CREATE!

Design Thinking

Dream, design and Do or Make!

As students develop their own question, they are asked to think deeply and compassionately about their topic.  During our most recent session, students were read the story Turtle Turtle Watch Out by April Pulley Sayre.  We brainstormed questions as we discussed the story, and then compared different types of sea turtles and the issues they face in their ecosystems.  Students then shared their learning on Flipgrid based on their research using WorldBook, Vancouver Aquarium, and safe Google searches using search engines.  

 This coming week we will work on designing a protective solution for turtle babies in their habitat.  I look forward to seeing our students in action next week sharing their amazing creations, their research and their critical thinking!  Part of their sharing next week will include peer feedback based on the core competencies in our standards.  

Pippa Davies

Director HCS Blended LearningCommons

www.hcslearningcommons.org

Heritage Christian Online School

Twitter:  @PippaDavies

Plans: When they Fall Through and Making them for the Future

Happy weekend, GIDers! It’s Kelsey Barker again. I hope you have had a wonderful week. Mine was really busy! May always seems to be jam-packed with meetings, banquets and ceremonies, retirement and graduation parties, field trips, and other special events that make it fly by. We only have 14 more days of school here in Norman, and the kids (and teachers!) are feeling the nearness of summer vacation!

I’m so glad that my blogging week fell in May this year; while I would normally be just trying to get through this month, writing about this unit has required me to pause and reflect. Plus, it’s fun to share with like-minded GID lovers around the world. So without further ado: the rest of our unit!

GATHER

You’ll remember that we left off with students identifying inquiry questions using the Level 1, 2, and 3 questions framework. Their questions were so varied and hit on all periods of history, from Cleopatra to Colin Keapernick. I love that they were able to make connections between their topic and that of their classmates.

In a normal Guided Inquiry unit, I would co-teach with the classroom teacher all the way through the Gather phase. But due to the scope of this unit, that wasn’t physically possible. So I created this document of model Gather session plans to give teachers an idea of how I would structure a Gather session. Some of them followed it to the letter, others used bits and pieces. The important thing is that we provided some structure to our students as they look for information to answer their inquiry question.

We had students start out using the resources provided by National History Day before moving on to databases and web searches to find more resources. Due to the range of topics covered by their inquiry questions, they often had to look for their own resources to help them find answers.

 

CREATE

We provided students with a choice board and rubric they used to create their final products. I was amazed at how many students opted for one of the low-tech products like a poster or skit. This could be a testament to their frustration with the age and lack of reliability of our school computers, or it could be that they spend all day connected and wanted to do something different. I’d love your feedback on this, readers!

 

SHARE

We had planned to set up a gallery walk in the library for one week where every student displayed their product for the rest of the school to see. Due to time constraints, this is not going to happen this year. Instead, students shared their products in class through presentations or displays. Some students who created digital products asked me to publish them on YouTube or other sites so they could share them with their parents. In future iterations of this project, I would love to create an online NHD museum where students and parents could view student work all in one place!

 

EVALUATE

Back in their inquiry journals, students journaled in response to prompts about the content and process of this unit. They also were asked to describe how their idea of what it means to take a stand changed through this unit.

 

REFLECTION

As with any unit, there were aspects of the NHD project I would want to change for next year. We designed the unit to stretch through the year in part because of our lack of computers for students to use. Next year, our district is going 1:1, so that thankfully won’t be a problem! I would love to complete this unit in one month to help students keep up momentum and engagement. In the future, I would also like to be sure to make the Share phase a big deal for our students; they deserve the opportunity to show off their incredible learning.

