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.

Action Research Plan - Take 2

Action Research Plan

I tried copying the table using Option 1, but I was unable to do so.  I'm a little disappointed.  I really wanted the actual table, not a link.  Anyone out there that can help?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Plan (at least for now)

For my action research project, I will be studying how to create engaging curriculum that will ensure a deeper understanding of material by all students.  Some of our curriculum groups have gotten into the boring rut of notes, worksheets, quizzes, and tests.  This method has produced the necessary results in the TAKS world.   I’m afraid that we may fall short in the STAAR world as it involves questioning on a deeper level.  In addition, I feel that the teachers have become bored with the current curriculum which produces bored students with surface level understanding at best.  My current questions to explore are:

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 do I facilitate the development of a more engaging curriculum with new and veteran teachers, while maintaining a high level of respect for the educators’ experience and abilities?

4)      How can the 5E model work into creating the curriculum?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lessons Learned from EDLD 5301 Week 2

I have just finished week 2 in my EDLD 5301 graduate class.  This week was filled with viewing and reading about action research conducted in education.  Some of the highlights of my learning follow.
  • Teachers should read in their area to constantly grow.  I feel that if you don't read and stay on top of the latest news and information regarding education, you have the tendency to get into a rut.  I did, but I am happy to say that I have found my passion again!  I feel like I did 16 years ago when I first began teaching.  I am fired up and I can't wait to use some of my passion to improve the quality of education in my class, school, and district!
  • Be data driven!  Let the data show you where the needs are and make decisions concerning your next step in instruction based on the results.  If you discover a problem area from the data, research it to find out if others have had the same problem and how they solved need to reinvent the wheel!
  • I recieved confirmation, this week about the idea that I had for having the students learn to be data driven as well.  The confirmation came after viewing an interview of Dr. Timothy Chargois, the Director of Research, Planning and Development in Beaumont ISD.  Dr. Chargois was encouraging teachers to be data driven.  I will also try to get the students to be data driven.  Each student will be responsible for setting goals, looking at the results from a pre-test and a post-test, and reflecting on this data.  The questions will include: “Did you reach your goal?”, “What specific actions did you take to reach your goal [or not reach it]?”, and “What can you do in the next unit to improve?”  In essence, the student will be conducting action research on his/her individual data. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How Educational Leaders Might Use Blogs

Educational leaders might use blogs to simply journal for themselves thoughts that keep them awake at night.  Days, weeks, or months later, the leader may have time to review those thoughts and develop them further into realities.  Leaders, who may otherwise never meet, could connect via the blog and bounce their ideas off of each other.  A leader may find that he/she has experience in one of those “fleeting” thoughts and can give insight from his/her experience.

What is Action Research, and How Will I Use Action Research in the Future?

Action research is the process of investigating a problem or concern through questioning and reading relevant literature, finding possible solutions to the problem or concern, taking action on the solution that best fits the situation and stakeholders, and sharing the results with others.  Action research enables teachers and administrators to stay current on educational topics, model life-long learning, and strive for excellence in an ever-changing world.  Action research encourages professional growth as it requires the participant to reflect on his own practice and make changes to improve student learning.  It also requires teachers and administrators to participate in meaningful conversations.  I see action research as the ultimate "How-To" for individual student improvement. 

I look forward to using action research in the EDLD 5301 class to gain the perspectives of my classmates on increasing our students’ deep level of understanding of course material while trying to connect with students performing at all levels.  I will also encourage the use of protocols in my content areas in the next school year.  Protocols are used to “ensure focused, deliberate conversation and dialogue by teachers about student work and student learning” (Fichman, 2009, p.22).  The protocol will have us look at a student expectation, ask clarifying questions about the expectation, state student and teacher difficulties (as seen from past experience) related to the expectation, state possible strategies for presenting the information, and choose the best strategy.  After the expectation has been taught, the group will get back together again to see how well it worked and what might need to be changed the next time.  I feel that using the protocol will allow best practices to shine through for the benefit of all students.


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

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You learn something new everyday!

I am 37 years old and still learning!  I have recently gone back to school to get my master's in educational leadership.  I have learned how to use a Wiki.  I have seen my superintendent's blog throughout the year and thought it was very interesting.  Now, I have the opportunity to see the benefits of blogging first-hand.  Super exciting!!! :)