Using GID tools with Google Apps for Education

One of the bonuses of being the Curriculum Specialists is that when I need a “kid fix”, I have 63 schools from which to choose to visit. I recently had the opportunity to work with one of our CTE teachers in one of our Tech Centers. The principal contacted me because out tech centers do not have libraries or librarians. While the tech teachers have access to all the library resources, they don’t have the personnel to support them, so the request to help the Biotechnology class came to me. I jumped and offered to come and work with these students.


I emailed the teacher and asked for some information about what they will be researching and how might I help them with this process. This is to be an initial research into genetic engineering because later they will be working with proteins and creating their own. Using Google Classroom, I was able to help set up an Explore station for students to look for a topic about genetic engineering they had an interest in exploring further.

I started them in our online encyclopedia, Britannica School. Britannica allows teachers to create Resource Packs to set up its resources in a package for students to consume. Taking the terms the teacher provided, I set a resource pack for them to get some background information and use the Stop and Jot sheet from Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School.

Once students explored some background, we moved to Gale Cengage’s Science in Context:

Students continued to add to the Stop and Jot sheet for this database and their Student Resource in Context.


As students move forward with their research through the Identify and Gather stages, they will use the Inquiry Log to help them determine which of the articles to move forward and use for their research. Gale Cengage has an agreement with Google, so students can highlight and take notes right on the article, download load it into their Google Drive. They can share all their notes with their teacher and she can add comments as they go through all the stages in GID.

What was nice for me was to practice what I preach to my librarians, and it was really fun getting to interact with students again and talk to them about what they find interesting!

Other blog posts:;;


Lori Donovan is a National Board Certified Librarian and is the Instructional Specialist for Library Services for Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA. She holds a master’s degree in education with a specialty in school library media programs and a Graduate Professional Endorsement in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. She has published several articles in Library Media Connection and co-authored Power Researchers: Transforming Student Library Aides into Action Learners by Libraries Unlimited. She can be reached at or follow on Twitter @LoriDonovan14.

Using GID Inquiry Logs with Elementary PBL Projects

When Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) decided to embrace PBL, we worked with the Buck Institute for Education ( for training and implementation. BIE shows that PBL is a way to engage students, improve learning, helps develop critical thinking skills, promote creativity, and improve communication and collaboration among students (and teachers!). Librarians are essential in making this process work because of the elements within Buck’s framework, especially the Sustained Inquiry element (


One of my AMAZING elementary librarians has embraced PBL and GID in her school. She uses LibGuides as her platform for all student PBL projects ( – look under the Projects tab) so all their work to help with all 8 elements are there for students. Tracey uses resources from Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School when students are researching in the library. Leslie adapted the Inquiry Log for a PD she did on student engagement using GID as an example of how to really build students’ metacognitive skills. Tracey (and other AMAZING librarians in CCPS) are using these tools to help enhance and support student inquiry for PBL and other research projects.

Tracey’s school is one of our first who were trained in PBL, so she and her fellow teachers have had lots of practice and reflection on how to make their PBL projects engaging and have the rigor and relevance for the subject matter part of the project. Here are some examples of how students are using the Inquiry Log:

And what do the students say about these GID tools?

C – The inquiry log is helpful because you can look at different sites without taking notes.

N – The inquiry log is helpful because it helps me decide which sites I should use to find the information I’m looking for. It also helps me pick a subject to use. Another way it helps is it helps me decide which facts I can use.

K: The inquiry log helps because many people can’t remember what they read in the websites. Instead of forgetting, you can put the facts on the inquiry log and remember what you read.


Success is when students feel successful and encouraged to dive deep into what they want to learn!

Lori Donovan is a National Board Certified Librarian and is the Instructional Specialist for Library Services for Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA. She holds a master’s degree in education with a specialty in school library media programs and a Graduate Professional Endorsement in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. She has published several articles in Library Media Connection and co-authored Power Researchers: Transforming Student Library Aides into Action Learners by Libraries Unlimited. She can be reached at or follow on Twitter @LoriDonovan14.

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CCPS’s Journey with GID

Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) is a large, suburban school district just outside Richmond, VA. We have 63 schools and serve just over 60,000 students. As part of our district’s comprehensive plan, we are becoming a Project Based Learning (PBL) district – training several schools each summer until all are on board. As part of LIbrary Services, I wanted to find an inquiry research model to support the division’s move towards becoming a PBL District. That is how our journey began with GID. Leslie has done all day trainings with the librarians, and we spend other PD time looking at how GID supports all types of inquiry, not just for PBL.


This year we have had lots of change. We have a fairly new School Board and July 1, we got our new Superintendent. We also have had quite a few administrative changes happen at the building level as well. With all this change, the expression “Shift Happens” has become quite a mantra in our district. To help support the librarians here, I offered two book studies on professional books that talk about library services but were written for administrators. Our first book, Tapping into the Skills of 21st-Century School Librarians: A Concise Handbook for Administrators by Dr. Audrey Church, helped our librarians frame the types of conversations that can happen, especially with a new administrator in the building. We have new administrators who are new to CCPS but not new to administration; we have new administrators not new to CCPS but new to administration; and we have new administrators new to CCPS AND administration so we ran the full gamut. One of the big connections I wanted the participants to make was in using GID, they were tapping into 21st-century skills and inquiry learning was all about that Dr. Church describes. It was to allow them to use the format Dr. Church set up to frame their initial conversation with their new administrator.