However, a lot of good came from this unit as well: we can say that every student at Longfellow has completed a Guided Inquiry unit this year, which I don’t think many other schools can say! We developed a common language around questioning and the GID process, and we definitely worked out some kinks and had feedback I’ve already been able to apply in units with other subject areas. And overall, I think our students really enjoyed the process, especially being in control of their own learning. With a couple of units under their belts, I’m so excited to see what this group of kids will be able to accomplish next year. But first, summer vacation!
Kelsey

Musings on GID vs DT

Last post, I talked briefly about the relationship between Design Thinking and GID.  Today, I’d like to dig a little deeper into that relationship and look at how these two models can complement each other.  As we will see, each model has its strengths that can support the other assuming that the context is right.  One thing to keep in mind through this discussion is that the origins of each model are significantly different and so the emphasis is different in each.  Guided Inquiry came out of the recognition that student research projects were ineffective and often caused students a range of unintended emotions.  Carol Kuhlthau’s research looked at identifying how (or if) students were engaged at various points of the research process and looked at ways of increasing that engagement.  Almost exclusively, the typical medium for demonstrating one’s knowledge was the research essay.  The Design Thinking model came from an attempt to understand how folks who make new things work.  This looked at trying to codify the often messy process that someone building anything from a car engine, to a lemon juicer, to a prosthetic might use.  While these are very different processes – and one might argue that the way one person operates within a research or design process might be very different from another carrying out the same task – there are enough parallels to make the discussion fruitful.

Let’s start at the very beginning.  After all, it is a very good place to start!  Both Design Thinking and Guided Inquiry begin with open collection of information.  This begins with a broad spark from some experience that kicks the process into gear (Open in Guided Inquiry, the design brief in Design Thinking).  Guided Inquiry breaks this process into three phases – Open, Immerse, Explore – and allows students a period of loosely guided wallowing in the topic in order to build genuine connections and interest.  We recognize that the topic is likely brought down from on high by the teacher, but every attempt is made to ensure that the student sees a real connection with their own life.  Likewise, Design Thinking uses an Empathy phase.  This is a very human-centred process that builds understanding of the needs of the users of whatever is being designed.  This will include interviews and other forms of research that simply build an understanding of the problem.  While this phase is typically human-centred, I find that there is also an element of research here as well.  To understand other’s needs and to truly understand the problem, there is likely some straight-up book or web research that digs into the concepts behind the issues.  For example, if one is building a prosthetic hand for someone else, one needs to understand how the hand is going to be used (an office worker might have different needs than a rock climber), how materials affect the way the hand can be used, and perhaps what other designs may have been used in the past to address similar issues.  Of course, an understanding of the bone and muscle structure of a normally functioning hand would be immensely useful!

Next, comes the definition of the problem.  In GID, this comes in the phrasing of the ultimate question being addressed and may look like a driving question, a research question, a thesis statement or any number of carefully wordsmithed structures.  In Design Thinking, this is the definition statement and can come in the form of a question that starts with, “How might we…” or it can look more like a statement that reads “User X needs Y because of Z.”  In both models, we spend time building broader understanding in order to come to a point where defining the problem is effective.  There are plenty of stories of designers who, after an effective empathy phase, define the problem in a way that the end user had never thought of, but on reflection, addresses the true nature of the problem better than the use ever could have.  The solution is something far different than was originally expected.  Likewise, a teacher might have an idea of what directions a student might take a GID unit, but until the personal connections with the topic are made, the ultimate direction of the projects can be surprisingly different!

Once we have our definition, the paths of the two models diverge a little.  In Guided Inquiry, this is where we get down to the work of gathering and digesting information for our research.  In Design Thinking, we can think of the Ideation phase as a process of gathering as many possible solutions to the defined problem as possible.  In GID, the ideas come from others; in Design Thinking, the ideas come from ourselves.  You might think of Gathering as focusing your thinking while Ideation as a process of widening your thinking, although that would only be partly true.  The purpose of Ideation is to consider all possible solutions and then pick the “best” one for the next phase.  While the process is somewhat different, it points in the same direction.

The fun begins in the Create/Prototype phase.  Both of these are where the learning manifests itself into some creation, whether that be a written paper or physical product.  Both involve the playing with ideas that are a result of the previous phases and articulating thinking in a way that will ultimately be shared with others.  It should be pointed out that in both models, the apparent linear sequence is somewhat of a fallacy and I would say, no more a fallacy than between the gathering of ideas and the articulation of them.  An essay writer will find that there are remaining questions that need to be answered and will go back and gather more information as much as an engineer might get to a certain point with a prototype and realizes that the idea simply won’t work and needs to go back to the ideation phase.

