Walking the Walk: Action Research

I have been blogging for 6 years now…

I have written extensively about blogging (131 posts categorized “blogging” on Langwitches)

I have shared two guides for teachers to start blogging with their students

It is time to walk the walk…

Let me walk the path of Action Research…. to find out if blogging:

  • teachers, who are “actively” learning about and participating in the blogging process (beyond attending a workshop or reading “about” blogging), are setting the stage and building a solid platform for their own ongoing professional development and life long learning?
  • educators, who are blogging with their students,  can (are) learn(ing) to teach through a 21st century lens (skills & literacies)?
  • improves students’ writing skills?
  • motivates and engages students?
  • touches on multiple 21st century skills and literacies, as well as contribute and support learning fluency.
  • amplifies curriculum content, objectives and skills?

As you can see from my questions above, I am looking for answers on three levels. One is about the benefit and learning process for the educator, another is on a student level and a the third level is from the curriculum point of view.

Action Research is defined on Wikipedia:

Action research – is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a “community of practice” to improve the way they address issues and solve problems.

Over the last few years, I have figured out that I learn better COLLABORATIVELY. My immediate reaction to “Where do I start?, was to connect and to surround myself with other educators to walk together down the path. I have also learned that collaborating or working as a group (especially with group members scattered across the globe) could be hard, frustrating and often fizzled out.

In order to move forward and to set my Action Research proposal up for success, I needed to connect with passionate, committed and dedicated educators. I wanted the framework of the research to take on the shape of  Quad Blogging.

Quad blogging, defined on quadblogging.net is a way:

To deliver electrical energy of a global audience to the heart of a blog to allow a rhythm of excitement to kick via the blog’s widening global audience.

Quad blogging meant to find and connect 4 educators to collaborate and conduct action research with their students.

 

I was able to put together four amazing Action Research teams, ready to start the process towards the end of February. We have:

Team USA (Martin J. Gottlieb Day School) with Andrea Hernandez (21st Century Learning Specialist),  Stephanie Teitelbaum (4th grade teacher) and myself.

Team Czech Republic (International School of Prague) with Nancy von Wahlde (3rd grade teacher)

Team Thailand (International School of Bangkok) spear headed by  Chrissy Hellyer (Technology Coordinator) and Stacie Melhorn (5th Grade Teacher)

Team Switzerland (International School of Zug and Luzern) with Maggie Hos-McGrane (Technology Coordinator) and Dave Secomb (4th Grade Teacher)

We will be planning via a Google Doc and Skype, disseminating and connect our research findings via our respective professional blogs.

Here are some of my preliminary thoughts:

Pre-Planning to include:

  • Pre-planning Skype meeting
  • Collaborative Google Doc
  • Identify Goals & Objectives
  • Identify Obstacles/Problems
  • Identify Strategies
  • Discuss Solutions
  • Share resources and Materials
  • Data Collection:
    • Pre-assessment (writing & commenting rubric)
  • Action Research Assessment and Evaluation:
    • How will we measure success?
    • How will we know if we have succeeded?
    • What will we accept as evidence of success?

During

  • Monitoring of students writing and commenting
  • Coaching, mentoring and guiding students writing
  • Anecdotal records
  • Record student observations and behavior

Post-Planning to include:

  • Debriefing Skype call
  • Post-assessment
  • Student interviews?
  • Self-assessment (students record audio of video reflection?)
  • Analyze, interpret and share results
  • Was Action Research successful?
  • What has been learned, gained and what needs improvement?
  • Reflective post on professional blogs

Maggie Hos-McGrane  wrote about Teachers as Leaders. She referred to the Teacher Leader Model Standards that have been developed by the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium. One of them being Accessing and using research to improve practice and student learning.

How about joining us in doing Action Research on your own, as you are blogging with your students! Find out what works and what does not and (maybe) most importantly SHARE your findings.  It’s about being active, reflective and transparent learners as we are teaching.