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.

GID and Google Classroom

Howdy again from the Lone Star State!  My name is Tara Rollins and this is my second year to post to the blog.  You can find my previous entries in October 2016 (last three entries) http://52guidedinquiry.edublogs.org/2016/10/.

It has been an interesting year in Houston.  We started school this year on the day of the solar eclipse.  The next week, we were inundated with 51 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey.  We were out of school for over a week and many areas of town are still in recovery mode.  Needless to say the year has been a little bit hectic.  However, we have lots of good inquiry projects ongoing and in the planning stages!

When I last spoke to you, I mentioned the time constraint that many of us face in continuing a unit of inquiry.  Over the summer, a collaborative effort was made to begin to place some units of inquiry into Google Classroom.  These classrooms can be shared with teachers and/or students and can be used in technology centers throughout the units in groups, pairs, or alone.

Of course units have to be flexible, so needless to say the “Open” we planned in July for the 2nd grade Natural Disasters Inquiry needed to be changed from the picture below due to our experiences during Hurricane Harvey in August.  What a difference a month can make in planning and implementing GID!  However, having it on our Google Classroom platform made it as simple as changing a picture/URL.

I do not mean to imply that all of our inquiry is done in centers, nor is it all completed or implemented through technology.  The Google Classroom option is merely one tool that I have added this year to encourage teachers and students to push on with inquiry even when the librarian is not able to co-teach each lesson.  It also is a great way to share what’s going on with parents (although that has not been implemented as of yet at my campus).

Open for Inquiry into Natural Disasters

 

Guided Inquiry and Our I Tech Initiative

by Cindy Castell

 

Norman Public Schools is experiencing a year of great change.  From the previous sentence, I would like to emphasize the word GREAT.  Change is happening in all kinds of ways.  Our buildings have all been updated and are fabulous learning spaces, and we have implemented our 1:1 technology initiative in grades 6-12 in addition to having 4-5 devices in every elementary classroom. This is thanks to our citizens overwhelmingly passing bond issues and to the vision of our district leaders.  

So I mentioned in my Day 1 post that I have a new job this year.  I am one of the six new I Tech Coaches.  Each of us is assigned to one secondary school where we are housed and 3 elementary buildings.  Overall, our main purpose is to help teachers integrate technology in a way that transforms learning from the traditional. From the NPS ITech website, “In the past, students attended school because that is where information was found.  Today, technology has made information accessible anytime, anywhere and offers vast educational resources for learners.” So even though NPS has not been a “sit and get” district for many years, people like Kathryn Lewis, Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology, have researched and sought out programs that will help our students.  By using the research-based ISTE Standards, Kathryn and other leaders in our district wanted to support students and teachers with sound practices.  The SAMR Model was also instrumental in setting the goals NPS had for technology.  They did not want the new computers to be just a substitution of what we were already doing, but instead a “transformation” where students are asking their own questions, collaborating with others, and sharing their learning with a broader audience. SAMR model explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us0w823KY0g

So this year and in the years to come,  we have the opportunity to help teachers design and implement lessons that integrate technology in a way that transforms learning.  Guided Inquiry is one of the best models to do that with. We are thrilled that as Instructional Technology Coaches,  we get to work with our librarians to be part of the extended team.  We are off to an exciting start.  Even though Guided Inquiry has been going on in our buildings since 2015, we now have information, experts, and ways to communicate our learning right at our fingertips.  I am again grateful for how Guided Inquiry will play a major role in how our students across the district will use the technology.  We hope that districts around the country have the opportunity to share Guided Inquiry with their students.  We know that it will benefit all of our learners as they move through their education and their lives.  

Getting STEAMy with GID, Alexander Calder, & Balance and Motion

For our final post, we wanted to share about a unit on which we have actually collaborated! Carole, our fabulous fine arts teacher Carrie Howes, and myself came together to create an integrated science unit. While it is still a work in progress, the students (and teachers) have learned a lot and are incredibly passionate too!

The beginning:

On the same day, both Carrie and I talked with Carole about presenting at the HOT Schools Summer Institute. This week-long experience brings together other HOT school teachers, artists and many others for incredible learning opportunities. This summer, the focus is STEAM. The idea of collaboration between the Library, Art room, and classroom was born. As we began planning, GID was a natural fit. The three of us met several times during lunch breaks to brainstorm and lay the foundation for this work.

