Friday, August 13, 2010

Reflections on Action Research

The process of learning about action research has been enlightening for me. I completed my first master’s degree over ten years ago and I cannot remember the topic from my research class for that degree. I do remember that it revolved around insights learned from past research. My action research project for this degree revolves around current research that is developed and implemented by myself to add to the collective knowledge of all in education.

In week two of our course, we were asked to watch video taped interviews of some school leaders discussing their action research projects. One of the scholars that I chose was Dr. Timothy Chargois. Dr. Chargois talked about how his district uses action research to determine if new projects or systems will work for their school district. A statement that he made was that many of their administrators have higher degrees and are used to doing research and looking at data, but the teachers may only have pedagogy and content knowledge from their time in college. One suggestion talked about was how schools need to use research to affect tomorrow’s instruction. I work with teachers in my region on a program called the Texas Math and Science Diagnostic System. This program if used correctly can provide formative assessment for teachers that they can use to change their instruction immediately. In trainings, it is even suggested that a teacher could teach a concept in one class period, have the students take an assessment in TMSDS, look at the results, and then if needed change their instruction for the next class period that same day. Helping teachers learn how to use data and impact instruction is a rewarding experience and I look forward to learning how to do it better through action research projects.

In the video from week 3, Elvis Arterbury, Ph.D. and Steve Jenkins, Ed.D. discussed the eight steps to follow when creating an action research plan. They stated that the inquiry process is critical because it is based on logical reasoning and requires one to collect data in a systematic way. Once I had completed watching their video, I began the process of developing my own action research project. By working through the steps, I was able to develop my draft action research plan. The steps made it easier to work through the process of the development and revision phases of my plan.

In weeks two through five we were asked to make blog posts and reflections on others blogs as part of our continual learning. I found this to be very insightful and I was drawn to the blogs of my fellow classmates. In the first week, I was very interested in the layout and design of the different blogs, but as the weeks progressed I found that I was more interested in reading how my classmates were thinking about the content. I found that this helped me to understand the content better and to receive the information from several different perspectives

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Action Research Plan

How does the process of creating an online PLC team of content area teachers help support LEP instruction in our Region?

Goals and objectives of research investigation:
Create an online community of content area teachers working on instructional strategies for LEP instruction.

Raise awareness of how technology can be used for professional development among teachers.

Raise the awareness of how technology can be incorporated with students.

Raise LEP scores of schools whose teachers are participating in the action research project.

Participating teachers will have the capacity to create new online PLC communities in the future.

Activities designed to achieve the objectives:
Six hour professional development session to be offered at Regional Service Center for science teachers. This session will teach teachers how to create their own blog, post to their blog, and learn how to follow and respond to other’s blogs.

Instructional strategies will be posted each week on the science specialist’s blog. Teachers will implement the strategy with their students and then reflect about their experiences on their blog and then respond to others reflections.

Teachers will be asked to incorporate a new technology practice with their students as one of their weekly strategies.

Teachers will be asked to come back the following year and be a part of a new group of teachers as they create their own online PLC team.

Discuss the online PLC project during the Curriculum and Instruction PLC meetings to help others start similar PLC teams in their own content areas.

Resources and research tools needed for data gathering:
Teachers will need computes and internet access to be able to use their blogs.

Surveys will be used to gather data about blog usage and number of LEP students being served.

Interviews with participants will take place during the project.

Access to regional TAKS scores.

Timeline for completion/implementation of activities:
August – Professional Development Session to be added to Regional Website

September – A Six Hour Professional Development Session to be held at Service Center and a survey will be created to determine demographic data and past instructional strategies that have been implemented by the teachers. Each of these will be completed by the Science Specialist.

November – Survey of participants to be created by Science Specialist and completed by teachers.

November – Report on action research project with the Curriculum and Instruction PLC team to be given by Science Specialist

March – Interviews with participants to be conducted by Science Specialist

May – Face to Face meeting with all participants to review the online PLC process and interviews to determine how the new instructional strategies affected instruction. Interviews and meeting will be conducted by Science Specialist.

September 2012 – State Science Specialist meeting to share action research project with other science specialists across the state.

