Immersed in Learning

In my current GID unit, my 5th grade students are exploring the world around them. Over this unit, students will gain knowledge  of Earth’s four spheres: hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere, and atmospheres. The goal in this Next Generation Science Standards inquiry based unit is to lead students to an inquiry project about human’s impact on the environment.

Currently, we are in the Immerse phase of GID. This phase is all about building background knowledge, connecting students to content, and guiding students toward those inquiry based questions. Throughout this unit, I have specifically selected technology tools and resources that are highly engaging, fosters critical thinking skills and promotes communication with peers and experts. 

The beginning of a student ThingLink Inquiry Journal

Throughout this inquiry based unit, students are keeping digital inquiry journal. This will be a place where they will record their ideas about what they are learning and their questions that will guide research later on.  There are many options for student digital inquiry journals. I work at a Google Apps for Education district, so a majority of my students’ work is housed in Google Docs and Google slides. For this GID unit, I wanted to introduce a new web tool. I decided to use ThingLink. I love this website! Students were able to take this image of the four geospheres and create an interactive image. Within the website, students can add images, videos, and audio to images and videos. Through this activity, students they are learning how to organize ideas, synthesize information, and create. In addition, they can take this with them as they move to ahead in their education, where they will develop even deeper knowledge of our world. That is way more powerful than a notebook that most students will throw away at the end of the year.  

The most powerful technology tool that I have used, thus far, has been Skype for Education. A few weeks ago, my class was able to Skype with a ranger from Yellowstone National Park. He spent a half hour talking to my students about the geology and wildlife of Yellowstone. While being in Yellowstone would have been an amazing experience for my students, facilitating a field trip for thirty-two 5th graders Wyoming would be nearly impossible. Just because we can’t bring our students to the experts, doesn’t mean we can’t bring them to our students. Skype for Education is completely free for educators, and there are experts in just about every field who want to share their passion with students.  This was the second Skype we did this year. The first was with author, Christina Farley, who spoke with us for almost an hour about the writing process. The process is so easy. Each time, I received a response in a matter of days. All you need is computer with a camera and microphone and a free Skype for Education account. It’s that simple. 

My students may not remember every lesson I carefully planned, but I know they will remember the day we talked with a real Yellowstone National Park Ranger. They were completely glued to every word he said and had a ton of questions at the end of his presentation. Immersed in learning…I think so.

 

Rebecca Wilkin
Selma Unified
@msmorris2013

An Invitation to Learn

In Monday’s blog post, I asked everyone to dig deep and analyze their own attitudes about time. Today, let’s think about how we present the learning process to our students (which definitely relates to time). In short, is learning a drag, something to merely tolerate? Or is it a process of discovery?

When you want to learn more about something, do you reach for a textbook or Powerpoint presentation? Or do you ask a person, do some research, watch a film or video?

 

What can educators do to establish a warm, inviting, exciting mood for learning? In Guided Inquiry Design, the first three phases of inquiry learning (Open, Immerse, Explore) are critical. Kuhlthau et al establish again and again how important it is not to rush students because establishing a learning purpose affects successful implementation of the rest of the inquiry process.

Educators learn from studying the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of inquiry learning that they should not begin a unit of study by handing out an assignment. No learning context has been established! Just yesterday a student told me, “We just started reading a speech in English class today and answering questions about it, but I have no idea who was giving the speech and why.”

In my school, students can take an elective called Media Center Service Learning. We have had success implementing a unit on social justice. When we start talking about it, they all inevitably ask, “What is social justice?” That question shows me their lack of previous knowledge, so imagine how ineffective it would be if I simply handed out an assignment sheet or packet on the day we began the unit.

Units of learning should begin with an open invitation to spark students’ curiosity. Students should be curious about lots of things because they typically haven’t had many life experiences yet, so there’s a lot they don’t know. What would make you curious to learn more about something? (Probably not a textbook or PowerPoint presentation.)

