Guided Inquiry is defined as, “ carefully planned, closely supervised targeted intervention of an instructional team of school librarians and teachers to guide students through curriculum based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards independent learning.
research task, G. I. Framework & River Analogy explained to the class
brainstormed and discussed existing knowledge re Antarctica
students organised into pairs & issued with research booklets & plastic sleeves
Selection: building background knowledge
general internet search of Antarctica using prescribed internet sites
class viewed several video clips about various aspects of Antarctica
using a range of book marked websites and non-fiction books, pairs of students recorded keywords about what they found interesting, facts they didn’t know and what they wanted to know more about
students listed Antarctica topics that interested them (at least 3)
listed intriguing facts, positives and negatives of each of these topics.
students ranked these topics and narrowed their research to their “favourite” Antarctica topic, which they continued researching and developed questions about
using nonfiction books and websites, pairs of students recorded additional and more detailed notes about their chosen topic (deeper research)
whole class discussion about open ended and closed questions
class teacher and teacher librarian used concept map to model construction of an open-ended focus (BIG) question and 4-6 supporting contributing (smaller) questions, about an Antarctica topic (eg. whaling issue)
pairs of students brainstormed own opened-ended, higher order thinking question about their chosen Antarctica topic and 4-6 supporting contributing questions
student & teacher conference re suitability / wording of questions
students wrote their focus question and their contributing questions on Question Jigsaw Worksheet . Later, as students completed their research of each question, corresponding puzzle pieces were coloured in.
several lessons - used non-fiction books & websites to locate and record relevant keyword information, pertinent to students’ contributing questions
may have needed to re write / rethink some contributing questions if insufficient information
collated, analysed and synthesised their findings in order to formulate their personal answers / opinions / responses about their focus question
structures of various relevant text types (including an Explanation, Discussion and Exposition) were modelled
drafted own response to their focus question, based on research findings
designed final presentations - choice of PowerPoint, Smart Notebook or Microsoft Publisher
using IWB, pairs of students presented their final presentations to their class
each class voted on the best 3 or 4 presentations, which were showcased on the CCPS Library blog
I know Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth. It is shared (controlled) by many countries. Antarctica doubles in size during the winter and the population of scientists decreases. Half of the year is light and the other half is dark. Antarctica is a continent that has no native inhabitants. There are many Antarctic issues such as overfishing, whaling and tourism. The Antarctic Treaty is made to help the Antarctic issues. The Antarctic Peninsula is a big problem as it melts very quickly. If the ice melts then floods will happen in many major cities.
Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 30 students (No. students) % students
need longer time for work (research)
work is a bit challenging so time is precious
getting the work done in the given time
( 9 ) 30 %
accessing / navigating some useful websites
understanding very scientific websites
finding research friendly sites
finding interesting / relevant information
It’s pretty hard for me to find information in many different books. Some books think a different solution to a problem.
co-operating with partner
( 5 ) 17 %
To pic: Whaling I now understand how whaling is done and who wants to stop it, such as scientists and Greenpeace. I know a lot more about how whaling affects the food chain. Whaling is now only done by Japan, Iceland and Norway but more so Japan. Apparently there are debates over who should whale or should anyone whale at all . Topic: Endangered Animals I understand that Greenpeace and the rest of the environmental organisations are doing everything they can to assist the endangered animals. Sea Shepherd is the one organisation that is driving the Japanese out (of Antarctica). They are doing the most bizarre things. Many volunteers help the endangered animals and they don’t get paid. Topic: Endangered Animals I now know that endangered animals in Antarctica are decreasing and lots of conservation groups are trying to prevent it. Long line fishing kills animals as they can get tangled, hurt or drowned, but they are trying to help by making the net heavier.
Survey 2 Question 2: What difficulties are you having with your research? Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 29 students (No. students) % students
finding relevant / useful websites and information
It is very difficult to find specific answers for some questions.
( 18 ) 62 %
c hanging or re-wording contributing questions
We had to change a few questions.
We had to eliminate a question.
Had to change the question to get the answer, which is frustrating.
( 7 ) 24 %
understanding meaning of some words / terms
n eed more research time
( 4 ) 14 %
Scientific research is important towards knowing and conserving Antarctica better. From Geology to Meteorology, scientists can use their finds and statistics better to determine questions like how, when and why things happen. I understand that without scientific involvement, Antarctica would be that cold, horrible place with no value. Scientists, over the years, have helped us understand better through their valuable research done on Antarctica. I found out that Global Warming is dangerous to Antarctica. It doesn’t just have an effect on Antarctica itself, but also on its animals. I know now why Antarctica is at risk of losing its ice. I understand that if us humans (the ones producing Global Warming) don’t stop our ways and stop Global Warming, Antarctica may vanish and all of its unique animals will either become extinct or face extinction .
Survey 3 Question 2: Thinking back on your research, what did you find the most difficult to do? Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 29 students (No. students) % students
locating relevant information on the Internet
22 ( 76 ) %
locating relevant information in books
completing my reflection surveys
formulating my own questions
analysing researched information to help find the answer to my focus question
writing my own answer to the focus question using a set tex t type
Survey 3 Question 3: Thinking back on your research, what did you find the easiest to do? Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 29 students (No. students) % students
co-operating with my partner
26 ( 90 ) %
presenting my final work to my classmates
writing my journal comments
choosing an Antarctica topic to research
notetaking using keywords
designing my presentation
recording my references
19 ( 66 ) % 17 ( 59 ) % 15 ( 52 ) % 14 ( 48 ) %
Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 29 students (No. students) % students
socialising with different people
(11 ) 38 %
improved research / notetaking skills
Smart Notebook skills
How to use Smart Notebook in a more professional wa y
( 10 ) 34 %
formulating question s
( 7 ) 2 4 %
Class 5/6L Student responses Sample size: 29 students (No. students) % students
Cooperating with partner- 21
I enjoyed working and understanding with my partner and created a new friendship .