Finally, the work needs to be shared and reflected on.  In GID these are the Share and Evaluate phases.  In Design Thinking, we test the prototype and that process, in all likelihood, involves testing against the users’ needs and sharing it with those users.  GID promotes the idea that this sharing should not be the private handing in of an essay to the teacher but sharing learning back to the community of learners in order to extend and deepen everyone’s learning.  In Design Thinking, that sharing is more dependent on the situation.  If the design problem has been presented by a single person, then maybe the sharing is back to that individual.  Usually, there is a larger user group that the prototype is tested with.  The essential point in this is that the purpose of sharing is different.  GID shares to deepen community understanding while Design Thinking shares in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

It strikes me, as I write this, that GID is might be typically good for thinking about concepts while Design Thinking might be good for thinking about things.  I’m sure that this is a drastic over-simplification, but there is some truth in it.  GID can be used to solve problems by building something, but the nature of the research is primarily conceptual.  You might be trying to understand people’s perspectives or the reasons behind something.  The results of that conceptual research might be manifest in writing, physical objects or virtual simulations, but the concepts are at the focus.  In Design Thinking, the thinking is more about how we make something to solve a problem.  It can be a subtle distinction, but the emphasis is important.  The kinds of things one thinks about when building a solution to a problem might be what materials are best to use, how we connect those materials, what function our object needs to perform and how the design serves the function.  Clearly, there are concepts underlying all of this, but the concepts serve the process where in GID the concepts are the process.  Again, this is likely a drastic generalization and many examples can likely be brought forward that show the weakness of this argument, but I think that there is some use in at least exploring this comparison.

Once we understand the strengths of each model and how they relate, we can use that knowledge to build even more powerful units in particular areas.  Of course, there will be situations where one model stands on its own brilliantly and would likely be made weaker by forcing ideas of the other into it.  But there are situations where the combination is even more powerful.  The research ideas behind Open, Immerse, Explore and even Gather can underpin the Empathize piece for those Design Thinking processes that require more academic underpinnings.  Likewise, the ideas behind Empathize can support more socially based GID units.  Of course, given that Design Thinking is often about building a solution to a problem, some of the prototyping ideas can help similar Create phases of GID.

Next post, I’ll look at some questions and issues that I’m having with both models.  It seems that the more that I explore, the more questions I have!

 

Marc Crompton

Teacher Librarian

St George School

Introducing: Marc Crompton

Well… reintroducing, really!  I’m a Teacher Librarian at St George’s School in Vancouver, BC.  That’s right, the same school as the divine Curious St George!  While she’s at our Jr School (grades 1-7), I see the boys when they come up the street to our Sr School.  Yes, I used the word “boys” purposely as we are a single-gender (boys) school.  You might be interested in my posts (1,2,3) from last year where I talked about work with a grade 10 Social Studies Class and how I look at other tools as they work in conjunction with GID, such as NSRF’s protocols.

To put things in context, I’ve been at St George’s School for 25 years.  I was likely hired, in part, because I’d played rugby in high school, but I was brought on as a music teacher and have yet to spend a day on the rugby pitch.  In 2009, some different opportunities opened up at the school that I thought that I’d try my hand at.  I started leading an educational technology cohort of teachers and took on a very “part-time and temporary” role as our school librarian.  Since then, I’ve completed my MLIS at San Jose State and am permanent and very full time…  In the past year, I’ve also taken on the creation and administration of a grade 10 STEM program.  Through this time, I’ve written a number of articles for Teacher Librarian magazine, co-authored a book on Collection Development with Dr David Loertscher and, most recently and pertinently, have contributed chapters to Leslie’s High School edition of the GID book series.  I also have a personal blog that I’m recently not contributing much to, but if you’re more interested in the kinds of things that I think about, you could head over to Adventures in Libraryland.
My journey in GID started in a meaningful way, when Leslie was kind enough to organize a trip to Boston for myself, Curious St George and two of our Sr School Social Studies teachers to check out two schools who were deeply embeded in the ways of GID.  The teachers and librarians at Lexington and Westborough High Schools were amazing hosts and we had a chance to talk in depth with students and teachers about their experiences with GID in conjunction with some great chats with Leslie to help put it all in perspective.  From there, we came back to Vancouver and started implementing the model and spreading the gospel.  Since then, I’ve worked with teachers at our Sr School in Social Studies, English, Computer Science, and Languages to design and implement GID units.  Some were successful and some were less so, but all engaged students in meaningful ways and made research relevant.

