The Preservation Project (2) GID in California

Hi again! I’m sorry for the late posting.  Perhaps I should rethink posts during the first full week of classes in the future!

I am going to share the unit, as it was written out during the collaboration between the classroom teacher and me.  The unit begins with an overview, continues with a list of all standards that we addressed over the 20 days, and concludes with a day-by-day description of activities.

Overview:

In this unit, that is co-taught daily by the classroom teacher and the teacher librarian (TL), students will learn the purpose behind the creation of national parks.  They will begin by learning what it means to preserve something.  They will then visit Kings Canyon National Park and learn about the flora, fauna and geological features that are being preserved within the park boundaries.  This will begin with a focus on preservation of the Giant Sequoias.  However, after learning about this park and what it is tasked to preserve, students will explore other national parks and learn about the unique features they are preserving.  Students will identify a plant, animal or geological structure that is being preserved that they find exciting.  The students will then learn to write a research question about the topic they have identified.  They will then engage in individual, personalized research to learn about the preservation of their topic.  Students will be introduced to a variety of creative presentation methods.  They will choose one of those, create a product to present their topic, and share their research in a gallery walk that will be attended by community members.

Goals and objectives:

  • Content Objectives:

    • Students will explain the purpose of preservation of land, flora and fauna in national parks

    • Students will identify solutions for the impact of humans on the preserved lands of the national parks.

  • Content Standards Addressed:

    • RI 1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    • RI 5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.

    • RI 9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic

    • W 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. d. Provide a concluding statement or section.

    • W 6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

    • W 7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

    • W 8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

    • SL 1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. a. Come to

    • SL 4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. a. Plan and deliver an informative/explanatory presentation on a topic that: organizes ideas around major points of information, follows a logical sequence, includes supporting details, uses clear and specific vocabulary, and provides a strong conclusion. CA

    • SL 6. Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

    • L 2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    • L 3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. a. Choose words and phrases for effect.* b. Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

    • History 2.3.  Students explain governmental institutions and practices in the United States and other countries.

    • History 2.5.  Students understand the importance of individual action and character and explain how heroes from long ago and the recent past have made a difference in others’ lives.

    • Science 2-LS4-1:  Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

  • Process Objectives:

    • Students will utilize a variety of resources in researching a specific topic.

    • Students will collect and synthesize data.

    • Students will use presentation tools to share information with others.

  • Model School Library Standards Addressed:

    • 1.2 Formulate appropriate questions:  a.  Identify a problem that needs information by asking how, what, where, when, or why questions.

    • 1.3 Identify and locate a variety of resources online and in other formats by using effective search strategies:

      • i.  Identify types of media and digital delivery devices.

      • j.  Use guide words to locate information in a reference book.

      • k.  Perform a keyword search of a topic by using an approved search engine or database.

      • p.  Locate information in text by using the organizational parts of a book in print or digital format (e.g., title, table of contents, chapter headings, glossary, author notes, dedication, index).

    • 1.4 Retrieve information in a timely, safe, and responsible manner: a. Demonstrate a basic understanding of intellectual property rights and the difference between sharing and ownership

    • 2.1 Determine the relevance of the information: a. Select information appropriate to the problem or question at hand. b. Determine whether the information answers the question. 2.2 Assess the comprehensiveness, currency, credibility, authority, and accuracy of resources: a. Identify copyright and publication dates in print resources.

    • 2.3 Consider the need for additional information: a. Locate facts and details to support a topic sentence and paragraph, and record the information.

    • 3.2 Draw conclusions and make informed decisions: a. Compare information from more than one source to draw a conclusion. 12 grade three 3.3 Use information and technology creatively to answer a question, solve a problem, or enrich understanding: a. Organize information chronologically, sequentially, or by topic.

    • 4.2 Seek, produce, and share information:

      • b. Select appropriate information technology tools and resources to interact with others for a specific purpose.

Guiding Question:     What do national parks preserve?

