Kourtney Frick Action Research Plan July 19, 2005 CEP 800/801/822 Proposal Description By the beginning of this school year, I will create a webpage designed to align my district’s middle school math curriculum that will serve as a resource for differentiating instruction via WebQuests, videos, as well as tutorial and interactive math links on the Internet. Teachers will utilize this site to widen their resources and instructional strategies. Educational Need Currently, many of my colleagues are not taking advantage of the vast resources available to them in order to differentiate their instruction using technology. At a school improvement meeting last school year, the chairperson asked, “What are you doing in your classes to differentiate instruction?” Two of the ten members responded with ideas on how to differentiate our instruction and one of these responses were in regards to facilitating this need with technology. I offered the idea of using STairs as educational tools. I also proposed that we could spend one of our staff development days at the beginning of the year developing STairs that meet the needs for weaknesses within our curriculum instead of spending time improving websites we already have. I added that we could use interactive websites and websites such as Digital Curriculum and United Streaming that meet our kinesthetic and visual learning styles. My colleagues seemed overwhelmed by these ideas because they had no idea where to begin nor which websites supported our objectives. This project will get the ball rolling towards development and exploration of possibilities. Teachers already spend much time planning and to add the Internet as another component could be overwhelming for a novice. I am hoping that this webpage will give them guidance and a place to not feel so consumed. In the end, I hope each of my colleagues will create their own webpage that will include many instructional strategies that are not just technology related, but in turn increases their confidence and abilities to utilize technology. Further, with the NCLB standards, legislators are demanding that we leave no child behind. My district has created a strategic plan stating that teachers must differentiate instruction in order to address this legislation. It is not only in our interest to apply these strategies, but it is our responsibility. Literature Review There have been many journal articles along with conference proceedings and books that have discussed the importance of teacher collaboration, appropriate technology, and/or using technology as the means for the latter. On the other hand, none of these have encompassed all that I am going to research. Therefore, the research does not fully support my whole idea in one document, but piecing them together does. One article, “How People Learn” appropriately supports the goals I have for my website but does not directly address the actual means teachers have to successfully implement technology (Driscoll 2002). However, Yap has performed research on using online services to support teachers within math and science classrooms and examines 1) impact on teacher isolation and delivery of curriculum; 2) efficiency of resources given (Yap1997). These ideas match my project in that it looks at math and teacher improvement in the area of comfort level with internet resources and ease of implementation. There were four projects (Montana, Colorado, Minnesota and Tennessee) funded under this research. While most of these projects focused on teacher isolation as a weakness, the most common solution within each project was telecommunications while only some of the projects solved this concern by providing resources on the Internet. Further, none of the projects addressed this concern primarily by providing Internet resources nor by facilitating face- to-face communication. This study also focused on teacher training while within my district teachers are provided with staff development every year on new technology and are required to have a webpage that is updated regularly. She found that “a significant proportion (20-68%) of the participating teachers indicated that they decreased their sense of isolation or have increased collaboration with colleagues.” (Yap1997) However, within the data it shows that teachers felt a greater sense of camaraderie with teachers outside their building. Moreover, this article proposes a possible future question for me to think about the influence on student performance. Yap found that “the activities have real-life relevance and promote research and problem solving skills (among students).” Research also supports that in order to improve teacher success they need to have meaningful collaboration (Inger 1993) (Babinski et al.). I feel that teacher isolation is a concern for not only new teachers, but veteran teachers having to change their methods. As in my situation, there were only two teachers that had begun to implement strategies required by our district for the past two years. We need to collaborate and this website will allow not only the math teachers in my building to see what I am doing to differentiate my instruction, but all teachers in the building and at the lower and upper levels within my district (Babinski et al.). Access to this knowledge would allow other grade levels to be aware of where their students are expected to be (for lower grades) and where they are coming from (for upper grades). Seung Jin and his colleagues have developed a website that disseminates