Our second book study was with Dr. Rebecca J Morris’ School Libraries and Student Learning: A Guide for School Leaders. In her chapter on Inquiry Learning, I asked the participants “How does Guided Inquiry Design support what Rebecca Morris calls the ‘Collaboration Arc’, ‘Assignment Design’ for educators; ‘Thinking and Questioning’ and ‘Developing Questions’ for Students? “


Here are their responses:

“Guided Inquiry supports the Collaboration Arc because it assumes that there will be planning, teaching and co-teaching between and among the classroom teacher(s) and the librarian. Assignment Design supports guided inquiry because GI encourages students to construct meaningful questions to ponder and research. As Morris writes, “educators model how and why we attend to the process.” Thinking and Questioning is part of GI in that it encourages active thinking and ‘course correction.’ Developing Questions makes Guided Inquiry personal which as we know, makes learning much more meaningful.” Elizabeth K


“Assignment Design mirrors Guided Inquiry in that it moves away from students researching from a pre-selected topic or list of topics. Inquiry based assignments want students to choose to research a topic that interests them by encouraging them to ask good questions. Think Open, Immerse, and Explore. Similarly, with the students, the ‘Thinking and Questioning’ and ‘Developing Questions’ aspect of the Collaboration Arc are in the same mold of Explore, Identify, and Gather. I like the term ‘satisficing’ the book uses to explain how students typically accept resources that are passable. I may steal that.” Gillian A

“When first learning about Guided Inquiry, I actually imagined more of an arc shape than the linear process that was offered in the text. The inquiry process is a circular process in that an idea starts small then gets bigger and grows as the student is immersed in it and explores more deeply. The student reaches his/her highest level of discomfort (top of the arc) when trying to identify quality sources to validate the idea. As the student concludes the most difficult process, he/she begins to slide into a more comfortable place as synthesis and the creation process begins to take shape. After sharing and evaluating, the process comes full circle. It’s a circular process with collaboration, as well. You can only go up when breaking ground with veteran teachers and building new relationships with fellow teachers. We, then, must immerse ourselves in and explore each other’s content areas to ensure they flow seamlessly together. The librarian will identify & gather quality sources that support the curriculum, and possibly create student exemplars. The resources are shared with teachers and students, and the librarian and teacher reflect/evaluate how well the lesson worked and how it can be improved.


Guided Inquiry totally supports the Assignment Design for Educators – it’s the framework for getting away from the “bird units.” Admittedly, we are all more “comfortable” in a controlled environment, but a controlled environment does not allow deep thinking. I am currently working on Genius Hour with 8th graders. The ELA teacher and I definitely say “what were we thinking??” but the ideas that students are generating may not have come out otherwise! We still don’t know how everything is going to work out, but we are definitely celebrating the process!


By its nature, Guided Inquiry supports thinking and questioning for students in the immerse and explore phases. Students delve deeply into their topic, and as they are immersed, they discover a wide variety of sources from diverse perspectives. This allows them to compare, contrast, validate, and support their thinking and the questioning process.” Heather M


“Guided Inquiry Design supports the new PBL training that everyone in the district is doing. Using the library to support project based learning by doing research and being part of the inquiry work. Project Based Learning often promotes students working in small groups and the library helping to develop questions, research and complete their projects. Inquiry is a natural path to collaboration and working with curriculum!” Laura I


“Guided Inquiry Design supports collaboration as teachers and librarians work together to create meaningful learning experiences for students where they can immerse themselves richly in a topic before addressing a more finite research question. Collaboration arc (as would also be true in guided inquiry) means that the nature of the project dictates the type and frequency of collaboration. Not all projects are the same, nor is all support the same. Assignment design and guided inquiry are parallel in that students move away from selecting topics that have little meaning for them to choosing topics driven by good questioning. By learning how to create their own questions and by increasing confidence in questioning, students learn how to be self-directed in inquiry. Students are more engaged as a result supporting the development of critical thinking skills. By thinking and questioning throughout the research process, students develop the skills to replicate the research process across content areas and for future units of study.” Lindsey H


“Collaboration Arc seems to be similar to PBL. PBL is based on inquiry learning. Inquiry learning allows for collaboration with librarians and classroom teachers. Inquiry learning also allows students to gain knowledge by engaging them in questioning, critical thinking, and problem solving. Teachers and librarians working together is best practices for guiding students through the process of inquiry learning. If teachers and librarians collaborate instruction will be more effective for students because learning will be authenticating and engaging.” Ruby P

“Guided inquiry mirrors the collaboration arc, assignment design, thinking and questioning, and developing questions ideas presented by Rebecca Morris. The collaboration arc of working with teachers, sharing the responsibility, creating a culture of collaboration, and varying the degrees of collaboration is exactly what we do when we assemble the team for guided inquiry. We work with teachers and community experts to support the learning process for students. I like her point that having a collaborative partner encourages risk taking and innovation. The idea of assignment design is exactly what guided inquiry is. We have a goal for students to learn so we design the lesson to guide them in their learning. The process of learning is as important as the content they are learning. We use their third space to make it matter to them and we create a hook to get them thinking and generating questions. Students generate their own questions and drive their learning. Students look at how they learn and they evaluate information by forming higher level thinking questions. The immerse, explore, identify, and gather portions of guided inquiry are where learning questions are formed, reflected on, and revised.” Tami W

Lori Donovan is a National Board Certified Librarian and is the Instructional Specialist for Library Services for Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA. She holds a master’s degree in education with a specialty in school library media programs and a Graduate Professional Endorsement in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. She has published several articles in Library Media Connection and co-authored Power Researchers: Transforming Student Library Aides into Action Learners by Libraries Unlimited. She can be reached at or follow on Twitter @LoriDonovan14.


Other blog posts:;;

“Bulldog Brilliance” at its best – Alternative Ed students rock it!

For my final post this week, I will talk about the specifics and how the GID process worked beautifully with the Bulldog Brilliance Lab project.  Recall that the project this class did was to create a lab with video recording and editing equipment and materials for creating.  As I have already stated, I believe that GID is appropriate for all types of learners. This is important and was particularly key because the students in this middle school class ranged in grades from 6th to 8th with varied academic abilities. The flexibility of GID supported this diversity perfectly!

