Thursday, March 28, 2013

Action Research Thus Far

Action Research Project Title:  Using action research, observe ways to make an economically disadvantaged student successful academically.

Number of AR Project Documented Hours: 4

AR Project Summary (at least 250 words):

Thus far after interviewing selected students I am seeing a trend over and over again that whenever a teacher treats students as adults and not as a “kid” that these students have had greater achievement in the classroom.  Other strategies that I have noticed that have been a recurring theme is positive reinforcement in the fact that they need to hear “good job” or even, “I know you can do better next time” instead of negativity.  I have also noticed that students who have consequence parameters in place that are not flexible that they will achieve greater success in testing areas.  One of the students stated that after failing a test that one teacher requires thirty minutes of mandatory tutorials and has the principal’s approval for this and if they skip tutorials it is automatic Saturday School.  This student stated that they cannot give up Saturdays because they have to tend to their younger siblings and that taking that day away from them puts a burden on their parents.  Some of the students interviewed expressed their distaste for this type of punishment for failing tests, but I have noticed that their test scores have vastly improved since the beginning of the school year.  One student told me that they were not used to this because they pretty much get to do what they want at home without any repercussion. 

Overall I think the beginning of the action research plan is going smoothly.  I plan on implementing a full-fledged study into this area at the beginning of next school year so that I can have a true beginning mark on my targeted student group. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reflections of EDLD 5301

Before I took this class I felt that in order for a campus to continue to grow it should be able to grow and adapt to its student community.  I did not know that this process is technically called action research.  Throughout my short tenure as a teacher, I have practiced this process on numerous occasions, but not to the extent that we have had to endeavor in this class.  I feel that since taking this class I am better equipped and prepared to face the changing landscape of the education environment.
Dr. Arterbuy and Dr. Jenkins weekly videos have been a great help in understanding the scope of the weekly assignment.  These videos have helped me to organize my thoughts and the direction in which to attack the assignments.  I sometimes have aspirations of being at apex of learning like these men are along with the other professors I have already come in contact with.
The weekly assignments have helped me a great deal too in the fact that they have been very hands on and forced me to organize my thoughts.  I have a lot of ideas for action research and the weekly assignments have helped me to stream line my approach towards gaining a better understanding of the topics of my choice.  The feedback has been thorough on these assignments and helped me to understand whether the direction I have chosen is right or if it needs some tailoring.
I have gained a lot of insight and received tons of great feedback from my colleagues through the discussion board!  There have been a few people on there, in particularly, that have helped me to gain a better understanding of the weekly assignments and help me understand some of the academic jargon better through their own definitions and ideals.  I think that the discussion board is an invaluable topic in the fact that since this class is 100% on-line it gives people the ability to communicate in a flexible way for a population that is currently in the middle of their internships.
I have enjoyed blogging and getting to know other peoples’ thoughts about their own action research projects.  To me, blogging has allowed me to get to know more of my colleagues on a personal level because of the way some of them have set up their blogs.  This has helped me to better understand where they are coming from in their action research and why they think in the fashion they do.  Honestly, many of them have opened my eyes to other areas of school workings that I would like to research on my own in the future.  This has been a great way to interact with colleagues and also a great way to network with future school leaders and administrators.

Revised Action Research Plan

This is my finalized action research plan.  I know I previously put that I would be changing it entirely, but after meeting with my principal again this past Monday, we concluded (again) that a qualitative study should suffice.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Consensus Action Research Plan

I was able to meet with Mr. Holloway, our campus principal, Friday at 4:00.  He commended me on looking at a topic that can be proactively researched to better the Coleman High School academic community. 
However, Mr. Holloway suggested I change the core of my action research.  Although he agrees that this is an area that the high school should deal with, he feels that I should work hand in hand with our junior high administration to see how they are handling their campus because they are classified as year two of AYP.  Right now, the junior high is in the process of implementing supplemental teaching strategies that replace part of or all of some of the C-Scope lessons.  Mr. Holloway pointed out that if I base my research off of the entire junior high my sample group would be diverse enough to make up for small, individual variables that might come along with teaching the economically disadvantaged.  He also told me that by doing this I will gain firsthand experience in dealing with SRA reports in the case that the high school will reach year two of AYP next school year and that he would use my research as a basis to begin with.  As far as any further revisions to my plan, Mr. Holloway pointed out that if I do go ahead and change the focus of my action research that I include junior high personnel as well.
After meeting with him, I have decided to go with the route that he suggested.  I think this will be better in the long run, nominal group think, because I will be able to look at a group of students who will be entering Coleman High School as the intensity of the STAAR test rises and hopefully use my research to make them successful academically.