Carole shared about the concepts and curricular areas that her class would be focusing on. I suggested and found a copy of The Calder Game book to spark the curiosity of the students. Always on the lookout for STEAM connections, I also wondered if sphero robots could add to this unit of study with their connection to motion. Carrie began to research the works of Alexander Calder and connected the concepts of the mobiles to balance and motion, the underlying curricular theme. She also collected and gathered materials for the students to use when creating their group mobiles. Carole created the student groupings and loved every moment of researching the art, science, and technology that would make this unit come to life for the first and second grade students. In addition, our technology teacher Bridgette Schlicker has been partnering with us. We became so excited about this unit and will indeed be sharing it during the HOT Schools Institute!

As with anything, the GID process for this unit has not been linear. One of the hallmarks of HOT schools is student voice and choice. So while some of this unit could be planned, at times we worked flexibly as students helped decide the directions we would go.

Here are the steps in the GID process and how they worked with this unit.

Open:

Carole used several items for the Open phase. The class read aloud is The Calder Game. Together with biographical information on Alexander Calder and pieces of Calder’s art, students were immediately hooked!

Immerse:

Much of the immerse phase took place in the classroom. Students watched YouTube videos of Alexander Calder’s mobiles, museum exhibits, Calder working in his studio, and his circus. Students selected a focal art piece to display in the classroom and spent time looking at Calder’s stabiles. In library class, I had curated as many websites as possible using Symbaloo and students explored these sites. All of this added to their knowledge of Calder and his work. Throughout, the ideas of balance and motion were discussed, although they were not the focus yet.

Image from idaaf.com

Explore:

Again, much of the explore happened in the classroom. Students made stabiles out of paper with partners. They explored balance scales and weights. While reading The Calder game, students drew a five piece
mobile. Extending this further, students then added a numeric value to the pieces to make a balanced equation. An Art Farm performance of the Little Apple Circus continued to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of balance and motion concepts.

In library, we worked with Sphero robots to gain experience with moving them around the room, first using the app to just drive the Spheros and then using the Tickle app which utilizes coding to move the robots.

Identify:

The identify phase has probably been the most difficult. These are first and second grade students and they have constant questions and also this unit almost has two areas of focus, balance and motion and Calder. In library, we created a list of questions about Calder together and then learned as much as we could. I don’t think that these questions were as deep as they could have been. However, I believe that when Carole and her students began to think about balance and motion concepts, these became those deeper types of questions. This works well because the balance and motion is the major focus of the unit.

 

Gather:

In the library, the classroom, and in technology class students collected all kinds of information. We used this Gather phase to integrate some information literacy, such as citing sources and note taking.

Create:

A variety of creations are happening with this unit. Carole began to have her students create Calder curations. She asked them to select three favorite pieces using Safe Search. Students then created a Google doc with an explanation and reflection of each art piece. This was begun in the classroom and continued in library. The Eli Whitney Museum is nearby and students used kits from the museum to build a balance and motion circuses. Mobiles are being created collaboratively with inspiration and information from our art teacher as students focus on craftsmanship. These 2D mobiles will (we hope) be made into 3D objects to use in the share that we are imagining.

Collaborative Mobiles

 

Carrie Howes, art teacher, creating mobiles.

 

Share:

At this time, we are planning to create the “Four Ring Circus” with each group programing a Sphero robot which will be used to show balance and motion concepts. They will also use the elements from their 2D mobiles and translate them into 3D objects in the ring for the “circus act” to engage with. This work will be shared in part at an Assembly (which are held each Friday afternoon) and in whole for the school wide Share Fair.

Image from: superradnow.wordpress.com

Evaluate:

The students will have a rubric to complete for each “circus act”.  They will search for evidence of balance and motion, Calder inspirations, and technical use of the Sphero as they watch each performance.

Final thoughts

From the classroom: If time allows (we are getting very close to the end of the year!) the students will be able to design an individual balance and motion experiment to further test one of their “big questions” about this concept. By combining GID and STEAM elements together, this project has become totally purposeful and engaging for everyone involved.  All learners were able to shine in a strength area with their group as there were so many styles of learning that were needed for the different stages of learning.  So much of the work was hands on and experimental which also raised engagement. The kids were using the language of the 4Cs of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity to describe this work. Students had to push their thinking further in each step. It was astonishing that not one group struggled to balance their mobiles. Because of the groundwork, they have a great conceptual understanding of how to construct a balanced mobile!