The initial planning work on the Bulldog Brilliance Lab took about 4 weeks.  The guiding unit question was ‘How does creative expression impact the world” and integrated standards from language arts, math, social studies, information literacy, and art. The unit started by bringing students together to discuss what they thought they could do with a lab where they would be allowed to create. Students shared their ideas and visions through a shared writing experience thinking about how this might impact their learning.  To Open, as a group the class looked at student created videos and brainstormed what was necessary to create an actual video.  Open was really an inquiry group activity where students shared freely.  Immerse was a fantastic field trip to the high school to visit the Video Resource Center (VRC).  The VRC is a production studio offering classes in media production.  The VRC also manages the District TV channel showcasing footage about events in the district and happenings at the school sites.  It was a perfect place for our students to learn firsthand about what equipment was needed.  As noted in my second post this week, there was also emotional benefits for our students because of them ‘finding their place at the high school’ making the upcoming transition so much easier.  The field trip also motivated students about the project and they came away with great ideas and a new-found confidence. Explore was done primarily through online resources simply because pricing for equipment could change quickly and the available print resources were limited. This provided the perfect opportunity to really strengthen skills for evaluating web sites!  Using resources curated and organized in Google Docs and websites the students located, they learned more about video equipment, labs, creating stations, and fab lab options.  Identify was somewhat collaborative because students naturally divided and focused on the equipment and the part of the lab that interested them most. There’s that flexibility again – thank you GID! The students consulted another expert from the Computer Lab/Technology Center from the public library to further identify possible equipment and as they Gathered information, it was maintained on a collaborative Google Spreadsheet (see image below). Information included was the name of equipment, pricing, quantity and where the item could be purchased. In this phase, there were several inquiry group discussions about the equipment specifications and the students had to justify why they choose one model over another.

Image 1. Collaborative Google Spreadsheet for Equipment Budget

The Create piece of the project was to work as a team to develop presentations that could be shared when seeking financial support.  In this phase, discussions about presenting etiquette was covered. Students recorded themselves using old Flip Camera’s and what we found was when students watched themselves, many of them said ‘I need to practice more’. Talk about a chance to practice writing and speaking skills!  Sharing was done through presentations and grant writing where students contributed to the final presentation and work.  Students could not be at all presentations and any grants written had to be done through the teachers.  None-the-less, student input was invaluable because it was their vision and work!  Although we did not get the funding to buy new equipment, as the project was Evaluated using ‘what worked, what did not work, and what would you change next time’ questions, students shared that they were proud of their work and recognized that not everything gets funded.  Another really great learning opportunity.

As noted in my earlier post, the lab became a reality through donated and repurposed equipment.  Once that happened video and creating activity was somewhat ongoing. Here are some pictures of student work and production on a promotional video they created for the Pennies for Pasta campaign.  (Pennies for Pasta is a fundraising effort to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.) For this video students created a storyboard and plan to include as many teachers and students in the school as possible – of course only those that wanted to be front of the camera – and then collaboratively wrote the script.  In this project, it was so great to see the camaraderie happening between students.  Some students did not want to be in front of the camera so they opted for ‘behind the scenes’ roles and they cheered each other on through the completion.  Because we did not get new equipment, the class partnered with the VRC so they could use really good quality equipment for recording and to learn Final Cut Pro for editing.  The video aired on the school channel and we were so proud!

Image 2. Pennies for Pasta Storyboard

Image 3. Collaborative Google Slides writing video script

Image 4. Student ‘interviewing’ cook for video


Image 5.  Recording footage for video in Bulldog Brilliance Lab

We observed growth in students in their self-confidence, their ability to use information in an authentic way, their ability to work collaboratively to solve a problem and share information, and their improved overall behavior- and this is attributed to the GID process.   To bring this all back around I believe deeply that GID is for all learners and that it provides natural learning scaffolds in every phase no matter the academic ability of the student.  By the way, I also believe that GID is great for special education students – but that is perhaps the topic of another week.

I hope you enjoyed reading my work and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. As I close my blogging for this week it is with great thanks to Dr. Leslie Maniotes for this opportunity. This is a fantastic chance to reflect and share and I am so glad I did it!

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS

Energetic Educator and Online College Professor,

Guided Inquiry Design – NOT a One Size Fits All!

Hi everybody!

Well, I’m not sure how you did with sweets on Tuesday, but I must tell you,  I ate a lot of chocolate on Valentine’s Day so my sugar overload was very real and I’m paying for it now.  I guess it was worth it though!

Anyone who knows me understands that I like to laugh, have fun, kid around, play, be spontaneous and I am just a pretty easy going person. They know I am passionate about school libraries, teaching, and learning and a pretty hard worker.  What these people also know is that when it’s time for me to be serious or address serious topics, I can sit up straight, focus, and take on the serious topics. I have found that I need to kinda do the same thing with online teaching. You have to interject humor when you can, be willing to laugh at yourself, bring things to life and make the environment a little more personal, and have fun with the journey letting your passion for the topic guide you.  To my new friends I am meeting through this blog, it is great to meet you and I hope you will also feel this in my writing!  I love to write but tend to be a “flowery” type  of writer.  My husband Dennis, who by the way is my other fuzzy friend (see picture below) always tells me “the Reader’s Digest condensed version please”, so you probably get the point.  I’ll do my best to keep my word garden in control and not overdo it, but I am writing on topics that I am totally passionate about so it might be difficult.  Two topics near to my heart-Guided Inquiry and alternative education kids.  As I write, I still reference the alternative education kids as ‘mine’, they are still in my heart!


My other fuzzy friend and husband, Dennis. We are working on our selfie skills!

