Getting Started

Happy Monday, GID-ers!  If it’s snowy where you are, I hope you’re staying warm.  As for us in Oklahoma, I’ve barely needed a sweater this week, and we have not a single snow day in sight.  I’m so excited to have this opportunity to share with all of you our exciting Guided Inquiry Unit, but first, a little about me.

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My name is Paige Holden.  I’m a third generation teacher from a huge family full of teachers (I’ll leave you to imagine what that does to holiday dinner table conversation).  Aside from my family, friends, and my sweet puppy, my great loves are coloring, reading self-help and young adult realistic fiction books, and watching basically every cop show on Netflix.

I’m in my fourth year of teaching at Whittier Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma (Insert enthusiastic football references here. Which would be great if I knew anything about football). This year, I’m teaching eighth grade Language Arts and Reading for Pleasure, and in the past I’ve taught several reading intervention classes.  I’ve also coached many years of cheerleading.  In my five classes, I teach about one hundred twenty fourteen year olds (I KNOW- but I love them!). That’s a hundred and twenty out of over three hundred eighth graders, and we serve grades six through eight. Our school is home to a little over eleven hundred students total- the largest of Norman’s four middle schools.

Of our students, thirty percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch, about fourteen percent qualify for special services, forty percent are considered gifted, and four percent are English language learners. Because of the diversity of our student population, it’s critical that we incorporate engagement, differentiation, and student choice into our learning environment at every opportunity.

I was first exposed to Guided Inquiry last year because all of my friends are librarians. (No, really.  All of them.) At first all their happy hour talk about GID was complete gibberish, but as I heard more about what they were doing, I was intrigued.  The first thing that attracted me was that Guided Inquiry involved choice and collaboration- two ingredients that are essential in my classroom.

Then, in December, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the team from Whittier that attended the three day Guided Inquiry Institute, taught by Leslie, that was sponsored by our district.  (I have to stop right here and say how lucky I am to work in a district that values and invests in quality professional development, as well as trusts its teachers to try new things in the classroom.) Getting there wasn’t easy, (making three days of sub plans for eighth graders is NO. JOKE.) but I couldn’t have imagined a more worthwhile experience.  I worked closely with a terrific team of collaborators and at the end of three days, we had not only a completed unit and a plethora of new strategies to take back to our classrooms, but also the confidence to try things we’d never done before.

This week, I’ll be sharing information about our Natural Phenomena unit (and why it was such a relief to change from the unit we used to teach!).  I’ll discuss each phase of our process and plans, as well as my reflection on the success of each piece and possible changes I would make.  So, stay tuned and use the comments to join the discussion!

~Paige

3 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the need for engagement, differentiation, and student choice in any classroom! Glad you found GID as a classroom teacher to help facilitate student involvement. I’m still in the early learning phase myself so I look forward to hearing ways I can collaborate with my classroom teachers on my campus! Thanks for sharing!

  2. hi Paige! thanks for this fun introduction!

    I’m just beaming about all you took away from our time together at the Norman GID Institute in December! I’m so so glad that the leadership in Norman Public Schools has chosen to go this route with training, and that a team from each school is participating this year. It’s just fantastic!

    I cannot wait to hear about your unit and your reflections on how it has changed what you do. I get a hint from this that it will be tied to student engagement, which is one of the parts that makes my heart sing!(Third Space!) 😀 See you later!

  3. Nice to “meet” you Paige! Dying to hear about your Natural Phenomena unit. I teaching organizational skills to Grade 8 boys. I would consider the fact that any of them get anything out of the class a natural phenomena, but I suspect that you are talking about something a little different! 😉 I also love your Reading for Pleasure class. Based on the name alone, I think I want to take it. DO you have room for “mature” (read, really freaking old) students?

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