teaching is my goal to awaken my students to their passions, interests, curiosity, skills, multiple intelligences–the list goes on.  And that is where Guided Inquiry Design comes in…

Two summer ago, my school’s amazing librarian educator Anita Cellucci (@librarywhs) was providing me research support for a senior seminar I teach called Psychology in Literature.  Anita asked me if I had heard of GID because she thought GID would work perfectly with the type of research I was asking my students to conduct.  She took the time to conference with me by providing an overview of the process. She then shared her copy of Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari.  Before I knew it, I was hooked.

There are many many reasons why I am interested in GID; however, for this first post I will highlight my top two reasons.  The first one is Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process.  I don’t think I had ever read about a research process in which the educators connected the research steps to students’ feelings in the process.  When I studied the model I felt a great sense of validation. Here’s why:  for a good part of my teaching career, I have had to spend time proving to some colleagues the importance of teaching, observing, and acknowledging emotional and social knowledge, intelligence and skills in our students.  Students actually feel many emotions in their learning process–let alone the research process.  To see the work of Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari was not only refreshing, it was life-changing for me as a teacher.  I could now offer my students a vocabulary in which we could communicate back and forth how they were feeling.  For example, often students feel confused and frustrated when they are exploring sources to answer their GI question(s).  To be able to validate students’ feelings by saying these feelings are normal helped the students stay with the process versus in previous experiences students may have quit, started over, or attempted to plagiarize as an escape from the challenges of the assignment.

I then asked Anita to help me implement GID with my Psychology in Literature students the following year.  But wouldn’t you know, later that month, Anita shared with me that her application for a team of educators from our school to study at the GID summer institute was accepted!  Later that summer, Anita, a science teacher, our assistant principal, and I drove down to Rutgers University for an intense study of GID with Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari.  The professional development opportunity was amazing!  We ourselves went through the GID, step by step.  We were able to work on our GID curriculum to take back to our schools.

The second reason that drew me to GID was the awareness of third space.  “In order for students to be able to create understandings of their own, educators must bargain by listening to them” (29).  Third space is an equal interaction of personal experience and curriculum content.  Often at the high school level, our focus is strictly curriculum with little recognition of “the students’ world as first space.”  I have had many a conversation with colleagues arguing that yes, curriculum is important, but the students’ world is equally valid.  How can I expect a student to fully access the curriculum if I am not acknowledging the experiences or non-experiences with which my student is living?

For example, this past semester one of my seniors named Michael chose to conduct his Guided Inquiry research on addiction.   It was an emotional journey for Michael because he shared early on in the journaling portion of the immerse step that he had a couple of close family members who were addicts.  GID gave Michael permission to move through the steps with fluidity, adaptability, and support.  When Michael got “stuck” in the gather phase, Anita and I could offer him support.  The reason he got stuck in the gathering phase of his research on addiction was because he was learning all about the symptoms and effects.  This knowledge was bringing up a lot of emotions and personal experience.  Fortunately, Michael was ready to face therapeutically his personal experiences and he asked if I would connect him with our school adjustment counselor.  The GID process worked for Michael because he was able to access the curriculum while acknowledging his very personal experience.  Anita and I were so grateful that we could support Michael through the research to the level that he was ready to ask for help.

So as shared earlier in my post, awakening students’ minds and hearts are very important to me.  GID provides a vehicle for educators to awaken their students in one of the best ways possible–by acknowledging students’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences while interacting with the curriculum.

Kathleen Stoker

Finding a Solution

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

–Socrates

 

     My adventure into Guided Inquiry Design began as all good adventures should, with a close friend and a road trip. It really started with desperation. The desperation led to the road trip….

     A few years ago, our school district required a senior capstone known as Senior Project. I was struggling to help seniors find their way and develop their projects to the fullest. Of course, I took my struggles to my teacher-librarian Dana Wright. Since she had been essentially co-teaching the project with me, she was well aware of the issues I was facing. Dana and I have always been on the same page and look at teaching in much the same way, so it was no surprise the day I walked into the library with an exciting new idea only to find Dana waiting to share her exciting new idea. Both of our exciting new ideas were the same. Guided Inquiry.

