The Year 9 Inquiry Skills Project starts next week.
Due to COVID-related timetable constraints the Project will be delivered this year in one 90-minute double English lesson rather than five 50-minute single lessons drawn from English, Geography, History, Physical Education, and Religion & Philosophy. The choice of English is deliberate, because roughly half of Year 9 will have experienced the Year 7 English Inquiry – Science Fictional Writing and it will be interesting to see whether they have a greater appreciation of the value of science fiction in helping us to make sense of our increasingly science fictional present.
I will post the lesson outline and rationale later this week.
I have included below the letter that introduced this year’s Project to Year 9 pupils and their parents.
Chris and Jenny met recently to discuss developing support for the EPQ at Oakham School, specifically through a LibGuide. Although this will be focussed on the EPQ, it will, obviously, draw on much that is already in the Extended Essay LibGuide, both structure and content. You and your colleagues at Blanchelande College may find this useful as a place to start, if you have not already done so, because it makes both the process (tabs across the top) and the support for the process (content in each tab) explicit.
While LibGuides is ideally suited to something like this, it is not the only way to do so.
Chris and/ or Jenny will be updating on recent EPQ-related developments to the Forum in due course.
Chris, I came across the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, a UK based children’s literacy charity working with primary schools, although their Reading and Writing Scales, which are available as PDF downloads for free, support “progression for 3-16 year olds in a 21st Century Classroom. … The CLPE Reading and Writing Scales describe the journey that children make in order to become literate. … The pedagogy underpinning the scales and the Next Steps is grounded in a coherent theory of children’s language and literacy development, exemplified by the research element of this document, a review of current relevant research.”
Having not yet had a chance to look at the Reading Scale (24 pages) carefully, it appears to describe “the observable behaviours of pupils at different stages” – from Beginning Reader to Mature Independent Reader – as well as describing “the provision, practice and pedagogy a teacher would want to plan for in order to help the child move forward in their literacy.”
My initial thoughts in relation to your post are:
The language of the descriptors, especially towards the upper end of the scale, seems to address your concern to some extent and, perhaps, lays a foundation for content area literacy and/ or disciplinary literacy.
The focus of the scale seems only to be on identifying where on the scale individual students fall and the next steps in moving them on. Like with our discussion about the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills, which we need to return to, there doesn’t appear to be any sense of how these skills ought to be developed progressively and systematically from year to year. However, and as with the MYP ATL skills, the FOSIL inquiry skills continuum above – and the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC) more broadly that this is based on – includes these skills to a greater or lesser extent. This potentially means that we could view the scale through the lens of FOSIL, which would add a layer of value to our integration of FOSIL with the MYP ATL skill categories/ clusters (which we also need to return to). As I am in the process of mapping the 2019 ESIFC, I will see if I can find some good examples to illustrate this.
The “review of current relevant research” might be particularly useful to you.
Hopefully this goes some way towards answering your questions.
Needing to redesign the Form 3 Inquiry Skills Project without reference to World War I – which means rethinking our choice of book – and in the uncertainty of what school might look like in September – which means rethinking our delivery – is both a challenge and an opportunity.
An aspect of the Connect phase that is often neglected, often due to time constraints, is background reading, and providing students with a book to read over the summer is an ideal way to extend this phase in a meaningful way. If the book is chosen well, there is a good chance that this reading will also be pleasurable. Logistical problems surrounding a physical book encouraged us to be inventive.
This article in particular has a number advantages:
It asks a profound question – Will we value human contact more after the lockdown? – that lends itself to inquiry, which is “a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world, [and] as such, it is a stance that pervades all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is created” (Galileo Educational Network). It is worth noting in this regard that the spirit of inquiry – as “a dynamic process of … coming to know and understand the world” – gave birth to the library and the library remains its natural home, even if it is not always welcome in the library. This, in turn, sheds light on the fundamental purpose of a school library, which is to enable understanding through reading in the broadest possible sense of the word. This, I think, is also why the excellent Ideal libraries: A guide for schools says that “libraries are where most forms of inquiry, not just academic ones, begin … libraries are more often than not where learners begin inquiry, either by design or their needs.”
It does so through the lens of science fiction short story by E. M. Forster – The Machine Stops – a genre science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson refers to as the literature of our time, and from which it derives its power, which is to reflect on the present from the safety of the future. Of The Machine Stops, Will Gompertz (Arts editor at the BBC) recently wrote: “[It] is not simply prescient; it is a jaw-droppingly, gob-smackingly, breath-takingly accurate literary description of lockdown life in 2020. If it had been written today it would be excellent, that it was written over a century ago is astonishing.”
