Sunday, March 18, 2012

Action Research Draft Progress Report

Week 3 Assignment, Part 3

Draft Action Research Project Progress Report

Increasing a deeper level of mathematical understanding by providing students with Engaging Lessons

Needs Assessment – The need for improvement of increasing a deeper level of understanding was based on the fact that the level of rigor on the STAAR test will be much greater than the TAKS test.  With the scores on the Math TAKS test low for some special populations, it is necessary to take a different approach for student learning than the current system of notes, assignments, quizzes, and tests.  The need for improvement on Math TAKS Scores was determined by the school’s AEIS report. For the 2011 TAKS Math Test, the African American (71%), Hispanic (69%), Economical Disadvantaged (72%), and Special Education (52%) populations for 10th grade were the below the state average of 75% (Academic Excellence Indicator System, 2011). 

Objectives and Vision of the action research project. (ELCC 1.1) – African American, Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, and Special Needs students will have a deeper understanding of High School Mathematics.  A Math TAKS pull out program has been designed for these students.  The lessons in the program focus on vocabulary building, connecting concepts to prior learning and real-life examples, using resources effectively, and learning how to decide if an anwer is reasonable.  As a result of the research project, the Math TAKS scores in April of 2012 will increase by at least 10% for students in these populations. 

Review of the Literature and Action Research Strategy In an article on brain research, Walker suggests that “One of the most useful ways to support long-term memory retention is for unfamiliar information to be tied to familiar information that is relevant to the students' lives” ( n.d.).  In the project, the students will be provided opportunities to connect the math concepts to real world situations.  In addition, Walker suggests that “the brain is social”, therefore, “in order for productive learning to take place, students must have opportunities to discuss ideas and concepts with others” (n.d.).  Group activities within the project will allow for this process to take place.  The action research project was decided upon after a conversation with the Assistant Principal in charge of the math department.  Our school did not meet AYP due to special populations in Math.  These scores will continue to decrease with the approaching STAAR unless something is done to increase a deeper level of mathematical understanding with these students.  The Aware data was reviewed for students at risk of failing the upcoming TAKS test.  The students were chosen who were African American, Hispanic, Special Education, and Economically Disadvantaged and whose test scores were one or two questions above passing or below. The data from the 2010 10th grade Math TAKS test was reviewed by student expectation.  After careful consideration of the expectations and their percentages, nine sessions were decided upon to increase the level of conceptual understanding.

Articulate the Vision (ELCC 1.2) - The vision of the project was shared, through a memo and discussion at the department meeting, with the other teachers in the department as I wanted a varied approach to some of the sessions.  I will share the vision of the project with the students who will be participating tomorrow.  I will give them the rationale behind why they were chosen, the rationale behind why the lessons were chosen, and an overview of the lessons.  

Manage the organization (ELCC 3.1) – I designed the project, under the supervision of the Math Department Assistant Principal.  I asked two colleagues to review the lessons for their effectiveness.  I asked the Assistant Principal to get last year’s TAKS scores for the participants, choose the elective class in which to pull them out of for the sessions, email the teachers to inform them of the pullout, and get a room and desks for the pullout.  I also asked the AP to request money for the rewards for the students as they progress through the pullout program.  After earning 20 points, the students will earn a free ice cream from the cafeteria.  Additional rewards can be chosen upon acquiring more points including various types of gift cards, culminating in a field trip to the local park for a pizza party for those students who qualify.  It is imperative for the students to fully participate in the program to gain the full benefits of understanding the concepts, so points are given for active participation, valid attempts on follow up questions, as well as correct answers on follow up questions.  I am responsible for the creation of the lessons, teaching the lessons six periods a day for two days a week for 4 ½ weeks, keeping up with attendance and participation, issuing rewards, getting permission slips signed for the field trip, obtaining a bus for the field trip, and accompanying the students to the park.

Manage Operations (ELCC 3.2) – Designing each lesson was a priority for the project.  The lessons needed to be different than what they had been receiving in the classroom, which was very little hands-on and real-life.  I felt that the students needed a focus, an activity, extra practice, and follow-up assessment.  Each activity gets the students up and moving, working with a partner, using technology, working with real-life situations, working with manipulatives, or a combination of these.  The data from the AEIS report was used to decide which students to target.  Group process skills will be used in the course of the sessions that will begin Tuesday.  Communication was through face-to-face interaction, memo, and through email. 