At the high school level, I’ve had success using the New York Times Op-Docs website for short documentary clips to engage students and get them thinking. For the example of our social justice unit, here’s one clip we used, featuring an all-girls school in Afghanistan. Students wrote questions during viewing on a shared Google Doc which we discussed after viewing. The clip prompted some great discussions among students who before viewing the clip didn’t know the meaning of social justice. They were astonished to discover some of the information presented in the clip. Some students went on to research the school because they were curious, naturally leading into the Immerse phase of GID.

In Immerse, educators need to give students opportunities to encounter the breadth of the topic. Building background knowledge is critical if students are going to have enough information to eventually narrow down a topic in the Identify phase of GID. During my unit, the students continued their discussion about the clip. I also arranged for some guest speakers to visit my library. A representative from a local organization which works to help victims of human trafficking attended as well as a representative from a local community center and a public librarian. These three individuals spoke with students about how their jobs involve issues of social justice. This event helped show students the breadth of social justice issues around the world but also in our local community. Students took notes and also participated in discussions in inquiry circles. They were particularly interested in the human trafficking organization (SWITCH).

At this point, students have already encountered a great deal of new information as a group. As we transition into the Explore phase of GID, “students browse through various sources of information to explore interesting ideas and prepare to develop their inquiry questions” (Kuhlthau, 2012). In our unit, we prepared 13 stations each featuring an issue of social justice. Students rotated among the stations, writing down questions. We included books, articles, political cartoons, photographs, video clips, and much more. Remember that students should only be browsing, skimming, and scanning at this point. They may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, and now is not the time to be bogged down in detailed note-taking. As Kuhlthau (2012) states, “when students rush through exploring, their thoughts about their ideas have little opportunity to evolve or develop. As learners slow down and relax, they can read and reflect on the information they are exploring” (79).

Here is proof that GID works: some of my students ended up choosing a topic that was not featured in the Open, Immerse, or Explore phases! These same students who began the unit asking “What is social justice?” had progressed enough to find their own topics. I could not have been more proud of them. And yes, some of these students were reluctant learners.

As an end product, students wrote a letter to a local representative, organization, or newspaper explaining the social justice issue and proposing a solution or course of action. Their end products were much more effective because they were given time to explore issues that interested them and that they cared about. They gained a much clearer, detailed picture of social justice because they moved through the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases. Imagine if I had merely provided them with an assignment sheet including a list of possible topics. The students would not have developed an emotional connection with the unit.

All of these activities took time. Use your fellow teachers and school librarians to collaborate. Branch out into your community and see which learning opportunities are available. Ideas provided in the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases can make learning so very exciting!

-Jamie Gregory, NBCT, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm    jamie.gregory@spart5.net

 

Time and Patience

“Would your learners come back to your class tomorrow if they didn’t have to?” –Trevor Mackenzie

I have a tall order for a Monday morning: we’re being very honest with ourselves today!

If you’re a more experienced teacher, you might realize upon self-reflection that it’s very tempting to fall into a rut. Because, let’s face it, teaching is exhausting. Tailoring instruction to your specific students, allowing for exceptionalities of all types, being creative, giving constructive feedback, entering grades, calling parents… I’ll just stop the list right there.

However, it does us good as educators to be reminded that our attitudes, tone, and demeanor dictate the paths of learning in our classrooms. I think it’s fair to say that in an average American public school, there are a lot of demands being made on teachers which can obscure our vision. How can we break through that fog to rediscover the joy and fun of educating others?

Let Guided Inquiry Design lead the way! This inquiry model isn’t effective solely for the students, but also for the educators. When was the last time you put yourself in your learners’ shoes? Done something you’d never tried before? Read something about which you knew absolutely nothing? Read something that you knew would be very difficult? Put yourself outside of your comfort zone? Engaging in these things makes us feel like learners and discoverers again, which means remembering what it’s like to feel uncomfortable and anxious and overwhelmed. We know this is exactly what happens to learners thanks to the Information Search Process research conducted by Kuhlthau and reaffirmed over the past 2 decades!

This week, I’m going to share some ideas that I plan to present next week at the South Carolina Association of School Librarian (SCASL) conference in Greenville, SC.  I will be encouraging fellow librarians to take steps to foster an inquiry mindset with their students based on the GID model, sharing some successes and struggles I have had. In this blog post today, I’m going to focus on two issues which I personally believe greatly influence our level of success: time and patience.

