It is the last day before winter break, and like many of you my brain has been working in overdrive. However, I know that my final post is probably my most important, because it is about listening to students discuss their learning throughout the inquiry process.
As a former English teacher, I always understood the importance of conferencing with students during reading and writing, but I had never thought of it for research. It wasn’t until I became fully immersed in Guided Inquiry Design that I understood how essential conferencing is at every stage of the inquiry process.
Students need the opportunity to reflect on their learning. Conferring with students allows them to express questions they may still have and determine what tools will help them accomplish various tasks necessary to the process. The key to conferencing is being a good listener. In other words, you do not tell them what to do, but instead listen to them and guide them to the strategies and tools they may need.
Once I understood that conferring with students was just as important in the inquiry process as it is in the writing process, I built essential conference time with my students into every GID unit plan. When students are exploring resources for interesting ideas, conferencing helps the learning team determine if students are examining new ideas instead of accumulating facts. In the Identify stage, conferencing helps students narrow their topic. During the Gather stage, conferring with students can often ensure that a student does not go off track while they collect detailed information. Giving students the opportunity to articulate what they know is crucial to their learning, and essential in the inquiry process.
It has been wonderful sharing some of the things I have learned over the years using GID. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and the best 2017!!!
Passage Middle School
Newport News, Virginia