Welcome to our 52 Week GID Challenge (for Educators Using Guided Inquiry Design)

Here you will find pioneers in inquiry-based learning engaging in a 52 week challenge of reflective practice.

As one of the authors of Guided Inquiry and Guided Inquiry Design and national trainer in the approach, I am always looking for unique ways to build networks around our process to support educators in their implementation and best practice of inquiry based learning.

In January of 2016, I gathered the educators in my network who were trained by me and using GID in their schools, and I invited them to blog.  We were looking for examples and reflection on best practice for inquiry based learning. Then, I created the blog with the goal of having 52 educators, a different one each week of the year, share their reflective practice using the GID model. It was so successful and exciting in year one that we continued the challenge in 2017.

Through GID, we believe in reflective practice and educators are finding this to be a great venue to reflect and learn from others using the model, across the globe. Most of the bloggers here have participated in an official GID workshop that has supported their implementation of GID best practice, which is a research backed best practice for inquiry based learning.

The object is simple: once a week someone takes over this blog account and the @52_GID twitter account and shares their experience on their use of the instructional design model called  Guided Inquiry Design.

You will find connected educators at all grade levels (K-12), from all over the globe, ladies and gents, young and old, social media superstars and first-time tweeters. We include varied perspectives on inquiry learning from district and school based leaders/administrators, librarians, teachers and instructional coaches. Everyone brings their own voice to the table and all of us, collectively, bring the student voice to the fore. That’s the reason we are in this, we are working to help our students use inquiry based learning to grow complex ideas, dig deeply into content area learning, develop authentic literacy skills, grow socially and emotionally through a complex learning process, learn information literacy skills through deep questioning and real research and learn how they learn!

Enjoy these wonderful examples and come join us by commenting and participating in our community of reflective practice. @InquiryK12

Leslie Maniotes, PhD  @lesliemaniotes
For more information:
email: Leslie@guidedinquirydesign.com
Website: guidedinquirydesign.com

Guided Inquiry Design Website


Here are links to our books. This first one describes the research behind this approach and why inquiry is important for our students and teachers right now.  This second edition includes new materials and updates with the Common Core standards. Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century

Guided Inquiry Design describes the research backed instructional design framework for inquiry based learning K-12. Guided Inquiry Design

 Guided Inquiry Design in Action: Middle School provides practical examples and full units from the middle school level.

Guided Inquiry Design in Action: High School provides practical examples and full units for the high school level including a complete unit for National History Day, Physical Science, and more!

Our Series of Books on Guided Inquiry Design



GID – Wrap it up with 3D Science and Phenomenon

I’m so thankful that Leslie shared her expertise on designing a guided inquiry lesson with our teacher group in DC this summer.  It changed my pedagogy and student engagement. I’m a veteran teacher, trained in 3D science by the best in the state, and a state teacher of the year finalist.  Yet, here I am, still learning and loving it!

What would I have done differently?  The students would have researched and read more informational text.  Other than that, I really loved this unit and how it turned out.

The final piece is wrapping up 3D Science, natural phenomenon, story lines, and guided inquiry into a stellar lesson. If you use NASA’s 5E lesson planning, it easily plugs into GID’s template for student driven learning.  Plugging in 3D Science is a natural process in GID as well.

The Science and Engineering Practices are “how” you “do” science:      https://ngss.nsta.org/practicesfull.aspxImage result for science and engineering practices


The Crosscutting Concepts are how students view, make sense, and apply natural phenomenon:   https://ngss.nsta.org/crosscuttingconceptsfull.aspx

Image result for crosscutting concepts

The Disciplinary Core Ideas are the science concepts that the students are making sense of.

In conclusion, SEP’s and CCC’s are a part of a student’s toolkit to dig deeply into the phenomenon that they are making sense of, and are easily incorporated into the guided inquiry process.

Thank you for letting me share this week what I’ve learned about guided inquiry design and how it was implemented this year.

Lisa Pitts, 5th grade Science and STEM Teacher, Edmond, OK

Guided Inquiry Design Integrated with 3D Science and Phenomenon – our fifth grade lesson

This summer I returned from NASM’s Teacher Innovator Institute excited to implement guided inquiry design with phenomenon explored in our classroom.  At the same time, I wanted to delve deeper into tying it all together with storylines.  https://www.nextgenscience.org

What fifth grader doesn’t love animals and the great outdoors?  We started the year with Matter Moving through Ecosystems (NGSS 5-PS-3, 5-LS2-1).