information to teachers through a website, the information is primarily for teacher education on constructivist learning compared to the teacher supplementation focus of my website (Jin 1998). He focuses primarily on the content and ease of use through design. He does, however, use informal data collection to see the effectiveness of his website which matches the format of my project. Additionally, David Carroll’s observation of teacher collaboration is also similar to my project in that he organizes the research project and is a stakeholder within the research (Carroll 2002). He supports the principle that teachers must implement and critically apply new ideas within their classrooms. Furthermore, his communication of ideas is set up in a face-to- face format. One thing Carroll quotes in his article that I associated with was a quote about “Dewey’s notion of ‘educative experience’ is one way of describing what I was after – that which ‘arouses curiosity, strengthens initiative, and sets up desires and purposes that are sufficiently intense to carry a person over dead places in the future..’” On the other hand, Carroll looks at mentor teachers taking the active leadership role in his movement; I, on the other hand, am a probationary teacher. “A Co-Evolutionary Model for Supporting Emergence of Authenticity” displays the idea that students need to be given real-world applications of content information (Squire 2000). Although, this article was written in attempts to discuss all content, I particularly would like to focus on an increase in the use of various technological applications within math classroom. Various applications can be seen across all types of occupations; therefore, students need to be exposed to tools necessary for any career. Above I describe the importance of teacher collaboration; I feel that this collaboration is important because two heads are better than one. In order for this to take place, there needs to be effective communication. Céline Boffo addresses this concern in her article about innovation and how employee communication is a key component to this process. (Boffo 2003) Quality teachers are usually defined by their ability to reach complex individuals that come to the classroom with various experiences. I agree with Boffo that communication is essential and that it is essential in all areas, not just the business environment that she discusses. Objectives & Research Plan Creating this website will influence other teachers to add resources to their web pages. Within our district, we are required and have been trained to keep a webpage within Front Page. The resources are there for me and other teachers in the math department. I will include a link to my email so teachers will be able to give suggestions or ask questions. They will also be able to bring insights or questions to our monthly School Improvement Meetings. If these indicate that teachers are having difficulty creating additions to their websites, I will discuss this with my administrator and create a training for finding or creating these resources and linking them to their school site. In my experience, I have found that the lack of initiative has never been due to my capacity, but rather being aware of what is out there. I am hoping this website will minimize this gap for all personnel within my building. The math department’s computer lab usage will increase. In our library, there is a sign-up sheet where records are kept each school year by person and date. I would like to see 50% of math teachers increase attendance to 1-2 times per marking period. This is compared to 30% of math teachers using the computer lab 3-4 times per year. Two years after implementing the website, I would like to see all teachers using the computer lab 1-2 times per book. Teachers’ emails (from the web page link) and data from the hit counter will denote active involvement. Within the first two years, I would like to see 60% of the math teachers visiting the site 3-6 times per book and I will get 3-4 emails per book with questions, additions or suggestions. The counter will tell me only the number of visits not the numbers of teachers. However, in conjunction with emails and end of the year survey results I will know how many teachers are using it. Further, comparison of teacher responses on pre and post surveys will further support increased use and comfort level. I will use a survey from zoomerang: http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB224AS3V6AHQ . Conversations, emails and computer usage data will be kept in a journal to tally at the end of the first semester to check the progress. I will compile these informal conversations along with the results of the above survey and computer lab usage data to determine the effectiveness of my web page. By the end of three years, I would like to 100% of teachers utilizing the website weekly or created their own version of the website that they use weekly. Applications to Learning Theories The technology use within the webpage, in concept, will contain a variety of resources that will encompass many different learning theories. I feel that all the learning theories have appropriate uses within the classroom, but that one in particular is not appropriate for all learning situations. The learning theories I feel are important to cover are those of Piaget’s “Stages of Development”, Vygotsky’s ideas on zone of proximal development, scaffolding and schemas, Skinner’s idea of