Lets start at the very beginning

A very good place to start. When you read you begin with ABC, when you research you being with OPEN, IMMERSE, EXPLORE.

As promised, I am back again!  This time, though, to share out the project the team of teachers and I developed at the CISSL Summer Institute in the Summer of 2014.  Now that we have returned to school, I have spent this week jumping head first into a GID project with four sections of 6th grade ILA.  Being my former stomping grounds, it is nice to work with that curriculum again, but in the context of library studies.

The thematic unit is Challenge and Change.  Students read a variety of short non-fiction narratives, and stories about characters who have experienced challenges in their lives and brought about change because of those challenges.  For the project, we are connecting directly to the curriculum, by having students explore a person who has experienced a challenge and then how they were able to create change.

We start OPEN with Kid President, who is an engaging and entertaining young man with a debilitating disease, which students soon learn about.  They explore a series of resources (embedded below) and focus on answering questions connected with our theme of Challenge and Change.  The Cornell notes sheet for this exploration can be found using the link at the bottom of the page.

Create your own Playlist on LessonPaths!


The next step is IMMERSE, which we spend a class period working on.  Here students annotate three resources about freedom riders.  This allows students the opportunity to do some close reading and really begin to see some different options for people they could research.  Here, in the past, we have had access to a local member of the community who was a freedom rider, who would take student questions and answer them.  I have since lost that contact and am currently brainstorming some other ways we could incorporate a “field trip” style experience for students in this step.

Currently we are working on the EXPLORE step of the project.  Yesterday, students spent time in small friend groups (they will transition to thematic groups tomorrow), exploring a variety of possible research topics.

This is the most important step in the process, and the one which is left out most frequently!

Truly, it is worth taking the time to allow students to explore the possibilities for research in this step, your brain will thank you when you go to watch or grade the final products.  This step is where your students begin to get excited about their research, because…wait for it… they have CHOICE in who/what they select for their topic.

Today I repeated this line multiple times as we began to transition to the IDENTIFY stage:

Make sure you are selecting a topic you really like, not because your friends like that person, or because it will make you look cool, but because you are going to be truly passionate about them.  You will have to spend the next week with this person, you want to make sure you like them or you will be miserable and it will show in your final product.

You see, it is not enough to just say, here is a list of topics, pick one.  The value in EXPLORE comes when you allow students a “taste” of each of the options.  Instead of choosing blindly from a pre-selected list, students are able to explore the options, watching multimedia content, skimming articles, flipping through the pages of books, and reading book jackets.  Students then use an exploration chart to record those topics which catch their attention and drop those which are not of interest.  (See Explore page in the link below for the chart).  Using the chart prompts students to think more clearly about what they like and don’t like.  Because of this, they are able to select a topic more effectively and efficiently than with previous processes.

As the librarian, it is my job to curate the resources necessary for student success and guide them to the appropriate sources for information.  Purchasing titles which are connected to the theme for our collection, as well as pulling those for the exploration step and gather steps allows us to have some control over the topics, yet still makes students feel like they have some choice during the process.

Here is another quick video of what students were doing on Tuesday of this week for their Explore stage!

Throughout we have been using several of the strategies which get students up and moving and sharing their ideas as well as reflecting on the process.  We use a daily quick write to help students connect with the research as well as make connections to prior readings.  We also apply the community/city partner strategy which has students pair up on paper ahead of time and then when we say, “today you will share with your Decoy or Warrior partner,” they know exactly where to go and it is a big time saver.

More to come of our project as we continue with 52 Weeks of GID!

There are so many resources for this project that they would fill more than just a blog post, so here are the additional resources related to this project.  Please feel free to use under the share and share alike license 🙂

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?