How many times today have you already said, “I don’t have time for that!”? Keep track and analyze your results. Time hasn’t changed; we still have 24 hours each day! Librarians hear that response a lot when we suggest alternatives to students taking notes from PowerPoint presentations or reading from a textbook. Although we do live in the age of standardized testing, there are still a lot of courses at the high school level which are not tested. Be honest with yourself about how you spend your time with your students. You don’t need to worry about drill-and-kill with content area knowledge if students are encountering your content in authentic texts and authentic learning activities (like visiting a museum, listening to a guest speaker, interviewing their local government representative). Remember yourself as a student. If you didn’t like to read your textbook when you were a student, then there is no chance your own students do.

Have you ever passed out a research assignment to students as the beginning of a unit? Do you only allow students a day or two to find information? Librarians know from experience that research is often presented in this way. If you find yourself dreading a research assignment as much as your students, then you know it’s time for a change. Students who feel pressured to complete work quickly will not turn in quality work, nor will they probably care because an intent to learn has not been established. Yes, exploration and discovery take time. But what a useful way to use the time we have! Partner with fellow teachers and librarians in your building to help brainstorm and share resources. There is never a reason to go it alone.

Be willing to honestly examine your own attitude toward time. You teach your students about what is important through your words, actions, body language, and tone. Make exploration and discovery something you can’t wait to do either, and be the learning role model for your students. As Kuhlthau (2015) states in Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, “Guided Inquiry has the power to excite students about using resources for learning” (114). Furthermore, “Sources from the community enliven the inquiry process” (115). Use your time to find resources beyond your textbook or PowerPoint presentation: the school library, fiction, objects, museums, experts, parents, public library, business professionals, community officials.

Guided Inquiry Design states that during inquiry, the learning team “uses modeling, listening, and encouraging” to engage and guide students. Prioritize time in your classroom and library to model curiosity, listen to students throughout their process of discovering information, and encourage questioning.

These ideas naturally lead into the second issue I believe is greatly important: patience. I am the first to admit that I struggle with this one! Patience and time are directly linked. If students are going to build their own knowledge through an inquiry stance and develop information literacy skills, then they have to be the ones doing the learning. We don’t need more research and books to prove that to be true again and again. How many times did it take you to truly learn something well enough that you could teach it to someone else? Probably more than once! Allowing students to make mistakes, maybe even on purpose, so they can learn from them is critical. Avoid telling students answers. Use questioning to guide their thinking.

Moreover, being patient with someone shows that you care. Being patient shows that you are willing to give your time to someone else. When students trust their educators, a safe learning environment is established and they are willing to take more risks which can lead to more discoveries. Be patient with learners as they reflect on their abilities in order to make goals, then give them the time to reach those goals.

Dedicating time and patience to the inquiry process has many rewards! Return to the question which begins this post. Do you even want to return to your classroom? Being excited and curious, having patience, and using authentic sources of information will influence how students answer.

In my next post, I will share some ideas for the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of GID and why they are so important to the inquiry mindset.

–Jamie Gregory, NBCT Library Media, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm   jamie.gregory@spart5.net

Past GID blog posts: https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/19/it-all-starts-with-a-question/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/21/concepts-and-questioning/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/23/keyword-inquiry-log/; https://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2017/06/25/individualized-reading-plans-and-reflection/

 

 

Lead, Reflect, Inspire: 52-GID in 2018

I’m Leslie Maniotes- co-creator and author of the Guided Inquiry Design process and book series, leader of this blog. I’m taking the blog, for one post, to welcome this new year, set the vision for this work and inspire engagement.

Get a cup of tea or your favorite beverage, I’m here to tell you a story.  I made this post a pretty hyperconnected document so you can dig in more deeply to the details of my story, if you are so moved. Enjoy!

