In good company

Greetings fellow GID-ers, or those new to the process!  I will be posting this week and giving you all a taste of Guided Inquiry from tiny, snow covered Havre de Grace, Maryland.  This last week has been quite interesting, as we (teachers and students) have been home bound due to the mega snow storm, which incapacitated the Baltimore-DC Metro area with 30+ inches in about 24 hours!  So, now I am frantically scanning my calendar to determine how we will fit a two and a half week Guided Inquiry project into about 7 class periods…but first, introductions.

My name is Sarah Scholl.  I am a school librarian at Havre de Grace Middle School in lovely Havre de Grace, Maryland.  The town is situated right at the mouth of the Susquehanna river where it meets the northern Chesapeake Bay.  This small historic area is best known for its decoys and small involvement in the War of 1812 when locals harassed the British, who then burned down the town before heading to Baltimore.  History lesson, over…I promise!

Havre de Grace Middle School serves grades 6-8 with approximately 540 students from the surrounding community.  We have a racially and economically diverse population, with 40% of our students receiving free and reduced meals. I have worked at the school for the last eleven years, the first six as an ILA teacher and for the last five as the school librarian.  Curriculum development in library media and its integration into all content areas is an interest of mine which has lead to my work with Guided Inquiry Design.

My first exposure to Guided Inquiry was when I attended my first AASL conference in 2013 (Hartford, CT).  Wanting to learn more about the options for conducting research with my students, while continuing to make it more engaging and meaningful, I selected the session (Letting Go: Challenging Students to Achieve Through Inquiry) which focused on the use of Guided Inquiry.  The four educators who presented were enthusiastic, motivating and so passionate about GID that I could not help but want to run back to my own school and jump in head first!  Then, they said the magic line…this was developed at the CISSL Summer Institute.  In that moment I knew I had to attend this Institute.  I promptly begged my principal to fund my GID adventure and was able to convince two teachers new to GID to join me.

After that, I began to see articles about Guided Inquiry Design in, what was then, School Library Monthly.  I saw articles from that same publication on GID written by Carol Kuhlthau, whose research started it all.  And as I continued to read more about the process, I knew that GID was the direction I wanted to go with the research lessons I was developing for my students.

I was lucky and my principal approved the funding to send myself along with a 6th grade ILA teacher, and special educator to the CISSL Summer Institute!

CISSL Summer 2014 Sarah, Leslie, Ann, Sarah (Me), Mary and Carol

It was an amazing and incredible experience, which I will explain in more detail in my next posting, but it has truly changed how I look at teaching research and begin the planning process with my co-teachers.  When we arrived I found that I was in good company with others who were just as passionate and motivated as I was to take a second look at how students are impacted by the research process and prepared to re-envision research instruction.

This week I will also be in the process of starting a GID project called Challenge and Change with a new co-teacher, and a new group of 6th grade students.  I will be sharing our process, things I have learned along the way and resources, which are readily available for your use.  Please feel free to comment and join in the discussion as the week continues.

How were you bitten by the Guided Inquiry Design bug?