Learning Activities: 

Day 1:  Students will be introduced to the idea of “preservation.”  The teacher and TL will show them the pictures of “preserved” items that grace the home page of this KBC.  The teacher and TL will also bring in realia for the students to view. Students will look over the pictures and work with their table group to figure out how the seemingly disparate items might be connected.  After students have worked on this, the teacher will bring them back together and allow groups to present their suggestions.  The teacher and teacher librarian will show the class a peach and ask “why do we can these instead of just eating them like this (fresh)?”  The expected response is that we can them to keep them from rotting so we can eat them later.   The teacher and TL will then discuss the other two items (old pictures and mummies), working toward the same outcome:  we preserve them to so that they will be available to us later.  The pictures represent keeping memories of loved ones alive.

The teacher will write the word “preservation” on a poster board that already contains examples of the canned fruit and old pictures. The TL will direct the students to Google Classroom where they will write a journal entry explaining why preservation is important.

Day 2:  The teacher will show students a peach that is starting to decay.  She will tell them that this is the peach they saw the day before. It can be a different, older peach.  The kids just don’t know that.  The TL will ask:  Since we didn’t eat the peach yesterday, it has begun to rot.  What can a farmer do with the peach right now so that it will still be useable next week?  The expected response is that the farmer could can the peach to preserve it.  If the students do not provide the term “preserve,” the TL and teacher will gently remind them by pointing to the poster that was created the prior class session.  The teacher will then tell the class that there are actually many other things that can and should be preserved.  Today they are going to hear a story about someone that worked very hard to make sure that land was preserved in our country.  The TL will provide a picture of John Muir for the class at this point.  She will ask the class if the picture looks like something they have seen before.   The expected response is that it looks similar to the old pictures from the last class session and from the poster at the front of the class.   The TL will say that, yes, this is a picture of someone who isn’t alive any longer, but we preserve his memory with his picture and through books.  Today they are going to hear a story all about this man, John Muir.  At the end, they will understand why we preserve his memory.  The teacher will then read The Camping Trip that Changed America to the class.  After the story, the TL will direct the students to their Google Classroom where they will find a graphic organizer (GO) in the form of a Google Document.  The students will work with their elbow partners to complete the parts of the GO.

Day 3:  The teacher and the TL will provide students with printouts of their GOs from the previous session.  They will then ask students to stand and use the Give One, Get One model for reviewing and sharing information.  Music will play and students will move randomly around the classroom.  When the music stops, students will pair up with the person closest to them.  The teacher will tell the class that the student with the shortest hair will go first.  That student will share one piece of information that they have learned about preservation with their partner.  The partner will look at their GO and add the information if it is not already on their page.  The partners will then switch and the longer haired student will share while the partner adds information to their own GO.  This will be done two more times so that every student speaks to at least three partners.  The students will then return to their seats.  They will open Google Classroom and respond to a quick write journal in a Google Doc.  The prompt will be:  Three things we often preserve are:  food, memories, and  land in national parks.  What are some reasons you think these types of preservation are important?

Day 4:  The TL will share a slideshow of pictures from Kings Canyon National Park with the class.  Several of the photos will focus on the Giant Sequoias, the keystone plant species of that park.  The teacher and the TL will take turns returning to those slides and demonstrating awe at the size of the trees to generate interest in the students.   They will tell the students that the trees are larger than they can imagine.  In fact, they are much larger than the trees at school.  They will then take the students outside to look at the size of average trees in the landscape. Each student will be provided with a piece of yarn that is exactly one foot long and a graph on which to record the measurement of tree girths.  One column of the graph will ask students to measure how many students it takes, holding hands, to circle the tree.  They will be broken into teams of four based on their table groups.  Each group will be assigned to one of the trees that border the playground.  The teacher and the TL will model the use of the strings to measure around the trunk of the tree.  They will show the students how to estimate ½ foot measurements.  They will model writing their measurement on a poster-sized chart like the ones the students have.  They will also model measuring around the tree by holding hands to circle the tree.  Students will then work in teams to measure the girth of their tree and record the measurement on their charts.  The teacher and TL will circulate, assisting students as necessary. If time allows, each group will measure and record two trees’ girths.  Once back in class, each team will share their measurements and the teacher and/or TL will add them to the poster-sized chart.

