Sunday, July 7, 2013

Reflections on 5301

I have always thought of research as reading and comparing, reading, reading, trying to prove or disprove a hypothesis, then writing it all up. This was what I was expecting this time as well. I was greatly relieved to discover that this research is more action than research, but also a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of the requirements and quality indicators.
The lectures gave insight into what was coming and how to face it. The web conferences were enlightening and also stress relieving because we asked questions and received answers where we needed them. I really appreciated that we were assigned specific sections to read for each assignment rather than the whole book (Leading with Passion and Knowledge, Dana, © 2009) although I have begun at the beginning to read it through. It was easy to read, explained the vocabulary, and gave great examples to help me through this learning. The section on “Developing Your Inquiry Question” (Dana, pgs. 31-36) gave me ideas that can be turned into wonderings in the future or, if possible, to use in the spiral of my first inquiry.
While doing searches to find an inquiry, I found many websites that will help me in other inquiries as well as the one with which I am starting. The assignments and activities helped to clarify the massive amount of information we were receiving and allowed me to organize it for future use. Some of the assignments were difficult at first, but after I worked through them, I felt empowered. The blogs and discussion boards are very helpful in getting other opinions and answering questions that made me focus the inquiry. These also help me feel not so alone. An online course sometimes feels a little cut off just as teaching can be lonely. Having others to share with and questions helps bring the learning closer.
I think that teachers should be trained to do action research inquiry for most of the staff development hours required. This would allow teachers to think about their style and how to change to help students. It would allow collaboration (many heads are better than one) and pull teachers closer together as they help each other. I just think that this is a better method for SD than just throwing things at educators, hoping they will catch and use it. I realize that some staff development that is direct teaching is necessary. Action research not only helps the one doing the study, but also others that receive the sharing of that project.
I am looking forward to my action research project. I still have some changes in mind but will wait until I can talk to my Site Supervisor after the summer break. I am excited about using the district provided programs to help lower students achieve success.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Little More Info

My Action Research Project will occur on my campus, L. K. Hall Elementary. I will use Instructional Technology Lab 1 because it is my classroom and will be available for afterschool tutoring. I will be tutoring two times a week during school-wide tutoring.

My target population will be Tier 3 students. I would like to select two students from the high end and two students from the low end of Tier 3. I will be looking at Overall Reading, Comprehension, and Vocabulary scores.

After the first monthly assessment on Imagination Station, I will meet with the reading teachers in each grade to look at the data. Together we will choose four students from each homeroom. We will be looking for students with similar needs and decide who will be in each group by flipping a penny with each pair. Heads will be the student that gets classroom intervention only and Tails will be the student that gets classroom intervention, online practice, and interventions with me. I want four from each homeroom because I felt there should be two different groups, medium and low.

IStation gives a monthly assessment and specific interventions that will support that student’s learning. The reading teacher and I will be looking at the data each month on all students. This will give the reading teacher a guide for interventions of that teacher’s choosing in the classroom and will give me IStation interventions to use with study student. The reports that can be pulled on each student on IStation give a graph that includes all previous assessments.

I will study the effects of using Imagination Station on student achievement by watching for improvement on a monthly basis. I would like to determine if finding time for the use of IStation and its interventions will raise student achievement. This would be another tool for reading teachers, since our students are so technology focused.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Action Research Project First Try

I have finished my ARP, but I am very glad that it also is a living document. I greatly would appreciate any comments to help me. I have already seen one step that I forgot. And of course, my Site Supervisor still has final say.

J. Valdez Action Research Project
Goal: How does the use of regular work time on approved online programs and prescribed interventions improve overall reading achievement?
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
Beginning of the Year Assessment

Jeanne Valdez
August 26, 2013-September 27, 2013
Imagination Station with current students uploaded
All students tested and reports available
Data Analysis-Choose four Tier 3 students from each homeroom; two will receive only inclass interventions, two will receive inclass and after-school tutoring using Imagination Station and interventions prescribed by that program
Jeanne Valdez and teachers affected (3rd through 5th Grade Reading Teachers)
September 16, 2013-October 6, 2013
Data from IStation
Four students  chosen for each homeroom (Alternates for each class in case of parental rejection)
Permission Letters explaining the project sent to parents with approval/rejection form included
Jeanne Valdez
September 23, 2013-October, 2013
Translation of parent letter into Spanish
Receipt of approval from parents
Tutoring-Students will come at least one afternoon a week to work online and work with Valdez on interventions
Jeanne Valdez
October, 2013-January, 2014

Attendance record and intervention record
Middle of the Year Assessment-review progress
Jeanne Valdez and teachers affected (3rd through 5th Grade Reading Teachers
January, 2014
Data from IStation
Review of students data
Tutoring-Students will come at least one afternoon a week to work online and work with Valdez on interventions
Jeanne Valdez
January, 2014-May, 2014

Attendance record and intervention record
End of the Year Assessment-review progress

Jeanne Valdez and teachers affected (3rd through 5th Grade Reading Teachers
May, 2014
Data from IStation
Review of students data
Data Analysis and Conclusion
Jeanne Valdez and teachers affected (3rd through 5th Grade Reading Teachers
June, 2014
Data from IStation
Did students on IStation and classroom interventions improve more that those on classroom interventions only?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week Two

This week has tweaked my interest. I am very interested in using Imagination Station and Think Through Math (two online applications) to improve achievement. But, I have also seen many others ideas, wonderings, and questions with which I might be interested in doing action research. I like the idea of using action research as staff development. I feel it would mean so much more than what is usually done. I will get to meet with my Site Supervisor next week and pin down what I will be doing. I am really excited about it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blogs can be used by leaders to publish ideas and reflections. Principals then have the opportunity for others (open or closed community) to view their ideas and make comments that may reveal insights the author had not considered.

Blogs can be more than words. Graphics, video, and pictures can be a source of reminder of thinking. Blogs can also be used as data. It can lead to insights that may not have been visible until many entries down the line

Action research is a systematic investigation into a problem or idea that uses data analysis, readings, collaboration, and reflection to make necessary changes for improvement in myself or my campus. This type of research is not something that just starts and stops. You keep coming back to see if improvement has happened and how it can be extended or increased. We are having some difficulties at my campus, and I can see how action research might benefit us. There are several areas that could use improvement and, instead of trying to patch it with a quick fix, our school could make changes determined by action research and collaboration. Everyone would be invested instead of just doing, to the best of their ability, something that they do not understand and were not given time to internalize. I see teachers that just go through the motions because they were not included in making our vision, were not given the whys and wherefores of the changes, and were not given the facilitation needed to work through what they personally needed to do to make these changes work. Some may even be unwilling to put in the work that it takes to make the changes requested due to time restraints. An action research project would allow all teachers to have input on the changes to be made and how to make them. I believe that buy-in would be higher and improvement would be visible.