Action Research Project • Proposal • Research (Working Draft) • Plan of Action • Cycle 1 Report • Cycle 2 Report • Action Research Project Report
The main goal of my Action Research Project (ARP), as outlined
on the Action Research Project Proposal, is to create more of a sense of community among students in
my classes around their learning. The point is to enhance collaborative
learning and diminish the perceived role of the teacher as the focal point.
Subsidiary goals are to jointly track and manage student projects
interactively and to improve one-on-one communication with students.
I teach several courses, but the math course is most prominent
as I've had the students since the beginning of the year and we meet for two
periods every other day. The other courses are all electives that started at the
beginning of the semester and meet every other day for one period.
The original plan is outlined on the ARP Plan of
January Plan: This will be the time to start having the students do
more writing as a routine part of their work on the web. If necessary, I'll
start a discussion group using FrontPage. As the second semester starts then,
I'll use the result of my Learning Blueprint (feedback forms) for the students
in each of my classes to write a reflection once a week. (This will replace the
paper weekly reports I used to have that were too unwieldy to work with.)
January Accomplishments: January ended with very little
work directly with the students. I had planned on starting the comments on the
web by the end of January, but I was still struggling with learning
GenericDB as the database front end.
(This was an extension of my Digital
Portfolio - Using the Web to Communicate with Students that I created for
I received an Intranets.com
site through our school for use for discussion at the end of January.
I picked up the software for CoWebs (Swiki)
at CSCL and talked with a friend about hosting it.
February Plan: By this time the school should have conference board
software that I can set up to use with my classes. I will start giving them
small assignments in the conferences to spark conversation. The challenge here
will be to evaluate their contributions and discuss with them what is working
and what isn't.
February Accomplishments: Although I had a the
Intranets.com site, after looking at it I realized I could not easily sign up
students unless they had a valid email address. The Tech department worked on
getting a hosted account from Webcrossing
but were delayed because we were in Japan. Accomplishments were:
I set up a discussion group within FrontPage for my Math
The CoWeb software was installed on an external server and I set
up protected CoWebs for my Math (sixth grade), Exploring Programming (seventh
and eighth grade), and Multimedia Skills students (seventh and eighth grade).
I was finally able to get the GenericDB front end working so
that I could capture reflections from my students. Because classes meet either
two or three times a week, it made more sense to do reflections based on the
number of classes rather than weekly. Hence, I setup my Exploring Programming,
Multimedia Skills, and Invent & Engineer (also seventh and eighth grade)
students for their "Tri-class Reflections."
March Plan: By late February and early March, I will be having them
plan and submit their project proposals and extended work proposals through the
conferencing software. In addition, they will also start collaborating on
projects through the software if they haven't done so. Collaboration includes
working with others not in their classes.
March Accomplishments: Starting in early March, My
Exploring Programming and Multimedia Classes began proposing projects by setting
up a page in their CoWebs. This allowed me to comment on the project proposals.
Students are not yet truly collaborating across classes, although the Exploring
Programming students are using their CoWeb to share code between the two
classes. The Webcrossing server was finally set up and we started discussions in
the Math class. One of the discussions was for the students to compare the
discussion to their CoWeb.
Evidence and data to date:
- Captured a snapshot of the Math 6 CoWeb on March 19 by rendering the
- Captured discussion of the CoWeb versus Swiki by Math 6 students.
- Pages in CoWeb showing our joint development of guidelines.
- Audio Taped a discussion in class.
- Videotaped a discussion in class.
- Student interest exhibited in the CoWeb as shown by the various pages that
students have put up. (Did you know that pilgarlic is a term for a bald
person? One of my sixth grade math students has that on a page of vocabulary
- Exploring Programming web has 147 pages as of April 15 and several pages
have more than sixty changes.
- A new student immediately uploaded a MIDI file to the main page in Math 6
and showed others how to use the <marquee> command.
- Four of my fourteen sixth grade math students have asked if I will be
teaching math in seventh grade which is about four times the number in
- In late March, two students asked if they would have the CoWeb available
- Several students have jointly created pages, including creating Fenlandian
(my name for a base five project in math) multiplication tables.
- Some pages in the CoWeb were used as chat rooms at the beginning, which
showed the students' interest in synchronous communications.
- My homework assignments this year compared to last year show a change in
the type of assignments.
- Approximately 250 Tri-Class Reflections showing how students view their
- Several of the student projects in Multimedia Skills and Exploring
Programming have two or three students working on a project.
What This Tells Me
The main focus of the ARP is to change my practice in such a way to improve
the sense of community and collaborative learning. It's starting to happen as
students naturally seek to share their work with others. Students find the CoWeb
especially useful and they have no hesitation in adding content to it. I was
somewhat surprised by how quickly the sixth graders set up their own pages that
had nothing to do with my course, and also by the interest some of the students
have taken in it. Although I would have the students The Tri-class reflections
are giving me better insight into how my students view their own learning.
Several math students have asked for chat. Webcrossing has it, but it doesn't
easily provide a transcript, which is necessary as we are working on using our
It's not so clear that the sense of community outside of the class has
increased beyond what occurs naturally in a class, so I need to check that
evidence as well.
After looking through my journal entries and other evidence, I see that I
need to have a focused conversation with all of my classes about how they
perceive the tools, then have them record their thoughts on the process.
I will try to set up my Math class with TI until the end of the semester so
as to work on synchronous communications. Transcripts from TI, along with the
reactions of the students, should give an indication of whether the sense of
My concern is to not overwhelm them with "extra" work, so I will be
discussing that issue with my math class to make sure that most feel we are
making the appropriate trade-offs.
I had not planned on having my Math Class do the Tri-class Reflections
because of possible overloading, but I may ask them to do them on a less
frequent basis because it is a good venue for me to have a private
"conversation" with students. I do ask them to assess their learning at the
middle and end of each quarter, and I will make sure that I get feedback from
them on their perceptions.
• Action Research Project • Proposal • Research (Working Draft) • Plan of Action • Cycle 1 Report • Cycle 2 Report • Action Research Project Report •