From the library: I have loved every minute of this process. While there are days when we literally go by the seat of our pants, the learning has been amazing. Echoing Carole, the student engagement has been so much fun to watch. In the future, I would like to be more intentional about the information literacy skills that are embedded and also assess those more. I would also like to include more student reflection throughout.

We will update this post with pictures of the circus that I am confident will take place!!!

Thank you for learning with us!

Jenny and Carole

 

But it’s NOT WORKING!

I was struggling to decide what my theme for this, my final post, should be, and it occurred to me that I should probably write about the thing that had the most impact on my students- and on me- during this unit.  Thank, my Guided Inquiry friends, is technology.

I have strong feelings about the use of technology in the classroom.  I’m a firm believer in its power as a tool for engagement, as a tool for differentiation, and most importantly, as a tool to unlock inquiry learning for infinitely more students.  However, I’m also all too aware of the power of technology to turn even the most confident teacher into a red-faced, flustered mess.  We’ve all been there- with our perfect lesson plans, SO pleased with ourselves for incorporating technology, and then no one’s password will work.  Or all the laptops are dead.  Or the wifi is being plain old vindictive.  We should have seen it coming, but we didn’t, and now there are thirty eighth graders looking at us expectantly like, “Hello? You’re a teacher. Can’t you fix it?” And no. No, we can’t.

If that sounds personal, it is.  I just finished four weeks of doing daily battle with the wifi (hence the title of this post).  I had cords and ports and work orders and IT people galore, or so it seemed, and the wifi was still about as predictable as a moody teenager.  And believe you me, I had days where I wanted to lock it all up and throw away the key, and unearth a collection of Encyclopedia Britannica. But I couldn’t do that, and there are a couple of reasons why.

The first is that teaching students to be smart and successful in a digital world becomes more important quite literally EVERY DAY that we live. As teachers, we just love to talk about teaching the whole child and for better or worse, this is now a part of that. Our ultimate goal as educators isn’t just to turn out competent readers or mathematicians, but to develop responsible, contributing, global citizens who are equipped with the tools to be lifelong learners- and technology is now a basic fact of that existence.  So if I gave into my urge to shut it all down, I would be doing such a disservice to my students.

The other reason I can’t put it away and never get it out again is because of what that would teach my students about learning.  When students see us, as teachers, struggle, we’re essentially teaching them how to learn.  If we shut down and shy way and refuse to try when it gets hard and messy and complicated, that’s exactly what they will do. As an inquiry community, it’s especially important that we don’t do that- and I’m talking to myself too here- because inquiry learning (at least in my experience) is messy and complicated- but ultimately SO worth it.  So if I want my students to take the risks involved, I have to be willing to take risks as well, so they’ll know what that looks like.

So the encyclopedias stayed- I don’t know, wherever they are (although I did have a great selection of WWII books, courtesy of the WMS library), and we persevered.  We learned how to troubleshoot and change networks and to plain old turn it off and turn it back on again.  And the results were more than worth it.

Thank you SO much for letting talk your ear off this week, and huge thanks to Leslie for giving me another chance to hijack her blog.  I LOVE sharing and can’t wait to read the about the other great stuff you all are doing in 2017!

 

–Paige Holden

“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
drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy

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!

Cheers,

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

drbuffyedwards@gmail.com, buffyedwards@sbcglobal.net
@nd4buffy

Reflections of GID over the years and across the grades

It has been a real week of reflection. I came to school on Tuesday to find that the Theatrette had been booked by the two Year 3 classes to celebrate the end of a GID unit that I had no part in planning as I have been working with four Year 7 classes this term.

They were holding their culminating Share activity of a “This is your Life” show. The unit studied was British Colonisation of Australia. The students were all dressed as the character they had chosen to research – convict, free settler, aboriginal, Marine guard, colonial Governor etc. Each had prepared answers to questions about their trip to Australia on the First Fleet, their life in the early colony etc.

The teachers were ‘dressed to the nines’ as the host and the room was crowded with parents and grandparents. I first collaborated in this unit of work in 2014 and this was a repeat with one teacher supporting another who had not used GID before. It was a fantastic morning – the children were so excited and had obviously learned a great deal!

img_0178 img_4760

After the first few years of using Carol Kuhlthau’s original model of the Guided Inquiry process, with its nouns as steps, I was over the moon when we were introduced to the new GID process step names as verbs which made so much more sense to the younger students. Add to that the new colourful Syba Sign images to guide students through the process and it is now so much more connected for everyone.