In my own teaching, I’ve been looking at instructional design models that focus around building or making physical manifestations of student learning.  My current STEM cohort works most overtly with a Design Thinking model that has come out of Stanford’s dSchool.  This is not to say that I’ve abandoned GID however.  My experience and knowledge of the GID model has informed everything that I do within the Design Thinking model.  I actually see a strong correlation between the two models and I think that aspects of GID truly make Design Thinking, when used as instructional design, much more effective.

In a nutshell, the emphasis in Design Thinking is in the creating a solution to a problem.  In many ways, it is akin to Problem Based Learning.  What GID brings to the process is the stronger research structure and documentation of thinking.  While every one of my students thinks in terms of the Design Thinking model and are adept at adapting that model to a variety of situations, they are also using the tools of GID in their Inquiry Journals (blogs), and how they approach their Immerse and Explore phases.

My next posts will look at this relationship between GID and my students’ use of Design Thinking.  Likely, my last post will look at our current process and investigate how explicit use of GID concepts will allow us to improve the work that they are doing in a few key ways.  I hope that you’ll enjoy reading and I encourage you to push back and challenge me as we go.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I likely have even fewer than I think I do!

 

Marc Crompton

 

“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

Year 5 Go Global

When I was first asked to help a Year 5 teacher, Catherine Havenaar, with an integrated Year 5 unit on ‘Global Connections’, I was initially a little cautious about how we would achieve the integrated English and Humanities outcomes. She was in her first year of teaching – after being a Paramedic for many years – but had been inspired to try Guided Inquiry after a seminar I gave to the whole Primary staff at the beginning of the year.

The first step of any unit of Guided Inquiry, of course, is to plan with the teaching team. By the end of the first session I knew we were on a winner.

Right from the start Catherine and I bounced off each other with ideas and this continued throughout the unit until it actually became an exhaustingly huge project. However, because the students all joined in the ‘fun’ of learning together it was an experience never to be forgotten.

The fact that the G20 Summit was taking place in Brisbane at the time was such a bonus. Having world leaders right here in Australia and on the news, made ‘global connectedness’ so relevant to the students. I love this research plan a student was working on later – Can there be a G21?

g20best

The Programme of work is available here: http://guidedinquiryoz.edublogs.org/practice-2/primary-guided-inquiry-units/

Australian Curriculum – Stage 3 

Human Society and Its Environment: Global Connections

Key Focus:

What impact does Australia have on the world stage through our global connections?

Contributing Questions:

In what different arenas does Australia contribute to the world?

What are our responsibilities in making sure all people are treated with respect and provided with basic human needs?

OPEN: As with all GID units we began with checking prior knowledge and global organisations that the students recognised.

Activity 1: Complete ‘pre-test’ to determine knowledge levels about Australia’s connection to other countries – Provide students with a question and answer sheet that they will complete as they move around 10 stations. Each station has a visual prompt relating to a different idea of global connection. Students have four minutes at each station and identify the prompt they know least about.

Other Activities: Watch “Global Connections” video on ClickView; Read“Around the world by lunch”; CDRom -“The Global Village” (oral activities)

IMMERSE: Students discussed Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recapped the importance of Australia’s role in providing aid and humanitarian support.

Students then selected an organisation and drew its logo with a description of its elements and meaning.