Day 5:  Students will visit Kings Canyon National Park for the day.  Their tour guide, a National Park Service Ranger, will provide them with general information about the park.  S/he will also provide them with information about the park’s preservation efforts.  The students will be introduced to the concept of the preservation of the Giant Sequoias in the park as well as the preservation of other species of flora and fauna that are found within the park boundaries.  The students will have the opportunity to see Giant Sequoias up close.  They will have the opportunity to stand on the stump of one that was cut down before the park was formed.  The students, teacher, and TL will hold hands and attempt to encircle the entire stump.  They will record how many people it takes to do so and this will be added to their measurement poster back at school.  (Interacting with an Expert Model)

Day 6:  Students will look over their note-taking sheet from the field trip.  They will be given time to add items that they might have thought of since returning from the park.  The teacher and TL will each share some of their own thoughts as examples for students who struggled to complete the handout.  The teacher will then tell students that now that they’ve experienced Kings Canyon National Park, they will get to learn more about preservation in this or another park.  Today will be the first day of a multi-day exploration research phase.  The students will have access to a variety of library print resources that the TL provides.  They will also be sent to Google Classroom to access a Symbaloo that the teacher librarian has created.  The Symbaloo will provide direct links to a variety of national parks that each preserves a specific flora, fauna, or geological feature.  It will also include links to information about some of the flora and fauna being preserved within Kings Canyon National Park.  Lastly, for the purposes of lower the affective filter of our newcomer (immigrant) students, there are links to national parks in both Mexico and El Salvador, the newcomers’ countries of origin.  The students will spend Days 6 and 7 exploring all of these links, looking for the national park preservation topic that interests them the most.  In order to keep them focused, the students will fill out a GO that is aligned to the Symbaloo links.  The teacher and TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 7:  Students will continue to explore preservation topics using the Symbaloo.  They will continue to fill out the GO as they explore each link.  The teacher and the TL will monitor and assist with technical issues if they arise.

Day 8:  Today is the final day for exploration using the Symbaloo links.  Students must turn in their completed Symbaloo GO at the end of today’s exploration session.  During the final ten minutes of the class session, the TL will direct the class to Google Classroom.  They will complete a Google Form in which they will identify the flora, fauna or geological structure around which they want to focus further research.

Day 9: Turning interest into a research question.  Teacher and TL demonstrate and provide sentence starters.

Day 10:  Today the students will begin their individual research.  The teacher and TL will provide a document on Google Classroom that contains additional resource links related to the specific research topics that the students have identified.     The students will use the split-screen strategy to keep the Research Journal document open on one side of the screen and

Day 11:  Research continues.  The teacher and teacher librarian will continue to add resources daily that they find to the list on Google Classroom.

Day 12:  Research continues.  Individual meetings with teacher or TL to verify that research can answer a question or to revise the question.

Day 13:  Research continues today.  The TL will review strategies for Google Searches.  This is something the students have done all year, so it will be a very brief review.  Although the teacher and TL have been providing links to specific sites for students to use, today is a day that the students can branch off and search on their own using Google.

Day 14:  Today is the final day for students to complete their individual research assignments.

Day 15:  Students will use Days 15 – 18 to create a presentation about their individual research topics.  Today the teacher and the TL will present examples of the project choices to the students.   The students will be allowed to choose from a variety of projects for their creation.  The creation must highlight the need for preservation of the chosen topic.  The teacher and TL will provide materials that students can use to create a poster or a diorama.  The students could also choose to create a video about their topic using Flipgrid, an online video making tool to which the TL has account access. The final project that the students can choose from is a Google Slides presentation.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 16:  Today the students will continue to create their project.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.  The teacher and the TL will continue to bring in needed supplies as they are identified.

Day 17:  Students will continue to create their project today.  The teacher and the TL will both assist students as needed.

Day 18:  Today is the final day for the creation of projects.  All projects will be due at the end of this session.