For this post I would like to reflect about how Guided Inquiry is a great fit with all types of learners because to me, there is not a prescription for the type of student who is a ‘good match’ for GID. In fact, I can argue that I think students who are challenged to be successful for a variety of reasons are a GREAT match for GID. I miss my kids at Dimensions (no offense to my fantastic graduate students who are hopefully reading this). I loved working with alternative education students and believed in helping them realize their own potential and to tell you the truth, they helped me realize by own potential in ways they will never understand.  Alternative Ed kids tend to get a bad rap, often times viewed as ‘those bad kids who go to that special school for kids always in trouble’.  When I began working with alternative education kids 16 years ago, I never, ever, even for one second, thought, ‘these kids can’t do it’.

I don’t ‘classify’ students by abilities, I see a group of brilliant minds. For the purpose of illustration, consider these three sets of students.  The struggling, successful, and advanced learner all with a range of abilities, motivation toward learning, experiences, backgrounds, etc. which impact their learning. Sounds like a typical classroom, doesn’t it?   If this is a continuum and we think about GID, each of these groups of students are able to be successful in their own way every step of the GID process.  

Struggling Learner

Successful Lerner

Advanced Learner

For a group of middle school alternative education students,  a GID project helped tremendously with transitioning to high school and for one student in particular, changed their life.  A personal goal of mine was to bring as many learning opportunities to the students as possible and so as a team, the middle school class of 6 students, the classroom teacher, and myself as Teacher Librarian started a project to set up the “Bulldog Brilliance Lab”.  The goal for the lab was to have a place where students could extend classroom learning through creating, so we wanted to have a green screen with video and editing equipment, MakerSpace tools and gadgets, thus creating an environment where kids were comfortable to express themselves.  This project naturally unfolded as a GID unit.  It was totally a student driven project from identifying needs for the lab, seeking pricing, funding, presenting to groups for possible financial support, working on grant writing with the teachers, and really taking in ownership in the process. What authentic learning opportunities!

As part of the project, students went on a field trip to the high school video resources studio. This studio is on one of the high school campus in the school district that offer media production classes and also maintains the school TV channel.  Dimensions kids actually got to run video equipment, work with editing footage, talk to high school students, and be a part of productions. It was a great experience for all of them!  One student in particular, we will call him James, comes to mind – he was terrified of going to high school, period.  During the field trip, James was able to talk to the media teacher one-on-one and mingled with high school students who he could relate to.  Fast forward – the kids were so into creating video projects back at Dimensions where they wrote scripts, rehearsed, recorded and edited the footage so it could be shown on the school channel.  (P.S.  My secret goal was to help the community see that these kids were rock stars and not the ‘bad’ kids.)

Thank you Mr. Jay Curry!

Anyway — these middle school students took leadership roles working with the entire school to produce videos. They wanted to create a weekly program spotlighting teachers and students and the activities that happened at school sharing that ‘good happens’ in alternative education.  Another idea they had was to create a video tour of the school for new students so they could actually get a feel of the ‘community’ before they came there as a new kid.  Let’s get back to James — as a result of this GID project doing what he loved (Third Space at its best) and the connections he made at the high school, his fear of going to high school turned into motivation toward entering high school – he was excited to get to high school! . You see James had such a Third Space Connection because he writes his own scripts at home and produces them on YouTube. And here’s the really great news –  the classroom teacher noted that student behavior improved AND the quality of student work improved.  Oh and by the way, James is doing famously at high school last I heard.

Let’s go back to the statement that GID is a good match for all types of learners. The example above clearly illustrates the possibility for students, all types of students.  Are you wondering about the project and how it ended?  The Bulldog Brilliance Lab was a success and the vision became a reality.  It was not a reality with shiny new equipment but a reality through donated resources that we put to great use!  Our kids didn’t care that the MAC computers were not new, they didn’t care that the green screen had a tear in the corner, and they didn’t care that created projects were not perfect.  What they did care about is they were doing something they loved, something they were passionate about, and something that was helping them realize their own potential.   Gosh, this sounds really similar to the author of this post.  

Until the next post, I vow to have NO MORE CHOCOLATE!


Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS
Energetic Educator and Online College Professor,

Love is in the air for Guided Inquiry, Chocolate, and Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  My name is Buffy Edwards and I have the privilege of blogging this week.  What a perfect time for me to talk about two things I really like, chocolate and Guided Inquiry.

I love chocolate. Chocolate, that amazing treat that seems to just make things better, gives you the boost to keep going, and helps you think.  That sounds like GID! I love Guided Inquiry. Guided Inquiry, that amazing process that helps students take ownership in their learning, helps them keep digging into their projects because of Third Space connections, and helps them become critical thinkers.  So to me, this is a win-win combination.

Time flies when you are having fun! I am so happy to be back on the 52-weeks Guided Inquiry Blog-thank you Dr. Leslie Maniotes for this opportunity. About a year ago, I had the pleasure of ‘co-blogging’ here with my friend and colleague Kelsey Barker, Teacher Librarian, Longfellow Middle School, Norman, Oklahoma. Together, we shared the process of how a GID team of Teacher Librarians in the Norman Public Schools District developed a GID science unit that would be implemented by 5th grade teachers across the district. The complete post about the science unit can be viewed here

