Time and Patience

“Would your learners come back to your class tomorrow if they didn’t have to?” –Trevor Mackenzie

I have a tall order for a Monday morning: we’re being very honest with ourselves today!

If you’re a more experienced teacher, you might realize upon self-reflection that it’s very tempting to fall into a rut. Because, let’s face it, teaching is exhausting. Tailoring instruction to your specific students, allowing for exceptionalities of all types, being creative, giving constructive feedback, entering grades, calling parents… I’ll just stop the list right there.

However, it does us good as educators to be reminded that our attitudes, tone, and demeanor dictate the paths of learning in our classrooms. I think it’s fair to say that in an average American public school, there are a lot of demands being made on teachers which can obscure our vision. How can we break through that fog to rediscover the joy and fun of educating others?

Let Guided Inquiry Design lead the way! This inquiry model isn’t effective solely for the students, but also for the educators. When was the last time you put yourself in your learners’ shoes? Done something you’d never tried before? Read something about which you knew absolutely nothing? Read something that you knew would be very difficult? Put yourself outside of your comfort zone? Engaging in these things makes us feel like learners and discoverers again, which means remembering what it’s like to feel uncomfortable and anxious and overwhelmed. We know this is exactly what happens to learners thanks to the Information Search Process research conducted by Kuhlthau and reaffirmed over the past 2 decades!

This week, I’m going to share some ideas that I plan to present next week at the South Carolina Association of School Librarian (SCASL) conference in Greenville, SC.  I will be encouraging fellow librarians to take steps to foster an inquiry mindset with their students based on the GID model, sharing some successes and struggles I have had. In this blog post today, I’m going to focus on two issues which I personally believe greatly influence our level of success: time and patience.

How many times today have you already said, “I don’t have time for that!”? Keep track and analyze your results. Time hasn’t changed; we still have 24 hours each day! Librarians hear that response a lot when we suggest alternatives to students taking notes from PowerPoint presentations or reading from a textbook. Although we do live in the age of standardized testing, there are still a lot of courses at the high school level which are not tested. Be honest with yourself about how you spend your time with your students. You don’t need to worry about drill-and-kill with content area knowledge if students are encountering your content in authentic texts and authentic learning activities (like visiting a museum, listening to a guest speaker, interviewing their local government representative). Remember yourself as a student. If you didn’t like to read your textbook when you were a student, then there is no chance your own students do.

Have you ever passed out a research assignment to students as the beginning of a unit? Do you only allow students a day or two to find information? Librarians know from experience that research is often presented in this way. If you find yourself dreading a research assignment as much as your students, then you know it’s time for a change. Students who feel pressured to complete work quickly will not turn in quality work, nor will they probably care because an intent to learn has not been established. Yes, exploration and discovery take time. But what a useful way to use the time we have! Partner with fellow teachers and librarians in your building to help brainstorm and share resources. There is never a reason to go it alone.

Be willing to honestly examine your own attitude toward time. You teach your students about what is important through your words, actions, body language, and tone. Make exploration and discovery something you can’t wait to do either, and be the learning role model for your students. As Kuhlthau (2015) states in Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, “Guided Inquiry has the power to excite students about using resources for learning” (114). Furthermore, “Sources from the community enliven the inquiry process” (115). Use your time to find resources beyond your textbook or PowerPoint presentation: the school library, fiction, objects, museums, experts, parents, public library, business professionals, community officials.

Guided Inquiry Design states that during inquiry, the learning team “uses modeling, listening, and encouraging” to engage and guide students. Prioritize time in your classroom and library to model curiosity, listen to students throughout their process of discovering information, and encourage questioning.

These ideas naturally lead into the second issue I believe is greatly important: patience. I am the first to admit that I struggle with this one! Patience and time are directly linked. If students are going to build their own knowledge through an inquiry stance and develop information literacy skills, then they have to be the ones doing the learning. We don’t need more research and books to prove that to be true again and again. How many times did it take you to truly learn something well enough that you could teach it to someone else? Probably more than once! Allowing students to make mistakes, maybe even on purpose, so they can learn from them is critical. Avoid telling students answers. Use questioning to guide their thinking.

Moreover, being patient with someone shows that you care. Being patient shows that you are willing to give your time to someone else. When students trust their educators, a safe learning environment is established and they are willing to take more risks which can lead to more discoveries. Be patient with learners as they reflect on their abilities in order to make goals, then give them the time to reach those goals.

Dedicating time and patience to the inquiry process has many rewards! Return to the question which begins this post. Do you even want to return to your classroom? Being excited and curious, having patience, and using authentic sources of information will influence how students answer.

In my next post, I will share some ideas for the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of GID and why they are so important to the inquiry mindset.

