Hello again, GID friends!
I’m so excited to be back on the blog this week with my friend and colleague Paige to tell you about a project we worked on together last spring. But before we jump into that, let me tell you what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted here, just about one year ago.
When I first wrote on this blog in 2016, I was a newish elementary librarian just diving into the wide world of Guided Inquiry. Since then, I became a GID Coach and then a GID District Trainer for my district, Norman Public Schools in Norman, OK. I moved from elementary to middle school in and worked in GID into my practice at the new school (sometimes successfully, other times not so much). I have learned so much about Guided Inquiry through the units I’ve been a part of in the last five years and especially through teaching the GID institute to other teachers in my district.
I have had the chance to learn and grow in my GID practice especially because for the last two years, my school has been a part of an IMLS-funded research grant with the University of Oklahoma and Norman Public Schools. The grant researchers are studying how students at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels learn when Making is embedded in Guided Inquiry. In the 2017-2018 school year, I worked with two 7th grade Language Arts teachers to complete four GID units, and it was an intense but amazing experience. I learned so much about GID at the middle school level, how to structure units for student success, design thinking, and more. The classroom teachers were wonderful and very dedicated GID practitioners themselves, but I think all of us were worried that four units in one school year was too much. Turns out, it made for great learning for our students, and this year they are still planning to do three units.
This year on the grant, I am working with two new teams: 6th grade Social Studies and 8th grade Science. As I write this, we are just beginning the Create phase with 6th graders, and I can’t wait to see what wonderful products they dream up. Maybe I’ll come back in a few months to share our results!
I also had the opportunity in the spring of this year to try something completely new for me: a cross-curricular GID unit, where 8th graders were looking at the concept of activism through the lens of the Civil War time period. Through their Language Arts classes, students experienced Civil War-era activist literature, music, art, and poetry, while simultaneously immersing themselves in the same time period through Social Studies. The classroom teachers worked together to create an engaging, intensive unit of study that achieved the standards of both courses.
The learning team was comprised of two Language Arts teachers, one special education Language Arts teacher, two Social Studies teachers, our gifted resource coordinator, and myself. When the team sat down to collaboratively build this unit, we knew it would be a logistical challenge to make sure that all students had the learning experiences we desired for them while still allowing each content area teacher to use the strengths of their subject to enrich the curriculum for students. For example, one of our challenges was that one student’s schedule may have Social Studies before Language Arts, while another had Language Arts first in their day. Because of this, activities could not build up one another within the same day. We needed some kind of tool to keep students organized and create a day-by-day guide for what was expected of them in each class.
As we designed the unit, I was reminded of a session Paige taught at Get Fit, our annual in-district professional development conference. In this session, she had participants work with a tool that I thought would be perfect to meet our needs for this unit. I will let her share more about that tomorrow… I hope it changes your teaching life the way it did mine! I’ll be back on Thursday to share how Paige and I worked together to implement this tool and make my cross-curricular unit successful.