Using a scaffold “Making the Choice” to gather information on a number of organisations they read widely and took notes, discussing findings at specific points with the teacher and each other.

One student with dyslexia was catered for when Catherine decided to bring in her own Mac computer to give the student during lessons so that she could use the ‘Text to speech’ function. This student managed better than ever before, could listen to sites about organisations – and was so happy!

using-speech-function

Links to all the organisations selected were put onto a Diigo sites and used from the class Edmodo learning platform. Students also enjoyed sharing sites they found.

sharing-sites-edmodo

yr5immerse1

EXPLORE: Students determined an organisation to research and read widely from Diigo links, books and subscriptions such as online encyclopaedias and Skwirk.

Scaffolds were provided for recording information and the questions they raised about that organisation.

yr5-first-two-scaffolds

IDENTIFY: Students wrote a research question (with help from the teaching team) to focus their exploration and four contributing questions which were placed into a jigsaw scaffold and/or a mind map.

jigsaw

mindmap

GATHER: Answers were gathered in their books and throughout students were assisted with aspects of information literacy by the teacher librarian – everything from determining best sources of information to writing a Bibliography.

jigsaw_answers

CREATE: Now for the real fun! This is a prime example of students working in the ‘Third Space’ and where they all just blossomed.

Students created an organisation of their own based on the tenets of the one they had been researching. They had to create a name, logo, slogan, aims, goals and a script for a one minute infomercial which featured the student introducing their agency. Because they had selected an organisation originally based on their own interest we had organisations created for everything from wildlife conservation to soccer. This also integrated their Visual Arts and Writing programs. (see program : http://guidedinquiryoz.edublogs.org/practice-2/primary-guided-inquiry-units/)

Catherine and I had a discussion about how she could be involved in a fun way to model their tasks. It was decided that she should create the overarching organisation with which the students all had to register their created organisations! After a lot of thought and laughter we came up with OREO: Office of the Registry of Earth’s Organisations. A logo was created and Catherine made her own infomercial as an example for the students.

See it here: https://vimeo.com/192400121

SHARE: A Global Summit was organised to which all parents, the Head of Primary and the Principal were invited…

In groups of five the student’s infomercials were played. Each group then entered to sit around the OREO table dressed for their role in their organisation. Parents had been given prepared questions to ask and the students, in a very professional manner, stood and answered for their organisation.

Morning tea was served to all and of course there was a distinct Oreo theme!

A large number of parents and grandparents came to the OREO Summit:

oreosummit1

Here they are watching the ‘Infomercial’ videos the students made for their created organisaton. (Note their Logos on the wall!)

oreosummit2

But a unit of work does not end with Share!… We conducted evaluations of students and the teaching team but also were surprised to receive a number of feedback comments from parents.

Stay tuned for the Evaluation blog and some links tomorrow. Finally I will reflect on a few more GID experiences towards the end of the week.

Alinda Sheerman – Broughton Anglican College, Menangle Park (75 km south west of Sydney, Australia)

 

 

 

The Flexibility of GID

When I learned how effective Guided Inquiry could be, I got excited about planning a GID-based writing workshop. I focused on Reconstruction because it’s the setting for my book, but the model could be adapted for any historical time period. On my website I’ve posted the materials you’d need to lead this workshop in a middle or high school classroom, and I’ll run through the steps quickly here.

The “Open,” “Immerse,” and “Explore” stages are the same as I mentioned yesterday: show the book trailer, read BROTHERHOOD, ask students to connect to content, and begin to research Reconstruction. When I visit schools, I show a series of photographs, and students point out the details—clothing, means of transportation, food, etc. My favorite is this shot taken at the wall in front of St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA, in 1865. Notice that the people are wearing coats and hats, but most have bare feet.

St.Johns.Church.people

During the “Identify” stage, I ask students to write a scene based on a newspaper article from the era. I encourage loose, messy, fast writing. I interrupt them with sound effects (church bells, horses, crickets), and ask them to incorporate the sounds into their scenes. The process here isn’t about producing good writing. It’s about entering into the time period vicariously.

