Breakout Box

My goal this week on the blog was to share my experiences and thoughts about making time for critical learning experiences in the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of inquiry learning. Analyzing our own attitudes toward how we decide to spend our time in our classrooms is the first critical step. Then remember that you are not alone! When classroom teachers and school librarians collaborate, we can create some truly exciting opportunities for our students!

On Wednesday, I shared an idea to invite local community members to your library during the Immerse phase and plan gallery walks to expose students to lots of different types of information sources during Explore. Another fun idea to try during the Immerse phase is a breakout box activity!

Modeled after escape rooms, a breakout box activity can take many different forms and can be used in any classroom and level. Students can work as a whole group, in small groups, with a partner, or individually to solve clues, unlock locks, and discover what’s hidden in the locked box! Even our high school students get active and enthusiastic. One teacher said, “I see some of my students participating who usually do nothing!” One school librarian in my district planned a breakout activity for the faculty during an in-service day before school started.

We have successfully designed 3 breakout experiences: library orientation, book censorship, and the beginnings of the Cold War. We began by purchasing a box set from Breakout EDU which was $100. However, you can buy your own boxes and locks for less than that. The advantage to buying from the website is that you get access to hundreds of lesson plans. The set includes invisible ink pens with a special flashlight, which is incredibly fun for the students to use to solve clues. Also included is a small USB drive. I made a short video of myself giving a clue, saved the video on the USB drive, and hid the drive in a book.

To begin, create a scenario that is exciting for students. For example, when we use the breakout for library orientation, we play music from Mission Impossible while reading aloud the following:

“You and your friends have been investigating a biochemist on suspicions that he is making bioweapons. His evil plans are locked in a black box in order to prevent you from finding them and destroying them. You must find the evil plans and destroy them or this mysterious villain will unleash a deadly virus in 30 minutes!”

For book censorship: “A group of parents is angry about some of the books available for checkout in the library. Specifically, they are complaining about To Kill a Mockingbird, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Harry Potter. They have locked the offensive books in a large, black box and are planning a book burning ceremony in order to get rid of these controversial books! You have 30 minutes to save these books from an untimely and unjust end!”

For the beginnings of the Cold War: “World War II has officially been declared over with the unconditional surrender of Germany. While people around the world celebrate, another conflict has been brewing between the Allies, even before the war ended. The new world superpowers the Soviet Union and the United States are battling for territory and influence after the Nazi threat is defeated. As the United States is concerned about the imminent spread of communism, the Soviet Union also begins its own nuclear program. This new cold war has the potential to end in total devastation. You are the superpowers, the Americans versus the Soviets, working against the clock to prevent a world-ending nuclear holocaust. Be the first country to unlock the nuclear codes and get them out of the hands of the enemy. If you fail, your opponent will acquire your country’s nuclear codes, and a mushroom cloud may be in your future. You have 30 minutes to overcome Cold War mistrust and tensions to save the world.”

For the Cold War activity, we passed out paper copies of Soviet Union and American flags to students as they walked into the library, dividing them into two teams. This idea helped create an atmosphere to mirror the tensions of the Cold War (obviously on a smaller scale!). Each team worked to solve clues, but the box wouldn’t be completely unlocked unless both teams were successful. 

Design the clues so that students must access a variety of library resources in order to solve the puzzles and unlock the locks. For example, we use print books, eBooks, databases, infographics, and more. When we use this for library orientation, it’s a great way to test if they know how to use an index. And if they don’t, they’ll figure it out quickly because they become competitive and don’t want time to run out!

Here’s one clue from each of our activities so you can see examples if you haven’t created one yet. Library orientation: Those pesky librarians are always changing things around…this time, they have adopted a new way to use online resources called MackinVIA. Apparently they have given each student their own login. Go to schoology and open the MackinVIA link. Open the Opposing Viewpoints database. Some people call me a bully (imagine that!) and I want to know just how many news articles are available for me to read under the bullying topic.” Book censorship: “It’s not easy to stop people who want to burn books! For the first step in finding the key, figure out which book is number 6 on the list of books most challenged in 2016 as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.” The Cold War: “You must find the type of uranium used in the center of the secondary fusion device to accomplish the most powerful explosion from the nuclear bomb before the other team. What is it? (Hint: Find Matt Bougie’s Strategic Inventions of the Cold War.)”