Day 19:  The students will present their projects in a gallery walk format.  The site administration and parents will be invited to the event.  Invitations will be sent home via flyers as well as through announcements on the library’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.  Students will display their projects and answer questions as the guests walk through the room.

Day 20:  Today the teacher and the TL will introduce the Big Think question.   Students will work in their table groups to respond to the solution prompts.  Although students researched different items being preserved, all of them are in some way affected by the human population.

Kristi Mulligan

Teacher Librarian
Selma Unified School District

It All Starts With A Question…?

Greetings from South Carolina! My name is Jamie Gregory, and I am a public high school media specialist in the Upstate of SC at James F. Byrnes High School. I taught high school English for 8 years (including 1 year of French) and just finished my 4th year as a media specialist. I completed my MLIS degree in 2012 from the University of South Carolina, and I was introduced to the GID model during my time there as a graduate student. While I also learned other inquiry models, I found the GID model particularly effective and applicable because it is research-based. Also, Kuhlthau’s ISP model is life-changing. Reading the research on the emotions and behaviors underlying the research and learning processes really changed how I approached the research process while I was still a classroom English teacher.

South Carolina recently adopted new ELA standards, specifically dedicating a strand to inquiry-based learning. Let me tell you, we are doing some great things in SC! Major props to the standards committee for recognizing the proven effectiveness of inquiry-based learning. The state standards document even goes so far as to explicitly state that inquiry-based learning should be incorporated by all classroom teachers, not just ELA:

Can I get an AMEN?! (or whatever you’d like to shout enthusiastically!)

So, given all this change, my district decided to offer a professional development cohort called Inquiry in the Classroom. When the head of professional development asked for volunteers to lead it, I knew I wanted to jump in so I could also promote the role of the media specialist in inquiry-based learning.

I led Inquiry in the Classroom, a professional development cohort of 18 English, Social Studies, Science, and special education teachers grades 9-12, from January to May of 2017. We met once per month, and I knew I wanted to share the GID model with these teachers. I also knew that I wanted to have teachers begin to implement aspects of inquiry-based learning throughout the semester so that we could have brainstorming sessions at our meetings to share successes and opportunities for improvement.

My posts this week are going to feature my collaborations with 3 English teachers at my school: Sarah Plant, Jena Smith, and Michael Jett. They are truly awesome educators and I can’t thank them enough for working with me this past year.

I spent a lot of time during the cohort sharing resources about the importance of questioning. (I also highly recommend the book Cultivating Curiosity by Wendy Ostroff!) Meeting students in the Third Space so they can choose topics and ideas that interest them and affect them personally is so important, and educators can help them discover new topics that students didn’t even know they wanted to learn more about! By the time we get our students in grade 10, some students have already “gotten by” with being passive learners. So when they are asked to be curious, ask questions, and engage in real-world issues, they truly aren’t sure what that looks like.

But don’t worry, we always have a few tricks up our sleeves!

Idea #1!  One activity for creating questions comes from a very effective professional book, Coteaching Reading Comprehension Strategies in Secondary School Libraries: maximizing your impact by Judi Moreillon. Chapters are organized by 7 strategies, and I focused on the chapter titled Questioning. Visit the ALA.org website to see the online extras available for this book! (Trust me, there is so much good stuff here you will feel overwhelmed by what to try first!) http://www.alaeditions.org/web-extra-coteaching-reading-comprehension-strategies-secondary-school-libraries

 

In our March cohort meeting, I had the teachers watch a brief video about coal mining today.

I chose this particular video as an example to use with students in a science classroom because information literacy skills can be embedded along with science content knowledge (have students question the source of this video! Challenge them to find a video from an opposite bias!).  In order to model how you might use the above handout in the classroom during the Open and Immerse stages, as a cohort we brainstormed some questions we thought we had about coal mining today before watching the video. Then while we watched the video, each person wrote down questions. After the video, we wrote even more questions after sharing! This activity works really well to show students the recursive nature of questioning and learning. Then the bottom of this handout addresses metacognitive skills as well as information literacy skills! So wonderful!