As many of you know I live in Colorado.  My husband and I moved out here from North Carolina, when I was accepted to the Doctoral program at CU Boulder in 2000.  Having lived in North Carolina for 15 years prior, we loved exploring the Boulder area and showing our new digs to friends visiting from the east coast.  One time, back in 2004, we were in Boulder, on the famous Pearl Street mall, with some friends from our Guilford College days, and as we crossed Broadway, a man on a bicycle was zooming by.  Being the observant guy he is, my husband recognized that this was not just another fit conscious Boulderite or Boulder professor scooting off to class, but it was the famous David Byrne from the Talking Heads. (wikipedia is good for some things)

Having graduated high school in the Stop Making Sense era – he was an icon we all recognized. We all shouted “Hey David!” To which he turned, smiled, and gave us a big wave as he bumped down the curb. This was back in 2004 and David was beginning his quest starting with riding bikes in the cities he was visiting. Turns out, he loved the experience as it gave him a new perspective on the cities and so he got involved in the bike sharing movement.

Well, 14 years later, David is telling a larger story with his new record album  which he says is about looking and asking . (Fitting for Guided Inquiry, right?) And, he is finding new channels to tell this story about Reasons to Be Cheerful.

In his talk at the New School this week, he shared some really inspiring “cheer worthy” stories, that he has been a part of across the globe.  In this speech, he also named a few key qualities to all that he found. These good ideas;

  1. Typically arose from the bottom up
  2. They were not specific to any one culture
  3. They were proven to be successful by the people themselves.
  4. They were not singular isolated incidents of goodness, but could be replicated

It’s pretty inspiring to hear about ordinary people becoming more engaged in their communities through libraries, community events, and organizing. There’s great possibility in when a group of people believe in something- they declare “THIS IS IT!!” and spread that feeling by taking action and replicating the results in their own contexts.

A little sidebar- in his talk at the New School he showed this graphic (at about minute 34) of a UPenn study in New York neighborhoods. It showed how cultural resources, libraries and community arts centers, postively impacted the people who live in those communities. Byrne mentioned this and then said all things are connected. Things that you think might not be connected, actually are. He specifically named that child abuse, obesity, crime went down, while student test scores in schools rose 18% in these vibrant communities with rich cultural resources.

So, you may be wondering why I’m mentioning this here.  Well, this blog is our community of practice!  You have decided that Guided Inquiry is IT! It has helped you reach students in new ways, teach the way “you’ve always wanted to teach”, engage students, lead others, and be a better professional!  This blog is how we share that practice. This blog serves as a space that is changing the narrative of what is happening in education.  Through your stories, as we raise our voices together, we are sharing many things to be cheerful about in education.

Many people don’t know about Guided Inquiry, but through your stories, people are learning that schools can include more voice and choice. Students can create inspiring and creative works to share their knowledge and understandings with others, and that through inquiry, our students learn to be connected to their world in ways before unimaginable.

With that, won’t you please join me for another year of cheer, of leadership, and of reflection where educators across the globe are inspired by the possibility of Guided Inquiry Design, where others might come and replicate your ideas, to make their community and schools more vibrant with questions and student voice in learning, like yours.

Here’s to another great year! We can’t wait for you to tell your story. Thanks for being a part of it.

On January 21st, we welcome Teresa Diaz who will kick off the new year.  She is new to the blog, a middle school librarian from San Antonio, Texas. She will share her learning about using the QFT within the framework of GID.  Stay tuned folks! And sign up , if you haven’t already! 

Peace and Joy to you all!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author/Education Consultant for Guided Inquiry Design

Creator of Guided Inquiry Design (with Dr. Carol Kuhlthau and Ann Caspari)

Apps that promote Inquiry

I believe in Inquiry because I believe it fosters a self-directed and self-driven desire to life-long, continued education.  A child/student who learns to intrinsically ask questions and seek answers through a research driven process such as GID will most likely become an adult who continues to learn, question, research.  I further believe that GID is much needed, to discourage and discontinue the current trend towards believing fake news, false information, scams, etc.