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Use a free website to create fake text messages. I created the following conversation between Truman and Stalin as part of what was in the locked box during the Cold War breakout. You can get really creative with a breakout activity! Use QR codes. Maybe your principal could play a role or make a guest appearance.

Breakout experiences are effective during the Immerse phase because students become exposed to lots of information through solving various clues. Design the clues so students use content area knowledge to solve them. After the breakout experience, debrief students. Have them share answers to clues if they worked on solving different ones. From here, students can choose which aspects they encountered during the breakout to investigate further in the Explore phase.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog posts for this week. I truly believe in the importance of educators making time for what matters and modeling their own curiosity and excitement to learn for their students.

-Jamie Gregory, NBCT, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm    jamie.gregory@spart5.net

An Invitation to Learn

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jamie Gregory, NBCT, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm    jamie.gregory@spart5.net

 

Time and Patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Jamie Gregory, NBCT Library Media, Duncan, SC

@gregorjm   jamie.gregory@spart5.net

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

 

 

Evaluating and Improving Guided Inquiry Outcomes

Happy Friday! Here in Oklahoma it is freezing and windy outside so I am spending my last Friday of 2017 curled up with a cup of tea and a good book. Quick recap of my last blog post: I wrote about a GID unit implemented by myself (Teacher Librarian) and Elyse Hall (Psychology teacher). The unit was the first of two planned for the Psychology II (Abnormal Psych) class where we explored all types of brain disorders. Inquiry questions covered a wide range of issues including eating disorders, disorders that stem from trauma, social anxiety and schizophrenia. At the end of the unit we surveyed the students over the process and the product. Overall, students wished they had:

  • Taken better notes in the inquiry journal
  • Written down more questions at the beginning
  • Practiced their presentation

Elyse and I took the feedback students gave us, added in a few of our own observations and tweaked our second planned unit. We set up an Inquiry Journal assignment in Google Classroom where students took notes every day and kept track of their questions and observations all in one document. This worked well for us because it streamlined the journal process by only having one document per student and because it was an assignment in Classroom and I was listed as a co-teacher, we could both see all their questions without students having to take the extra step to share their document with me. Elyse also created “check-in” assignments where students turned in (via Classroom) their top questions of the day/week and occasionally turned in their current favorite resource. In our first unit we spent some time doing mini-lessons on how to find articles in databases and reliable websites. This go-round we focused on how to read beyond the abstract with journal articles and scientific studies. A few days before the final presentations we divided our students into small groups and had them do a practice run and receive feedback from their group. Our final product also changed slightly. Students still turned in an annotated bibliography and did a presentation, and they created educational materials that presented their research to a ‘real-world’ audience (patients, teachers, parents, coaches, etc) Instead of limiting students to an infographic this time, they were given a choice board of ways to convey their education materials that included creating a blog, video, podcast, newsletter or an editorial/letter to elected official.

Having the freedom to design back to back units with the same students was very helpful for me as a teacher to see how different techniques and tools improved the research process for my students. While we had the benefit of a very small class (only 12) we were able to brainstorm how to create the same experience and discussion for a much larger class (next semester the class has 35).

Student evaluations were positive and had a very favorable view of Guided Inquiry.

A quick snapshot of some of our evaluation results:

When asked to compare the amount of CONTENT (facts and information about psychology) learned in this class using GID instead of traditional lecture and assignments:

42.6% reported learning more content with GID

42.6% reported learning the same amount of content

14.3% reported learning less than with traditional methods

When asked to compare the SKILLS learned in this class (how to research, write, cite, present)

85.7% of students reported learning more skills than in a traditional class

14.3% of students reported learning about the same

0% reported learning less.

Taking into consideration the fact that class size can skew percentages to look either really good or really bad (in this case, for the better), I found it affirming that when students connect to the content the research skills they master increases drastically. Really reaching to provide the opportunity to connect students to third space increases the overall outcome of success.

A big thank you to Leslie for allowing me to share my GID journey with all of you!