stimulus-response, Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences”, Bloom’s Taxonomy, constructivism, and Lave Wenger’s theory of Situative perspective. This website is also designed to meet the learning needs of my colleagues. It fits most of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Logical-mathematical because it is ordered in a logical manner with hierarchical links to each book we teach which in turn includes all resources for that book, Spatial because the internet provides a picture of what the technology resource is, Bodily-kinesthetic with the interaction between teacher and computer, Interpersonal with all of the math department collaborating about what worked and didn’t work, and Intrapersonal because they will apply it to their classroom and be able to reflect upon it. It is within their zone of proximal development because they are teachers and they have control over which resource they use and/or ask me to add (this also ties with constructivism). The latter also ties within Vygotsky’s idea of schema because they can use what they already know about our curriculum and tie it with the resources I have made available on the web page. Furthermore, I will email the index link to each of my colleagues so access is stimulus-response. Key Personnel In order for this to work, I am the only one who will need to operate the website. However, my vision is that all teachers will see this website and become inspired--teachers within my department, building, school district, state, country and world. Within my research, I found many teachers that were creating sites like this and they inspire and motivate me to get going. Communication is almost always at the core of breakdowns within a system when humans are involved. Because this project will be ongoing, resources may not be available when needed. This may cause frustration and lack of faith in the system. If I find in my survey that this is the case, I will encourage them via email to check out updated links and resources. I will keep constant communication at open our monthly School Improvement for suggestions and comments about teacher use, comfort and relevance. Evaluation Teachers will be differentiating their instruction and reaching more students. Teacher awareness, use and comfort of technology implementation will also increase. With NCLB legislation, technology benchmarks, and increased need for technological skills within the work place, students will need to have maximum exposure and access to technology within the classroom. In order for this to happen, teachers need to be using it within all content areas. This increase in legislative expectations will be one motivational factor for teachers along with the fact that website is readily available which saves them time. Not only is technology use a life-skill, but it also reaches different learning styles that will widen the instructional scope. As for teacher awareness and involvement, I will create a survey at the beginning of the next school year in order to see where teachers stand with regards to implementing technology and their comfort level. Then at the end of the first semester I will give the same survey and evaluate effectiveness among the staff. If the staff is not utilizing the resources, I will then evaluate how to reach them more effectively. I will also create a counter on that website to see how many times it has been accessed (weekly and monthly). Staff will be able to email me with additions, updates and suggestions with the link within the webpage. They can also bring these to our monthly School Improvement Meetings. References Babinski, Leslie M., Brett D. Jones, and Dewert, Majorie H. (nd) Safe Passages: Providing Online Support to Beginning Teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 54, 311-320. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. Boffo, C. (2003). Acknowledging and promoting local innovation: a literature. Retrieved Jul. 19, 2005, from http://www.fgvsp.br/iberoamerican/Papers/0266_ACKNOWLEDGING% 20AND%20PROMOTING%20LOCAL%20INNOVATION%20A%20LITTERA TURE%20REVIEW%20AND%20A%20RESEARCH%20MODEL.pdf. Carroll, David M. (2002). Making Sense of Collaborative Learning in a Mentor Teacher Study Group: Examining the Joint Construction and Collective Warranting of Ideas. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. Driscoll, Marcy P. (2002) How People Learn (and What Technology Might Have to Do With It). ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. *Glandon, Shan. Integrating Technology: Effective Tools for Collaboration. Worthington: Linworth Publishing, Inc, 2002. Inger, Morton. (1993) Collaboration in Secondary Schools. National Center for Research in Vocational Education. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. Jin, Seung H and Willis, Jerry. (1998). A Web-based Resource for Teacher Education: Constructivist Approach. Proceedings of the SITE 98: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. Squire, K. D., Dueber, W., & Barab, S.A. (2000). A Co-Evolutionary Model for Supporting Emergence of Authenticity. Educational Technology and Development, 48(2), 37-62. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. Yap, Kim O. (1997). Creating Connections: The Internet and Teacher Isolation. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Retrieved Jul 11, 2005, from ERIC Digest database. * This is a book that I request through Inter-Library Loan that did not arrive in time for this assignment.
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