GID Transforming Student Research @ BCPS

In my last post, I referenced a few examples of our BCPS Online Research Models (ORMs) for extended, in-depth research, which our Office of Digital Learning Library Media team has been designing using the eight phases of the GID model since 2012. I’d like to share in a little more detail how one of our ORMs was completely transformed at last summer’s 2016 Curriculum Workshop using the GID model. In 2001, our BCPS Office of Music requested a research model on Native American music for the Grade 8 American Music curriculum. As a library media specialist on the ORM curriculum writing team that summer, I co-designed an ORM titled First Music, First Nations—it was the first research model I ever designed. Courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I can show you the Webpages for the original 2001 version of the “First Music, First Nations” ORM — even though I’m extremely embarrassed to do so!


As you can see, we were using our own research process steps at the time: Scenario, Task & Product, Assessment, Question, Gather, Organize and Conclude. This ORM has a nice poem at the top (but no connection to the poem is made anywhere in the process), and lots of “cutesy” clip art of Native Americans, drums, etc. The Scenario and Task & Product were NOT authentic or engaging —how many 8th graders would seriously be excited at the prospect of being a museum curator for the Smithsonian Institute? Students were asked to select from 5 research topics about traditional Native American music (Instruments, Pow-wows, Dances, Songs, or Ceremonies), take notes using resources including targeted Websites, and create a “display” of some sort; usually students made a diorama or something like that. Believe it or not, this ORM remained virtually unchanged (except for updating broken resource links) until summer 2016. THEN, with some new leadership in the Office of Music and new state learning standards for Music education, our team was asked to do a much-needed revision last summer.

The result was the new ORM, Native Dreams: Contemporary Native American Music. This research model benefitted in SO many ways from our use of the GID model.

First and foremost was our consideration of “Third Space” to make real-world connections to the content for students. We focused on contemporary Native American music artists and framed the research around the overarching Inquiry Question: How is contemporary Native American music both an expression of traditional culture and a powerful force for change? The musicians we featured have fused traditional Native American sounds, instruments, etc. with contemporary genres that are familiar to our students – hip-hop, rap, pop, EDM, heavy metal, etc. These music artists are also passionate about social justice and the issues facing Native Americans; these are issues that many of our students and their families/communities are facing themselves. We found articles, music videos, and songs online for students to read, view, and listen to as they did their research.

As we always do now, we included many GID tools for students to use throughout the process—Inquiry Journals, Inquiry Logs, Inquiry Circles, etc. We also included student choice of topic selection in the Explore phase, and choice of presentation formats in the Create phase. In the Share phase, students are asked to apply their learning from their own research and from each other’s presentations in a culminating activity, by responding to a quote from one of the musicians featured in the research model (in their Inquiry Journals and then in a discussion with Inquiry Circles and the whole Inquiry Community):

In the Rebel Music: Native America video episode you saw in the Immerse phase of this research, Native American rapper Frank Waln said: “The music is my shield and my weapon.”

  • What do you think he means? How does this statement relate to music as both an expression of traditional culture and a force for positive change?
  • How is this statement true for the other contemporary Native American musicians that you and your classmates researched?

This culminating activity allows all students to apply and synthesize their learning from each other, to build a response together to the overarching question posed at the beginning of the inquiry. In the Evaluate phase, we included a suggestion for students to extend their learning by researching a social issue that is personally relevant and important to them, and to create their own music or other form of artistic expression about the issue.

Thanks to the GID process, our students in 8th grade American Music classes at 27 Middle Schools across the district now have an inquiry-based learning opportunity that is both engaging and rigorous. Feedback from the music teachers who implemented this model during the 2016-17 school year has been really positive, and they report that this was a MUCH more rich and meaningful learning experience for their students than the previous ORM was.

I welcome your feedback about this research model!  NOTE: Please excuse any broken links in this ORM; I did make a few updates since my last blog post before sharing with you here today, and any remaining broken links will be updated during our Summer Curriculum workshop beginning next week. We are looking forward to designing more ORMs like this one this summer!

