My name is Stacy Ford and I am the Teacher-Librarian at The John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma. I have been an educator for 11 years. Four of those years were spent as a middle school social studies teacher and the last seven years I have been a Teacher-Librarian. My current school serves approximately 450 students in grades Pre-K through 5. Our free and reduced lunch rate is approximately 90%. An important feature to note for our upper grades (3-5) is there is pretty much a 1:1 student to Chromebook initiative which allows for ample technology integration for our units. The school library operates on a fully flexible schedule. My schedule allows me to meet with whole groups, small groups, pull out students and push into classes as planned with teachers. Currently, Kennedy is under construction and the library is under major renovation, where we will have walls for the first time since the building was constructed in 1968! On a personal note, my wife Erin and I have two kiddos on the ground, ages 3 and 5, and a sweet girl that could be wheels down at literally any moment. They keep us busy with trips to the local sno-cone stand, public library and right now to any pool we can get into.
As a Teacher-Librarian I was introduced to Guided Inquiry Design by our district library coordinator, Kathryn Lewis, in the 2014-2015 school year. I participated in a Guided Inquiry Design Institute in the fall of 2015. Prior to these experiences I was introduced to Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process during my M.L.I.S graduate program at the University of Oklahoma. My school district has been very supportive of the Guided Inquiry Design process by sponsoring multiple GID institutes and having school librarians lead workshops at district and state conferences. Most importantly, teachers and principals are being brought into this process alongside librarians, so that Guided Inquiry has not become a “library thing,” where Teacher-Librarian’s are expected to be the expert and implement everything. This has allowed for TLs and the Teachers to develop better working relationships and a greater understanding of each others role in the instructional process.
As a classroom teacher my students were consistently involved with research projects. Through my work with my school librarians I began to make these research projects better. However, they still revolved around a rubric checklist of items, not authentic inquiry questions. In my role as a teacher-librarian I would say that I have worked with teachers on authentic research projects, that is to say, not simply reporting information the majority of the time. However, I would admit to working with teachers to assist in the reporting of information in my current practice as well. The thing I love about Guided Inquiry, and what my school district is doing is that it lets me teach how I have always wanted to teach. By teaching the way that I want to teach, I mean to say that I allow students the opportunity to research content related information to create knowledge in an authentic fashion. Along, the way I am able to practice best teaching practices by allowing students to reflect on their learning and make connections with each other based on content.
This week I will be referencing two different Guided Inquiry Design prototype units that I have conducted with teachers and students at Kennedy. I call them prototypes because they were not perfect examples, but I learned from both of them and the units I have since designed with teachers have benefited from the missteps our teams have made before. Back to the units I will be discussing. One of the units will be a 3rd grade unit where students were focused on studying animal classification and the other was a 4th grade Native American unit. There are specific things I love about each of these units and there are things I will redo when we implement them again.
I’m looking forward to sharing with you this week!