(21 ) 38 %
( 9 ) 31 %
learning about Antarctica
( 8 ) 2 8 %
I felt very independent and personally I thought it was quite easy doing it that way. Designing our questions was really cool because no one else had the same questions . I really enjoyed choosing questions and the freedom because we could do something we enjoyed and step out o f the box. I felt fairly confident and responsible to pick the focus question. It was a challenge, but I really liked our topic . I feel fine about choosing my own topic and designing my own questions because there is no complaining about what you have to do. I felt horrible about choosing our own topic because it was hard to think of one that was sensible. Also designing contributing questions sucked because we couldn’t think of good ones.
Students’ Journal Entries Exploration- Selecting s ubtopic to research deeper I feel very excited about our research topic. I can’t wait to research about it because the topic interests me and intrigues me. I am improving on working faster and I am proud of what I have learnt today. Today was fun and interesting because me and ... learnt a lot about the topic we wanted most. I think we did well together, me and ..., and we gathered lots of info. It felt challenging to pick only 1 because we liked 2 topics. But I felt happy with our topic that we chose . Today I felt confused because my partner and I couldn’t decide on a topic . Comments recorded at end of most lessons – activity & feelings Many comments reflected Kuhlthau’s affective domain at various stages of I.S.P.
Formulating Questions Hi fellow classmates and teachers. We are enjoying our lessons of Antarctica. It was a bit challenging to formulate and make our own questions. We're happy with our research so far. Researching contributing questions Hi teachers and fellow students, Our focus question is 'What is the future of endangered animals in Antarctica? Today we couldn't find much information so we aren't very satisfied. At least we finished 1 question. We are feeling a bit unhappy at this stage. We will try harder next week . Continuing Researching contributing questions Hi everyone, A fascinating piece of information that we discovered today was the long line fishing. It was interesting to find that animals get tangled, injured, pulled and may drown and die just from long-line fishing. Our most useful resource was the internet. Antarctic.gov was an interesting website to use. At this stage we are both feeling pleased and surprised that we got most questions completed except for one.
5. In general, how did students respond to the unit? They were keen to go to CPT. Worked well and enjoyed the task. They maintained interest throughout the unit Most pairs co-operated very well for the duration. Interest level was high. Enjoyed having a choice with their research 6. This was the first Guided Inquiry unit where students were required to: * select own subtopic that interested them * formulate & research their own Focus & Contributing Questions. In the past, Web Quest units have been used. Which approach do you prefer? Prefer the students to design their own research questions as it is empowering and leads to greater commitment and engagement by the students. However, time is an issue! Especially to build up the background knowledge before the research process can begin. Having experienced it (students choosing own subtopic & developing own questions) for their first time, I prefer this type of Guided Inquiry mode to give students more autonomy over their learning. Survey of Stage 3 teachers - 3 responses
Weighing up G.I.
backed by over 20 yrs of research in USA & Australia
building of background knowledge provides a sounder footing for launching of enquiry
addresses the emotional rollercoaster students find themselves on
“ Lifts the bar” for teaching & learning - higher order thinking involved in construction of knowledge & own meaning.
components of Quality Teaching
SLIM & Skinny surveys provide valuable tools for Evidence Based Practice & insights into students’ learning & emotions other schools
more rewarding for students& staff !
Positives of students selecting own subtopic & designing own research questions :
caters for students’ own interests
students feel ownership of own enquiry, purposeful, motivated & engaged
promotes independent learning
planning unit & resourcing unit
designing relevant student profomas/ scaffolds
building background knowledge – takes several lessons. Ideally, immersion for 5 sessions would be ideal so that students are able to make sound decisions based on their interests.
MARKING - giving written & verbal feedback to students
Evidence Based Practice - collating surveys & journals
exhausting at times for students & staff!
Negatives of students selecting own subtopic & designing own research questions :
students struggle with designing own open-ended, higher order research questions
students sometimes need to re-design contributing questions
wide range of student proformas maybe needed to cater for wide range of topics & questions
matching appropriate resources to research questions
How can we make G.I. work in an RFF environment ?
Reality is that many libraries will have a major RFF component. However, you can still implement GI!
Collaborate with Classroom Teacher (CT) during planning and assign roles. eg. CT can spend time building the background knowledge and facilitating the question development and modelling text types.
Research can continue during class Lab time
Communication via blogEd CT/TL/students
Assessment throughout and during presentations
Need to be organised with clearly defined roles
Benefits of CPT & GI for Classroom Teacher
Professional expertise shared among staff
Increased confidence – not alone!
Team teaching model
See your students differently in a new context
Higher expectations that foster deep knowledge and understanding that stems from the students’ interest
Remember , as a Teacher Librarian :
“ I am only one, but I am one, and what I do makes a difference.” Kim Gordon (1998)
“ One day you'll wonder, Did I make a difference?
TEACH FOR the certainty that you did!” Dr Ross Todd (2011)