“Get Your Fresh Popcorn!”
When my colleague, Jenn, and I attended the CISSL workshop a couple of summers ago, we went there knowing there were steps missing in our research/inquiry units. We knew we were headed in the right direction, but there was a piece or two of the puzzle missing. As soon as the presenters began to instruct and we began to understand the model, we realized one major component we were missing. That step was open. Open and Immerse were the orphan children of our process. We were skimming over or leaving out these two critical steps. Students and teachers would come to the library and I was ready to jump into explore and beyond with little or no problem. However, we as a school were not spending the time on Open and Immerse. Now, anytime a teacher or group of teachers include me in a project, I do all I can to stress these two important steps.
Last year, we put into action a project that is steeped in GID. I had been reading and hearing a lot about Steve Sheinkin’s nonfiction masterpiece “Bomb.” This nonfiction account is one of mystery and spies. It is the true story of the building of the atomic bomb. Thus, it is rich in history and science. I thought it was a perfect book for our freshman. Being the librarian and collaborator I try to be, I am constantly trying to get teachers to teach with books as opposed to textbooks. The year before when I was an inquiry infant, I talked one of our science teachers to teach a biology unit using the historical fiction novel, “Fever” by Laurie Halse Anderson. We had success, but clearly needed to take this concept to the next level and bring in other teachers. I mentioned the book “Bomb” to this same teacher. She read it and was hooked. Last Spring, we bought twenty copies of the book for several staff members and began our own professional development book club. Most of the freshman teachers bought into all freshman reading the same book and a host of
My job was to coordinate the project and I was in charge of Open. As I talked about earlier, the library has been redesigned to take on many shapes. It can be set up as a movie theatre. I decided to find a movie as the open step. We would host a movie on the big screen after school for students that could stay and provide popcorn. Over the winter, I worked with the social studies teachers to find the perfect movie. Then, I contacted the music boosters to see if we had a shot at borrowing the their popcorn machine. Little did I know the president of the music boosters was a retired school superintendent. He told me borrowing the popcorn machine would have to be discussed at the booster meeting. A few days later, he said of course we could use it and the parents were so happy that we were hosting the event, a booster would come operate the machine and there would be no charge.
I contacted one of the technology teachers and asked if her students could design tickets. She was more than happy to work with us. The afternoon of the movie, the booster president showed up pushing the popcorn machine. He was also raving about how the library had benefitted his son and hosting programs such as after school educational movies was greatly appreciated. Before we knew, it the smell of hot fresh popcorn was drifting out of the library. Students who did not have tickets were frantically calling parents! The library filled with eager freshman. Students ate popcorn and were glued to the big screen for two hours. In fact, the booster parent came and sat by me commenting on the engagement of the students and how many of the students stated they were anxious to get their book and begin the unit. The next day, teachers passed the book and students were hooked! Teachers said that students were excited and asking for their copies of the book. Other teachers poured into the library the next day commenting in disbelief that so many students stayed after school to watch the movie.
This open activity was such a hit, we plan on using this concept once each grading period next year. In fact, a social studies of over twenty years was in this morning asking if over the summer, we could find our first movie to host an open activity next fall. It is vital to spend time open. Open takes time and creativity. As we learned that summer, it takes a team. Our team at Jonathan Alder keeps expanding and growing. We have been asked to present at other institutions. I have written a grant to expand our teachers area/clubhouse. What we have is contagious. Others want to know our secret. As I have stated before, we have developed a culture of inquiry and collaboration. We will continue to grow and work together and craft our skills as inquiry guides!