Change is Difficult but Possible

I am the first to admit that I move slowly when starting something new. Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out, spoke to our community last week and I realized, very late in life, that I am sometimes scared to take a risk. This is very enlightening since I just celebrated a later milestone in the aging process and thirty years ago would have scoffed at anyone who told me that I was risk adverse. So, I will assume as a result of this new revelation, it took me over a year to absorb, plan and implement GI into my teaching strategies. I mulled, ordered all the books and read, I read more, and I searched for enlightening commentary on the internet, and after some time decided to approach the freshman class teachers to rework the Tangled Web project that was in existence before I took over this position.

While I knew this was a step in the right direction, from experience I know that in order to facilitate change I need to approach teachers thoughtfully. Change is difficult in the teaching world so I have developed a strategy whereby I present a change as an improvement not just change for change sake.

The Tangled Web project is a cross-curricular adventure in research during the second semester of the freshman year. It provides a venue for research skill instruction from the librarian and writing instruction including MLA style from the English teacher. Making it cross curricular gives the girls opportunities to have a topic that can fall under any of these areas: biology, religion, world geography, and English literature. Topics are drawn from a hat; the content is graded by the subject teacher and the writing/MLA is graded by the English teacher. At the time of my intervention, biographical in nature, the research was not challenging and the products quite boring. Students may learn how to navigate databases and resources, take notes with annotated bibliographies, write and footnote in MLA style but they never really enjoyed it and I felt they did not really learn anything.

I start my classes on research with this quote from Carol Kuhlthau. “Uncertainty is the beginning of learning.” So after a few years with this project, I realized that the students were not experiencing uncertainty. They already knew how to write a biographical report and even with the “how has this person influenced the world?” question, were not challenged to think. Joyfully, I found that these teachers felt the same and in addition were terribly tired of reading the same boring papers year after year. Note to self, approach change from that perspective. “You must be so terribly bored reading the same papers year after year so let’s shake it up.”

We started shaking it up a year ago when we began brainstorming this change. We began by ditching the biography approach and looking for authentic learning that would require the girls taking a risk with exploring the unknown. I began a search for concepts in each area of study and after planning sessions with the teachers we decided on the following:

English Literature – Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities, Homer, and French Revolution
World Geography – Control of Kashmir, Maori of New Zealand, Cambodia/Pol Pot regime, Keystone Pipeline, and South African Apartheid
Biology – HeLa cell discovery, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, equilibrium between inhabitants of ecosystems, exotic species, and emerging infectious diseases
Religion – Process of beatification, Wall separating Bethlehem from Israel, Pope John Paul II and communism, Anti-Catholic sentiment in US and the rise of Catholic Parochial school system, and Growth of monasticism during the Roman Empire

With these concepts and some very broad starting questions, we launched into the process with an ISP lesson, introduced the broad questions and the students drew from the hat, and then began Exploration with the assignment to take these conceptual questions and explore them for homework and return the next day with the first wave of developing broad search terms and keywords. The best quote of the whole lesson was when one student drew her question, read it and exclaimed, “What is Pol Pot?”.

Jean Pfluger

Tomorrow: Exploration to Formulation

From Australia

Hello, this is my first blog post on the 52 Week GID Challenge. Thanks for setting it up Leslie, it has made interesting reading!

My name is Margo Pickworth and I am the Teacher Librarian at Shore Preparatory School, a very large independent school in Sydney, Australia. My role as the teacher librarian involves not only managing the school library resources, but planning units of work with classroom teachers to implement syllabus documents, particularly with a focus on inquiry.

I first became interested in Guided Inquiry when Ross Todd spoke fondly of the work of Carol Kulthau in his visits to Australia. I was then fortunate enough to attend the CiSSL Summer Institute at Rutgers in 2014. Since then I have attempted to implement Guided Inquiry in my own context. There has been some ups and downs some of which I will share over the next few posts.

View from top1-2Circ desk1-2

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

GID Coaches

Hi Happy GID followers!

We’re having summer here in the US and lots of professional development in GID.IMG_0366

As I mentioned in my last post, this week was the fourth GID institute in Norman Public Schools. Because of the size of this district and the way Guided Inquiry requires a collaborative team, the librarians at each school have attended one GID institute this year.  But because many have teachers who now want to join the fun, the librarians are attending the institute a second time to come with their teachers so they can participate as a collaborator.  As you all know, we believe that the school librarian has a critical role to play in the Guided Inquiry Design team.  She is the information specialist/professional as well as the information literacy teacher.  These are two cornerstones to GID a. that information literacy is valued by all team members and taught (Kuhlthau 2004) and b. when students are locating, evaluating, and using information to learn, the information specialist is a key player.

Since the librarians (and one English Language Arts teacher) had already attended the full institute, and implemented at LEAST one unit of GID this year (some, like Kelsey Barker had implemented 5) the leadership in the district and I felt like it was time that we could build capacity in the district to develop coaches for GID.  (I have to take time to acknowledge and thank these amazing leaders who have done everything to implement GID at the highest level, without them NONE of this would be possible, Kathryn Lewis, Shirley Simmons and Beth Fritch.)

In the institute teachers in collaborative teams design a unit of study.  By doing that, they engage in the inquiry process themselves as design requires you to identify the concept of the unit prior to determining the activities that would support students to arrive at their own questions around that concept.  So, teams are going through their own inquiry during the institute. We know that all people going through inquiry can use guidance, and that the strategy of conversing is a support to the process.  Maybe stemming from my background of five years as a teacher effectiveness coach in Denver, I have made coaching an integral part of the GID institute. Typically, I coach each teams during the institute on their units to help them stay on track, answer any questions and push their thinking to move beyond their known ways of doing things.  This institute included double the number of teams than I could handle coaching in the time we had. So, we decided to have the librarians who had been through the training before get some further training on how to coach teams and then give it a go in this institute.

As a result, this wonderful energetic and brilliant group of librarians who have now proved their accomplishments with the process and implementation of GID took on the role of coach in our June 2016 institute.  I want to thank them for their dedication, passion for the work and professionalism in learning with me and coaching their colleagues.  This is the beginning of something bigger and growing GID to help districts build capacity in the future.

Each district might have a different way of handling this, but for me, it is exciting because I think that the role of coach is another great role for librarians.  They are already really good listeners, and work with so many teachers, so collaboration and leading collaborations is natural to them.  Also, as they use the process over and over with different grade levels and content areas, the GID process begins to become internalized, and that is what you really need to understand well in order to coach a team in GID.  I’m excited about the prospect of GID coaching, and this stellar group was a wonderful place to start. Here’s a picture of our first GID Coaches!  There will be more trained in July.IMG_0392

 

I mean come on! Aren’t they great?!  Here we have (L->R) Kristin Lankford, Dana Phillips, Martha Pangburn, Paige Holden, Kelsey Barker, Lee Nelson, Buffy Edwards, and Stacy Ford.  Kudos team!  What a pleasure it was to work with you all!  Aaaaand…

As a result of their coaching, we had 20 excellent prototype units come out of this week’s institute.  10 at the elementary level and 10 more that the secondary level.  Typically an institute can only handle 10 units, so these educators efforts doubled the impact of this professional development for Norman Public Schools!  Kudos!

The Celebrations and presentations of the units were fantastic.  More on that in my next post!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-Author of Guided Inquiry, Trainer of Guided Inquiry Design