Next, students swap newspaper articles and write a second scene—again, loose, fast writing. Then they pause and I ask which scene they liked most. Which did they prefer writing about, and why? What did they find compelling, disturbing, or interesting about the one they preferred? Their answers kick off the “Gather” stage of the GID process—the stage when students begin to ask their own questions. This step is the essence of Guided Inquiry. It’s the reason GID is so effective.

Whether students prefer scene A to B, or B to A doesn’t matter. What matters is that they prefer one. Students will always prefer one. Always. And the moment they articulate why they like one better than the other is the moment they really begin to invest in the subject matter. It’s an exciting moment to watch! They’re given permission to make a choice, express an opinion, and be heard, and the process empowers them.

In the “Gather,” “Create,” and “Share” stages, students’ individual or group projects go in any number of directions, and I leave that part up to the teachers. Some have particular themes they’d like the class to address. For example, in my previous post I mentioned that the teacher wanted students to think about gangs—all types of gangs and the conditions that give rise to them. Or teachers might want students to think about voting rights (who feels threatened by another’s right to vote?). Or maybe students will create and share presentations about citizenship and what it might feel like to live in America today and not be a citizen. Or they might talk about the problem of bullying.

GID allows for flexibility! I began this post talking about Reconstruction, and in only a few paragraphs, I’ve raised a myriad of topics, but that’s because my novel raises them (the Reconstruction-era amendments established birthright citizenship and voting rights; if your class is focused on a different time period, your students will ponder a different set of issues).

From my perspective—hey, I’m a writer, so I have to nudge students to write, no apologies!—an easy exercise in loose writing gets the process going strong. And when students reflect on issues that matter to them, personally, and are in a safe space for reflection, wow! Sharing happens. Listening happens. Learning happens.

I love the way GID promotes a student-centered and student-directed approach to learning (so much more effective than the memorize-and-regurgitate model of my youth). Like I said in my first post, boy do I wish my teachers had used Guided Inquiry when I was growing up. Thank you, Leslie, for inspiring me and the next generation of educators!

The 2016 Collaborative School Library Award

Yesterday I invited you to experience the “Open” stage of the award-winning GID unit developed by two librarians and a social studies/language arts teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester, VA. They based the unit my book, BROTHERHOOD, and posted all of their materials on this Blendspace page so that others can recreate the unit in their schools.

Set in Virginia during Reconstruction, BROTHERHOOD is the story of a white boy who joins the Klan, meets a young black teacher, and comes to question the racial prejudices he’s been taught. The book raises all sorts of questions about identify, race, peer pressure, gangs, etc., and doesn’t provide easy answers. So it’s great for kicking off classroom conversations on a variety of topics.

During the “Immerse” stage of the GID process, in order to connect to the content of daily readings, the students at Carver wrote a tweet a day.

daily tweet.52GID blog

Historians from the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society visited the school, bringing samples of items mentioned in the book, such as swatches of cloth and a copy of a page from an 1867 newspaper. The time period was beginning to come alive for the students.

During the GID stages “Explore” and “Identify,” students continued to read while researching the post-Civil War era. Then they went on a field trip to Richmond, VA, and walked the streets the characters had walked. In advance of the trip, the librarians asked me to audio-record myself reading selections from the book. I posted the audio files online, and during the trip, students stopped at key locations to listen—via QR codes—to me reading. This was an innovative way to use technology, and got the students all the more engaged. Click on this code to hear one of the recordings:

QRCode.FarmersMarket

I visited the classroom and talked about how I came to write BROTHERHOOD—a presentation that includes mention of the Noble Lost Cause ideology, Jim Crow era, and Civil Rights movement. On another day, the school’s safety officer came and presented information about gangs. The class explored reasons why a person might join the Klan or any gang—any group vying for power, control or influence.