OPEN-  (Storyline) I shared with my class the story of finding a raccoon on the side of the road on my drive to Oakdale and showed this picture:






IMMERSE-  We discussed times they have found “roadkill” and what would that look like in four days, four months, four years.  As scientists, we observe, record, and question. I asked them how they could observe the raccoon to answer this question.  In teams, they came up with all kinds of solutions, and we came to a consensus to use time-lapse video.

(Phenomenon)– We found a video of a decomposing badger that was roughly the same size.  The class watched the video (a few times) while recording observations and questions.  We came back as a large group  and shared observations and questions:  Why did the birds come, why did the badger seem to heave, why were bones and fur left?  They were surprised by how quickly decomposition occurred.  https://youtu.be/E93rNE5F-LE   We came to a consensus for our driving questions.

EXPLORE–  First, all of the classes wanted to know what the birds were eating and why the badger seemed to heave and flatten so quickly.  They created a hypothesis and explored their theories.  We came together as a large group and discussed their findings.  Then they watched watched a video of maggots eating steak. (The best day to watch this is when your school is serving rice for lunch.)  https://youtu.be/1OMTywqUPvg 

This spring-boarded topics of conservation of matter, life cycle of a fly, uses of food for organisms, movement of energy and matter through food webs, and decomposers.  How do plants and water organisms decompose? Does matter decompose in space? 10 year-olds have lots of questions when given an opportunity and time to think.







IDENTIFY-  Students divided into teams based on similar questions, and I provided resources for their experiments and research.

GATHER-  Students explored matter decomposing in different types of soil, plants decomposing, worms as decomposers, decomposing bones (this group had to find out what happened to the bones and fur from the badger).














CREATE–  Students used their research, observations, and hypotheses to create an experiment to model decomposition in action.

SHARE–  Sharing is always our favorite part.  Fifth graders love to share in front of their classmates!  Teams made posters to explain their decomposition project and model the process, along with displaying their physical project.









EVALUATE-   We had some surprises, such as, the fruit never decomposed in a sealed jar, which encouraged students to find out why.  We had gnats get into some containers.  The soil was a little richer with tubs containing worms.  The worms did die quickly and disintegrated.  Oh my goodness, their projects carried over to their homes or vacations.  Parents sent me pictures of their child finding fungi or looking under rotten logs.  My students still bring me leaves with fungi roots.

The beauty of Guided Inquiry Design IS the organized framework for your students to OWN their learning, think more deeply, and collaborate with classmates.  Friday will be a reflection of students incorporated Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts while gather information to answer their questions.


Stem Teaching Tools: http://stemteachingtools.org/

Phenomenon:  https://paul-anderson-xw6e.squarespace.com/

Phenomenon:  https://ngssphenomenon.com/

NGSS Storylines:  http://www.nextgenstorylines.org/resources/example-storylines-ngss-topic

Lisa Pitts, Fifth Grade Science and STEM educator, Edmond, Oklahoma




My Hyper-Handy HyperDoc Inquiry Journals

Happy Friday, friends! It’s Kelsey Barker back again to wrap up our week discussing the HyperDoc inquiry journals I made with my friend and colleague Paige Littlefield.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I knew HyperDocs would be the perfect solution to keep students (and teachers!) organized through a cross-curricular GID unit last spring. I asked Paige to come over to my school and work with me to develop the doc, and I’m really proud of what we came up with:

The table of contents

The first page of the inquiry journal features of a Table of Contents. Each day links directly to the corresponding day in the HyperDoc. No matter if students are working on Open or Evaluate, they can easily navigate their journals no matter how long the document ends up being.

The second section of the inquiry journal features a Resources section, where students can easily find several resources they will use throughout the unit.

Resources Page


Below the resources in the Open section. After some trial and error, Paige and I decided it was most efficient to connect the Language Arts and Social Studies activities each day. We built in instructions for every day’s activities right into the journal so that written instructions were right in front of the students as they worked through the process.