Whilst I have always, in over 40 years of teaching, tried to make learning personally relevant to my students the concept of ‘Third Space’ explains why relevancy works so well and the more we can encourage teachers to have students explore within this space the more the students will retain and build knowledge and be engaged in their learning. Guided Inquiry Design does this so well!

In 2008 I began using Guided Inquiry with Year 7 and then after two years had my first experience of a Year 10 class. The difference was marked but really the outcome was similar. All students without exception were engaged in their learning and the teachers involved continued to want to repeat the process. Though the years I have gathered evidence, obtained permissions for publication and used this to promote the GID practice in our Australian schools. Syba Signs provided our first professional learning conferences on Guided Inquiry and continues to supply Australian school libraries with signage and books.

I use my library blog to store a lot of the history of our GID journey and anyone is welcome to look at these experiences through photos and videos. http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/

Here are a few of our more exciting experiences at Broughton:

2010 – Taking two year 10 students to a Syba Signs conference in Sydney where Joshua articulated the whole process for his inquiry into the treatment of refugees in Australia – The politicians should have listened to him!  http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2010/

2013 –A Year 12 student who asked her teacher to use GI after her experience of the year before and a seminar of our Primary teachers promoting its use to colleagues then Jodie Torrington describing her work that year…and finally two video products of a Year 10 GID unit  http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2013/

2015 – scroll for a Year 2 unit on People who help us in the community http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2015/

2016 – Medieval Day with Year 8 – this unit gets bigger and better every year!http://bacirc.edublogs.org/guided-inquiry/gi-2016/

A link to an action research article I published in Scan in 2011: http://bit.ly/2f8Ny1u

Technology has made our jobs so much more integrated and our shared learning so much more exciting. When I first used GI back in 2008, I set up a wiki for shared learning and this was considered to be very innovative practice. Whilst this worked well then, it had its frustrations and we now have so much more! Lately, Edmodo has been our preferred platform and this works very well to:

Differentiate learning tasks, set up and share in inquiry circles, deliver scaffolds, share resource list links (eg Diigo), collect and share work, share links to final products – websites, videos, assess scaffolds, links to questionnaires for action research…. and more!

Thank you to everyone who has shared and contributed to my learning and I hope, through sharing freely, I have helped others in some small way too.

Alinda Sheerman

a.sheerman@broughton.nsw.edu.au

Head of Information Services/Teacher Librarian

Broughton Anglican College,

Menangle Park, 2560

NSW, Australia

Aldine ISD Online Resources Cultivate Guided Inquiry!

This year I am attempting a new Guided Inquiry project.  I meet with fourth graders in the computer lab two days a week for an hour for inquiry based lessons that are planned with the Guided Inquiry Design model.

The first lesson I have designed and implemented is one stemming from a State of Texas 3/6 grade reading list called the Texas Bluebonnet program.  The Texas Bluebonnet Program publishes a new list of books from a wide range of genres each year.  Students in 3-6 grades read at least five books and then vote on their favorite at the end of January.  The winning author is honored at a luncheon at the state library conference and a group of students are invited to present the author the award.

One of the books on the list this year is Space Case by Stuart Gibbs.  The introduction in the book is a letter to the reader that welcomes them to the first permanent human habitation on the moon.

I used this letter/introduction as the Open to our first GI project.  I then had students spend a few minutes thinking about what it might be like to be sent to live on the moon.  We opened a Google Doc and students jotted down notes, thoughts, ideas, and questions.  Must not forget the questions!

Boy were the questions, thoughts and ideas good ones!  As was the enthusiasm from the students.  At first the students weren’t sure what to write and so, one by one questions started coming out.  I would answer their questions by saying something like “Wow, that is a great question, write it down!”  I also did some of my own wondering on my paper; things like I wonder what it’s like on the moon…do they have a day and night.  I only put a few on my Google Doc and that sparked the ideas, thoughts and questions.  I also was sure to say, “These are my thoughts, I’m sure most of you have different thoughts than mine.”

I then introduced the students to 3 of our district online resources such as Britannica, Scienceflix and PebbleGo.  I had them look at the sites; explore what was on them about the moon.  It was so thrilling to see the students excited about using the online resources rather than “Googling it.”  I fully support Google; don’t get me wrong, but our fourth grade students need a place to go to find legitimate, readable sites on their level.