During the “Gather” stage, each student’s essential questions led him/her to choose a gang to research further. Students divided into small groups, and for the “Create” and “Share” stages, each group did a presentation about a gang and how they (or society) might stop the spread of that gang. In this way, they progressed through the 7th grade curriculum. For prohibition, for example, one group did a presentation about the Mafia running liquor. For World War II, another group showed how the Nazis gained support by blaming Germany’s ills on the Jews. By the time the curriculum brought them to the present day, they already knew from yet another student presentation that Al Qaida is motivated in part by a rejection of capitalism. I visited the school again, and was blown away by the high quality of the presentations, both from struggling learners and from gifted students. The GID approach excited them all.

Along the way students participated in the GID stage, “Evaluate,” asking questions such as, what surprised me today? What was clear? What was confusing? I love the fact that when you do GID, you don’t leave evaluation to the very end. GID encourages self-reflection at every stage.

This GID unit was pretty involved, and it hit me that some educators might want to add BROTHERHOOD to the curriculum and use the GID approach, but they don’t live near Virginia and can’t easily do the field trip. And that thought motivated me to design a GID-based writing workshop that can be done in any classroom, anywhere. I’ll tell you about it in my next post…

Taking Steps Back So We Can Move Forward

Happy weekend, friends!

This post brings to a close the discussion of our Norman Public Schools Guided Inquiry unit for 5th grade science. Coincidentally, yesterday was our third planning meeting, so we want to tell you a little about our work then.

In our last meeting, we made some great progress fleshing out the student activities and hammering out tasks. Today was a little different: we ran into some philosophical roadblocks. But not only is it necessary to solve these problems now, before the unit goes to the teachers, but it was productive and thought-provoking to discuss with the planning team.

But before we get into that, let’s talk about what we did:

The NPS Dream Team! From left: Kelsey Barker, Buffy Edwards, Lee Nelson, Jeff Patterson, Teresa Lansford, Glen Stanley, Toni Gay

The NPS Dream Team!
From left: Kelsey Barker, Buffy Edwards, Lee Nelson, Jeff Patterson, Teresa Lansford, Glen Stanley, Toni Gay

 

Immediately, we divided the team into two groups: Jeff and Glen started working on the hands-on investigations for the unit, while the rest of us began to discuss the instructional sequence for each phase. Based on the comments Leslie left on this post regarding the student’s’ ability to generate their own questions, we discussed how to facilitate this in our unit. We both agree that one of the hardest parts of Guided Inquiry is getting young students to ask questions that will lead to the desired learning goals. We ultimately decided to give the teachers (optional) sentence stems to kick off the question-asking in the right direction.

At this point, Jeff had us take a step back and discuss possible interactions between each of the six combinations of speheres. As a group, we listed as many possible in each category… and quickly realized that this is HARD! But we could start to see some patterns emerging, and this exercise made everything else seem a bit more doable.

More giant sticky notes!

More giant sticky notes!

 

Because the spontaneous brainstorming activity was so useful for us, we decided to make it a part of the EXPLORE phase. As students look through their resources and begin to generate questions, they will add the interactions they come across to a master list. Ah, the power of collective brainstorming!

We also realized through brainstorming that most interactions involve 3 or even 4 of the spheres. It was so fun to interact with the content like the students will be doing! So we changed the objective of CREATE to state “Students will create an infographic showing the interactions between AT LEAST 2 spheres.” This opens up the opportunity for students to develop their infographic with 3 spheres from the start.

With our plan outlined, we took a step back to look at the big picture, and we realize another aspect of our planning process that is different from designing a site-specific plan: we don’t know the dynamics of the teachers who will use it. Fifth grade teachers in NPS may or may not have been trained in Guided Inquiry. They may or may not have done a previous GI unit, and as Jeff pointed out, they may have varying levels of comfort with the science content, technology tools, and standards.  

To add to our challenges, we see our unit potentially  functioning as district-wide marketing for Guided Inquiry. As librarians, as we work to implement the process in our schools, we have to help our staff understand that it is a worthwhile endeavor. A bad experience with this 5th grade unit could put a whole grade level off of Guided Inquiry. No pressure!

