ARP Cycle 1 Report

 

Action Research Project • Proposal • Research (Working Draft) • Plan of Action • Cycle 1 Report • Cycle 2 Report • Action Research Project Report

ARP Purpose

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.

Accomplishments

The original plan is outlined on the ARP Plan of Action page. 

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 ED664). Two accomplishments:

  1. I received an Intranets.com site through our school for use for discussion at the end of January.

  2. 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:

  1. I set up a discussion group within FrontPage for my Math students.

  2. 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).

    • Students in Exploring Programming began sharing their code in the Swiki.

    • Math students and I had a conversation about how to run the CoWeb.

  3. 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.

Data Collection/Evidence

Evidence and data to date:

  1. Captured a snapshot of the Math 6 CoWeb on March 19 by rendering the pages.
  2. Captured discussion of the CoWeb  versus Swiki by Math 6 students.
  3. Pages in CoWeb showing our joint development of guidelines.
  4. Audio Taped a discussion in class.
  5. Videotaped a discussion in class.
  6. 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 words.?)
  7. Exploring Programming web has 147 pages as of April 15 and several pages have more than sixty changes.
  8. A new student immediately uploaded a MIDI file to the main page in Math 6 and showed others how to use the <marquee> command.
  9. 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 previous years. 
  10. In late March, two students asked if they would have the CoWeb available next year.
  11. Several students have jointly created pages, including creating Fenlandian (my name for a base five project in math) multiplication tables.
  12. Some pages in the CoWeb were used as chat rooms at the beginning, which showed the students' interest in synchronous communications.
  13. My homework assignments this year compared to last year show a change in the type of assignments.  
  14. Approximately 250 Tri-Class Reflections showing how students view their own learning.
  15. 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 "professional voice."

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.

Next Steps/thoughts/revisions

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 community changes.

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 •

 

Created 04/15//2002

Last maintained 08/23/2003

   

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