Each phase is tabbed on the left side, which helps with navigation as well. And just to be extra type-A, we color coded each phase in the journal to match the GID phase posters I have in my library:


The GID Reflection Wall in my library


Thanks to the flexibility of the HyperDoc format, we built inquiry logs, quick write, pair-shares, and exit tickets right into the journal. This made it easy to provide students with the structures they need to be successful while keeping it seamless and easy to navigate.


Each day’s activity for each class features starter, work time, and reflection components, based on the session plan from the GID institute.



Our school uses Google Classroom, so once this inquiry journal was completed, it was assigned to students through their Language Arts class and then shared with their Social Studies teacher so that everyone could access their work.

The final inquiry journal, before students wrote in it, is around 20 pages in length. When I saw that, I knew that we had made the right choice in choosing HyperDocs for inquiry journals. Especially with multiple courses and teachers involved, HyperDocs gave students a common structure that helped them stay organized no matter if they were in Social Studies or Language Arts. Students who were absent were easily able to see what they missed by accessing their inquiry journals from home, and students couldn’t lose their journals or leave them at home accidentally. Most importantly, digital journals allowed the entire learning team the ability to check in on a student’s progress at any point during the process, leave feedback, and generally keep tabs on how students were working through the unit.

Since this unit, I have used a similar style of HyperDoc inquiry journals with other GID units, including the 6th grade unit we are currently working on. They are easy to customize for each unit, and I appreciate their functionality for all kinds of students. Right now I have to say I’m especially grateful for the “Revision History” feature in Google Docs… that has come in handy as my 6th graders accidentally delete their work!

This summer, Paige and I presented at another local conference about our joint HyperDoc endeavor, and I can tell you I’m not the only GID practitioner in our district who is excited about using HyperDoc Inquiry Journals. Between new technology, professional development, and the brain trust of my educator friends, I love to constantly grow and improve my practice… and I hope our story might be useful to growing in your own practice as well!

Thanks for following along this week. I’m sure I’ll be back to talk GID with you again soon!

Kelsey Barker

Time to Get HYPED!

Hey, GID Friends! It’s me, Paige, again!

In past blogs, I’ve described my units in detail, phase by phase, which is a terrific chance to reflect on each step. Since I made the switch to coach, however, my role in the Guided Inquiry process is just so different- I don’t necessarily have that deep insight about each phase of each unit. What I can reflect on, though, is the introduction of one to one technology into the process. I’m asked all the time  how the technology has impacted teaching and learning. There are multiple ways to answer that, but one of the most important changes is in how students do research. Before we were one to one, research was a huge event. Now, students have all the information and tools they need right at their fingertips, every single day. That shift has allowed research to become more integrated into curriculum across content areas. I’ve blogged before the one to one initiative about my struggles with technology, but even then I was of the opinion that the benefits SO far outweighed them- and that’s even more true now.

Since my experience with Guided Inquiry has changed so much, it was hard to put my finger on what to write about. When Kelsey invited me to blog along with her, she had the great idea to talk about a tool, which she alluded to yesterday. We want to talk about the inquiry journal, specifically about the digital inquiry journal we developed together. There’s MUCH to be said for the benefits and uses of digital inquiry journals, but I’m not going to say it. I’m going to save it for Kelsey to say tomorrow. Today, I want to share a little about our favorite digital inquiry journal tool- HyperDocs.

I first learned about HyperDocs last fall while attending iPadpalooza, a professional development conference at the University of Oklahoma. I heard about it AGAIN only weeks afterwards at The Oklahoma Technology Association’s yearly conference, Encyclomedia. It was SUCH a perfect fit for the one to one classroom that I was like, “Okay- I’ve got to tell people about this.” And that’s the thought that led to my GET FIT presentation Kelsey referred to in her post. Before I deep dive into information about HyperDocs, however, I want to share with you how the presenters at iPadpalooza convinced me so quickly of its value.

The presenters posed this question: “Which of the following seating arrangements would you find most and least comfortable as a student? What about as a teacher?” They then showed the following pictures:


There was discussion as different participants shared the various pros and cons of the seating arrangements. THEN, the presenters shared THESE photos.



If you can’t tell, each photo shares the level of engagement of each position in the room. I’m sure there was discussion about this, but what I really remember is this revelation that came from it:

When we put a device in front of a student and use it authentically and effectively, every seat becomes front and center.

Then we, as teachers, can free ourselves up from the constant battle for attention and engagement and spend more time focusing on individualized instruction. Now, I know that HyperDocs certainly isn’t the only way to use a device authentically and effectively. It’s not even the tool I use with teachers most often! But the fact remains that when teachers DO use HyperDocs, students are free to move at their own pace throughout the lesson. Teachers are free to circulate around the room, providing support as needed and stopping for discussion when it’s warranted. And personally, I’m a fan of both of those outcomes.


I’m sure some readers are already familiar with HyperDocs, but in case not everyone is- a HyperDoc is an interactive Google document with instructions, links to resources, tasks, bookmarks, and a multitude of other clever things to get kids thinking and interacting with content. You can create a HyperDoc with everything you need for your lesson and share it with your students just as you would with any other digital assignment. In my district, that is most often via Google Classroom, but there are other ways. When your students are done, they can turn it in, again, just like any other digital assignment, but they don’t have to click around between a bunch of windows (agony if you have younger ones!) and if you do use Google Classroom or something like it, you don’t have to upload a bunch of stuff to it and crowd it up, and then hope that students find all of it. It’s all right there for them.


To develop your own HyperDoc, start with a blank Google doc. Once you have that, there are four steps you can go through to fully develop your HyperDoc lesson:

  • Determine your objectives. When teaching and learning with technology, it’s easy to become distracted by all the bells and whistles. We’ve got to remember that it’s not about the tech- it’s STILL a standards based lesson.
  • Select your learning cycle. You can organize your HyperDoc in any way that makes sense for your content. HyperDocs lends itself to almost any organizational structure, including the 5 Es (Engage, Explore, Explain, Expand, Evaluate) and the traditional lesson plan format (Opening, Direct Instruction, Group Practice, and of course, Guided Inquiry.
  • Choose your packaging. Although Google Docs is the most common, HyperDocs can also be housed in Google Slides or Google Sites.
  • Build your HyperDoc. Determine the workflow- what do you want students to do? Choose a template- there are TONS out there. Finally, create the links and bookmarks within your document.

Here’s an example of a HyperDocs lesson. This is one I use when presenting on HyperDocs, and it still has my last participant’s answers in it. I left it that way because I love for those who are new to HyperDocs to see how it can be used for classroom discussions and for students to interact with each other. Not every HyperDoc has to include this, but it’s a great way to make sure students are hearing voices besides their own and learning from each other. I think there’s a fear that we introduce technology, those things stop when really, if it’s used correctly, opportunities for them are greater than ever. You might also notice that the table of contents is also hyperlinked. Those are actually bookmarks within the same document. This is especially helpful for students when the document becomes very long- like it would if it housed a Guided Inquiry unit. This isn’t a technology blog, so you can find more on creating bookmarks in your google document here.

I think this is a good place to stop, because Kelsey is going to share more with you about our specific inquiry journal tomorrow. I hope this has been helpful and not too techy! I find consistently that in addition to just being functionally better than a paper journal, digital inquiry journals help students to be more aware of their own inquiry process- always a good thing!

If you’re interested in learning more about HyperDocs or implementing them in your classroom, here are some of my favorite resources:

HyperDocs- Changing Digital Pedagogy

HyperDoc Templates

#hyperdocED presentation

HyperDocs and Interactive Notebooks presentation

HyperDocs Tour


I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Hello again, GID friends!

I’m so excited to be back on the blog this week with my friend and colleague Paige to tell you about a project we worked on together last spring. But before we jump into that, let me tell you what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted here, just about one year ago.

When I first wrote on this blog in 2016, I was a newish elementary librarian just diving into the wide world of Guided Inquiry. Since then, I became a GID Coach and then a GID District Trainer for my district, Norman Public Schools in Norman, OK. I moved from elementary to middle school in and worked in GID into my practice at the new school (sometimes successfully, other times not so much). I have learned so much about Guided Inquiry through the units I’ve been a part of in the last five years and especially through teaching the GID institute to other teachers in my district.

I have had the chance to learn and grow in my GID practice especially because for the last two years, my school has been a part of an IMLS-funded research grant with the University of Oklahoma and Norman Public Schools. The grant researchers are studying how students at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels learn when Making is embedded in Guided Inquiry. In the 2017-2018 school year, I worked with two 7th grade Language Arts teachers to complete four GID units, and it was an intense but amazing experience. I learned so much about GID at the middle school level, how to structure units for student success, design thinking, and more. The classroom teachers were wonderful and very dedicated GID practitioners themselves, but I think all of us were worried that four units in one school year was too much. Turns out, it made for great learning for our students, and this year they are still planning to do three units.

This year on the grant, I am working with two new teams: 6th grade Social Studies and 8th grade Science. As I write this, we are just beginning the Create phase with 6th graders, and I can’t wait to see what wonderful products they dream up. Maybe I’ll come back in a few months to share our results!

I also had the opportunity in the spring of this year to try something completely new for me: a cross-curricular GID unit, where 8th graders were looking at the concept of activism through the lens of the Civil War time period. Through their Language Arts classes, students experienced Civil War-era activist literature, music, art, and poetry, while simultaneously immersing themselves in the same time period through Social Studies. The classroom teachers worked together to create an engaging, intensive unit of study that achieved the standards of both courses.

The learning team was comprised of two Language Arts teachers, one special education Language Arts teacher, two Social Studies teachers, our gifted resource coordinator, and myself. When the team sat down to collaboratively build this unit, we knew it would be a logistical challenge to make sure that all students had the learning experiences we desired for them while still allowing each content area teacher to use the strengths of their subject to enrich the curriculum for students. For example, one of our challenges was that one student’s schedule may have Social Studies before Language Arts, while another had Language Arts first in their day. Because of this, activities could not build up one another within the same day. We needed some kind of tool to keep students organized and create a day-by-day guide for what was expected of them in each class.

As we designed the unit, I was reminded of a session Paige taught at Get Fit, our annual in-district professional development conference. In this session, she had participants work with a tool that I thought would be perfect to meet our needs for this unit. I will let her share more about that tomorrow… I hope it changes your teaching life the way it did mine! I’ll be back on Thursday to share how Paige and I worked together to implement this tool and make my cross-curricular unit successful.


Kelsey Barker


Guess Who?!

It’s me again, Guided Inquiry Friends! I’ve introduced myself to you before (here and here!) as Paige Holden. This time I’m coming to you as Paige Littlefield (52 days of wedded bliss and counting!).

I’m so excited to be blogging again. What’s even more exciting is that I’m sharing the blog this week with a colleague I have SO much respect and admiration for- Kelsey Barker, middle school librarian (library mastermind, I like to call her) and district Guided Inquiry Trainer. Oh, and did I mention she’s also my bestie?!

We’ve done a lot of collaborating over the years, and we’re excited to share with you something we worked on together. She’ll be around tomorrow to introduce herself- you will LOVE her! But first, here’s what you need to know about me.

I’m in my seventh year of teaching, all of which have been spent in Norman Public Schools in Norman, Oklahoma. For five years (and both of my other blog posts), I taught eighth grade Language Arts at Whittier Middle School. Last year and this year, I’ve worked as an Instructional Technology Integration Coach (iTech Coach for short!) at Norman High School. This is a brand new position- our district implemented a 1:1 technology initiative last year, and now every student in grades six through twelve has a MacBook. iTech Coaches were hired at to support that initiative at each of the six secondary sites. I share an office with our school’s onsite tech specialist, but my goal is to be in the classroom seventy-five percent of the time, helping teachers implement technology in meaningful and innovative ways. If you’re interested in what exactly that looks like, I’d love for you to check out my Instructional Technology Coaching Menu.

Leaving the Language Arts classroom was difficult, and stepping into a newly created position hasn’t been without growing pains. I went from a middle school of 60 faculty and 1,100 students- only 120 of which were mine to worry about- to my new high school, with its 150 faculty and 2,300 students- every single one of whom I have a share in the responsibility for. It was quite the transition to make, but something that’s really made it worth it for me is that now I have the opportunity to share the things I feel passionately about with a MUCH wider audience- things like differentiation, collaboration, creativity, student choice, reflective practice, professional development, ,AND- you guessed it- Guided Inquiry, which encompasses every single one of those other things!

Before writing today, I took a few minutes to re-read my past blog posts. I hadn’t read them in a long time, and it was SO interesting to see how my relationship with Guided Inquiry has evolved over the last three years! I went to my first Guided Inquiry Institute in the November 2015, and I implemented and blogged about my first unit- Natural Phenomena– in February 2016. I was so proud of that unit- I knew then that I was a Guided Inquiry convert! As much as I loved that unit, however, my grade- level team and I knew we could do better. We attended another institute in our district that summer, and implemented another unit in the spring of 2017- this one about World War II. Instead of creating a unit out of thin air just for Guided Inquiry, like we had before, we took an existing unit and turned in on its head. Our goal was to embed research into our curriculum, rather than make it this huge event, and it was a huge success.

When I moved into my new position, I knew I would no longer have my own classroom in which to plan and implement Guided Inquiry units. Instead, I’m able to work with teachers across grade levels and content areas to design and implement their own units. Our district has the very first District Guided Inquiry Trainers, and I get to attend every secondary institute they teach- three each year- to work with multiple teams from my school. I have opportunities to support teachers in instructional design, student questioning, and the implementation of technology, and I love every minute of it. None of this would be happening at Norman High, however, without one person in particular.  I’m not sure GID could flourish in a school without a teacher librarian at the helm, and I’m fortunate enough to work alongside the one and only Martha Pangburn. She was fanning the flames of Guided Inquiry long before I came along, and we couldn’t do it without her!

This summer, I took my relationship with Guided Inquiry to a new level. I attended a Guided Inquiry Institute at Rutgers, not as a participant, but as a step toward becoming one of the first four National Guided Inquiry Trainers. It was the professional development experience of a lifetime. I was able to observe SUCH diverse teams from all over the U.S. as they began their journeys with Guided Inquiry, and I learned so much about teaching and coaching from Leslie and from my fellow trainers in the making.

I know this is supposed to be an introductory post, but as I look back over the last few years, I can’t help but reflect on how much Guided Inquiry Design has shaped my professional growth. I’m a better teacher, a better colleague, and a better coach because of my experiences with GID, and I’m so happy to get to share a little piece of that with all you this week.

Kelsey and I are taking turns, so you’ll hear from her tomorrow and I’ll be back Thursday. Thanks for reading!


Paige Littlefield                                                                                                                                                                                          Instructional Technology Integration Coach                                                                                                                                                Norman High School                                                                                                                                                                                            Norman, Oklahoma

Guided Inquiry – A Mathematical Perspective

As I completed the final day of my guided Inquiry training this past Fall, describing myself as anxious would’ve been a major understatement. Our Geometry team had created a Guided Inquiry Unit for our students to complete right after Winter Break, and I honestly no idea what to expect. As a teacher interested in engagement opportunities, I was thrilled. However, from a classroom management perspective, I was terrified. I had no idea what my students were going to study, what they were going to find interesting, or what type of project they were going to create. As Winter Break came a close, I crossed my fingers (and toes!), and began this new experience.

As a class, we dove into ratios and proportions head on, with a new interest in real world applications, or most commonly phrased as the “why do we care?!” factor. My students kept a journal they wrote in one to two times a week, and I was fascinated by their responses. Overwhelmingly, they were so appreciative of my change of teaching! They enjoyed knowing the “why” of things, and felt much more connected to this chapter than any other we had covered so far. I couldn’t believe what I was reading! They were truly interested in mathematics! Quickly, my anxiety was replaced with hope and pure joy.

For my student’s create phase, they were to research a topic of their choice, and create a presentation and model of something in the real world. Common topics chosen included baking, toys cars (such as hot wheels), and movie sets.

However, one of the most interesting projects created involved Sea World’s Shamu and the animal’s large tank. The group of students created a model tank that was proportional to Shamu’s real tank. They weighed their model, thanks to a lovely science teacher, and converted its weight to pounds. Then, using proportions, discovered how much water would need to be in the tank with this model to be proportional to the real tank at Sea World. My students were so engaged in finding the correct answer, I think for a time they forgot they were in math class. I sat in awe as they presented their work, overcome with joy that these students were indeed mine.

As the unit came to a close, all of my students completed one final journal reflecting on the chapter, giving feedback, and rating this unit from 1-10. As a whole, everyone loved the unit. Many students enjoyed the project aspect of the unit. Others loved the real world applications. Finally, the majority couldn’t thank me enough of allowing them to study something they truly had an interest in. As a teacher, I felt I had truly done something amazing in my classroom.

To all my math teachers out there who are afraid of Guided Inquiry, I was too. But, don’t let that fear stop you from allowing your students to create something great. I encourage you to give Guided Inquiry a try – I promise you won’t be disappointed! Don’t let anyone tell you Guided Inquiry isn’t for math. Now more than ever, it’s exactly what we need.

Julia Prise
Geometry, Algebra 2, College Algebra Teacher
Norman High School


Writing in the Math Classroom?! A Guided Inquiry Reflection

I remember the first day of my first Guided Inquiry Unit. I told my Algebra 2 students (a mixture of Sophomore-Seniors in high school) that we were going to try something a little different. I asked them to keep an open mind throughout the process. I explained that I was nervous about this unit, but asked for their support because I believed this unit would be of great interest to them. They nodded along, smiled, and promised to try their best.

Then, I asked them to complete their first journal prompt. In math class. Oh, the audacity. I can still see the eye rolling. One student actually muttered, “Ummm, Mrs. Prise, I have English next hour, not now.” I put on my best ‘fake it until you make it’ face and put up the journal timer.

I remember this day not because of the anxiety or the eye rolling of annoyed teens, but instead because it was the day that I learned something truly incredible – writing in math class allowed me to converse with and understand students in a way I never thought possible. Throughout the unit, students who never spoke in class wrote vivid reflections, and I had the opportunity to write back and continue our conversation. I was able to judge student’s understanding quickly, without having to have them complete a typical assessment. I gained insight on what my students appreciated about the GI unit, and what they would recommend I change. Most importantly, I understood what my students were thinking.

When the Guided Inquiry unit ended, both my students and I were sad that the journaling was over. It was back to goal quizzes, homework, and exams. As the days went on, I felt myself using various GI ideas to make my content more engaging and applicable to the real world. But, there was still a hole where the journaling had been.

I’m thrilled to say that in August, each student will keep a composition notebook in my classroom, and we will journal at least twice a week. Sometimes, the prompts will be used as a checkpoint for me to see what students understand and what students are struggling with. Other times, it will be used to check vocab comprehension. Finally, sometimes, the journal prompts will ask a goofy ‘would you rather’ question, so that I can honor and value my students as individuals. I can see them as more than just math students, but as people who deserve a cheerleader in their corner. Whether their journal entries are excited, happy, lonely, or angry, they will know their math teacher is there to help with whatever they need. I may not be able to complete every unit in a true Guided Inquiry manner, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improve my practice with its aspects and ideas.

Still think writing in journals is just something for the English classroom? Think again! I’m going to turn all my student’s ideas about math class upside down, and I’ve never been more anxious, or more excited.

Julia Prise
Geometry, Algebra 2, College Algebra Teacher
Norman High School

My Mathematical Journey to Guided Inquiry

As a high school math teacher, my overarching goal every year is to nurture a unique group of mathematically literate students. In today’s society, we are surrounded with numbers, statistics, and figures, and my goal as an educator is to create critical consumers of mathematics. In order to engage my students in this kind of thinking, they must be engaged and excited about mathematics. I am lucky enough to teach at Norman High School, where engagement is always on the forefront of classroom conversations. Last year, I had the privilege of attending a Guided Inquiry Training, and my eyes were immediately opened to a new, effective way in which to engage and interest my high school students. Guided Inquiry has given me, as an educator, the means to involve my students in mathematics while engaging them in interesting topics. Students can study math, something of interest to them, and become critical consumers of research and mathematics in one large swoop. I have completed two Guided Inquiry Units in Geometry and Algebra 2, and each project has impressed and surprised me more and more each time. My students have overwhelmingly enjoyed the Guided Inquiry process, journaling to me about their appreciation for individual choice, real life applications, and an overall change from traditional mathematics teaching. As I approach my fifth year in the classroom, my mind is already racing with Guided Inquiry ideas for my students to explore. I have the unique privilege to engage students in mathematics, and my students deserve nothing less than the best. Guided Inquiry has given me the opportunity to involve my students in research, data, and most importantly, engaging mathematical content.


Julia Prise
Geometry, Algebra 2, College Algebra Teacher
Norman High School