The planning team hard at work

The planning team hard at work

These are new challenges for our team, and while it’s good that we are dealing with them now, it feel especially imperative that we get it right the first time. Ultimately, following Jeff’s advice, we settled on providing as much support and as many suggestions and ideas in the teacher guide as possible. Teachers who are (understandably) uncomfortable with the new process will be able to follow the prescribed outline, while others will still have room for flexibility and innovation. Not only will this structure support teachers who may be uncomfortable with the process, but it will also help make the process (and the students) successful, which will hopefully help teachers understand the value of the Guided Inquiry process. When we introduce the unit to teachers, we will also make sure they understand our intentions that every site will be able to tailor the unit to their particular needs. And as Jeff said, what they do after we give them the plans is up to them. 

So that’s where we are at. Every member of our team has some homework so that when we meet in two weeks, we can refine and finalize our plans. We cannot wait to see the final product of this unit!

It’s been so much fun blogging this week, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Guided Inquiry adventure. Perhaps after  the unit has been implemented we can share how it went and have feedback from teachers and students as well.  Until then — Cheers to success with all your  Guided Inquiry endeavors!
Kelsey & Buffy

Final thoughts from Connecticut

Challenges

Right now, there are some challenges that I hope to work on over the next year or two.

First, my schedule is a fixed schedule, meaning that all my classes come one time per week for 45 minutes, without their teacher. I do have a few blocks that are free and I use those for collaboration whenever possible. Also, because I am in one school 3 days a week and the other school 2 days, I often miss team meetings, etc. because I am simply in the wrong building that day. This makes collaborating more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

Some teachers and I have really worked to make collaboration work. We have planned together (sometimes electronically), had me start a unit in the library, they take it from there in their classroom, and back and forth until it is completed. Sometimes we have been able to use my free blocks together and then doing different parts in library and in the classroom. At other times, our tech integration specialist has started the unit in the classroom and then worked with the students and me in the library. It’s really helpful to have one person who can be in both places. This spring, our technology teacher and I are working together, so that I am doing the first phases and he will help students with the sharing part. We enjoy a challenge! But I have frequently talked with my administrators about moving to a flex schedule that would allow for better collaboration and student learning.

A flex schedule would also eliminate the problem I often have of seeing classes only once per week. This makes it very difficult for students to really maintain a focus on what they are learning. Instead, I would love the ability to meet with a class every day (or similar) until the project is completed. Sometimes, like last year when I missed 7 Mondays in a row due to snow days and holidays, I have classes that simply miss entire projects. Again, not impossible, but difficult.

Working with my K-2 students, another challenge is simply that many cannot read or write very well yet. Technology has provided many work-arounds, such as using PebbleGo or Worldbook which will read aloud to them, using pictures and having me dictate their words, and our latest love – Seesaw.me which allows students to type or draw a picture and then record their thoughts. I do want to be sure that they are having a balance of using both print/paper and technology, so that is constantly on my mind.

 

Further wonderings

Makerspaces and STE(A)M are very much a part of many librarian conversations these days. I very much want to carefully consider how Guided Inquiry Design can support student learning.

In addition, with the new NGSS and Social Studies standards being adopted, our curriculum director and the rest of our technology and information literacy specialists are looking to see how GID complements them.

Finally, I wouldn’t be a librarian if I didn’t talk a little about the books to use! This morning on twitter, the post was about a 2nd grade teacher’s Top 10 Picture Books to Introduce Units of Study, and I thought, “How perfect!” There are some books that just beg to be used to get kids thinking. Curating lists of books like this is another way that I can help get an inquiry unit off to a terrific start!

It has been such a pleasure reflecting on my own learning and work with Guided Inquiry Design this week. I am very much looking forward to reading the future posts! I will be attending CISSL summer institute this summer with a team of teachers (woo hoo!) and am thrilled to be able to really dig deeper myself into GID and how to create the best learning opportunities for my elementary students.

Many thanks —

Jenny