It is (short 1 page), accessible to a wide range of ability and rich in thought-provoking links (including the BBC article by Will Gompertz above and the full text of The Machine Stops below).
It links to a full text version of The Machine Stops, which is freely available online as a PDF. The story, which should be optional, would stretch the intellectually curious and ambitious, although there are numerous audio versions that are freely available online, such as this BBC dramatization (44m12s), which should make the story itself accessible to a wider range of ability.
As the purpose of the FOSIL ISP is not just to give our Year 9 students an opportunity to inquire, which would be like letting them swim with the fishes, but to make them more effective inquirers, delivery of the ISP also needs to take into account the demands of progressively and systematically developing the underlying skillset (see previous posts).
[Enabling] student-driven, active inquiry where learners are motivated to find out about something that interests them by asking authentic questions, investigating multiple and diverse sources to find answers, making sense of the information to construct new understandings, drawing conclusions and forming opinions based on the evidence, and sharing their new understandings with others. Inquiry is about developing personal meaning connected to prior knowledge, not accumulating information or adopting someone else’s knowledge. That is the dream but not the reality for most children in our educational system. … Providing a framework of the inquiry process is only the first step in empowering students to pursue inquiry on their own. The next step is to structure teaching around a framework of literacy, inquiry, critical thinking, and technology skills they must develop at each phase of inquiry over their years of school and in the context of content area learning.
International Baccalaureate Organization. (2018). Ideal libraries: A guide for schools. Cardiff: International Baccalaureate Organization.
Robinson, K. S. (2008, November 15). Opinion. New Scientist, p. 48.
Stripling, B. (2017). Empowering Students to Inquire in a Digital Environment. In S. W. Alman (Ed.), School librarianship : past, present, and future (pp. 51-63). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
I have added notes that a colleague made while observing these lessons, as well the two FOSIL resources that we use (these resources are what Barbara Stripling (2017, p. 57) refers to as graphic organizers and serve the purpose of “formative assessment [that is] integrated into inquiry-skills instruction”).
Stripling, B. (2017). Empowering Students to Inquire in a Digital Environment. In S. W. Alman (Ed.), School librarianship : past, present, and future (pp. 51-63). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
This reply was modified 3 months ago by Darryl Toerien. Reason: Added Bibliography
The essay that they produce will be based on our Academic Writing template, which is a simplified version of our Oakham APA template that we developed for the IB DP Extended Essay, and will resemble this:
The FOSIL ISP, as explained in the previous post, serves to introduce/ remind Year 9 students of the FOSIL inquiry process by way of a task that steps them through the inquiry process, and to consolidate/ teach foundational inquiry skills.
If, as in the case of the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC), we were working in an environment where we could be pretty certain that students new to the School in year 9 would be arriving with the same or very similar mindset and skillset, then the particular skills that we focus on in the FOSIL ISP might more closely follow the ESIFC continuum. As it is, the FOSIL ISP equips students with the following foundational inquiry skills, amongst others:
Create a 3-column Header and Footer, including the date and page number (in the Microsoft Word application rather than the online version, which lacks functionality that is essential for academic writing, such as creating a Table of Contents and a Bibliography)
Use Styles to create and maintain a Table of Contents (which requires page numbers)
Cite and reference a book and website according to APA Sixth Edition
Construct knowledge from information in the book and website
Create and maintain an APA Sixth Edition Bibliography
Insert an image of a table of data that is captioned, cited and referenced as above
Extract information from data in the table, and construct knowledge from that information
Distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and use both in an investigation
Construct knowledge from information in those sources
There are two things to point out immediately:
This is a big ask of student new to Year 9, especially in the time that we have available, but each year it less of a big ask for those students who are new to Year 9 from our Year 8, because we are more effectively developing this inquiry mindset and skillset progressively and systematically in Years 6, 7 and 8.
We have a wide range of ability in Year 9, including students who have English as Additional Language (EAL), and all produce a more or less thoughtful essay that demonstrates the skills listed above.
For reasons beyond our control, the link to the World War I Battlefields Trip (see previous post), although very successful from our perspective, is no longer possible. While this development is regrettable, the resources that we produced for the Battlefields Trip, and those produced by the Archives, will still be useful on the Trip.
This development is compounded by the uncertainty surrounding the opening of schools in September due to COVID-19. It is unlikely at this stage that we will be able to source and post a suitable book that we can base the FOSIL ISP on, which is a pity, but, as Jamie Baker says, “real innovation [is] solving problem after problem after problem with grace and ease … which inoculates a school from becoming irrelevant,” and some solutions are already suggesting themselves to me. I will explore these later.