Idea #2! For middle and high schoolers, there are a number of wonderful nonfiction series to help students research argumentative topics. We particularly like At Issue, Critical World Issues, Current Controversies, Opposing Viewpoints, and Thinking Critically. Some of these series provide questions as chapter titles, which we used with some classes. Some databases like SIRS Issues Researcher also provide questions related to various topics which can be used for scaffolding. Partner up with your media specialist to learn what resources you already have in your school library! These resources can effectively be used during the Open and Immerse stages, particularly if you have your media specialist set up a gallery walk with stations.

In this screenshot, SIRS Issues Researcher (a ProQuest product) suggests various subtopics related to Military Ethics and represents those subtopics by questions!

In this screenshot, you can see how SIRS Issues Researcher provides a few critical thinking questions when students click on a topic. Don’t miss the essential question in the background!

I will feature ideas and student work from Sarah Plant and my library service learners in tomorrow’s post to continue the discussion about questioning, and I will include how we focused on developing concept-based research assignments. Stay tuned!

-Jamie Gregory @gregorjm jamie.gregory@spart5.net

Student Questions Drive the Process

Hi 52_GID Readers!

It’s Leslie Maniotes – author of the GID series on the blog this week.

EVERYbody is gearing up for their new year and few have time to take on the blog this week.  So, I am lucky to have a week to share some new thoughts and experiences from working with the professional development side of GID.

One of the best aspects of Guided Inquiry Design, and perhaps the most scary for teachers, is that students learn by asking their own questions. We know that student curiosity and questioning is at the core of all inquiry based learning.

At one of my professional development sessions with our partner Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools last week, a very smart librarian wanted to know exactly what these student questions about the content standards would look like.  At the beginning, teachers must take a leap of faith into the unknown with Guided Inquiry Design in order to let go and allow students to ask their own questions.  That is the real beauty of the design, though, because with GID, smart educators can intentionally design the first three phases so that students arrive at marvelous questions that address the content and are truly interesting to our students! That’s the sweet spot and the real trick of intentional instructional design for inquiry based learning!  😉

The best designed inquiry learning supports all students through the first three phases to help students to arrive at an intellectually stimulating and interesting question on the content standards in the unit of study.

Guided Inquiry Design Process

I knew that high level questioning was happening in the schools, classrooms, and libraries where I have worked with excellent educators to know how to use this model to design their inquiry based learning. So, I asked my GID crew- who are AMAZING!  And, of course, I got responses from each level High School, Middle School, and Elementary level.  REAL questions from REAL kids about the content under study. In the next three posts I’ll share those questions  and some reflections on them in order to help you to ….Keep-calm-and-carry-on

Side note – do you know the history behind this poster?  It’s a fascinating relic from WWII  – an actual poster of British war propaganda.  Find out more here.

But, before we begin, in order to prime your thinking about the power of student questioning in learning, Here’s a 6 minute TED Talk video of science teacher Ramsey Musallam describing what he calls the 3 rules to spark imagination and learning. (Thank you to Kathryn Lewis and Lee Nelson of Norman Public Schools for sharing this video with me! It’s so aligned with Guided Inquiry and what we believe about real learning!)

Ramsey Musallam 3 rules

 It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.

Enjoy that video and come back tomorrow for more about students real questions in GID!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author + Professional Developer

Guided Inquiry Design

Battle Spheres: Open, Immerse, Explore, & Identify

Good evening, fellow GID lovers! I’m back again today to (finally) tell you more about the unit we are developing for Norman Public Schools 5th grade science curriculum. You’ve met our team, read about the importance of a collaborative culture, and heard my thoughts on GID at the district level. Today, I walk through the first four phases of our project so you can see exactly what we’ve planned.

(Note: In this post, you will see shots of our planning team’s notes. If you’re curious, purple items are to-dos, red is the objective, and blue is the actual student activity. If you’re NOT curious, go ahead and make fun of my color-coding.)

