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Jennifer Davis July 2004 Inquiry Project Proposal Setting I teach high school English at Harbor Springs High School in Harbor Springs, Michigan. This next year I will be teaching senior, sophomore, and drama classes in the English department. For this project, I will be centering on the sophomore English class, with a focus on grammar lessons. Grammar units make up approximately half of the school year in this class. This is a general education class with many students going on to complete higher-level English classes. These students are mainly highly motivated students with approximately 90% of the students that attend the high school going on to institutions of higher learning. Seventy-three percent of students elect to take the ACT test with resulting scores above the national average. According to teachers in the district, the amount of students who take the ACT and do well is a large motivator for the district continuing to have a strong grammar focus in the tenth grade curriculum. Problem Statement Because of the importance placed on the grammar curriculum, I would like to examine exactly how to best present this information to the students. Students in the school are typically presented grammar in a lecture format. They then come up with examples of the use of the grammar. I would like to examine whether presentations of grammar concepts are more effective when technology is incorporated into the lessons. These students, for the most part, are highly motivated. I would like to examine whether incorporating technology impacts their assessment scores, or if they have high scores regardless because of their high motivation level. The research question then involves looking at how the use of technology to present grammar lessons to tenth grade students impacts student achievement. In classrooms that I have observed, students, typically, have a negative attitude when it comes to learning grammar. They seem to associate it with drills and memorization. If I could make it interesting to the students, they perhaps would find grammar useful and take pride in their knowledge of it. I think that it is a challenge to make grammar interesting and I would like to embark on this challenge. I also believe that this topic is worthwhile because the findings of this inquiry could relate to teaching other topics. If students‟ scores improve when using technology to teach grammar, they may also improve when technology is used to present literary devices in poetry. The findings could carry over to so many other areas of my teaching. If I find that the inclusion of technology in these lessons does have a positive impact, then I would adapt my teaching practices to include even more technology. As I stated earlier, these findings could carry over into other areas of my teaching. I could even use technology to present concepts such as stage areas using visuals on a PowerPoint or on the internet to my drama class. Looking back at grammar, it is particularly important to the school‟s curriculum and I would like to have lessons that reflect the important place this holds in the school district. Literature Review/ Theoretical Framework There are several articles of research that explore the impact of using technology in classroom instruction. Indeed, much of the research states that using technology in the classroom can have a positive impact on the students (Archer, 1998; Cradler, 1994). Using technology along with the incorporation of other methods is vital when looking for a correlation between scores of students‟ assessments and the use of technology in the classroom. According to Cradler and Bridgforth (1996), when technology is used with other aspects of instructional design, there is an increase in student performance. This shows that, when used in conjunction with other methods, the use of technology can be beneficial in the classroom. Integrating technology along with other methods of instructions will help to keep the students interested in the lessons. This interest will lead to higher scores on assessments. When teachers plan to use technology in their classroom there are added benefits besides the higher assessment scores. “Planned integration of technology in education that directly involves teachers consistently allows teachers to engage students in meaningful educational experiences and allows more time for individualized instructional opportunities.” (Cradler & Bridgforth, 1996). When students are involved in what they feel are meaningful experiences they will internalize the material they are learning. They feel it is relevant to them. This will be reflected in higher assessment scores. The added bonus of more instructional time for students will only add to their sense of accomplishment and their overall achievement. Other benefits found by Cradler (1994) include findings that technology not only improves performance but also improves confidence and problem solving skills as well as increasing writing skills and creating a better attitude toward learning in students. The benefits of using technology seem to be bountiful. When using technology to enrich the presentation of information in the classroom student scores increase. When comparing several classes where technology use was present to classes where there was no technology Hennessy et al. (1995) found that students in the technology-enriched classes had higher scores on posttests than did the students in the classrooms with no technology. They found that this was true even when taking the posttest was delayed. Follansbee et al. (1997) found similar results in when comparing students who were using the internet in the classroom to students who were not allowed internet access. These students were found to be more effective in producing and presenting their work. This suggests that using technology in the classroom not only leads to higher test scores, but also to better retention of the information. Finally, it is not the technology itself that will increase the test scores, but how it is used in the classroom. “What matters most are not the machines and the wiring themselves, but what teachers and students do with them. . .” (Archer, 1998). When technology is used to enrich the classroom experience, students reap many benefits. Because of the engagement, they feel