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Teachers as Learners: Key to the ILP

10 Jun

One of the major shifts for teachers as they use something like the Inquiry Learning Plan (ILP) is being learners everyday with and for their students.  The ability to ask great questions and guide students through each step of the plan is challenging and requires that teachers be, as Will Richardson in his book Why School? suggests, “master learners.” Now, this term sounds a bit intimidating; I certainly don’t consider myself a “master” of learning; however, Richardson’s call for teachers to be role models for learning and to be learners even before content-area teachers is a core concept behind the ILP:

Teachers need to be great at asking questions and astute at managing the different paths to learning that each child creates. They must guide students to pursue projects of value and help them connect their interests to the required standards. And they have to be participants and models in the learning process. Continue reading

ILP and Guided Inquiry

30 Mar

Two helpful resources in understanding the principles of Guided Inquiry (GI) are Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century (2007) and Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School  (2012) by Carol Kuhlthau, Leslie Maniotes, and Ann Caspari.  Through years of research and professional practice, this team of researchers and educators demonstrates how GI “is an approach to learning whereby students find and use a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a problem, topic, or issue” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007).  Students construct new knowledge actively and strive for deep understanding.  Gone are the days of just gathering information for presentation, or copying and pasting information as ways of learning.   GI requires thorough interpretation, analysis, reflection, and synthesis to handle the complexities and nuances of various topics.  The process increases student engagement and invites students to connect what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them.  As a result, students take on more independence and more responsibility since they are constructing their own paths for learning.

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ILP and the Information Search Process

26 Mar

By the time the four of us started discussing Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) and Guided Inquiry (GI), Meg had already created and used her initial version of the Inquiry Learning Plan (ILP).  During our work for our school’s 1-1 computing pilot, Meg began to talk to Marci and me about the principles of ISP and GI. We realized that what she was attempting had much in common with what Marci and I were so passionate about bringing to Hunterdon Central, and these frameworks have informed many of our discussions about the ILP since.

The ISP was the framework I had learned while studying for my library degree at Rutgers.  ISP is one of the foundations of the Guided Inquiry Design Framework (which we will discuss in a future post), and it still serves as an important part of our teaching.  Unlike other processes, it includes not only the actions of successful researchers for each stage but also the associated thoughts and feelings.  The framework also highlights common stumbling points during which students need more support and scaffolding.  The ISP framework was developed after the study of how people research – not just students but also people whose jobs depended upon the quality of their research.

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Giving Students Control

14 Mar

Over the past week, I have read numerous emails, blogs, and tweets about personalized learning, many with links to student samples or courses that teachers are redesigning so that students can have more control over their learning. Each time I navigated to these sites and saw what others were doing, I was reminded that my own students are achieving some pretty incredible goals in my current Honors Brit Lit course. For the last two and a half years, my students in my Brit Lit (and this year my English II courses) have designed their own curriculum. They choose their own texts, develop their own questions, design activities, manage their time–they control nearly everything in that classroom.

So, to help keep my students focused and organized, I developed an inquiry-based learning plan, inspired by Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process and Grant Wiggins’ UbD template. This site’s purpose is to share with you that plan and many of the resources and strategies that I–and my incredible friends and colleagues Cathy Stutzman, Heather Hersey, and Marci Zane–use to prepare students for rigorous, individualized, responsible learning. The plan is to have students, teachers, librarians, administrators,  and parents contribute to this site to share with you the struggles and achievements of this type of learning.

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