OPEN

Our team notes on OPEN

You’ll see we have titled our unit “Battle Sphere”; this unit is being developed around the 5th grade Oklahoma science standards, looking at how the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere interact. To really hook students into the topic, our planning team will create a YouTube playlist of videos depicting these interactions. For example, students will view videos of landslides, weather events, eroded landscapes, and more. Then, the class will have a discussion about the videos, answering the questions:

  • What did the events have in common?
  • Can you think of ways that nature interacts that weren’t in the videos?
  • Has nature ever made changes in your world?

We hope that by showing students these dramatic interactions in videos, they will develop an interest in the topic and begin to form some questions about interactions between the spheres.

IMMERSE

IMG_7117 (1)

After they’re hooked, we will begin to immerse students in the content by watching two videos that will help make the spheres and associated vocabulary more accessible and interesting:

Four Spheres Part 1 (Geo and Bio): Crash Course Kids #6.1

Four Spheres Part 2 (Hydro and Atmo): Crash Course Kids #6.2

After viewing the videos, students will build a glossary of new terms they heard in the videos. This is an example the the flexibility I talked about yesterday. Depending on the students, teachers, and resources at the individual site, this step could look very different. Students could do this as a class, in small groups, with the teacher, or with both the teacher and librarian. I love that we are building in adaptability to customize the unit for every school. Where possible, we are encouraging teachers to build this glossary in Google Drive, but no matter how it is done, students will be able to access the glossary throughout the rest of the unit.

 

EXPLORE

IMG_7118 (1)

Using an inquiry log, students will explore through a carefully curated resource menu. They will track which resources they viewed and the corresponding questions that were sparked. In my personal experience with Guided Inquiry, I have learned that it is difficult for elementary students to foresee the scope of their research from the beginning phases. If we ask them to explore open-endedly, they can easily get off track, and they don’t understand the benefits of this phases as older students might. Assigning an inquiry log or journal in this phase is crucial to the success and engagement of younger students.

 

IDENTIFY

IMG_7119 (1)

As you can see from the picture of our notes, this phase isn’t quite as fleshed out as the rest yet. To identify which two spheres’ interactions are most interesting to them, the student will use an inquiry journal to elaborate on what they logged in EXPLORE. To facilitate this, our planning team will come up with specific questions for a journal prompt. After evaluating the journal responses, teachers will assign students to inquiry circles based on their area of interest. The inquiry circles will consist of students who are interested in the interactions between the same two spheres, so there will be six inquiry circles. We are allowing for flexibility here, but we discussed how fun it would be to have all 5th grade students in one school divided into these six inquiry circles.

And there you have it: the first four phases of our plan. What do you think? What do you see that you like? What would you change?
Kelsey

A team that rocks and the 2 C’s

Kelsey introduced the Guided Inquiry science unit and the team working on the unit and what a great team it is!   So many years of combined experience and expertise – it is a really energizing to work with these great people.  As I look back on the two planning meetings we’ve had so far, what I see is evidence of the natural alignment that happened with Guided Inquiry.  It was not ‘fitting a square peg in a round hole’ –  it was a natural flow that supports student learning and curiosity. It did help to get the ‘balcony’ view of the lesson with the sticky notes and charts pictured in Kelsey’s post on Thursday – thank you Kelsey for your wonderful obsession with sticky notes.   Being a visual learner myself this helped me see each step of the GI process and how the science content standards will be easily integrated.

As Kelsey shared, One question the team working on the science unit had was ‘how could we encourage collaboration between teachers and librarians while giving teachers what they need to implement the unit in their classrooms’? To me, that is the really great thing about Guided Inquiry – it supports a collaborative culture.  In fact, I believe one key to successful GI units is collaborative work – collaboration between teachers and librarians, collaboration between content area teachers, collaboration between students, and collaboration between teachers and students.  There has to be a lot of ‘give’ on everyone’s part. The GI unit I referenced in the blog last week was developed to allow kids the opportunity to earn multiple credits in different content areas.  A unit of that complexity would not be possible without flexibility and collaboration.  Throughout the nine week unit, the team (English IV teacher, science teacher, social studies teacher, art teacher, and teacher librarian) had to really work together to meet the needs of the kids. For those students earning multiple credits, regular meetings with content area teachers was critical and no part of the unit was taught in isolation. I do want to add that even if there is not  a ‘perfect’ collaborative culture in place, I would not shy away from a Guided Inquiry unit.  You have to start somewhere and those baby steps can help you win the big race.