     Jonathan Alder Local Schools is small and is known for turning nothing into something because of our low expenditure per student. We are about 20 minutes northwest of Columbus, Ohio, in the small farming community of Plain City. When Dana stumbled across the information on the CiSSL Summer Institute. Our district agreed to send us, and the road trip began. Dana and I drove from Plain City to New Jersey for a new beginning.

     Guided Inquiry was a natural fit for us. We saw immediately that we were rushing the research process. Our students were developing questions (Identify) and fast-forwarding to research (Gather) and fast-forwarding again to writing/presentation (Create/Share). We left no time for developing interests or exploring options. Once we adjusted to allow for a fully developed Guided Inquiry Design approach to Senior Project, so many of the struggles vanished. The depth and quality of student growth improved significantly. What we did not realize at the time was that Senior Project would soon be a memory. Another new beginning was coming.

     Now we come to the current school year. This school year arrived with a new building principal and a new state mandate known as College Credit Plus. CC+ requires strict adherence to a state-wide set of standards for Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes. Mike Aurin (our new leader), Ann (guidance), and I sat down to discuss the impact of the new requirements on Senior Project and our other curricula. To proceed with students’ best interests in mind, we needed to remove the Senior Project requirements from the English curriculum.

     At first it was a shock. Senior Project was an institution. It’s what we did. That’s when I realized that it was no longer what we HAD to do. We no longer had to “[fight] the old.” We could now “[build] the new.”

Jennifer Danner

@MrsDanner_JA

English Department Chair

Jonathan Alder High School

Plain City, Ohio

 

Final thoughts from Connecticut

Challenges

Right now, there are some challenges that I hope to work on over the next year or two.

First, my schedule is a fixed schedule, meaning that all my classes come one time per week for 45 minutes, without their teacher. I do have a few blocks that are free and I use those for collaboration whenever possible. Also, because I am in one school 3 days a week and the other school 2 days, I often miss team meetings, etc. because I am simply in the wrong building that day. This makes collaborating more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

Some teachers and I have really worked to make collaboration work. We have planned together (sometimes electronically), had me start a unit in the library, they take it from there in their classroom, and back and forth until it is completed. Sometimes we have been able to use my free blocks together and then doing different parts in library and in the classroom. At other times, our tech integration specialist has started the unit in the classroom and then worked with the students and me in the library. It’s really helpful to have one person who can be in both places. This spring, our technology teacher and I are working together, so that I am doing the first phases and he will help students with the sharing part. We enjoy a challenge! But I have frequently talked with my administrators about moving to a flex schedule that would allow for better collaboration and student learning.

A flex schedule would also eliminate the problem I often have of seeing classes only once per week. This makes it very difficult for students to really maintain a focus on what they are learning. Instead, I would love the ability to meet with a class every day (or similar) until the project is completed. Sometimes, like last year when I missed 7 Mondays in a row due to snow days and holidays, I have classes that simply miss entire projects. Again, not impossible, but difficult.

Working with my K-2 students, another challenge is simply that many cannot read or write very well yet. Technology has provided many work-arounds, such as using PebbleGo or Worldbook which will read aloud to them, using pictures and having me dictate their words, and our latest love – Seesaw.me which allows students to type or draw a picture and then record their thoughts. I do want to be sure that they are having a balance of using both print/paper and technology, so that is constantly on my mind.

 

Further wonderings

Makerspaces and STE(A)M are very much a part of many librarian conversations these days. I very much want to carefully consider how Guided Inquiry Design can support student learning.

In addition, with the new NGSS and Social Studies standards being adopted, our curriculum director and the rest of our technology and information literacy specialists are looking to see how GID complements them.

Finally, I wouldn’t be a librarian if I didn’t talk a little about the books to use! This morning on twitter, the post was about a 2nd grade teacher’s Top 10 Picture Books to Introduce Units of Study, and I thought, “How perfect!” There are some books that just beg to be used to get kids thinking. Curating lists of books like this is another way that I can help get an inquiry unit off to a terrific start!

It has been such a pleasure reflecting on my own learning and work with Guided Inquiry Design this week. I am very much looking forward to reading the future posts! I will be attending CISSL summer institute this summer with a team of teachers (woo hoo!) and am thrilled to be able to really dig deeper myself into GID and how to create the best learning opportunities for my elementary students.

Many thanks —

Jenny