So that’s really where my interest and involvement with GID started, with the Norman Public Schools (NPS), Norman, OK where I served as the District Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian at Dimensions Academy, a k-12 alternative education school.  Here’s the link to my earlier blog post where you can learn more about me!  The NPS District provided 3-day GID institutes with Dr. Maniotes where teams of teachers and Teacher Librarians came together to learn about GID and develop units of instruction for implementation at schools across the district. (You can read more about the district implementation process on this blog post).  Norman Schools has certainly designed a national model for training teachers and Teacher Librarians for implementing GID.  Thank you NPS for the incredible opportunity of being trained by the master of GID herself, Dr. Leslie Maniotes.
You might be wondering why the past tense with ‘served’ as Library Information Specialist and Teacher Librarian.  I retired.  Short, to the point, I retired. 29 years working in school libraries and I treasure every moment of my experiences and career.  Now you might be thinking ahhhhh retirement. That time in your life when you hang up your hat, stay up late, sleep late,  be free from commitment and responsibility and just kick back and relax. Nope, not this “retired” Teacher LIbrarian.  You see for about 15 of those 29  years I have also been teaching online graduate courses, in my spare time, ha ha! When I took off my full-time  K-12 teacher librarian hat, I put on a higher education instructor hat, now having time to work with even more fantastic graduate students in colleges of educations and schools of library and information studies. In addition to teaching online courses, I also visit students and former students in the field observing, sharing ideas, suggesting strategies and ideas about best practice and instruction and rolling up my sleeves to help with  weeding, packing,and rearranging physical spaces and really anything else that needs to be done.  How lucky am I?  Sharing my passion for the profession, teaching and learning, and, yes, you guessed it, Guided Inquiry Design. I am so very lucky and I feel fortunate to have these opportunities.  Some may think that retirement means it’s time to quit and be done and that you may be finished with the profession and career. I would argue it can be quite the contrary – it’s the time that you can take your work and profession to the next level, change lanes, shift gears, and share invaluable knowledge and experiences from an entirely new perspective.  

This is me with my fuzzy friend,12 year old Rugby.  He’s an Australian Shepherd adopted  from Second Chance – in the last two years he has lost his sight but certainly not his spirit!

My interaction with Guided Inquiry is quite interesting because I have the experience of implementing Guided Inquiry at Dimensions Academy (k-12 alternative education) in Norman, OK, being a part of the district-wide implementation of GID in Norman, writing about GID professionally, and teaching future teachers and librarians about GID.  In my earlier post, I shared some information about a unit at Dimensions Academy that allowed students the opportunity to earn multiple-credits toward graduation, I will talk a little more about GID related to that experience as well as other units and the impact it had on students.  You see, I believe that GID is appropriate and successful with all types of kids and will share more about the impact GID had our learners and why I am such a believer in the process!  

Thanks for reading today and now………… it’s time for some chocolate!

Buffy Edwards, PhD, MLIS
Online College Professor,
Chocolate photo from Google Images: (….0…1ac.1.64.img..8.3.546.0.x_WRIs-Ji3w#imgrc=007–mIW6Xqn2M🙂

NAMI Speakers “Open” Students to GI

For my final blog this week, I would like to discuss the importance of the OPEN phase which is defined by the GID process as:

*invitation to inquiry

*open minds

*stimulate curiosity

For the past three semesters in my Psychology in Literature senior seminar, my GID collaborating Librarian Educator Anita Cellucci and I have invited guest speakers from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI; to share their lived experience with mental illness.  And each semester students continually offer positive feedback on how the speakers educate and inspire them.  By having our guest speakers Eliza and Megan share so candidly about their experiences with their own mental illnesses, students are invited to ask questions,  open their minds to erase the stigma of mental illness, and stimulate their curiosity to engage in a Guided Inquiry topic of their choice related to our course.

After Eliza and Megan visit, we ask students to engage in some reflective writing.  Below are the questions we ask and I’ve included three different students responses.

Please write a 1-2 paragraph reflection that expresses your thoughts, feelings, opinions about the visit from NAMI yesterday.

How did this visit and the presenters/presentation:

* validate your thinking?

* clarify mental illness/mental health issues?

* erase stigma?

* create empathy?

Please include any other thoughts you have on the topic.

Student 1:

“I thought the visit from NAMI was extremely helpful and enlightening. I had already known a lot about mental illness, mostly from my Psychology classes. After listening to Eliza and Megan, all of the missing pieces that hadn’t been clarified were clarified. Their presentation also changed the way I think about many aspects of mental illness, specifically stigma and treatment. Their stories were more impactful.  I used to view depression very negatively because every time I read or watched something about mental depression, it ended badly. I also had a family member who killed himself because of depression. From the NAMI presentation, I now know that it is possible to get “cured”, and that negative stigma has gone away. I also now feel a great deal of empathy for those affected by mental depression, and for those who are affected by someone else who is battling depression.

Over the past few months I’ve had more negative emotions than normal. I’ve felt scared to tell someone because the environment around me makes it seem that feeling negatively makes me an outcast. These thoughts make me feel lonely, like no one understands how I feel. After Megan and Eliza shared their stories, I realized that I’m not the only person that has negative thoughts and feelings. For that, I am grateful that I got the opportunity to listen to the NAMI presentation. It has also helped me to acknowledge the support system that is available. I think this presentation should be available to not only the Psychology in Literature classes, but all Psychology-related classes and any other seniors who would be interested.” Zak

Student 2:

“In respects to the visit from NAMI during class yesterday, the topic of mental illnesses and disorders seem to be more of a comfortable topic to recognize. Having others come in and present about this topic that people usually are afraid of or try to avoid really helped me recognize the fact that we shouldn’t be scared of mental illness. Continuing to ignore the heavy topic won’t help those who unfortunately suffer from the different mental illnesses. From sharing the dark days, to coping skills, the presentation helped further support the fact that we should be talking about this problem. I strongly believe that removing the stigma surrounding this issue is essential for the progression of help for those who suffer from mental illness. With more presentations like NAMI presented, as well as availability for classes such as psychology in literature, there is hope to erase the stigma and go in the positive direction for awareness of mental illness. As well as eliminating stigma and broadening education around the topic, the NAMI presentation successfully opened my eyes into the real life of those who struggle with mental illnesses.” Tara

