My name is Erin Patel and I am the Head of Library Services at Kambala Girls School, an independent girls school in Sydney, Australia. If you have been following the 52GID blog for a while, you might remember I posted last year about the use of flipped learning in the Guided Inquiry process, Guided Inquiry for global collaboration and the importance of reflection.
A few things have changed and grown since last September in relation to my approach to Guided Inquiry Design. I have been able to adapt and change some of my projects based on my own reflections of how successful they were last year. A focus on reflective practice is a strategy that I have adopted in my new role as Head of Libraries to ensure a strategic approach to how we implement our inquiry program across the school curriculum.
My own reflective practice has required conversations with teachers, a lot of listening and being open to feedback in the same way that we expect our students to listen to our feedback. This can be a difficult think for some, but I have found that it has been invaluable in building relationships and creating further collaborations.
Another big change in my role is that I am now the IB Extended Essay Coordinator. Our school runs both the NSW Curriculum and the IB Curriculum Diploma Programme. The Extended Essay is an independent piece of academic writing based on research into a topic based on one of their subjects. In the following posts, I will explain how I have used Guided Inquiry Design to plan and implement the Extended Essay process.
Implementing Guided Inquiry Design within my programs allows me to help students to articulate where they are in the inquiry process, be reflective and independent learners, whilst also ensuring that they receive help and intervention at appropriate times. This is essential in the Extended Essay process. The framework also provides guidance for Extended Essay supervisors – all subject teachers, incredible experts in content but not necessarily inquiry – and enables them to better understand how to support their allocated student throughout the journey.
Thats it for now. If you are an Extended Essay supervisor or Coordinator and have used Guided Inquiry in this process before, please comment below!
After our GI unit, we had time to reflect. I used the last entry of the student journal to get student feedback about the GI unit. Since it was new for both me and the students to do GI in math, I wanted their reflections. What I found most interesting is that the high performing students were the ones with the most push back on this unit. They are so used to doing so well in math; they listen, memorize, critically think and solve problems. However, this is all when they are given the questions. This time, since they were the ones creating the questions, it was hard for them to understand what to do. That freedom scared them and it was a bit of a struggle on both ends to get them motivated for the unit. On the other hand, students who are normally less engaged enjoyed the freedom of taking the lead in what they were learning. These students surprised me the most with what they learned and how much they participated. Regardless of the quality of their presentations, the quantity of what they learned was deeper than ever before.
I will be honest, this was the first Guided Inquiry Designed unit and the only one I have done. SO FAR! It was the end of the spring semester and there was not enough time to plan for and create another GI lesson to fit before final review and final exams.
However, in reflecting with my team, we are all in agreement about incorporating Guided Inquiry into our course. (Before all was lost in my mind, I created a notebook of all documents used for this GI unit, including any student work, so that it could be my personal reference when I start to design another unit.) Our first goal/step is to create a unit for our first semester. That way we have one GI unit for each semester that we can work with and tweak as we get more comfortable with the process. In reflecting on my own, I want to incorporate GI into my other courses as well. This summer has been full of a lot of reflection for me as a teacher and my head is full of so many ideas that I want to do for the 17-18 school year. I am so thankful that I have the support of my team, our librarians and the administration to back me up on the implementation of these ideas and lessons.
Sending positive vibes to all of you out there that are wanting to try a GI lesson/unit in your classrooms. There is so much support and already created lessons out there. You just have to jump in and try it. You will be amazed at what your students can do and what you can do as well as a teacher. The impact on student learning is far worth the input of creating this lesson/unit. Good Luck.
Teacher of the Year
Norman High School, Norman, OK