Student Conference Social Studies standards doc

Ongoing student conferencing to ensure standards were met.

 

 

Science teacher conferencing with student.

Science teacher conferencing with student.

These student conferencing meetings solidified the integration of multiple content areas and helped students focus their project to a depth that met adequate standards, thus earning the credits.

Another perfect opportunity that I believe happens with Guided Inquiry is that of coteaching – a shared responsibility of teaching part or all of a unit plan with teachers.  In my school’s multi-credit unit it was fun to coteach with the English IV teacher and it really provided a great learning environment for the kids. Not only was it fun to coteach the unit but it was so helpful to talk through how the day went, what we felt needed to be modified, and to have someone to just share successes and challenges with along the way!  By the way, if anyone is struggling with getting teachers to collaborate or coteach, my advice is plan a Guided Inquiry unit to help and a helpful article to support this cause is David Loertscher’s Collaboration and Coteaching; A New Measure of Impact.

I’ll close now — thanks for reading and it’s been a pleasure sharing this with you.  What is coming up this week is a breakdown of the 5th grade science unit and the GI process step-by-step.  Kelsey will cover Open to Identify and I will cover Gather to Evaluate.   Take care and keep on!   

 

Differentiation, Student Choice, and Reflection–Oh My!

Differentiation, Student Choice, and Reflection:  these three educational buzz words are at the forefront of conversations in schools today.  As we know, the research shows the following:

Children have different ways and modes of learning.

Children learn by building on what they already know.

Children learn by being actively engaged in and reflecting on an experience.

This research is directly integrated into  GID; and in fact, the aforemtioned statements are three of the six principles highlighted in Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Caspari).  The awesome news is through GID, a teacher can incorporate all three principles and a lot more!  And that is why I’m passion about the GI process; my students are truly working within a holistic, invigorating process that will benefit their learning in a multitude of ways.

Differentiation

As mentioned in my previous blog, I teach a senior English seminar called Psychology in Literature.  It is heterogeonous grouping:  I have students who take Advanced Placement classes and I have students who have significant learning and/or behavioral challenges.  I have students who are English Language Learners.  Bottomline:  the range of my students’ abilities differs greatly.  So how do I design an assignment that can meet the needs of all the students in my classroom?  Through GID.  GID naturally differentiates through its stages, skill development, and content.

For example in the Psychology in Literature assignment that my library educator Anita Cellucci and I created, we ask students to review and reflect on the literary materials they have accessed over the course of the semester.  These materials include books, poems, short stories, articles, TED Talks, movies, guest speakers, etc.  We ask them to contemplate course terms such as coping mechanisms, addiction, positive psychology.  We ask them to review skills such as information psychological analysis, personal refflection and information literacy.  And based on their own individual curiosity, personal experiences and connections to the material, cognitive development, etc. students are able to move through the Open, Immerse, Explore, and Identify stages at their appropriate learning ability. Another key component of differentiation is the research.  Anita created a libguide (http://whs.westborough.libguides.com/psychinlit) that enables students to access information based on their learning abilities.

Student Choice

Because students are empowered through their teachers and the weath of options presented, they often start at a much higher level of engagement and motivation than if we assigned them topics to research.  I now see students who are visibly excited to gather research, are more willing to use vetted sources (versus using Google and then picking the first site that pops up), and are committed to putting the time in to analyze the information they have acquired.  The range of topics for this particular assignment are fantastic:  the negative effects of  sleep deprivation in teens, the benefits of art therapy, the negative effects of stress on teenagers, the struggles of veterans who suffer from PTSD in assimilating back home, the differences in sociopathy and psychopathy, the benefits of positive psychology, etc.  Just reflecting on the topics myself, I observe just how different my students’ choices are based on their experiences, interests, and connections.

Reflection

One of my favorite parts of GID is the Share stage.  This stage enables students to share their research AND reflect on their research and the process.  I find student reflections so valuable because I can “see” their thinking/feeling process.  This enables me to reflect on my students’ learning and my teaching.

