Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reflecting on the past five weeks

     When I first saw the name of class, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive as to what the class was going to be about. However, after finishing up our final week, I have been extremely pleased with the entire process of the class and concepts that we learned about action research. When I heard the term action research, I can honestly say that I had no clue as to what it was, but after these last five weeks, I have a much better understanding of the term and how to implement this research. Originally, I thought of the term “research,” as just your average book or web based search for information on a topic. Although most probably know of research in this manner, I have learned that there is so much more to this term.
     I began to gain knowledge through the video lectures on a weekly basis. From week to week, the video lectures would put me at ease, because the professors seemed to know what our concerns were from the week prior and issues/road blocks that they knew we would run into. Being able to hear them talk about these concerns and letting us know that they understand and provide suggestions on how to help us was extremely helpful. Not only were the videos supportive, but I found that the text Leading with Passion and Knowledge was beneficial for this course and my learning as well.

     Action research is a wonderful way for educators to address troubles or areas of concerns and find solutions to them. In the text, Leading with Passion and Knowledge the author states, “Learning must be something teachers and students do, not something others do to or for them.” Dana, NF( 2009). Leading with Passion and Knowledge. Pg 12, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.  This states the importance of everyone working together to better one another for our district, school, students, community and even ourselves, It is up to us as educators to begin this effort, not waiting on someone else to take a stance. With action research, we have the key to solving the issues and improving what we know is best. Being given the opportunity to develop an action research plan and being provided the steps to make it a strong, well developed project was beneficial to me. Often times as an administrator, you can get caught up in so much on daily basis that you could possibly forget why you entered the field to begin with due the demands of the job. As stated in, Leading with Passion and Knowledge, “historically, principals have not had access to tools that can help them untangle the complexity of their work as administrators and bring the focus of their work back to their leadership in teaching and learning.” Dana, NF( 2009). Leading with Passion and Knowledge. Pg 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.  By learning and developing an understanding of action research, I now have a tool that I can use as an administrator to help solve issues and concerns brought upon my school through a “very complex, rewarding, and transformative, provocative and productive process!” Dana, NF( 2009). Leading with Passion and Knowledge. Pg 12, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 

     I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with my peers and other students in this class through the discussion boards and blogs.  This was a great resource and on hand tool for much needed guidance and support.  I appreciate the amount of knowledge I have learned through this course and look forward to continuing my understanding and development of action research throughout my educational career and graduate courses.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Action Research - CARE model

One area that I found to be extremely helpful this week and something to highly consider when dealing with my action research plan was the CARE model. I thought I would post it, as a reminder to me as what I need to consider for future planning with my action research.  

Identify Concerns that must change (look to the future)
(Assign points to concerns from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important issues to consider.)
1.    Teachers have to be on board and willing to think outside the box when developing their lessons with “BYOT.”
2.    Students have to understand that the use of bringing your own technology is for educational purposes, not for leisure of looking up what they want, texting and social media networks.
3.    Bringing your own technology has to be effective in the classroom in order for student learning to occur.
Identify Affirmations that must be sustained (look to the present)
(Assign points to affirmations from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important issues to consider.)
1.    We have to continue to hold a positive attitude about the new policy of “BYOT” as it is not going away.
2.    We need our administration to provide suggestions and feedback in any way they can to help with “BYOT.”
3.    We need to offer out ideas and best practices for others to begin to feel comfortable with the change.
SMART Recommendations that must be implemented:
(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
(Assign points to recommendations from 1 to 3 in the order of the most important recommendations to implement.)
1.    Need to be able to graph the effectiveness of “BYOT” so far this school year.
2.    Set up brown bag sessions for teachers to share ideas and lessons that work best for them.
3.    Provide as much support and guidance to the teachers and staff in order to keep them motivated.
EVALUATE – Specifically and Often
(Identify the best ways to evaluate the implemented recommendations.)
1.    Share data with the teachers so everyone can see the effect.
2.    Survey teachers to find out what additional resources they feel are needed in order for “BYOT” to be effective for the students.
3.    Conduct small group conferences with teachers each month to see if things have improved or what their worries are at the moment.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Action Research Plan - Template Form

Microsoft Word - Action Research Plan Outline _template Form

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Action Research Plan

Below you will find my action research plan for the concept of bringing your own technology. I feel that the action research will be extremely effective for my school and even possibly the district. I look forward in viewing my findings.

Goals:  I have decided to do my action research project on “BYOT,” bringing our own technology. I want to find out how effective teachers think “BYOT” has been within their classroom. What improvements can be made to make it more effective? What are the concerns with the use of students bringing in their own technology? What improvements have they seen in the students learning environment because of “BYOT?” How will “BYOT” increase student achievement? How can we better prepare teachers in feeling encouraged to incorporate “BYOT” into their own classroom lessons? 

Activities: (interviews, direct observations, written documents)
Qualitative data collection- I will interview or survey several teachers at each grade level and ask a series of questions that will determine how they feel about “BYOT,” and what they believe has been effective and ineffective with “BYOT.” I will also interview or survey students and ask a series of questions that help teachers see how students feel about the use of “BYOT,” and what they would like to see being done with it. I will also observe several grade level classrooms to see how “BYOT” is being used and what activities are being done. I will then create several charts/graphs that display what the results were and possibly present them in a brown bag session with the staff or present during staff development at the beginning of the year. Another possibility is interviewing parents to find out their concerns along with positive feedback with the use of  bringing your own technology.  I will also communicate with other schools in the district to find out how they have been implementing “BYOT” and what they have found effective and ineffective. Knowing how other schools are using bringing your own technology will be helpful in getting ideas for sharing with other teachers. . 

