Action Research Project Web Log
This log records my progress through the Pepperdine OMAET Action Research Project.
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
I had another office meeting with Linda today. Although it was during lunch, my room suddenly turned into Grand Central Station with all sorts of people dropping in and swinging through. It was doubly difficult because we were doing it by phone instead of TI. She sees the ARP as big, but thinks it is doable since we have all year. Several key points came out of the meeting. One was the reflection log. She mentioned that the problem many people have is they log as a travelogue (something like this, I think) detailing a series of actions but not reflecting on them. However, the reflection on what happened is more important as it is the tool for thinking about what happened and then moving forward from there. Another was to make sure I talked to the kids and got their feedback, especially if I could find a couple of trusted students who would be honest. A third is that Middle School is unique unto itself and that I needed to start researching more about middle school. We did discuss the issue of culture here, but in many ways it is not as big of an issue as it is in California.
We did discuss the issue of chat and community and, as she pointed out,
she runs hot and cold on the idea. The best interactions occur after a group
spontaneously starts doing the goofy stuff.
Sunday, October 14, 2001
I had a brainflash yesterday as I was trying to think about ways to approach this. I should use the MS web page as a way to gather input from students by conducting polls. It would be a good way to get the kids involved and, even though the results would be self-selected, it would give me insight into their thinking. Poll Mentor would be good software to read.
I also need to do a search on ERIC as a start for the project and to
see what others have done for on-line communities.
Sunday, October 07, 2001
Well, I had my office meeting with Linda on October 3. (See the TI transcript). We bounced ideas around a bit. She was suggesting a cross-age ARP with my seventh and eighth grade Exploring Programming and Invent & Engineer students and my sixth grade Math students using Lego Logo. Although interesting, I am not very keen on that as an ARP. First, I have very limited time with the EP students (44 minutes every other day) and I have them second semester only. Second, because it is an exploratory, I don't expect the kids to spend much time on it out of class because they see their "core" subjects of math, languge arts, social studies, and science coming first. In short, I don't see the effort as an ARP. It's an interesting idea and I am thinking of doing it just for fun, but it's not really what I want to do as an ARP. (Many of the projects that I do in the classroom I do because they interest me. I've found if I'm interested, the students tend to be also.)
Back to the ARP.
My main goal is to help create a sense of community among students and
dimish the role of the teacher as the focal point. Subsidiary goals are
to jointly track and manage projects on the web and to improve communication
with students. I've become more interested in the main goal because I am
seeing that students have a whole society around technology about which
we know very little. For example, students routinely use chat and email
to communicate with others. Others journal. One of my students showed me
her journal on Livejournal and
I noticed that many other of our students also had journals there. (Reading
her journal was enlightening, but I wonder if she and the others have thought
through the ramifications of their journals being public?) Others have their
own web pages. One fellow last year had a very popular site he had created,
but you had to be a member and he had to invite you in. It was very chi-chi
to be invited.
They are developing a whole community through school that is outside
of "school". Can some of that community be harnessed for "school". Maybe
it's because I'm a relative newbie to the teaching scene, but I am fascinated
by what the kids are doing--and learning. I had an inkling of this last
year when I watched them chat.
It's obvious that most have a sense of community, but the question then
becomes how to help them transfer some of that sense of community to what
we consider to be "learning". Pardon the quotes around those, but I'm becoming
more convinced our curriculum does not have as large of effect on what the
students are learning as we think. Our school goal for the year is "Focus
on Learning" and seeing if our curriculum is aligned with our
Outcomes. In light of recent readings, the SLOs show some shortcomings
in that they focus very heavily on the person with just some emphasis on
interaction in society. By the way, this ARP fits in well with that school
goal. Studying what our students are really learning will fit in well with
my 633 assignment.
I'm still confused! I will try to talk to my committee at ASIJ tomorrow
since it is a work day.
Tuesday, October 02, 2001
I've been thinking about the ARP in the context of school. I talked briefly with the principal about what I'm planning and he gave his nod. I will go over it in more detail with him as I firm up my plans.
My thoughts continue:
So, questions that come to mind, and my thoughts on those questions are:
It's similar here. I can do a literature search to find techniques and methods, but I really won't know how it works in my situation unless I try it and tweak it.
This seems to fit in with McNiff, where the whole point of researching
is to find out something I didn't already know. Phew. I think I have a decent
start to chat with Linda about. (Oh, and expect to see another entry in
a few days with my corrections and amplifications!)
Sunday, September 23, 2001
We had our Tapped-In session on Monday (9/17) to begin the discussion as a group about our ARPs. I started to get a better feel for what my ARP will be and how it will tie in with ED664. I'm still looking at:
Note that the first is really just a subset of the second. It's time
for me to expand on this and post it to the 638 newsgroup for feedback.
Bridgette and I had dinner with the Piccottos last night and I was pleasantly
surprised to find that Chris had set up his own Linux box with Apache server
at his home over DSL. Since he was using NAT and not fixed IP, he had a
couple of neat tricks to periodically check his IP and update the authoritative
DNS for his domain. He offered me space on the server since he has a gigaherz
processor but is hardly using it. There may be advantages here since he
does this "just for fun" and can provide some tech expertise that I can't
find here. He has set up message boards and sendmail, so he is familiar
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Today I had the first meeting with Dan Smith and Glenn Hoskins. I have asked both of them to be on my ARP/Plan B committee because they both provide unique insights into the classroom and into what technology can do for them. I'm excited about the opportunities of the collaboration as well as what we can do with it. I'll look at what Glenn did last year and see if it's possible to continue or expand it the work. Three main points came up: