What is Guided Inquiry Design?

Guided Inquiry is a growing inquiry based model and complete approach to learning.  I’ve been leading training in Guided Inquiry since 2007.  This training  is not only a training to learn about the instructional design for inquiry learning K-12, but it weaves in collaboration IMG_7471with a team of colleagues on site, teacher effectiveness strategies, and inquiry tools for deeper learning. It overlaps with many initiatives that are currently taking the spotlight in schools. (Common Core Standards, teacher effectiveness, inquiry based learning, and a new focus on the importance of not learning facts, but learning how to learn through information.)

The Guided Inquiry Design process is grounded in research that tracked students engaged in a research project for school. Kuhlthau discovered a process through observing, listening to and conferring with students during their research.

What she found was that there were distinct phases that students go through and students had certain thoughts, feelings, and actions while going through these phases as they determined their question and constructed their own understanding. If they weren’t able to go through all the phases, due to time or other constraints, then the results included cut and paste, fact finding, and regurgitation of information. She found much, much more about this process as she studied this process for years and wrote about it in internationally acclaimed research papers. One thing she uncovered through this research was what kinds of supports students needed to go through this process, learn about themselves as learners, and how educators and librarians could intervene during this process to support students to successful knowledge building.

That process was interpreted and used for years in school and academic libraries but rarely did classroom teachers know about this work.  So, we decided to create Guided Inquiry Design to bring this research and knowledge to teachers. We felt this would help teachers collaboratively design instructional experiences with teacher librarians that supported students to learn the curriculum in an inquiry environment of asking their own questions. Now that the Common Core requires this of all students across curriculum, educators are recognizing this as a critical component to their instruction and finding Guided Inquiry as an incredibly valuable resource. I’m often asked, “Why did I not learn about this before?!”  “This is our road map to success with inquiry learning.”

Our Guided Inquiry Design model was first written about in 2007 with Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century  where we described the research behind the design and answered why it was important to move to a new form of school learning in this post-industrial era. It wasn’t until 2012 that we came out with the complete program in Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School. This approach, since it was developed, continues to be implemented, and grow and evolve as educators use the framework to design units of inquiry study.

I’ve trained more than 1,000 educators in the design through professional development at districts and schools across the United States and Canada. Educators in Canada, Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Holland, Brazil, Columbia and many, many more have also been working for the last 3 years or more to implement this design for inquiry in all different kinds of settings, and finding Guided Inquiry the way to improve student learning for so many reasons.

I am so excited to have this opportunity of “52 Weeks of Guided Inquiry Design” to have all these variety of voices come together in this space to share this transformative practice with the world!

Thank you for being a part of this movement and for seeking research based approaches to teaching that have a lasting impact on deeper learning for all students.

Leslie Maniotes  – Jan 7, 2016

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