In my next post, I’ll share a couple of the students’ presentations; however, what I want to show you now are a couple of student reflections.  We ask students to remind us of what their inquiry question is, discuss a bit of the research process, ask new questions, and reflect on any further thoughts.  Below are two excerpts from two students’ reflections. You will be able to see certain places where students make mention of their own choice, engagement, and motivation as well.

Student #1:

My question was, “how does positive psychology help humans obstacles and what methods/treatments are available?” I really was confused on the literal meaning of positive psych and all it encompassed. I found myself wanting to know exactly what it is. Naturally I wanted to learn the methods and see how this thought process can apply to myself. I don’t think I need a psychologist but good mental thinking cap can help. Keywords included “happiness” “resilience” “treatments” “learned optimism” and “meditation”. Although I used a lot more, I found these one reoccurring a lot. I used these keywords on all four databases in the libguide…A new question would be are there treatments people are experimenting with? How is this new movement being incorporated into society? And I also noticed the backlash and wondered how can there be any negatives to positive psychology?

When I first started I really was eager to learn about the topic. As I went along I found the articles weren’t boring me and that the topic maintained my interest which led me to some great books and pieces of writing…I definitely see how negative thinking and depression can be linked to the disorders of characters in Girl Interrupted and The Bell Jar

Student #2
My inquiry question is “How are students affected by sleep deprivation and what can schools to do to help students?” I knew from the beginning, I wanted to research about sleep deprivation, because it’s a disease that’s a lot less talked about. Usually, it’s something big like depression, PTSD, and such but sleep deprivation hits home for many people. When I was using the LibGuides, the articles I kept finding were related to high school teens suffering from sleep deprivation. Therefore, I chose to stick with how high school students are affected by school deprivation and how schools can help with the problem. The keywords that I found to be most effective were: “sleep deprivation”, “sleep”, “high school sleep”, “adolescent sleep”, and such. In the LibGuide, I used the Gale Research in Context database within which I searched for my topic using various advanced searches. One difficulty I had issues was with whether, in my presentation, I should be talking about sleep deprivation as a disease in general and at throughout just allude to my topic or is my whole presentation going to the specifics about my inquiry question based on students and schools. I decided to focus only on my inquiry question and only address the schools and students’ perspective to have a clear focus and not jumble up a bunch of information on sleep deprivation and not talk enough about my inquiry question. Some new questions I had were: “If adolescents are the most affected and prone to sleep deprivation, why hasn’t school board legislation done anything sooner?”, “What’s the probability of an adolescent contracting this disease as opposed to an adult?”, “Can sleep deprivation kill you naturally over a prolonged period of time?”, “Assuming school times are, in fact, pushed back, how long will it take for the positive effects to take place?”, “Over all these years, why is it that public convenience always  outweighed millions of students’ health?”, and others. When I first started this project, I was really set out on finding a perfect solution that solves this huge problem and since it readily affects me personally, I was a lot more involved. The process was kind of long and arduous, but when research isn’t long, clearly you haven’t done the best research on your topic and there is much left to be discovered. As I was finishing up and realizing there has been an advocacy for a push of school start times to solve this crisis of sleep deprivation, I was sort of frustrated with public school legislation that no change has been put into effect even with clear medical research. Considering my topic was sleep deprivation and the fact that most high school teens in fact are sleep deprived, I can see the effects of sleep deprivation in students every single day, including myself. Usually, teachers blame the students for staying up late and that’s why we’re so tired in school. But there’s more to the story than just that. Unknowingly to most, many students are battling a serious disease everyday and it’s never really recognized.

In order to set standards and expectations for our students, we as educators need to put the appropriate structures in place for students to excel.  Differentiation, Student Choice, and Reflection are three essential principles of GID that will lead our students to engage enthusiastically in learning.  And perhaps more importantly, GID supports students in  making meaning of their learning and life-long connections from their learning.

 

By:  Kathleen Stoker, English/Journalism Teacher, Westborough High School, Westborough, MA