I realise that much has happened since this Topic was started, but for the record …
I am watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. While in Spain (Season 2, Episode 1), he and cinematographer Zach Zamboni visit the Alhambra (28:20 – 32:19), palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada,* which, according to Bourdain, is “one of the most enchanted, inscrutable, maddeningly beautiful structures ever created by man.”
The Alhambra, as Zamboni explains, depicts and is geometric systems. Bourdain continues, “How did nature unfold, pattern itself? Could the basic patterns of nature, even if divine, be replicated in this magnificent structure?”
Visually, given that Zamboni is a cinematographer and “a bit mad about the place,” the section is arresting, and the mathematics of the building and its decorative features very cleverly revealed (I will see if I can find a screenshot to illustrate, but have included an image from Britannica below**).
The section is (SFW) safe for work.
I have not had a chance to look, but I imagine that there must be other visual sources that illustrate the mathematics of the Alhambra in an equally spellbinding way.
There are two things that I think are worth highlighting in relation to the IFLA School Library Guidelines in this regard.
Firstly literacy and reading promotion needs to be approached from the definition of a school library, which is “a school’s physical and digital learning space where reading, inquiry, research, thinking, imagination, and creativity are central to students’ information-to-knowledge journey and to their personal, social, and cultural growth” (p. 16). There are 3 elements to this definition:
The school library is a physical and digital learning space, in which …
… reading, inquiry, research, thinking, imagination, and creativity are all means to an end …
… which is the information-to-knowledge journey and personal, social, and cultural growth of students.
It is important to root the discussion about reading for pleasure and reading for learning in this definition, I think, because the information-to-knowledge journey is simply not possible without reading, and this reading must be what you are calling reading for learning (although reading for pleasure can contribute to this journey). It is also worth noting that the definition lists reading along with inquiry, research, thinking, imagination, and creativity, but in reality it is difficult to imagine those activities separated from reading, even if only indirectly.
Secondly, “school library services include … [a] vibrant literature/reading program for academic achievement and personal enjoyment and enrichment” (p. 19). This states explicitly that the librarian’s role includes both reading for learning and reading for pleasure.
If by first part you mean establishing a case for reading for pleasure and reading for learning, then I don’t think that you can afford to rush this.
Also, what might a vibrant literature/reading program for academic achievement, rather than personal enjoyment and enrichment (which we, as librarians, are very comfortable with), look like?
I’m very interested to see where this part of the discussion leads.
With the half-term break finally upon us, your question is the prompt that I need to document our Year 9 Inquiry Skills Project, which also lays the foundation for their Individual Project (which I will also document) and sounds like it might go some way towards answering your question.
I was sure that we had met – the IASL conference passed in a bit of blur – and now I even remember exactly where we were standing. To my shame, your email with your contact details is languishing in in my Inbox, so I am very pleased that you posted to the Forum as it is still my hope to visit you, if I may, when things return to some semblance of normal.
As a matter of interest, do you know why your campus chose to write its own curriculum rather than offer the MYP like the other 3 campuses?
Because our main intake is in Year 7 (Grade 6, although for historical reasons we have a growing number of Year 6/ Grade 5 students), Year 9 (Grade 8) and Year 12 (Grade 11), we’ve had to approach the question of diagnostics with two things in mind at each level of entry, which are consolidating the gains that we have made with existing students while laying a solid foundation for new students in terms of the FOSIL process and skills at the appropriate grade level.
What I didn’t mention in my previous post, and what you probably already know, is that the skills in bold are priority skills, all of which are linked to 1 or more assessments (see below). I mention this for two reasons:
Given the very steep learning curve that I was on, these assessments helped me to better understand what many of these skills actually looked like in practice.
Our FOSIL resources then grew out of these assessments, although we are currently using them more for instructional rather than diagnostic purposes, although use of the resources does reveal a range of student competence that can serve a diagnostic purpose.
I will share something more concrete on this later from the perspective of our Year 9 (Grade 8) Inquiry Skills Project.
So much has happened in 2 months, including the already-postponed SLG National Conference being postponed until 2021.
Unfortunately Disrupted Thinking: Why How We Read Matters is in lockdown, but I have Reading Nonfiction. In it Beers & Probst share the following haunting bit of a lesson they heard from a teacher (pp. 5-6):
This teacher, burdened by constraints he felt from his district, had set aside what he told us were best practices to instead use “test practices that I know will show the administration I did all I could to get kids ready for the almighty test.” So, his lesson on a topic (any topic will do) basically followed this pattern:
Show students an interest-building clip on the topic from the web.
Tell kids what they need to know about the topic. They take notes.
Have some discussion on the topic.
Give kids a test on the topic.