Kelly Ray, BCPS

Step One of Implementing GID

Guided Inquiry is a concept that I was first introduced to last year.  Our amazing librarian Jenny Lussier arranged for first grade teacher Jessica Loffredo and myself, Carole Sibiskie, to attend the GID Institute.  It was an absolute privilege to be able to participate in the CISSL Summer Institute at Rutgers University last summer.   As someone who has engaged in Project Based Learning for over a decade, it was a curious process to see where GID and PBL overlapped and where they differed.  Through the institute, our team worked on a Social Studies unit to implement with a multi-age first and second grade classroom.  

Jessica Loffredo, Leslie Maniotes, Jenny Lussier, Carole Sibiskie, and Carol Kuhlthau at GID Institute Summer 2016

The Family Heritage unit is one that we have covered in the past, but at the institute we were able to “redesign” with a collaborative inquiry focus.   Our team made changes to fit the unit into the design template and to strengthen the framework.  We extended opportunities for the open.  It was clear that one area that needed to be lengthened was the process of immersion for the students in the content.  The largest change came in adding the explore area.  Prior to our introduction to Guided Inquiry Design, this was an area that was missing in the process. Time was added for the children to develop their own areas of personal interest in a much more meaningful and purposeful manner.  The GID Framework encouraged us to also dig deeper into the phases of identify, gather, create, share, and evaluate. There was so much more to consider than in the past.

The reality of implementing the plan hit during the school year with many celebrations and many challenges.  The biggest challenge was to find time to collaborate.  Snippets of time were found during the day, and there was electronic communication, but it is an effort to find extended amounts of common time.  Also, as the classroom teacher, it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to reach out to connect.  We made sure to connect for the important aspects, even though we weren’t always able to be with the kids at the same time.  Additionally, several of the experiences and opportunities moved from open to immerse and vice versa due to time constraints,  connections to other curricular areas, and the lack of large chunks of time to give undivided attention to this work.  It wasn’t exactly the way we laid the plan out on paper, but it worked nonetheless.

The highlights were the moments with the students fully engaged in the process, and they were many!  When we finally found the large block of time to integrate “the open”, a simulated Ellis Island experience in the classroom, the children had already developed a lot of background information related to Ellis Island through read-alouds.  This actually made the experience more relevant to the students as they cheered, “We are at Ellis Island!” upon entering the classroom.  When the first student was marked with chalk, they exclaimed, “Oh, no he is sick.  He might not be let into the country.”  So it seems we had a “soft open”, that enriched the actual open!

One of the most powerful explore areas arose as the students planned a school assembly share.   They decided to represent each of their family heritages through folk music and choreographed invented folk dances.  YouTube was used to select the “just right” songs using democratic practice.  There were many whole class conversations about how music and dance impact a culture and vice versa.  Students studied related flags, texts, and maps as they planned this share.  Students greeted the audience in their “native” languages and danced for each of their countries of origin around the tree they decided to create using photos to represent ancestors on the bottom and generations at the top.  Several of the children had more than ten countries of origin!

Students also worked with resident artist Sally Rogers to write and create a family heritage song and old fashioned cranky to illustrate their song.  The students decided the song would be about immigration.  This process helped them move from the explore to identify phase as they collaborated on this project and found their personal interests in different areas.  Students also had old photos of ancestors which they wrote an invented realistic fiction story which they produced on Seesaw to share with classmates and their families. Their research and information from read aloud texts came through loud and clear in these pieces.

Individual research occurred with much support from families to provide needed background information. The students learned about geography, languages, music, dance, genealogy, history, foods, and numerous other aspects of culture.  Additionally, respect was developed for the diversity and variety of cultures including the 19 countries of origin for these children!

Each student developed an independent project to share their family heritage with the class.  Students used “passports” to reflect upon the learning in the unit.  The students were more driven and clear with their path than prior years. The GID process enabled us to build an inquiry stance where all of our community members developed a more purposeful mindset.  This first attempt at Guided Inquiry Design was far from perfect.  We are building on this experience and are currently rolling out another GID inspired STEAM unit.  Stay tuned…

Carole Sibiskie

John Lyman School

Regional School District 13

Connecticut