Respond to Community Interest and Needs (ELCC 4.2) – The action research project will serve the needs of students with special and exceptional needs and students with diverse backgrounds as these are the students who were targeted for this project.  These students will receive hands-on activities, connection to real-world situations, as well as technology applications.


Midlothian ISD Communications Department. (2011, February 22). Academic Excellence Indicator System.  Retrieved from

Walker, Dr. K. (n.d.) Brain Research to support recommendations from Breaking Ranks. Retrieved from

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Web Conference Highlights - March 15, 2012

Up to this point, I have been unable to attend the web conferences due to the 9:00pm time.  Since it was Spring Break, I decided to be the "cool" mom and let the kids stay up late so that I could participate in the web conference!  :)

Dr. Benavides talked about the assignment specifics and opened the floor for questions.  A question was asked about reflecting on the field supervisor web conferences. Dr. Benavides said that the web conferences were another way to support us as we go through this program.  Evidently, there is a checklist on there that the field supervisor will check off saying that we participated three times.  The supervisor has the opportunity to make comments as they see fit.  Another question was asked about where to find the IRB for the district.  One participant said that their district uses the one from TASB, but they couldn't access the link to get to it.  Dr. Benavides said that he would look into it.   There were several questions about participants' specific action research projects that Dr. Benavides fielded. 

I was able to ask about changing the subjects of my research project.  I was unable to completely revise the curriculum to include engaging lessons because I was not in charge of the curriculum group.  The other members of the curriculum group were not receptive of the idea of changing what had been done in the past.  I started the year out with some units that had engaging components.   After that, the units went back to the same notes, assignments, quizzes, tests.  Because this went against the research project I had initially started, I talked with my site supervisor to revise my plan.  I asked to be in charge of the TAKS Pullout for the 10th grade math students that are struggling.  I am designing 9 sessions that must be different from what they have gotten in the normal classroom setting to keep them engaged and make it meaningful for them to apply to the upcoming TAKS test.  I feel that this goes perfectly with what I set out to do in the first place...increase a deeper level of understanding using more engaging curriculum.  I look forward to revising my research project and sharing my results.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Whew! One challenge ends and another begins...

I have turned in my last assignment for EDLD 5301.  This has been a very thought-provoking course, one that I have actually enjoyed.  I was expecting to do some research the way I learned in high school with brainstorming, research in the library with the card catalog, outlines, rough draft, final draft, and done! Wow, was I mistaken!  I had never heard the term action research before.  After completing this course, I realize that teachers do this in a smaller fashion each year, generally on a smaller scale: 
                 How can I get this group of students to understand [topic]? 
                 Ask others for best practices. 
                 Choose one.
                 Try it. 
This is confirmation that we are doing what research says we should be doing. :)

I have learned so much about action research and myself throughout this course.  Today only marks the end of the course.  Now the real fun begins...collecting and analyzing the data.  My plan is about changing the curriculum to be more engaging through the 5E Instructional Model and the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy.  I pray I can live up to this challenge now that school is beginning.  It will be time consuming, but I think the rewards will be great.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Week 4 Reflection

I am nearing the end of the 4th week in EDLD 5301.  Although reading and responding to many of my classmates' action research plans was time-consuming, it was very rewarding.  I gained confirmation in some of the aspects of my research plan, and I saw a few things I can change based on what I saw and the comments made.  It was also nice to have feedback on my research plan.  "Two heads are better than one" is a saying that fits here.  We get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we may miss something that monumental to the outcome.  Having others look at it without any preconcieved ideas allows for fresh ideas to be implemented.  I appreciate the feedback that my classmates offered, and I have made changes based on it. 

I also met with my site supervisor this week to ask her to review my action research plan.  She gave me some suggestions on implementation.  Overall, the meeting went well, and she is "on board" with my plan.  I'm pleased with the layout of the course.  We have eased right into creating this action research plan, have gotten necessary feedback from our peers through blogs and discussion questions, and have been asked to discuss our plan with our supervisor.  I was really concerned about this class, at first.  I'm glad to say that it hasn't been as hard as I originally thought it would be.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How will I remember my action research after this class?

I was looking over my Action Plan today and revising.  I also was thinking back to the conversation on the web conference Wednesday night.  Dr. Abshire mentioned that we will not be reminded to work on our project.  She said that in our 7th Course we will be required to write a paper on the progress.  She also mentioned that some of the current students of that class were in a bind because they had not been working on theirs.  I know that life will happen when this course is finished, and I need something to keep me thinking and working this plan.  Here's my idea...I will put a reminder in my phone.  I put reminders about the web conferences, my daughter's soccer games, etc.  Why not put a monthly reminder in there to tell me to reflect on (or work on) my project???  I will actually go a step further and put a reminder in for each of the steps and the timeline that I set for myself.  What are your thoughts?