I can’t tell you how often the students get stuck in Immerse and Explore phases when they use Google, at first.  I watch them Google a phrase, often misspelling it, find thousands of websites and proceed to open then close them without reading the first word.  They move on to open, close, open, close over and over and then get frustrated.  Or, I see students immediately go to images to learn about, say natural resources and spend hours looking at photos without actually learning any specific details.  Therefore, it was exhilarating to see them excited about their searches and the information they were oohing-and-ahhing over.

gid-space-case-online-resources

The next class period, I introduced three more district and state sponsored online resources and allowed them to continue exploring to see what they could find about the Moon and potential life on the moon.  On the third class meeting, I showed the students a clip from Discovery Education of a modular unit that has plans for use on the moon.   I allowed students then to continue exploring other video clips about life on the moon, life in space, space travel, etc.

We again logged into Goggle Drive to take notes and document questions and thoughts as they were exploring.  Students were motivated to ask if they could go back to a previous website, or if they could try new ones, and were excited over the details they were finding.  I had students ask if they could use specific information databases they knew about that I didn’t introduce, or explore others listed on our district online resources page.  The energy for this project is high, even for students who don’t necessarily gravitate toward space or space travel topics.  Equally exciting, when I gave them 10 minutes of “free exploration time in district sponsored games and resources” for working so hard, more than half of them chose to stay in the online resources tab to either explore other interests, or continued exploring space topics.

When reflecting upon the lesson with the first group of students, I added a step or two here and there with the next group.  I wanted to have students record their thought processes and add a reflection piece as well.  Therefore, we had a mini-lesson about logging into our district Google account, opening a document, brainstorming thoughts, adding a title, etc.  Students used a Google Doc to jot down thoughts, ideas, questions, and reflections before, during and after exploring online resources.  So, see I do support and use Google for education!

We have not finished this unit, our next step will involve a minilesson on academic honesty and citing sources.  We then will begin to actually search for answers to our questions, now that we have a good idea of which databases and online resources will be most helpful.

Tara Rollins on twitter

Using Guided Inquiry to create innovators and make global connections

 

One of the goals of the 21st century teacher librarian, is to develop 21st century skills. This requires an innovative spirit and a sense of connectedness in the world around us. Being willing to encourage students and teachers to step outside of their comfort zone and reach beyond the borders of their school can be difficult, but incredibly rewarding.

My first Guided Inquiry Design project was the perfect platform for creating globally connected students

My first Guided Inquiry Design project was the perfect platform for creating globally connected students

My first project was the perfect opportunity for innovation and global connections. Students were being asked to research and compare environmental problems in Sydney and Taipei and create a video which would convince others of a solution that they have identified. Thankfully, we now have fantastic tools to assist us in connecting with others on a global level in the inquiry process. However I really resonated with the words of George Couros who says innovation is:

….less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things.”

Guided Inquiry provides us with the model to ensure that we are not using those tools just because. Rather, we are using those tools to fulfil the nature of each stage in the inquiry process. The slides below demonstrate how we use the tools:

Google products were central to our ability to collaborate on a global level. Students used Google Docs in small inquiry circles to collaboratively edit the Inquiry log and Inquiry journal during the EXPLORE and GATHER phase. In IDENTIFY, MindMeister (which is linked can be a Google Add-on) allowed students to brainstorm their findings from the EXPLORE phase and develop both a central question as well as additional questions that will be sent to a school in Taiwan. We then used Google Docs which was edited by each inquiry circle and then shared with the Taiwanese school.

One of the issues that the students were presented with in the inquiry process was their inability to read much of the scientific research and statistics relating to environmental issues in Taipei (largely due to language – Google translate is great, but not perfect!) Therefore, our sister school in Taiwan played a very important part in the inquiry process because they would have access to information that we did not (or rather, we could not understand it!)

Additionally, we used Line, a social media platform which is widely used in Asia to communicate and plan with teachers globally. Once the students in Taiwan answered the questions, we used our multimedia room to Skype with the school. This added an element to the task and was probably the highlight for students on both sides. It also allowed us to develop skills in communicating using technology and across cultures, a skill that would useful beyond this particular project and arguably a 21st century skill.

As you can see from the student reflections, the feedback was positive and I think the students felt that the choice and connections that they developed made the project much more relevant and interesting than their usual inquiry projects.

If you would like any additional information on the use of technology to collaborate, please do not hesitate to contact me on Twitter. @ezpatel

References

Couros, G. (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. p. 20