Persons responsible for implementation of the action research plan:
The Secondary Science Specialist will set up the Professional Development Session and facilitate the teacher blogs.

Teachers who sign up for the Professional Development Session will be responsible for the implementation of the strategies in their own classrooms and reflecting on the research.

Other Content Area Specialists will be responsible for repeating the plan within their own content areas with assistance from the Science Specialist.

Process for monitoring the achievement of goals and objectives:
Science Specialist will monitor and facilitate the teacher blogs weekly to offer support and ideas.

Teachers will be asked to rate the effectiveness of their interactions with their LEP students and the instructional strategies at the end of each six weeks.

Technology integration will be documented in teacher blogs. Teachers will be asked to post how they have used technology with their students.

Assessment instruments to evaluate the effectiveness of the action research study:
Surveys of teachers to gather demographic data of students to be created by Science Specialist and completed by teachers.

Interviews at the beginning and end of the project to determine which instructional strategies have been used in the past and any new strategies that were found to be helpful at the end of the study will be completed by Science Specialist.

TAKS data for the Region and for individual schools to be reviewed by Science Specialist and individual teachers.

Usage data to track the amount of posts/interactions between the teachers using the blogs will be completed by Science Specialist.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Professional Development Blog

I am still toying with the idea of how I can make an action research project work with 63 school districts. I have been training science teachers almost every day this summer on the new science standards, EOC Success for Biology, 5-8 Science Academies and English Language Proficiency Standards. I have been very impressed with the class blog and how quickly we have all taken to sharing our experiences with each other. One idea that I am now thinking about is providing a professional development session where I invite the teachers that I have worked with this summer to come to the ESC for a day and create a personal blog page. Then I would like to teach them how to follow each other's blog. Once this has been set up I would like the group to determine areas of focus (an action research project) to implement within their classroom. The group can then follow each other's progress throughout the semester and perhaps come back together towards the end of the semester/year to go back over their results and brainstorm new ideas for the next semester/year. I could see doing this many times and building small groups of teachers who are working with and supporting each other through the use of technology. By setting up professional development sessions, I can work with smaller groups at a time and then replicate the work many times over.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Action Research Topic

I am planning on devoting time tomorrow to my homework for this week. In my position, I work with the science teachers in 63 school districts in our region. I am having a hard time deciding how to approach this research project. I would like to focus on ELL students and raising their test scores, but I am not sure how to approach the project. Option 1 - I have one school that I work with in an instructional coaching capacity. I could design a project that works specifically with them. This would benefit this one school. Option 2 - I am drawn to the possibilities of the blog/technology and trying to figure out how I can use it to reach all/more of my teachers in the 63 school districts. Some of my schools are over 2 hours away and it is difficult for those teachers to receive professional development face to face. This option has the capacity to benefit hundreds of teachers/students. Any suggestions before I get started would be appreciated.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Analysis of how educational leaders might use blogs

Educational leaders can use blogs to share research and strategies they find with their peers and teachers. In my job as an instructional specialist, I can use the blog to provide teachers with specific strategies that they can implement in their classroom. By providing research and strategy ideas, I can help impact instruction throughout the region. Blogs can be used for ideas, links to sites, links to articles, videos of strategies in use, etc.

Description of Action Research

Action research is an attempt to understand what is happening in a certain situation and then to develop a plan of action to improve the situation. This plan is not formed from the top down, but collaboratively with all who are involved. By working together all participants are more willing to suggest ideas for improvement and implement the changes required for success. Action research differs from traditional educational research in that the participants are actively involved in the action research. They are looking for solutions to problems and then working through those solutions as they work together for improvement. Inquiry, critical analysis, and reflection are used throughout the research. Educators are working to understand and improve their educational practices through active participation, not passive observing. In traditional research, the researcher is not personally involved because they are striving for objectivity and knowledge by studying what others are doing. For a teacher, traditional research is not as beneficial due to the nature of the research. The teacher might be doing the research project in place of their daily instruction. The teacher may not be able to make changes to their instruction during the research project and there is less chance for collaboration with their peers.