in the material that they are learning higher assessment scores will be one of the results of using technology in the classroom. Methods In order to make the use of technology meaningful for students in my class, I plan to combine it with other methods of instruction. Varying the methods of presenting information to the class should help to increase student interest. I will teach several grammar lessons with the aid of technology. This may be through a PowerPoint presentation, streaming video, or integrating internet searches for grammar into the class lessons. I plan to teach several grammar lessons to students integrating different types of technology into the instruction. I will also teach several grammar lessons to the students using a more traditional approach that includes lecture with examples. After the lessons, students will take a posttest. I will compare the scores of posttests that test the information presented in the technology infused lessons to the scores of the posttests that test the information that was presented in a more traditional format. For the technology, infused lessons I plan to present some of the material using a PowerPoint presentation. I will be using the presentation to present some traditional information, such as definitions of parts of speech and grammar terms and colorful replications of diagramed sentences. I also will include slides that open up classroom discussion. We will discuss why grammar is important and the how and why of grammar rules. By incorporating technology along with the use of another method, namely discussion, the students‟ knowledge of the information should increase. Using the technology to make the presentation, I will be able to present the information with a higher interest level to students. I also plan to use streaming video to reinforce grammar lessons. These video clips are designed to make grammar more interesting to students. Also provided with the video are questions that lead to greater discussion in the classroom. These I would most likely to after I had introduced the basic grammar concepts. The videos will not only take the information one-step further, but also reach the visual learners in the group. Another activity that I will use in the infusion of technology would be having students use the internet to search for „real-world‟ examples of grammar. Looking through online books, newspapers, and magazines students will find examples of the grammar concepts being used in published writing. The students will then bring these examples back to the classroom to share with their peers. This will serve to reinforce the concepts that they have learned, while showing them the applications that these grammar rules and concepts have in the world of writing and literature. As a comparison to these lessons, I will be teaching lessons on the subject of grammar without the aid of technology. These lessons will be taught in more of a traditional format including the use of lecture, with the teacher providing examples and the students using their notes and the given examples to write their own examples and to complete the more traditional handout or bookwork. Since I will be teaching in a new district I am not familiar with the textbook that I will encounter in this class next year, but I will either use some textbook provided questions or research and write my own questions. For example, some of the questions may ask students to fill in the blank with an adjective or pick the correct gerund from a provided pair at the end of a sentence. After every one or two lessons, students will be taking quizzes over the grammar information that was presented. The scores that students‟ earn on these quizzes will make up my qualitative data. I will compare scores on the quizzes that test the material presented with the aid of technology to the scores on the material presented in a more traditional format. These lessons will take place over the duration of one semester of the school year. As stated previously the curriculum calls for a full semester of grammar in the tenth grade curriculum. The study will take place over the duration of approximately six to eight lessons lasting about one month. I will compare several quizzes over the technology lessons to several quizzes over the lessons without technology. The classes will have approximately 20-30 students. This will help to ensure that the data will be trustworthy. One aspect that could skew the results is that the information taught in the technology lessons will not be exactly the same as what is taught in the lessons without technology. For example, I may present adverbs with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation and participles may be presented in a lecture format. However, these lessons will be similar in regard to time spent on each lesson and the importance given each lesson will also be similar. The parts of speech and use of correct grammar is all important to improving the overall writing and speaking skills of students. Therefore, the consideration given each of the lessons of the unit will be somewhat similar. Another concern is with the quizzes themselves. They will, of course, not be exactly the same in regard to content, but I will keep the format of the quizzes similar to ensure the element of trustworthiness. In conclusion, the lessons are all part of the same unit, have similar benchmarks, and will have quizzes that are formatted in a comparable manner so I believe that the comparison of the scores across the various lessons will still be valid. Bibliography 1. Archer, J. (1998). The link to higher test scores. Education Week. 2. Cradler, J. (1994). Summary of current research and evaluation findings on technology in education. San Francisco, CA: Far West Laboratory. 3. Cradler, J., & Bridgforth, E. (1996). Recent research on the effects of technology on teaching and learning. Policy Brief. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Regional Educational Laboratory. 4. Follansbee, S., Hughes, R., Pisha, B., & Stahl, S. (1997). Can online communications improve student performance? Results of a controlled study. ERS Spectrum. 5. Hennessy, S. et al. (1995). A classroom intervention using a computer- augmented curriculum for mechanics. International Journal of Science Education.
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