Amanda Kordeliski

Teacher Librarian, Norman North High School

Are You Sure You Can Do That? Designing an Entire Semester Course Around GID

Whew, that was a long break between posts! Last week I shared my love of GID and how I started on my journey as a GID teacher librarian. My journey changed course a bit last year when I moved from middle to high school and started a new position as one of the teacher librarians at Norman North High School. I am excited to share a Psychology unit we completed this past fall at North.

One of the things I love about high school is the opportunity to dive deep into subject areas. You get a chance to completely immerse yourself in a topic to a greater degree than middle school and Guided Inquiry is a perfect fit for these classes. At my high school we currently offer two semester long courses in Psychology in addition to the year long AP Psychology course. The second semester Psych class focuses on abnormal psychology. The Psychology teacher, Elyse Hall, was signed up for our summer Guided Inquiry Institute and we had the opportunity to plan a unit together. The unit kept growing until Elyse pitched the idea of designing the entire Psych II class structure as Guided Inquiry. The process would cycle through the semester covering disorders and treatments in psychology. Our first concept was disorders and we used Immerse and Explore to introduce a large number of disorders the students needed to learn about and give students the freedom to guide their inquiry research in a direction that interested them. At the end of the unit, if there was necessary information not covered, Elyse would “mop up” and cover the content through direct instruction. Then we would repeat the process with Treatment having students using the research they presented in disorders as a new jumping off point for the second unit.

The abnormal psychology class for the fall semester was very small and made a great pilot class for our ideas. Immerse was full of video excerpts, discussions and readings. I compiled a fiction reading list of books in our library collection that depicted disorders in teens and sorted the list by disorder. I thought they would use the book list to compare how a disorder was portrayed in fiction to the reality. The way they actually used the booklist ended up being quite different. Many of the students read at least one book and made notes and questions that occurred to them while reading but were not interested in comparing novels to “real life”. As we moved into Explore and Identify, students brainstormed questions and observations they had on the glass wall I have in my library classroom. The brainstorming was where this class really took off. Until this point they were not overly talkative as a group and getting them to participate in an inquiry group was a struggle. However, once they started writing on the walls, they started commenting on each other’s topics and suggesting resources to each other. Suddenly students are talking about the unit with other teachers and connecting class reading and observations to the world around them.

After they formed their inquiry questions, students used library databases and web resources to gather information about their question. They created mind-maps on giant sticky notes with their inquiry question in the middle and all their resources and how they connect to each other around them. This activity really helped students see where the holes were in their research and helped guide them to the resources they needed to dig through for information.

Students brainstorm questions and ideas about disorders on the glass partition in the library classroom.

In the Create phase, each student had to turn in an annotated bibliography of resources, an infographic focused on the main points of their inquiry question and a presentation where they talked about their question and the resources they used. This three pronged Create worked very well for our unit, students who had a less than polished infographic could field questions and talk about their research. One of the goals of our unit was for each student to have an in-depth working knowledge of a wide variety of disorders and really discover the different aspects of psychology they were interested in learning about.

For Evaluate, we asked students for a large amount of feedback. We had them reflect on each others work in the form of a feedback carousel when they presented, they read all the comments and reflected on what they needed to work on for next time, what they felt they did well and where they struggled throughout the process. They filled out a google form that asked where they struggled and what they needed more guidance with for next time.

For my final blog post tomorrow I will share the insights our students had into the process and what we changed for the second GID unit.  

Amanda Kordeliski

Teacher Librarian

Norman North High School

GID and Me: A Love Story

Hello fellow GIDers!

I am Amanda Kordeliski and I am currently the teacher librarian at Norman North High School in Norman, OK (yes, I am yet another of those Norman GID fanatics). This post is lagging behind when it should have appeared on Leslie’s fantastic blog because this is the first week of winter break for us. You know how you have all these good intentions of how your winter break is going to be the most productive week ever and then you set your computer and your planner aside and don’t touch them for six days? That’s me this week. I stepped away from the crazy of holiday planning and shopping to look at my “real” to-do list this morning and panicked at the thought of not getting my stuff up on the blog!

I have always been an advocate for student centered learning. I see the difference it makes in my own kids at home and with GId I get to see the impact at school as well. Long time readers of this blog will already know that my district adopted Guided Inquiry several years ago and we are in the process of training all our teachers in GId. My journey started alongside the other librarians back in 2013 when all the district librarians did a book study of Leslie’s first Guided Inquiry Design Framework book. Reading this book and seeing the how the framework followed the flow and design of the Information Search Process was my lightbulb moment.