Resources and Research tools needed:
Survey monkey, internet based research, observing and interviewing teachers from 6th, 7th and 8th grade, surveying and talking with students, parents and schools within the district, talking with other districts using “BYOT.”

My timeline for completing this research will be the end of the 2011-2012 school year. If possible, I would also like to watch the use of bringing your own technology through 2012-2013 and compare my findings to see if improvements have been made.

Person Responsible:
I will be responsible for implementation of the action research plan.  I will also need information from teachers, students and possibly parents.  

I will monitor my achievement of goals and objectives by staying in contact with my administrator and following the patterns I see within this year and the following year.

Assessment Instrument:
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of my action research project, I will get feedback from my principals and fellow teachers.  I will also make a survey for the teacher’s throughout my research letting them know my findings and have them make suggestions for improving the problem and lessons/activities that have worked well for them

Friday, November 18, 2011

Action Research

After the past two weeks of working with developing my action research project, I have to admit that I'm excited about this opportunity. Until this class I had never heard of action research and now that I have, I have learned so much about what it takes to develop an action research and what it means to do a meaningful one that will give you good feedback and information. The three topics I am leaning towards are:
  1. One action research that I would like to do is find out if holding class in a learning lounge, rather than a classroom environment, is beneficial for the students. This year, my school developed a learning lounge for the teachers to reserve and hold class in. The learning lounge is what we are calling the 21st century classroom. Instead of sitting in desks and using florescent lighting, we have big bean bags, lean back chairs, sofas, end tables, lamps and natural lighting. I want to find out if students learn better in this type of environment, rather than using a classroom setting with desks and the stand-and- deliver type lesson. This research would help the teachers to see what environment students feel they learn best in, as well as, what students are wanting when being educated. 
  2. A second idea for an action research project is finding out how effective teachers think the integration of “Bring your Own Technology” is within their classroom. At the beginning of the year our district put into effect that students could begin to bring in their own technology devices into the classroom. Some teachers were extremely apprehensive of this new policy and were unsure as to how it would all work. Others were excited about this open door of exploration that could begin to occur within their classroom. I would like to find out how effective teachers think “BYOT” has been within their own classrooms and what improvements they feel could be made. This would also provide suggestions and ideas that teachers have found to be effective and ineffective within the classroom. By knowing this information, we could utilize this to help new teachers or teachers who are reluctant to follow the “BYOT” policy year to year.
3.    A third idea for an action research project is re-evaluating the master schedule and determining if including a study hall or tutorial period into the school day is beneficial for students and teachers. This past school year, my school recently made a major change to the schedule and took out our built-in study hall/ tutorial period. This year, we have had some major concerns because of this missing time. I would like to identify other schools within the district that have possibly made this change to their schedule as well, or those that currently still have it, to determine the positives and negatives of each. I would then like to conduct research from my own school, but asking teachers and students their opinions about this decision and discuss the issues and positives that they have noticed without having tutorials. This information will inform administration of both sides of having a built-in tutorial period.

      I'm thrilled to say that my action research project is going to be over "BYOT," and how effective it is within the classroom. I look forward to seeing what my findings are.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Educational Leaders + Blogging = Success

Educational leaders could use blogs in a variety of ways. First being, blogs can be used to support teaching and learning within the classroom or within the school. Through blogging, teachers or administrators could post up discussions, thoughts, lessons and ideas for others to view and see. It opens up extra communication among teachers, students and parents. Blogging allows for a sense of a learning community to evolve. You can learn from one other by others posts and comments, as to what was suggested or brought up. Everyone likes their voices to be heard and through blogging we can help achieve this. Students can gain a feeling of ownership with blogging, as well as, teachers when suggestions or concerns are brought forward. Blogging can open up a world of communication that can expand the learning of students, teachers, parents and administrators in a variety of ways.

Action Research

Action research is a new concept for me, but I feel that it is something that I have been doing in my educational career and my own life. After learning more about it, I now can see how action research allows for teachers and administrators to feel empowered. As educators we are here to produce the best outcomes for our students and staff, but we realize that there is not just one solution and best answer in our field. Education is an evolving door, and we as educators have to keep up with the expectations of our student’s success. Action research gives us the power to step back and consider the decision that was made and how we can improve to not only better our teaching, but for our students and staff. As teachers we hold a since of pride when it comes to educational outcomes and the steps in which they took to get there and action research can be used for this process. I will use action research to improve classroom objectives within my own classroom and eventually as an administrator for school concerns and issues. I will also use action research to analyze new concepts or ideas that I might incorporate into my classroom. It will be a tool that will give me better research as to what I need to improve on as a teacher and a leader within my school. Overall, action research is a vital tool for all educators and can be used often and by all. Understanding that Self reflection is a key component to being an exceptional leader will not only make you into a better teacher, but an example for others to follow.