Because of my beliefs, I am always searching for ways to encourage student driven Inquiry.  Most recently at my campus, I have begun to find and publicize technology apps and programs that either promote Inquiry, provide a great platform for Inquiry or can easily be integrated into a unit of Inquiry.  Apps and websites such as wonderopolis.com and recap provide a safe place for students to wonder, ask questions and seek answers.  Other technology can be used to promote shared note taking (Google docs is one such technological advantage in this area).   Technology can also be used to organize ideas, and present findings (such as movie making with iMovie or screencastify).

I would not say that any one app or website has become widely used across grade levels at my campus.  This is another example of an early stage plan to widely promote GID at my campus.  Therefore, I would love to learn more such apps and websites from all my GID colleagues.  If you have an app or website your campus uses, please leave me a comment with the name and description of use!  I look forward to adding to my list!

Tara R.

Immerse through Book Tasting

Each year at Kujawa to culminate the elementary level education, the graduating class completes a unit of inquiry we refer to in IB as Exhibition.  Think history fair type of event and you will have a general idea of the type of work the students go through in preparation for their big day.

This year our new Principal, Kim Jenkins brought to me an idea of a Book Tasting.  When I began to look into “book tasting” activities, I realized this would be a perfect way to begin the immerse stage of GID within this unit of inquiry.  This will be our first attempt at “Book Tasting” so any advice you have to share would be most welcome!

Our purpose in this unit is for students to follow an inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.  Arranging a “sampling” of  books that depict these inquiry strands will begin the immersion process.

My plans are to produce a place-mat, a menu of countries, and a note taking page yet to be designed.  A buffet of books that relate to various cultures will be on each table.  Students will spend five minutes sampling 3-4 books.

The books and other artifacts will remain on reserve in the library and 4th grade classrooms throughout the inquiry unit

Questioning Questioner Questions

Hello, GIDers!

I’m Kelsey Barker, and I am the Teacher Librarian at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. I have blogged for 52 Weeks of GID before (here and here), and now I’m back again! I can’t get enough GID.

Here I am, showing my love for libraries!

When I attended my first GID institute with Leslie in the fall of 2015, I was the librarian at an NPS elementary school and brand new to the job. I fell in love with the process and the way that students were fully engaged in deep level learning. When I moved to middle school last year, there was no question that I would be working to implement Guided Inquiry at my new school as well. I have seen learning miracles happen through GID.

My first GID Institute team!

Like Cindy, who you heard from a couple of weeks ago, I am also a Guided Inquiry district trainer for Norman Public Schools. This has been an incredible opportunity to share my love of Guided Inquiry with other teachers in my district. I love watching these amazing educators grow in their profession, and it’s so rewarding to see their excitement to implement a unit with their students.

My most recent GID institute team… the district trainers!

As a district trainer, I have the opportunity to talk to lots of teachers just starting out on their GID journey, and there is one question I hear from them more than any other:

How do I guide my students to ask high level inquiry questions that stem from their own interests but meet the need of the classroom curriculum and state or national standards?

I am not ashamed to share that I too wondered this at my first institute in 2015. In fact, I wrote it on a sticky note in my institute notebook after day one. Looking at the big picture of unit design, it can be hard to understand GID can help students connect deeply with the content if we are allowing them choose the inquiry questions they ask. At the time, I understood that this is where the Guided part of Guided Inquiry came in: students require guidance to ask the questions that will lead to a successful inquiry experience. But honestly, I had no idea how to do it.

Now, with hundreds of hours of collaboration with fantastic educators and nearly 20 units under my belt, I’m excited to share what I have learned about guiding student question with all of you. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing several specific strategies I have used with my students to guide them to high-level inquiry questions that meet the needs of the curriculum and engage  the individual student.

I’ll be back this weekend with my first four strategies, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Do you have questions about student questioning? What’s your biggest hurdle around inquiry questions? Do you have a great strategy for guiding student questioning?

Kelsey

 

Intentional Practice

 

Focused reflection is what allows us to pause and mindfully ask ourselves the tough questions, think about different strategies and approaches, and then implement change where needed. Building in time for the teachers to reflect during the GID process gives space  for individual thoughts and individual processing time.  Reflection opens an opportunity to conversation.  Finding the time to reflect can be a challenge and collaboration can be really hard. During collaborations emotions, expectations and vulnerability have the potential to collide at any given moment. In my last post, I mentioned the 3 things that I keep in mind when collaborating.  I am intentional with reflection in all collaborations, but especially in GID.