When I say I had a lightbulb moment, I know everyone pictures a thoughtful librarian with a little lightbulb over her head. This is not what happened. See, in grad school when I was studying all the different Information Search Process modules and writing papers over their pros and cons and which ones worked and for what kinds of knowledge users etc, etc, I fell in love with Kuhlthau’s ISP. It spoke to me. I saw in her process exactly how I learn, and I was smitten. So when I say I had a lightbulb moment as I was reading Guided Inquiry Design for the first time, I mean I had a moment when I was jumping up and down in my living room trying to explain how exciting it was that all the things I had written about in grad school about learning and information searching were suddenly packaged in this amazing process with steps and a clear path for students to become inquiry based learners. It crystallized for me all the things I didn’t even realize I needed. It was exactly the thing I was searching for and this was a full blown fangirl moment. There might have been dancing and cheering involved.

I took this new, bubbling  enthusiasm to school with me (Up until last year I was the teacher librarian at Irving Middle School in Norman, I just jumped to high school in 2016) shared the book and a slew of ideas with a sixth grade teacher I had a great co-teaching relationship with, and our first Guided Inquiry unit was born. I will say looking back at the unit now and all the things I did wrong kind of make me cringe, but it is great way to look at the evolution of a unit and how I’ve grown as a teacher librarian to compare my first lesson to my current ones. The next school year I attended Leslie’s Institute and learned how to truly plan a successful GID. At school GID slowly spread from one grade to another and then began moving across content areas. 

Now that you know my love story with Guided Inquiry, in the next blog (the last two will come fast and furious in the next two days) I will share my experience working with our psychology teacher this past semester. We had the opportunity to shape the Psych II class into a complete GID semester long experience. I can’t wait to share!

 

Amanda Kordeliski

Teacher Librarian

Norman North High School

Hello again from Westborough, Massachusetts – In the Arena

I’m excited to be blogging again for 52GID.  Last year I posted about some of my adventures with Guided Inquiry Design and I’m happy to say that teachers from my school and district have also joined in to write about their experiences. Overall, it’s been a lot of fun over the past several years creating GID curriculum, co-teaching, uncovering new ways of using the process and learning with colleagues and students.

Our town is in central Massachusetts, we have 1140 students and I am grateful to be the teacher librarian at the high school.  This year is my 8th year in Westborough.  I am proud of all that we continue to accomplished with GID.  As a teacher librarian, I rely on trust within my relationships with teachers in order to bring new ideas to the table.  GID is quick to point out what’s working well in the classroom and where there is room for growth.  I am happy to say that the majority of the content teachers I work with are knee deep in the growth mindset of education. And although it’s sometimes messy and uncomfortable, there is always time to reflect on what we may want to do better as well as how we can integrate our teaching styles, our  teaching philosophy and our personalities.

Here are a few things that I am mindful of with GID collaborations:

  • Meet teachers where they are:  Trying new things while we are in the midst of another wildly busy school year is scary, overwhelming and time consuming.  I listen to what the content teacher is saying – their projected outcomes, their hopes for their students and their worries about making a mistake. GID can look different from class to class, and that’s okay. I reassure, model, jump in where necessary and remain positive.
  • Leave my agenda at the door:   Collaborating with content teachers isn’t about me or what I may want to accomplish, but instead it’s about that individual teacher and their classroom of students. I don’t pretend to know their students better than them. I am not an expert – we are growing together – and we do. Every time.
  • Keep it real: Teaching is challenging and all consuming.  We can get caught up in how much we want our students to learn, what assessment must look like and how everything should be. Even in high school, kids need to know that we care about what they are interested in.

 

Over this week, I hope to share some examples of what I’ve learned from GID collaborations with high school teachers and students.

Image result for brene brown quotes about growth

Anita Cellucci, Teacher Librarian 

Westborough High School

Follow me on Twitter – @anitacellucci @librarywhs

How does GI look in Math?