Show. Tell. Discuss. Do you notice what is missing? Where’s the reading kids do to learn about the topic? When we asked the teacher that question, he pointed out that when he begins his series of lectures about the topic (lectures lasting from one day to several weeks), he often has short articles from the web up on the whiteboard for all to read. We asked him if that was enough reading to help students become savvy readers of nonfiction. He stared at us for a moment and then responded that “the textbook is worthless, and frankly I don’t have time for kids to read in class. And they don’t want to read. They don’t care about the topics we discuss, so if I gave them something to read, if they did anything it would be just a surface-level reading.” We asked if he assigned reading for home. “Are you kidding?” he replied. “They wouldn’t do it.” Then he asked us, “So, if you were trying to get kids into reading some nonfiction, how would you do it?“
Beers & Probst then go on to write a book about this. However, their context is, arguably, different. So, if you were trying to get kids into reading some nonfiction, how would you do it, given that I’m guessing many teachers here would consider themselves to be in a similar situation to the teacher Beers & Probst describe?
These are my immediate thoughts, which I’ll develop more fully over the weekend. When is your deadline?
This question needs to be considered from two different perspectives: (1) the inquiry process and (2) the underlying continuum of skills.
Aside: Your context is rare and adds a vital dimension to this discussion, which is that you occupy a vital transitional space between the Lower School (ages 2-10) and the High School (ages 14-18). Am I correct, then, that Lower School is Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 4 (Reception-Year 5), Middle School is Grade 5 – Grade 8 (Year 6 – Year 9) and High School is Grade 9 – Grade 12 (Year 10 – Year 13)? Also, am I correct that while the Middle School prepares students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and/ or the Advanced Placement (AP) Diplomas and courses, you do not offer the IB Middle Years Programme?
From the perspective of the inquiry process we need to consider how familiar students are with the process, in this case FOSIL, at their point of entry (i.e., the extent to which it has been internalized or needs to be explicitly taught). For this some sense of the differences between controlled (closed), guided and free (open) inquiry is necessary. This is not simply a case of progressing from controlled through guided to open, although it not possible to effectively carry out an open inquiry without having progressed from controlled through guided inquiries.
From the perspective of the underlying continuum of inquiry skills, we need to consider to what extent students have mastered foundational inquiry skills at their point of entry, and to what extent they need to be explicitly taught and practised across the curriculum. We also need to consider how these foundational and further inquiry skills, which will become foundational for the High School, are developed progressively and systematically over time in the Middle School. What is helpful here, is that the IB DP Extended Essay makes undeniable demands of students in terms of the inquiry process and underlying inquiry skills. I imagine that the AP has an equivalent?
Both of these are made more difficult in the absence of a national model of the inquiry process and underlying framework of inquiry skills, so being in a PK-12 school is presents an exciting opportunity to think through this.
In the FOSIL continuum of skills (ESIFC 2009 – still finishing off ESIFC 2019), skills in bold are priority skills (see also below). We have begun to consider which of these and others should be priority skills for us, as well as to what extent they need to relocated to different Years. It would clearly be beneficial to discuss this more broadly, especially now that FOSIL has been endorsed by the Great School Libraries campaign.
This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Darryl Toerien. Reason: Added images of FOSIL skills continuum
In answer to your first question … FOSIL is based on the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum – a PK-12 (Reception-Year 13) continuum of the information literacy and inquiry skills that are essential for all students to learn – which was initially developed in 2009 as the New York City Information Fluency Continuum (NYCIFC) under the auspices of the Office of Library Services and Director Dr Barbara Stripling. The NYCIFC was endorsed in 2012 by the School Library System of New York State and renamed the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC). The ESIFC was re-imagined in 2019, again under the leadership of Dr Barbara Stripling, to adapt to changing information, education, and technology environments, as well as increasing diversity in student populations. The ESIFC serves 3.2 million students in 4,236 schools in New York State alone (as of October 2019). So in theory, all schools in New York State are working across the curriculum with this continuum of skills – Assessments by Grade gives an indication of what these skills look like and how they might be assessed (and were the starting point for our FOSIL resources). By the time I started developing FOSIL from the ESIFC, Barbara Stripling had moved on to the iSchool at Syracuse University and had also become ALA President, so I attempted to contact Ric Hasenyager, who took over from her as Director of Library Services in the New York City Department of Education, with this very question, but never received a reply. A recent development gives me hope again – I was asked to contribute to the programme for The Evolving Concept of ‘School Library’ and Its Profession by Luisa Marquardt, my colleague on the IFLA Section Standing committee for School Libraries, which I did – (Re)Discovering Inquiry In and Through the School Library: the FOSIL Model. As it turns out, Luisa knows Barbara Stripling and is going to put me in touch with her, which means that I will hopefully be able to raise this question directly with her.