One of my favorite aspects of GID is the creativity that is built within the process. I see endless possibility in the ways in which Guided Inquiry Design can be intentionally designed for any discipline. Like an artist’s pallette, there are infinite colors possible. Looking at the process in this way allows me to really think critically about how the process can help students be motivated to learn, engage in the learning process and develop empathy for other learners.
Over the past four years, I have collaborated to design projects in Science, various English classes, Fine Arts and History. This past school year, I worked with Academic Support classes and their teachers, Molly Lonergan and Anita Breeze, on a project entitled “Understanding Your IEP”. Students read and reflected on their individual IEPs and were given activities and strategies that would enable them to read and focus on the parts of the legal document to help them within their daily lives.
As I met weekly with these students, I was able to reflect on the process, their learning, and the barriers to motivation, personal growth and most importantly trust within the classroom. It was clear to me that before we could engage in research, we would need to create a safe space and the opportunity for curiosity. Unfortunately, it is often the case that students on IEP’s arrive in the high school in a very different emotional space than is intended. Many times, these students have not been asked to share their thoughts about their learning, but are often told all about their learning style, the modifications that will best serve them and often – how to think.
Because of these factors, we began the Guided Inquiry design process with activities and lessons based on the habits and attitudes of mind research of Angela Maiers. The GID phases included activities about self-awareness, interest inventories, transition planning, self-disclosure, and crafting personal statements. These activities were done through online inventories and surveys, reading materials to gain knowledge, and self-reflection in the conference room of the library.
The culmination of the project was a Google slides presentation that students were then able to use within their IEP meetings to successfully advocate for themselves as well as a Disclosure statement that can be used post high school. Students were given the “space” to experience their feelings within this process – GID allows this through the reflective aspect within each phase as well as the ways that each phase acknowledges the emotional aspect of the process.
Like other GID projects at Westborough High School, Inquiry Tools were embedded throughout the project to assist students in moving through the phases, as well as staying organized within the project. With this group of students, the Inquiry Community became invaluable to the learning as students gained trust with the adults in the room as well as their peers. The collaborative aspect of this learning process was facilitated through the phases of the process.
The Guided Inquiry Design Process Model was implemented to help students find a course of individual study that would allow them to think about their plans for their post high school lives. It enabled them to engage in research that is based on their needs and individual growth.
Student Example: One person on a student’s “Dream Team” – Angela Maiers speaks of the importance of creating a personal “Dream Team” of individuals that influence your thinking and who’s behaviors you would seek to emulate.
- Today, I thought that the Inquiry Process ran very smoothly. Unlike most people my age, I enjoy each step of the process and take time to consider each part before writing. Last year, I found that the Inquiry Process was very successful in helping me to boost my curiosity regarding a topic that I had very little interest in. For these reasons, I appreciated and still continue to appreciate the Inquiry Process.
- My feeling on my IEP: I really don’t like my IEP. I hate how it has disabilities in it. It makes me feel like I am less then other kids that don’t have them. I do recognize that I struggle a little in some classes but i don’t think i need an IEP. I feel like that an IEP is just stating the problems you have, recognizing what I lack in classes. I think I have a good memory, my reading skills are getting better. I think it can be helpful sometimes, but other times it’s very annoying. I hate the 50% more time on test and things. I just don’t need it. But I love being able you use a calculator. I want to be treated like normal kids in normal level classes. I don’t want to get all this special baby treatment on how I need more help then all the other students. If i need help i will find help, I don’t need someone constantly helping me with things I don’t need help with.
- My IEP is very outdated and not accurate to who I am now. I am a much better student than the old IEP says that I am.
- I struggle most with advocating for myself.
- Today in class curiosity was investigated. there are many things that had made me think in the Personal curiosity inventory. But none made me think more than the question about what are my questions.
Working with GID in this way, allowed students to access the curriculum in a way that fit their individual needs while giving them valuable information literacy, technology and the process skills to dig deep into an emotional topic. In our follow up meeting, the teachers and I decided to move forward with GID next year and continue to add depth to the project.Students gained valuable awareness about their own learning as well as traits and qualities about themselves that are sure to help them through the rest of their school career and post high school plans.
I am grateful that the special education teachers were willing to take the time and put the effort necessary to provide this experience for our students.
Westborough High School