In the last post, I told you all about the beginning stages, learning about Guided Inquiry, pushing our minds to grasp how it could work in the math classroom, and finally coming up with an idea. When my team of 3 (Algebra 2 teachers) left the conference in the summer, we left with an idea about a Sequences and Series GI Unit but knew that we had a lot of planning and prep in order for this Unit to be successful. Section 11-1 Sequences As Functions 2017 Guided Inquiry-1pcblr9

School starts, fall semester goes by, and then there we were in second semester creeping up on the Sequence and Series chapter. {Side note: the thing I love most about my school and mostly my team, is that we look out for each other, support each other, and hold each other to the same high standards that we hold ourselves. This is true for the GI unit. We were going to do this, but we made sure that we did it together. No one gets left on an island by themselves.} A few weeks out, we met after school to talk through the idea again. Remind ourselves, and the other two members of the team who could not attend the conference, about all the details that went into GI. We came up with a plan:

First, the math brained people that we are had to map out the unit and create an assignment sheet that reflected the GI stages. This gave us a better idea what each day would be like. Chapter 11 Assignment Sheet 2017-2mvemvs We knew that the students would be coming up with their own questions but were unsure of what they would be. We had a few thoughts in our back pocket but wanted to be as open minded as possible so that the ideas came from the students.

Second, we decided that we would meet after school on the day that the students created their questions to help each other out with the following days’ plan. When we met the second time and we searched through the questions, there were some common themes coming out of the post it notes. We each decided to group up the common themes that were specific to our classes. In my class, it worked best to create 5 groups, as you will see on the attachment, which also worked best physically in my classroom. Guided Inquiry Explore Results-2bujvwc  When the students came in the next day, I talked through the 5 common themes and then let the students choose which one of the 5 groups interested them the most. As a group, the began to explore deeper about that specific theme.

Third, we let the students take the led. They gathered more information about their topics. Each class created their own rubrics on how they wanted to present their findings. Example from 1st hour: Sequences and Series Presentation Rubric 1st hour 2017-1b4xeb8 They created amazing presentations and shared them with the class just wonderfully. I was more than impressed with the results both of the quality of the presentations, but also with how well students worked together. (I will share some reflections from both myself and students in the next post) At the end of that day, I left school feeling GREAT!

Enjoy some pictures of their wonderful presentations.

Jamie Rentzel, Norman High School, Norman, Oklahoma

Guided Inquiry in a High Math Classroom? Really?

Yes, it can be done. We took Guided Inquiry and worked it into the math classroom. But why does everyone seem baffled at the the thought of a math teacher being able to make this work? I think it is what we have always been missing.

How often does a math teacher hear the question, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?”  With Guided Inquiry, the students are able to really answer that question. Let me start by staying, I am not one of those teachers that hears this question from a student and then gets immediately upset and irritated at the student. Actually, it is the best question they can ask, because that is the point of school. To teach the future citizens the knowledge and skills that they need for “real life.” Sometimes I have a perfect answer in my back pocket and other times I do not.

Mathematics is really about problem solving. Assessing the situation and determining which route to choose. Should that route lead you down a rabbit hole, then step back and try another approach. Problem Solving and Critical thinking are the top two skills that most all employers are looking for in a new hire. And what better place to learn these two skills than in the math classroom.

Now let me circle back to Guided Inquiry. How did this all start for me? My principal promoted this Professional Development called Guided Inquiry Design and he wanted to see a few teams go to it last summer. After thinking about it for a few days, I wasn’t quite sure what all it entailed, but knew that my Algebra 2 team has always been really strong and are willing to try new things if it is best for our students. So after talking to the team, I signed us up. In the end only 3 of the 5 of us could make it, but that didn’t stop us from going. Of the 3 that attended, two of us were veteran teachers to the school and to Algebra 2 and the other teacher was a brand new teacher, fresh out of college and eager to join the team.

We went to the 3 day PD for Guided Inquiry Design open-minded and after day 1 felt drained. It was hard. Hard in a good way. It really pushed us out of our comfort zone. The three of us tossed around ideas while we sat with lots of Elementary Ed, History and English teachers. We felt like we were on an island by ourselves. However, Leslie Maniotes (the institute leader), Martha and Taryn (our school librarians) were all so encouraging. They were supportive and helpful.