–Jamie Gregory, NBCT Library Media, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm   jamie.gregory@spart5.net

Past GID blog posts: https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/19/it-all-starts-with-a-question/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/21/concepts-and-questioning/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/23/keyword-inquiry-log/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/25/individualized-reading-plans-and-reflection/



GID and Me: A Love Story

Hello fellow GIDers!

I am Amanda Kordeliski and I am currently the teacher librarian at Norman North High School in Norman, OK (yes, I am yet another of those Norman GID fanatics). This post is lagging behind when it should have appeared on Leslie’s fantastic blog because this is the first week of winter break for us. You know how you have all these good intentions of how your winter break is going to be the most productive week ever and then you set your computer and your planner aside and don’t touch them for six days? That’s me this week. I stepped away from the crazy of holiday planning and shopping to look at my “real” to-do list this morning and panicked at the thought of not getting my stuff up on the blog!

I have always been an advocate for student centered learning. I see the difference it makes in my own kids at home and with GId I get to see the impact at school as well. Long time readers of this blog will already know that my district adopted Guided Inquiry several years ago and we are in the process of training all our teachers in GId. My journey started alongside the other librarians back in 2013 when all the district librarians did a book study of Leslie’s first Guided Inquiry Design Framework book. Reading this book and seeing the how the framework followed the flow and design of the Information Search Process was my lightbulb moment.

When I say I had a lightbulb moment, I know everyone pictures a thoughtful librarian with a little lightbulb over her head. This is not what happened. See, in grad school when I was studying all the different Information Search Process modules and writing papers over their pros and cons and which ones worked and for what kinds of knowledge users etc, etc, I fell in love with Kuhlthau’s ISP. It spoke to me. I saw in her process exactly how I learn, and I was smitten. So when I say I had a lightbulb moment as I was reading Guided Inquiry Design for the first time, I mean I had a moment when I was jumping up and down in my living room trying to explain how exciting it was that all the things I had written about in grad school about learning and information searching were suddenly packaged in this amazing process with steps and a clear path for students to become inquiry based learners. It crystallized for me all the things I didn’t even realize I needed. It was exactly the thing I was searching for and this was a full blown fangirl moment. There might have been dancing and cheering involved.

I took this new, bubbling  enthusiasm to school with me (Up until last year I was the teacher librarian at Irving Middle School in Norman, I just jumped to high school in 2016) shared the book and a slew of ideas with a sixth grade teacher I had a great co-teaching relationship with, and our first Guided Inquiry unit was born. I will say looking back at the unit now and all the things I did wrong kind of make me cringe, but it is great way to look at the evolution of a unit and how I’ve grown as a teacher librarian to compare my first lesson to my current ones. The next school year I attended Leslie’s Institute and learned how to truly plan a successful GID. At school GID slowly spread from one grade to another and then began moving across content areas. 

Now that you know my love story with Guided Inquiry, in the next blog (the last two will come fast and furious in the next two days) I will share my experience working with our psychology teacher this past semester. We had the opportunity to shape the Psych II class into a complete GID semester long experience. I can’t wait to share!


Amanda Kordeliski

Teacher Librarian

Norman North High School

It is Still Hot in Texas

DuchesneHeart_Master_2718Writing from Texas this week, I am Jean Pfluger, Upper School Librarian at Duchense Academy of the Sacred Heart, Houston’s only all-girl college preparatory school PK3 through 12th grade. I am responsible for the guidance and growth of 242 9th – 12th graders as they navigate the world of information within their courses. As the chair of the Library Department, I am responsible for facilitating the creation of a vertical curriculum for grades PK3 – 12th grade with three other librarians in two physical spaces.

My career path is fairly unique. As a child/teenager, I had two passions; sports and reading. I was the volleyball player who read a book on the bus to away games. My first career was as a physical education teacher and lasted twenty years. At that time in my life I realized that I wanted to contribute to the education of students in another way and the opportunity to become a librarian sort of just fell into my lap. After the first three years, I knew I wanted to pursue an advanced degree so I enrolled and graduated from the University of North Texas with a Masters in Library Science. Since then, I have been a librarian at every grade, PK4 – 12th.

I have used Carol Kuhlthau’s Seeking Meaning: a process approach to library and information services with the ISP process as the framework for research in Upper School for the past six years. Having been a Big Six advocate from its inception and a local workshop presenter on the method, changing to Kuhlthau’s ideas required a real forward shift in my thinking. Yet, as I muddled through those first few years, I realized the advantages of the affective aspect of information seeking and use with the cognitive and physical. So, when her work with Guided Inquiry emerged, I jumped right in and begin reading. The rest is history and as this week progresses, I will share my journey.

Jean Pflüger

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.


Picture: Jonna Hellsten-Impivaara

And an American on Fullbright scholar in Finland 11 ways Finland’s education system shows us that “less is more”.

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 ‘Principle of least effort’ 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,