Typically my reflective practice is quick sticky notes of thoughts that occur to me during a class with students. I later journal about my observations.  The observations are typically first about what I could’ve done differently to engage, to assess learning, or to be more transparent to students about the objectives of the lesson or activity.  It’s typically not until after I’ve processed these observations myself that I approach my colleague. In this way, I am able to articulate better as to what I think the pluses and deltas are.  Approaching a colleague with this type of discussion can be challenging for both parties.  A level of awareness of self is truly important to a successful interaction with colleagues and especially when it involves a long term collaboration.  Framing the conversation around student learning and the goal of pushing the learning deeper allows the conversation to be reflective about improving teaching practice.  

This past year, a colleague and I were able to move this to a deeper understanding of collaboration within the digital context.  As we have collaborated for several years now, we are able to be authentic with each other and openly ask for feedback regarding our collaborations.  Bringing it to the digital context was a helpful layer of reflection for each of us. Because it’s in a document that we can both access, it becomes a place that we can begin our next collaborative conversation.  It’s also a judgement free zone, where we are sharing thoughts but not placing blame. Establishing this understanding is helpful to moving forward with building GID units.  Each student, class and teacher are different.  Being able to bring the reflections to conversation allows us to think about what could be different next time and to discuss what we each noticed.  Bringing in the pluses and the deltas allow us to keep the good and shift the not so good.

Here are some things that I’ve personally learned from my own reflections about working with students and Guided Inquiry Design:

  1. Teaching with this process does not mean that instruction is unnecessary and that expectations are lessened. Instead, scheduled check-ins for students allows for personalized engagement during the process. Creating an Inquiry Community builds these into the learning process and allows teachers to personalize the necessary instruction and support for each student. It also ensures that students know that you are aware of their work and effort throughout the process.
  2. Giving students the ability to establish a reflective process before beginning Guided Inquiry allows students to transition easily from research to reflection and to develop an understanding of the complexity of reflecting. If students have not spent time thinking about their thoughts prior to GID, they will struggle with the reflective writing and the inquiry circles.  Reflective practice at other times during the class give students the ability to learn strategies that will transfer.
  3. Determining the habits and attitudes that individual students will need to be effective with GID is beneficial to developing appropriate instruction for each phase of the process. Integrating inquiry, information literacy, digital literacy, and ethical practices in other areas of instruction will prepare students.
  4. Allowing students ample opportunity to discuss their learning throughout the process will keep students passionate about their topic. These opportunities could include interactions with students, teachers, administrators as well as digitally.
  5. Students crave an authentic way to share their research. Finding  ways that help them do so opens opportunity for engagement, motivation and learning. Authentic sharing may be in the school or beyond.  Allowing other teachers to interview the students gives purpose to the research. Showcasing the work digitally creates a wider audience.

 

These ideas and thoughts are just some things I am thinking about as I prepare to work with my colleagues this school year.  Allowing opportunities for engaging with complex ideas and to make meaning of them brings a deeper understanding of the intellectual process to our students.  To me, Guided Inquiry Design is the avenue that gets our students there.

 

Anita Cellucci

Westborough High School

Follow me on Twitter – @anitacellucci @librarywhs

 

Guided Inquiry Design & Curriculum Reform in Croatia (3)

Photo by, Mario Fajt (sobrecroaCia.com.)

 

School librarians in Croatia are interested in Guided inquiry. One of our leading experts in information science, Prof. Stricevic I mentioned before, advocates for it at our professional education events. She keeps saying that GI is the model of learning that best suits the needs of contemporary students. Guided Inquiry is recommended in IFLA-s guidelines for school libraries as well. So, why do we not use GID more?

