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.