 Student 3

“The visit from the National Alliance on Mental Illness yesterday was an amazing opportunity for all of us, living with mental illness, or have had some kind of contact with people who have any mental illness, to connect with other people and understand their story and how they came out, or still trying to come out, of a very dark hole. One thing that kind of soothes my soul is knowing that I am not alone and that someone somewhere is going through the same kind of thing I am going through. For me, “putting a face to the story” is more than just a connection I make. It is physically existing with another person who is cut out from the same piece of cloth as me and not only listening to their story, but walking with them completely till the very end. To me, this presentation was like looking in a mirror, but instead of seeing my dark thoughts, I’m seeing familiar storylines that have the “alternative ending” and that makes me happier than I can ever say. I think presentations like that are extremely helpful and vital especially to younger kids. In nature, children are easier to be around with and to talk to; they don’t have any preconceived notions and they are more likely to be empathetic. When we don’t do anything to feed that spark of theirs, to encourage them to do more and get better at it, we are slowly pushing them to fail and alienate anyone who is different. It is not a surprise that a lot of people think of mental health illnesses as excuses, “getting sucked up” and that they are totally irrelevant and not real; hence it’s all in your head. It saddens me that to this day people still think that we are making things worse for ourselves and that we can easily snap out of it. You cannot snap out of anything. Sometimes it’s like getting sucked up in a dark hole and even though you’re trying, really trying, you still cannot find a way out. For a lot of people the faint light comes from the outside and for some of us you have to shine that light for yourself. And that is totally fine…” Nadine

The students’ reflections are by far the most personal responses of the semester.  The NAMI speakers literally OPEN up our students to analyze, reflect, and prepare for the last part of our course:  Guided Inquiry. When we first began GI, I created a cool power point presentation for the OPEN phase that reminded students of all the literature we explored throughout the course as a way to spark their interest in a topic.  And although, the power point was a decent option, inviting the NAMI speakers is by far a better Open to stimulate students.  I have often enjoyed brainstorming anticipatory activities to introduce a project and the fact that GI emphasizes the importance of the Open phase is so validating. The Open phase is a motivating, empathic, and energizing way to being Guided Inquiry.

I will end with one more student quote.  Maddie shared the following about the Open in an end of the semester reflection.

“The NAMI speakers were a really powerful part of this course and certain things that they said are notions that I will carry with me for a very long time.” Maddie

Kathleen Stoker

English/Journalism Teacher

Westborough High School

Westborough, MA

twitter:  @stokerkathleen


The Imperfect Educator and GID

So as much as I would love to say all of my GID students’ stories are successful like the one I shared in my last blog post, they aren’t–especially when you take into consideration no two students are the same when it comes to their social emotional learning.  Then there are external factors such as high and stressful expectations from the school and family community that can negatively impact students’ learning.  Oh and yes, there is the imperfect teacher factor.

I want to share the emotional process I recently went through in reflecting on the successes and failures of last semester’s Guided Inquiry in my Psychology in Literature senior seminar course.  For this blog, I am focusing on the failures.  Now when I use the term failure, I am using the definition “the omission of expected action” versus “lack of success.” I also want to make it clear that the failures aren’t related to the phases of GID as much as the human factor brought to GID.

So my Psychology in Literature students were nearing the end of the Create phase when I began to acknowledge that I had made a lot of inaccurate assumptions with this particular group of students with whom we were working.  The students with whom Anita (our school’s librarian educator) and I were working were overall a high functioning group–this is true.  And therefore, I felt I didn’t have to worry about them completing their individual assignments for GI.  However, I realized when I checked the note-taking app that our students use for their research called Noodle Tools (which offers a 30 day review of an individual student’s work flow) that a lot of my students waited to the last minute to complete their research and final product.

I felt duped and taken advantage of.  I felt like I failed the mission of Guided Inquiry–I hadn’t sufficiently guided my students.  They had continued to engage in their old research habits of procrastination.  So gratefully Anita and I had a heart to heart, thoughtful reflection on what I had assumed:

*I assumed that because I had developed a safe, mutually communicative relationship with my students over the semester that the openness would transfer to GI.  I assumed the individual students would approach Anita and me with questions versus us going to check in with them.

*I assumed students would balance their time between GID and an independent book group I had assigned at the same time.

*I assumed students would utilize their time to complete their final project which was a google presentation using screencastify.

*I also assumed because a lot of the students were stressed with their overall academics that we should extend their research time–assuming that they would benefit from more time to engage in their deep dive of research. However, even with an extension, some of the students still waited until the last minute to gather their research.

Well I was wrong on all of my assumptions.  Hence, the imperfect teacher factor.

And admittedly, I began to get very teary-eyed discussing with Anita how I felt not only did my students fail in terms of not meeting what I perceived to be our expectations, but I had failed as one of their teachers of this process.  Anita and I then discussed:

1.  Maybe I had become too comfortable with GI that I assumed my students would naturally be comfortable with the process as well.

2.  Maybe I got lazy. (I said this comment, not Anita.)

3.  Maybe I hadn’t expressed fully to Anita that I wanted her to truly have as much input in the GID process as a lead teacher–meaning for us to honestly share for example that we needed more guided check ins with our students.

And then Anita gently reminded me–

4.   Maybe I was forgetting to be reflective in the fact that some students take longer moving through the social emotional phases of inquiry, so perhaps maybe some students’ procrastination was in fact part of the GI process.  And this point did register as we’ve had at least several students during each course hesitate because their GI is very personal; and therefore, it takes them longer to digest the information.  Anita pointed out a lot of the psychology-based, topics students choose to delve into over the course of approximately four weeks are very emotional for the students to process.

As I read through our students’ final reflections, I did note that every student shared that he/she learned a lot from the GI process.  This information gave me reassurance to not go to all or nothing thinking about this round of GI with our students–to really see their experiences as learning opportunities for me as their teacher.

Anita also encouraged me to be gentle with myself as this imperfect teacher can suffer from internal perfectionism.  She and I started a shared google doc to record our thoughts, feelings, experiences on what we want to do differently next semester.  For example, we plan on going back to more frequent guided check-ins with our students. I also will not assign an additional reading assignment during GI.  And we will stick to our initial due dates, because although we recognize the other academic pressures students are facing, we are confident in the allotted time we give them to move through the phases.

And of course we will continue to acknowledge that each student moves through GI at his/her own social emotional learning pace…and I have learned we teachers also move through GI at our social emotional learning pace as well.

Kathleen Stoker

English/Journalism Teacher

Westborough High School

Westborough, MA

twitter:  @stokerkathleen




Emotionally Supporting Students through GID

Hello from Westborough High School, Westborough, MA!  I want to thank Leslie for continuing to offer such amazing Guided Inquiry Design opportunities like this blog for educators!  I am so grateful to participate again this year by sharing some more GID experiences from my Psychology in Literature senior seminar.  (Please see my blogs from last year to read a bit more about me and the GID work from last year. Links are listed below.)

For this blog, I want to focus on and definitely AMPLIFY one student’s GID process and the importance of the teacher’s role in guiding the student through his/her emotions that come with the research process and specifically choosing one’s topic.  Emotionally supporting our students is an important key to the success of our students in the Guided Inquiry Process.

As a reminder, our school’s librarian educator Anita Cellucci (@anitacellucci, @libraryWHS) and I have collaborated together using GID in my Psychology in Literature course for a couple of years now.  The course is a semester long, so for the last quarter of the 16 week course, we are committed to GID. Students choose their own topic to research based on a connection (even if it’s a small one) to our course. The objective is for students to dive deep into the topic of their interest.

The student for whom I am focusing is named Ashwini.  She is a senior honors student who admits to being an inner perfectionist.

While we were in the Immerse phase and conducting some preliminary research in the library using our computers, I noticed that Ashwini had a perplexed and anxious look on her face.  I approached her and asked how I could offer her assistance.  She said she wanted to research a topic personal to her, but she was afraid to start the search.  I asked her what was her interest.  She said, irrational fears.  She said there was one in particular that she experiences, but was afraid to share it with me because she didn’t want to me to think  she was weird.  I told her it was okay, I wouldn’t laugh or make a weird face.  She shared for many years she has had a fear of groups of dots/holes.  To be honest, I never had heard of such a fear, but figured it was a phobia. Ashwini said her parents thought it was a bizarre fear to have.   Ashwini was afraid to start the search in fear of actually seeing images of the dots/holes.  But she said she it was so important for her to learn about her fear–to see if there was anything she could do to move through the fear.  I admired her courage and willingness to take on a topic that scared her.

So I offered to type in her fear and see what came up.  She physically moved behind the computer, so she couldn’t see anything that came up on the computer screen.  When I typed in fear of groups of holes, trypophobia came up.  From my initial read, this phobia isn’t officially recommended as a phobia by American Psychiatric Association‘s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5); however, it is a proposed phobia as a lot of people share the fear.  When I told Ashwini that there was at least a name for her fear, she said, “So other people have it, too?  I’m not crazy?” She took a deep breath and said she thought for a long time that there was something wrong with her.  I did share that it wasn’t considered an official phobia yet.  But the bottomline was that Ashwini had taken the first step to managing her fear by having the opportunity to talk about it and research it.  She asked if she could explore the topic of irrational fears without looking at her particular one.  I said of course.  Ashwini  was curious and interested in further research. Of course, I was thrilled she was researching a topic to which she personally connected and one in which that was personally challenging.

It truly was amazing to witness Ashwini’s fear of researching her topic melt away having the knowledge that she wasn’t alone in her topic.  She moved through the Gather, Create, and Share phases with more ease as she found out that there are therapeutic techniques to help minimize one’s phobia symptoms. Please see below both her responses to what she shared in her final inquiry circle as well as her final reflection.  I will further comment after both.

Create/Share Final Inquiry Circle

Ashwini’s responses:

As you reread your core sources and review your journal, think about what you have learned about your inquiry question.

I learned . . .
That there is still a lot of research that is taking place about phobias because this is a relatively new field in science. I also learned that as they say, “there is a method to every madness”, there are so many explanations behind irrational fears, some of which I found so interesting and never even thought of.

Write what these things make you think about your inquiry question.

I think . . .

That this is something that should be further researched on because 18% of adults face irrational fears and I think that more people should be aware of this and should start possible therapies. I also think that the mental health aspect of this is something a lot of people are unaware of and I think that there should be more awareness about this topic.  

Read over what you have written and write what you would like to tell your inquiry circle about.

I would like to tell about . . .
How I discovered my fear and how I was comfortable knowing that there are people out there that face the same fear. Just like any mental health issue, this should be dealt in a similar manner because there are so many symptoms that can cause increased stress levels and anxiety. I also would like to explain to my peers about the genetics and science behind it, in addition to the mental health aspect, because I found that very interesting.

Anything else you would like to share…
I found it very interesting to research something that I can easily relate to. I loved finding coping mechanisms because now I can put that into effect, as I have never even thought that simple breathing techniques can reduce high stress levels due to these irrational fears.
About the powerpoint itself, I would like to add that I found ten minutes less to explain my topic. I know that Ms. Stoker and Ms. Cellucci may not have that much time, but I found it hard to squeeze in all my information and my “story” into ten minutes, so I had to rush at the end. But, thank you for all the support! 🙂


And Ashwini’s final reflection:

What is your inquiry question?

My inquiry question was “How, if so, do genetics play a role in developing irrational fears and phobias and how does these affect an individual’s psychological sphere of their life?

Describe the process of how you developed a specific topic within the inquiry question?

I knew that I wanted to do something that related to me. I wanted to know more about the science behind phobias and irrational fears, but I wanted to also research the psychological aspects behind it.

Which keywords did you find to be most effective for your search?