The problem in Croatian education system is that we are stuck in our curriculum reform. Most teaching in our schools is traditional, there is no real collaboration between teachers, not to mention that teachers are not satisfied with their social status and many of them are not motivated to learn new things. The fact is, with traditional method of teaching, where teachers are lecturing and students are reading just their textbooks, there is no actual need for information literacy. If the only goal of teaching is that a student remembers what a teacher says to him, there is no need for collaboration between a teacher and a school librarian.

So, the question is – what kind of schools do we want? How do we prepare our students for their future life? Two years ago, it seemed that serious improvements in Croatian education system are to be made, but the change of political power stopped that. A New Committee for curriculum reform was appointed, but we still do not know any concrete results.

So much time and money is lost in the political struggle. Unfortunately, our students cannot wait, they are left at the mercy of their teachers. There are excellent schools, libraries, teachers, but they are excellent despite the system, not because of it. That is why, on the average, our students do not perform well on international testing (like PISA, PIRLS, ICILS….) nor do they achieve splendid results at their final high school exams.

We desperately need GID in our schools. We should have the books available in Croatian. We should educate teachers and librarians to apply it. There is no straightforward way to do this, I am aware of this. But, however futile it seems sometimes, we librarians, have our duties to perform no matter what are the circumstances. I have seen that GID works in my school. Students love learning through Guided Inquiry. I am aware that my colleagues and I made mistakes in our first attempts at it. But, the change in the classroom is enormous compared to traditional teaching. Students are motivated to work, they do not notice the bell ringing, and everybody is active, not just a few designated to answer all the questions. The students are learning, thinking, making conclusions based on evidence. Therefore, at the beginning of this school year I am going to ask my colleagues to join me in planning and preparing more GI units. I think this is my humble contribution to education winning in the race with catastrophe.

Best,

Gordana Sutej

Duga Resa, Croatia

A great journey!

For most of our students, OPEN, IMMERSE, and EXPLORE were really positive, and inquiry circles were a big hit. As librarian, I visited as many classes as possible during these phases, to listen, brainstorm, coach, and teach mini-lessons at teacher request. This exposure enabled me to share what was going on in other classes, which helped build excitement and a sense of a common goal. A student stopped me in the hallway with: “Mrs. Little, when are we going to work in our inquiry circles again? I really like that part!” Students coming into the library to grab books or headsets were happy to chat about what they’d learned, and where they were going with it. There was a lot of energy, and a sense of pride and purpose.

As we approached IDENTIFY, some students struggled to find a focus, and I was able to tag-team with the ELA teachers, to participate in some of those conversations, either in the classroom or the library; a student would appear, saying: “My teacher said I should come down to talk to you about my research question” (music to a librarian’s ears!). Knowing the ISP helped us to anticipate emotions, and assure students that they were moving in the right direction when they were frustrated or confused.

As our students settled on their research questions, we collaboratively curated resources that might be useful, and shared the Google Doc through Google Classroom. Only teachers could edit the Google Doc, but students could suggest sources, and teachers vetted them.

GATHER had our students diving into books (print and digital), database articles, and websites that we’d found together. At this point, from here on out, through CREATE, SHARE, and EVALUATE,  the ELA teachers definitely felt more comfortable – this was familiar territory!

As mentioned in an earlier post, the ten weeks we’d planned had dwindled to only seven, so SHARE was shortchanged. Our students wrote papers for their final products, but the original plan had been for them to also present their learning to each other in another format – we simply didn’t have time.  So instead, we  ‘advertised’ their work to the school by plastering their research questions to the windows of the library – which is passed by the upper grades en route to gym & lunch. We fielded questions from 7th graders: “What are the 6th graders doing? We didn’t get to do that last year!”

 

For Evaluate, we designed a Google Form to collect student input:

Our team met with our supervisor at the end of the year to evaluate the project. We had no shortage of ideas about how we could improve the project for next year, but there was a lot of enthusiasm for the process. Our end-of-project student reflection showed our students liked working in groups, choice (“learning about our OWN topic instead of a topic teachers picked”), the IMMERSE activities, and found working with their inquiry circles and talking with their teacher/librarian about the project to be very helpful.

For me, GID was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. 

Maryrose Little, Librarian
Edgar Middle School
Metuchen, NJ