Tool 8.1 CARE Model: Planning Tool

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.  Better academic production throughout an economically disadvantaged campus.
2.  Teaching strategies/curriculum that supports increased learner success.
3.  A student population that puts forth effort to succeed academically.
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.  “Good News” cards for students who have been doing their work and are showing improvement academically.
2.  Consequences for not turning in school work. 
3.  Rewards for students turning in their school work.
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.  Delphi Model must be implemented to sustain success on current teaching methodologies and to plan ahead for the future.
2.  Curriculum must be thoroughly outlined, and rigorous enough to create an upper-level cognitive ability in students, along with enough resources for teachers to be successful in the classroom.
3.  Implement a peer mentorship program where academically strong and out-going students mentor younger, weaker academically students.
EVALUATE – Specifically and Often
(Identify the best ways to evaluate the implemented recommendations.)
1.  Look at statistical data provided by Eduphoria and their heat maps to see what TEKs students are struggling in and which ones they are excelling in.
2.  Implement professional learning communities not only amongst subject centered groups but grade level groups as well.
3.  Allow teachers to use surveys and feedback from students to see what has been successful and what strategies have been used that have been effective in creating greater learner success. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

8 Step Plan for My Action Research

Examining the work: Setting the Foundation
As a school leader it is imperative that I set a foundation of being a head learner (Dana, 2009).  As the foundation of my work, I will begin to study and eventually implement strategies that will encourage teaching strategies and methodologies that will help reach students that have been labeled “economically disadvantaged” and create an environment conducive to their success.
Analyzing data
Research is only as good as the data received; because of that I will examine multiple sources to reach a solution.  The main means of research I plan on utilizing will be primary sources through interviewing economically disadvantaged students and teachers that have impacted them in the past.  I will also use resources and heat maps available through Eduphoria to attain data specific to the group studied at Coleman High School.  I will also look at TEA statistical data to review where my sample set of students fall on the academic spectrum across the state.
Developing deeper understanding
After interviewing students for teaching strategies and possible outside distracters to education I will sit down with our counselor, Carol Bennington, to see if there is any more information available on the student (whether that student could be 504, requires a BIP, parents going through a recent divorce, etc.).  My goal in developing a deeper understanding is to understand any extra emotional tags that the sample students might be attaching to their education.
Engaging in Self-Reflection
I learned through EDLD 5311 that self-reflection is an important and necessary strategy to evaluate my growth as a school leader and as a “head learner” through this course.  After attaining the information desired I will reflect to see if I need to make questions more specific or general.  I will also see what other information is needed and study other action research topics related to this field to see where others have had success or failure.
Exploring Programmatic Patterns  
I need to make sure that my questioning does not lead into areas of the students’ lives where it can become too personal.  I have to make sure I keep a professional distance in doing those interviews.  I also have to make sure that when I interview the sample students’ previous teachers that it does not turn into a “venting” session for the previous teachers.  The purpose of my research is to help economically disadvantage students, not to focus on problems or personality conflicts that the previous teachers might have had with the students.
Determining direction
In meeting with our campus principal, we have come to the conclusion that with the current student population we have this is a very relevant topic to research and study.  Our student population at the high school is nearly sixty-five percent and is increasing in the younger grades.  In short, we need to research this to give the student community in Coleman ISD the best chance at success we can.
Taking action for school improvement
In using the PIP plan of action in my action research project I will be able to organize and rank the importance of each step of action.  Another important commodity that using the PIP will give me is a timeline to reach these goals.
Sustaining improvement
In doing this research I feel that I will gain invaluable experience as being a “head learner” so that I can lead my own school one day.  I plan on using the steps in my plan to learn how to initiate strategies to make every learner and teacher I come in contact with successful.