Phobias, fears, anxiety, insecurity, nervousness, physical pain, irrational fears, facing fears, treatments

Which part(s) of the LibGuide did you use?

I used the State Databases in the LibGuide, mainly focusing my searches in the health sections.

Identify at least one difficulty you encountered during your inquiry?

During my inquiry, it was hard to link the genetics and science to the psychological part of what I wanted to research more on. However, I found only a handful of quality articles that involved both.

How did you overcome the difficulty?

To overcome this difficulty, I kept searching for more and more within the databases, specifically trying to add more keywords and phrases relating to the mental health aspect.

Identify what new questions you have about your inquiry. What questions came up as you were doing your research?

What can be done to completely remove someone’s fear?

Is it possible to tell that someone has a fear just by the way they act in normal situations?

If two people have the same fear, do they behave the same way? Does it affect them in the same way psychologically?

Describe how you felt about working on this inquiry project a) when you first started, b) as you were gathering information and c) as you worked on the final product.

  1. I was nervous because I did not know how much research was done on this topic and if there would be even anything that I could find
  2. I felt better about it because I learned that a lot of scientists and psychologists have in fact research in depth about this.
  3. It felt a lot more satisfying, especially to learn that there is a possible, rational reason behind the phobia I have.

After conducting your research, do you have a better understanding of the class connection you cited in the beginning steps of inquiry? For example, if you were further interested in what survivor’s guilt was because of Conrad’s struggle in Ordinary People, do you now have a deeper understanding.

Yes, I have a better understanding of the connection. I definitely could understand more about the mental health aspect of characters and to know that they are not really all that different from anyone else facing the same situation. There is always help out there and we need to acknowledge our problem and try to find help. Especially because we have the understanding of doing an inquiry project, if we want to research something later, we have a good process in hand which can be used to effectively research a topic we are interested in.

My final thoughts on working with Ashwini:

Ashwini was excited to share her research with her classmates as in the Inquiry Circle because she had discovered so much useful information that is literally life-changing for her.  In a lot of traditional types of research projects, teachers assign a topic and then send their students off to research.  With GI, it is critical for teachers to be involved in the whole process, but especially the immerse and explore phases. Often in the traditional phase, teachers never see the internal emotional struggles students have in choosing a topic or having an assigned topic. It is essential to conference with the students about their emotions and thoughts during the process, especially in the beginning.

Co-teaching GID with Anita, she and I are able to really give the students individual attention.  Instead of me trying to touch base with 20 students, she and I really try to divide and connect with ten students each. We don’t necessarily stay with those same ten students throughout the whole process, but by starting with those students provides them with individual attention.  And as we move into the Identify stage, we touch base with all of the students so they have two teachers checking out their inquiry questions.

Knowing that Ashwini has both the GID skills to conduct meaningful research as well as the content knowledge and tools she learned for her personal growth are so rewarding as she will graduate in June with these life skills.

Last year’s blogs:

“I’m Not a Teacher, I’m an Awakener!” Greetings from Massachusetts!

Differentiation, Student Choice, and Reflection–Oh My!

GID and “Real World” Use for Students: Valuing their GID work inside and outside the classroom

Kathleen Stoker

English/Journalism Teacher

Westborough High School

Westborough, MA

twitter:  @stokerkathleen


Theme of 2017: AMPLIFY the Positive in Education through GID

Excellent Educators! We need good news! 

Guided Inquiry Design is part of the good in education that is happening across the country in many schools. With GID students K-12 are engaged, thinking critically, asking great questions, digging deeper into their research, and creating amazing products to share that learning with others. Just read some posts on this blog as examples!

But, unfortunately, we don’t often get to hear this message about the best things happening in our public schools.

With the national conversation on education highlighting some negative rhetoric, our very own president labeled  our educational system as:

“an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge” Donald Trump, Inaugural address 2017

We need to amplify the excellent work that you are doing in our public schools.

Doing the good work with our students in our schools is part of our action, but now it’s just not enough.

So, I am asking for your help. We need to flood the networks with all our examples of GID and the impact its having on our students. This is not as much about Guided Inquiry as it is about schooling in the US. If we want to shift the narrative to a positive we have a responsibility to take action and show every example of great learning in US public schools as we can.

We need to amplify this positive message about the good in education.  GID is a best practice having a very positive impact on student learning and critical thinking everywhere it is being implemented. Do you agree? How is it having a positive impact on learning at your school? On your professionalism? For your students?

Just like Heather Locklear showed us back in the 80’s…

Just tell two friends…



But more than telling two friends- we can amplify the positive messages about learning through social media.

How can you help? 1.2.3

  1. Sign up for a week on our GID blog. Three short posts is all you have to do.
  2. Use your facebook account to share good news. Tag Guided Inquiry Design and I’ll help you to amplify your message to a larger audience there.
  3. Use your twitter account to share the great things happening in your school everyday. When GID is part of it, tag @InquiryK12 and I will help you amplify. Share photos, and short examples like this.
  4. Make presentations to your local Board of Ed about your work and share with your local newspapers about the positive outcomes of GID in your school

People want good news, let’s give it to them! Won’t you join us in this effort to share the world class education we provide our students everyday, and how GID is helping you to do that?

Start by taking action, today.

Thank you!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Co-Creator of Guided Inquiry Design


PS Here are some Tools to help you Amplify your message:

Twitter tips for AMPLIFYING.

  • ALWAYS tag your twitter posts with hashtags. Hashtags work to amplify your message to a much larger audience. Your post will reach other educators beyond your followers to more people interested in education.
  • Some hashtags you can use:
    • #inquiry #edchat #FutureReady #education #inquirybasedlearning #edtech #tlchat

Further Reading: Read these posts for more ideas about education hashtags:

Haven’t signed up for a twitter account yet?

(This post was also published as a GID Newsletter.)