Revised Action Research Plan - Week 4

Action Plan
Goal: Increase deeper level of understanding using more engaging curriculum

1)      In what ways will the creation of more engaging and exciting lessons increase student learning at a deeper level?
2)      In what ways will using differentiated instruction meet the needs for all learners as well as prepare them for the new state assessment?
3)      How can the 5E model work into creating the curriculum?

Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
Discuss action research topic with site supervisor.

Kristi Guest & Sharon Zabloski
July 2011
Internship Plan Draft
Action Research Plan
Build spreadsheet for recording data, including past two TAKS scores, math class averages for the past two years, six weeks’ benchmark scores, semester averages, 2012 TAKS score

Kristi Guest
August 18, 2011
Ready to use Recording Sheet
Create a survey that asks how students learn best and decide on an interest or personality test.
Kristi Guest
August 1 – August 15, 2011
Computer, survey monkey or clickers
Ready to use survey and interest inventory or personality test.
Review 2010-2011 curriculum and revise 2011-2012 curriculum based on 5E Model
Kristi Guest, MMA Curriculum Team
August 2011 – May 2012
-2010-2011 Curriculum
-5E Model

Curriculum Team’s agreement and Site supervisor’s approval of curriculum changes
Choose the students for study (Group 1: Concepts of Math students from 2009-2010 who took Geometry in 2010-2011, now taking MMA   & Group 2: Concepts of Math students from 2010-2011, who are taking MMA before Geometry)
Kristi Guest & Sharon Zabloski
August 22 – September 2, 2011
-Roster of students
Recording Sheet with names of 10  students from each Group
Record past two TAKS scores and the math class averages for the past two years
Kristi Guest
September 2, 2011
AWARE data, & student files
Recording Sheet with current data
Give students survey and have students take interest inventory or personality test.
Kristi Guest
August 22 & 23, 2011
Survey & Interest Inventory or Personality Test
Student survey responses and results from inventory/test.
Record Benchmark Scores each six weeks.
Kristi Guest
Last day of Six Weeks
Gradebook Program
Analysis of Six Weeks Benchmark Scores
Reflect each six weeks on the progress of the project
Kristi Guest
First day of next six weeks
Computer & Blog
Continuous Reflection and revision if necessary
Record Semester Averages
Kristi Guest
Last Day of Semester
Gradebook Program
Analysis of Semester Averages
Record 2012 TAKS Scores
Kristi Guest
May 2012
TAKS data from state
Completed Recording Sheet
Compare Group 1 and Group 2 Scores
Kristi Guest
May 2012
Recording Sheet
Creation of graphics to show results and reflect on results
Complete summative Report on findings
Kristi Guest
May 2012
Curriculum Agendas, Survey & Inventory/ Personality test results, Recording Sheet, Graphics
Documentation of results of project.
Reflect in Blog
Kristi Guest
July 2011 – May 2012
Classmates’ feedback

Format based on Tool 7.1 from Examining What We Do to Improve Our Schools

(Harris, Edmonson, and Combs, 2010)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wow, What a Week!

Although it was a very hectic week, I feel much more at ease with what action research is all about.  At first, I couldn't see how my topic and/or questions would be seemed so abstract.  After this week's readings, web conference, and assignment pieces, I understand what it will take to get my questions answered.  The great part about it is that whatever I find out may help others.  I really liked the analogy at the beginning of Chapter 5.  The last part of action research is sharing the information with stakeholders.  Dana paints a vivid picture of the importance of sharing the hard work and time put into action research.  Dana (2009) suggests the following:

Imagine that you notice a large pond that is stagnant and that you are enticed to create some type of movement or change in the water.  As you near the edge, you notice that the pond is surrounded by numerous stones.  You reach down, pick up a stone, and toss it as far out into the center of the pond as your strength allows.  While lying beside the pond, the stone had no impact on the water, but once tossed in, it disturbs not only the stillness of the water where it lands but also emanates ripples from its landing place that eventually reach the perimeter of the pond. (p. 135)

This is a great analogy to represent the impact that sharing action research can have and how not sharing would be a disservice to the stakeholders that would benefit.

Strangely enough, I am really looking forward to beginning the project, collecting the data, and seeing how creating more engaging curriculum will affect student achievement!

Dana, N. F. (2009).  Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action Researcher.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.