We refreshed over night and came back for day 2 determined to make this work. We picked our topic and started doing our own research, as if we were the students. This was really scary because the students can go so many ways with their questions, and for a math teacher to plan for the unknown, we still felt uneasy.  (Actually, I am pretty sure that we were all uneasy from the beginning of this institute until we finally completed this unit with our students in the spring.) So we stepped into Day 3 and made a short presentation to share with the group and ended up receiving really great feedback from all the other teachers there. We were on the right track, we just needed to be more confident with ourselves and more confident that our students would be able to make this work. At the end of the 3 day conference, we left with a plan for a unit on Sequences and Series. (In my next post I will go into all the details, mathematics and teacher prep.)

For now, I hope I have gotten the attention of some math teachers out there that have been skeptical about Guided Inquiry. Yes, it can be done!

Jamie Rentzel, Math Teacher

Norman High School

Norman Oklahoma

Student Research Gets Personal @ BCPS

I’m excited to tell you about a high school course that we’ve been offering in BCPS since 2012, the Independent Research Seminar. This is an elective course which sophomores, juniors or seniors can take for a semester or a full year at the Standard, Honors or GT/Advanced Academics level. The Independent Research Seminar offers students a unique opportunity to do in-depth original research on a topic of their own choice. For the last five years, we’ve had students researching a wide variety of topics in virtually every discipline. Students learn a rigorous research process that includes a literature review and subject-specific research methodologies characteristic of college level research. They use an Online Research Framework to work both independently and under the guidance of content area teachers and the school library media specialist, who provides information literacy instruction for each step in the process. Students also consult with outside experts, and may have an opportunity to conduct research at an off-campus site. For example, we’ve had students work with scientists at a Johns Hopkins University scientific research lab, at area museums and historical societies, at local companies like Lockheed Martin, and at government agencies like the NSA, to name just a few. For several students, this course has led to an Internship and even employment. Students present their research to an audience of their peers, parents, mentors, school administrators and teachers at our annual Student Research Symposium.  This course is a great alternative to the AP Capstone course, which is not necessarily appropriate or appealing to all students. We have had diverse students take this course over the last 5 years, including English Language Learners, a student on the Autism spectrum, and a few reluctant learners who were otherwise not fully engaged in high school.


At the 2017 Common Ground Conference in May, I gave a presentation about this course with my colleague Joquetta Johnson, the Library Media Specialist at Randallstown High School who has been teaching the course for four years. For a good introduction to what the course is all about, view our Conference presentation  Student Research Gets Personal: The Independent Research Seminar, which includes student artifacts and videos.

Our High School library media specialists use this brochure to promote the Independent Research Seminar course to their students at registration time each year.  Students enrolled in the course use this Online Research Framework to access resources throughout the research process. Course instructors use Units and Lessons that correspond to each step in the Framework to facilitate instruction; these lessons are housed in our BCPS One Learning Management System (so unfortunately I am unable to share those Lessons with you). We will be revising the Lessons and Online Research Framework this summer (please excuse broken links).  We plan to incorporate GID strategies and tools, including some from the latest GID in Action: High School book.

 

The BCPS Student Researchers Wiki features Research Symposium video highlights, news articles, and digital copies of Symposium event programs for the last five years. You can read students’ research abstracts in these programs to get an idea of the wide range of topics they have chosen to research. Students are given secure folders on the wiki for uploading and organizing their work, and they can also use it as a collaborative workspace.

Although this course was written in 2011 (before our introduction to Guided Inquiry Design), I think you’ll agree that the model we developed bears many similarities to GID. For example, students keep a reflection journal throughout the research process, and they often engage in small group collaboration (e.g. Inquiry Circles).  Students sometimes choose topics that interested them in one of their other courses, or which relate to their college and career aspirations. In recent years, many students have chosen to explore issues related to diversity, equity and social justice. These are issues that are extremely relevant to students’ own personal lives and experiences. They would not have had the opportunity to explore these personally meaningful topics in depth, if not for the Independent Research Seminar course. This course is unique in providing that level of learning choice and voice, while empowering students with information literacy skills, not only for college and career readiness, but for citizenship and for life.

It’s been my pleasure to share some of our work around GID and student research at BCPS with you this week.  I hope you find some inspiration and ideas that you can apply to your own practice.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Kelly Ray,

Baltimore County Public Schools