You + Me = We: The Power of Collaboration

Greetings fellow friends of Guided Inquiry Design!  My name is Sarah Scholl and I am a school librarian at Havre de Grace Middle School in Havre de Grace, Maryland!  This is my second round of blogging (original postings 1, 2, & 3) for the GID blog and I am excited to add to the amazing postings which have already been added this year.  

Photograph of four teachers holding awards

Mary Gargano, Sarah Scholl (Me), Anni Obenshcain & Sarah Wein: Curriculum Award Winners

I got started with Guided Inquiry when I first attended AASL in 2015 and learned about this research model as well as the CiSSL summer institute.  I then attended the 2016 summer institute to design and develop a GID unit and began implementing our Challenge and Change project that fall.  Our planning team submitted our Challenge and Change project for the county wide curriculum awards that year and we won!

However, it really is not how I got started that is most important, but rather, why I have stuck with this model for the last three years.  As a school librarian, I have encountered multiple research models, but it is the GID model which has brought the most success for my students.  There are three components which I feel make this model stand out against the rest: collaboration, engagement and reflection. My goal is to address each of these aspects in my postings this week.

 

For school librarians to be the most effective, they should be collaborative in their planning and instruction.  This is one facet which GID reinforces as a crucial part of the process. A first step in planning for GID is to identify the team, which is meant to include a school librarian.  It is explicitly stated that a school librarian be involved in the planning since this is a research process and librarians are research experts. It is truly in the best interest for both the teachers and the students to have a librarian involved, who can curate information, guide students through the exploration, identify and gather phases as well as provide support as students begin to learn how to do those things independently.

But, collaboration can be a challenge.  With differing class schedules, meetings, etc., TIME can be the biggest barrier to doing honest to goodness team planning.  However, when you take the time to make it happen, it is worth every spare minute you were able to devote to the work you are doing and in the end it benefits all parties involved.  Ideally, you would have a half day or even a whole day to sit down and plan, but that is not the reality!

So how do you start?  As a librarian, I often begin with an email or quick hallway chat to gauge interest.  From there, I often jot down ideas and try and plan a time when we can have a quick chat about whether we are headed in the right direction.  I also make sure I am familiar with the content teacher’s curriculum so I can reinforce the ultimate goal of “not creating more work” and show him or her where this can potentially align with what may already be happening instructionally.

After that, I try and schedule at least one hour of time to sit down together with the planning team to generate a rough outline, starting with the GID steps and what students will learn in each step.  We develop a goal or objective and set up the outcome or student product. Often the conversation will include some backwards planning, thinking about what the end product may be; even if the end product is something simple, with more of the focus falling on the process itself.

Finally, we divide and conquer, each taking the portions we are responsible for and developing the daily lessons which will be taught.  There will be the occasional hallway chat or five minute catch up time where we share what we have excitedly created, but more often than not, we rely on collaborative technology like shared Google drive or Office 365 folders, OneNote or regular old email to maintain our collaborative conversation.  Then we check in the day before to make sure all is prepared prior to the first lesson and we continue the daily conversations, making small modification as we co-teach through the GID model. Now, I do use that co-teach term to represent just about every form of co-teaching you can imagine with this process.  Sometimes we are co-lead teachers, sometimes I lead, sometimes the classroom teacher leads, it all depends on what is decided beforehand but, more often than not, the person who designs the lesson leads and then the other assists until they become comfortable with the material and is okay with stepping in to co-lead.

This is by no means, the only way to work through the difficult process of co-planning or working collaboratively with the GID model, but hopefully it will be some reassurance that it can work, even with the most time strapped teachers!

Cheers,

Sarah

Havre de Grace Middle School

Havre de Grace, Maryland

@hdmslibrary

@thebossysister

 

How do you manage time so you can co-plan using the GID model?

 

Previous Postings

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/01/in-good-company/

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/04/lets-start-at-the-very-beginning/

https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/02/06/wrapping-it-all-up/

Finding a Solution

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

–Socrates

 

     My adventure into Guided Inquiry Design began as all good adventures should, with a close friend and a road trip. It really started with desperation. The desperation led to the road trip….

     A few years ago, our school district required a senior capstone known as Senior Project. I was struggling to help seniors find their way and develop their projects to the fullest. Of course, I took my struggles to my teacher-librarian Dana Wright. Since she had been essentially co-teaching the project with me, she was well aware of the issues I was facing. Dana and I have always been on the same page and look at teaching in much the same way, so it was no surprise the day I walked into the library with an exciting new idea only to find Dana waiting to share her exciting new idea. Both of our exciting new ideas were the same. Guided Inquiry.

     Jonathan Alder Local Schools is small and is known for turning nothing into something because of our low expenditure per student. We are about 20 minutes northwest of Columbus, Ohio, in the small farming community of Plain City. When Dana stumbled across the information on the CiSSL Summer Institute. Our district agreed to send us, and the road trip began. Dana and I drove from Plain City to New Jersey for a new beginning.

     Guided Inquiry was a natural fit for us. We saw immediately that we were rushing the research process. Our students were developing questions (Identify) and fast-forwarding to research (Gather) and fast-forwarding again to writing/presentation (Create/Share). We left no time for developing interests or exploring options. Once we adjusted to allow for a fully developed Guided Inquiry Design approach to Senior Project, so many of the struggles vanished. The depth and quality of student growth improved significantly. What we did not realize at the time was that Senior Project would soon be a memory. Another new beginning was coming.

     Now we come to the current school year. This school year arrived with a new building principal and a new state mandate known as College Credit Plus. CC+ requires strict adherence to a state-wide set of standards for Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes. Mike Aurin (our new leader), Ann (guidance), and I sat down to discuss the impact of the new requirements on Senior Project and our other curricula. To proceed with students’ best interests in mind, we needed to remove the Senior Project requirements from the English curriculum.

     At first it was a shock. Senior Project was an institution. It’s what we did. That’s when I realized that it was no longer what we HAD to do. We no longer had to “[fight] the old.” We could now “[build] the new.”

Jennifer Danner

@MrsDanner_JA

English Department Chair

Jonathan Alder High School

Plain City, Ohio