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New folder (5)/Action Research additianl instruction and framework.pdf


Action Research


Action research can inform teachers about their practice and em-
power them to take leadership roles in their local teaching contexts.
Mills (2003) provides the following definition of action research:

Action research is any systematic inquiry conducted by
teacher researchers to gather information about the ways that
their particular school operates, how they teach, and how
well their students learn. The information is gathered with
the goals of gaining insight, developing reflective practice,
effecting positive changes in the school environment and
on educational practices in general, and improving student
outcomes. (p. 4)

Action research is conducted by teachers and for teachers. It is small
scale, contextualized, localized, and aimed at discovering, developing,
or monitoring changes to practice (Wallace, 2000). The defining features
of action research also reflect the qualities of leaders in collaborative
cultures of change. These qualities include a deep understanding of the
organization, vision and insight, a quest for new knowledge, a desire
for improved performance, self-reflective activity, and a willingness to
effect change (Fullan, 2000a, 2000b). This Digest discusses a framework
for conducting action research and describes an action research study
carried out in an elementary school Spanish program.

A Framework for Action Research
A review of action research frameworks reveals several common fea-

tures. An action research project seeks to create knowledge, propose and
implement change, and improve practice and performance (Stringer,
1996). Kemmis and McTaggert (1988) suggest that the fundamental
components of action research include the following: (1) developing
a plan for improvement, (2) implementing the plan, (3) observing and
documenting the effects of the plan, and (4) reflecting on the effects
of the plan for further planning and informed action. New knowledge
gained results in changes in practice (see also, Fullan, 2000a). Action
research is often conducted to discover a plan for innovation or inter-
vention and is collaborative. Based on Kemmis and McTaggert’s (1998)
original formulation of action research and subsequent modifications,
Mills (2003) developed the following framework for action research:

• Describe the problem and area of focus.

• Define the factors involved in your area of focus (e.g., the
curriculum, school setting, student outcomes, instructional

• Develop research questions.

• Describe the intervention or innovation to be imple-

• Develop a timeline for implementation.

• Describe the membership of the action research group.

• Develop a list of resources to implement the plan.

• Describe the data to be collected.

• Develop a data collection and analysis plan.

• Select appropriate tools of inquiry.

• Carry out the plan (implementation, data collection, data

• Report the results.

This deductive approach implements a planned intervention, moni-
tors its implementation, and evaluates the results. A more inductive
approach, formulated by Burns (1999), is to carry out action research
to explore what changes need to be made or what actions need to be
taken in a specific instructional setting. Burns suggests the following
interrelated activities:

• Explore an issue in teaching or learning.

• Identify areas of concern.

• Observe how those areas play out in the setting of the

• Discuss how the issue might be addressed.

• Collect data to determine the action to be taken (e.g., student
questionnaires, observation reports, journal entries).

• Plan strategic actions based on the data to address the

Kemmis and McTaggert’s approach focuses on implementing an action
plan, whereas Burns’ focuses on planning for action.

Commonly used data collection tools in action research projects
include existing archival sources in schools (e.g., attendance reports,
standardized test scores, lesson plans, curriculum documents,), ques-
tionnaires, interviews, observation notes and protocols, videotapes,
photographs, journals and diaries, and narratives (e.g., stories told by
teachers, see Hartman, 1998).

An Action Research Project in Pittsburgh:
Elementary School Spanish

The following project illustrates how teachers can assume leadership
roles to support their programs, contribute to the knowledge base on the
teaching and learning of foreign languages in their school and school
district, and promote well-informed changes in practice.

In 1996, a school district in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
decided to implement a foreign language in the elementary school
(FLES) program. After considerable discussion of issues such as sched-
uling, teacher availability, and the necessity of developing long-term
articulation from one grade to the next, the decision was made to
form a program steering committee and propose to the school board
the implementation of a Spanish FLES program that would begin in
September 1996 for all district kindergartners. The proposal recom-
mended extending the program one grade level each year. That is, all
kindergartners and first graders would participate in the program in the
1997-1998 school year, all kindergartners and first and second graders
in the 1998-1999 school year, and so on. The Board of School Directors
formally approved the plan and authorized a 5-year pilot project.

Teachers as researchers. After 5 years of implementation, the
program steering committee had to prepare a presentation for the
school board that would demonstrate that the program was work-
ing, that the children were progressing, and that the approval of 5
more years of funding was warranted. Responding to this challenge

recycled paper

This digest was prepared with funding from the U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Library of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of ED, OERI, or NLE.

called for both leadership and research. To achieve the research goal,
it was decided that the five Spanish teachers needed to add a new role
to their work—they would become researchers. As researchers, they
would reflect on their practice, collect information, make decisions,
and develop action plans.

The program steering committee needed solid information to pres-
ent to the school board. They wanted to present the current state of
student progress, a list of recommendations, and a plan for informed
and responsible future action. The steering committee hoped the pre-
sentation would convince the board that the investment over the past 5
years had resulted in adequate growth in student language proficiency
and cultural knowledge. The five FLES teachers became involved in a
small-scale action research project that focused on student proficiency
at each grade level in the program. The teachers felt that they were
succeeding with their early foreign language instruction, but they had
no clear data to support their intuition.

Measuring student progress. The teachers attempted to document
student progress in relation to the ACTFL Performance Guidelines for
K-12 Learners (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,
1998). Based on descriptions in the ACTFL guidelines, a can do/can’t do
assessment was devised. This “Teacher Assessment of Student Progress”
asked the teachers to rate how well and how accurately their students
understood and spoke Spanish, and to rate the students’ vocabulary
knowledge, communication strategies, and cultural understanding by
checking can do or can’t do on the assessment. Teachers were also asked
to document the quantity of language each child produced during
class. Teachers completed the questionnaires individually and without
consultation with their colleagues.

Results. The teachers’ ratings were tallied and compared across
classes and grade levels. Results showed that the majority of children,
regardless of grade level, had developed the ability to do the following
in Spanish:

• Use memorized material

• Imitate pronunciation well

• Speak with accuracy when presenting practical material

• Understand key words and phrases in Spanish

• Comprehend and say everyday vocabulary

• Pick up Spanish vocabulary from other sources

• Recite cultural facts about Spanish-speaking countries

• Say words, phrases, and full sentences

Additionally, it was found that items for which systematic grade-level
differences did appear were those that involved complex language tasks
requiring discourse-level ability, the negotiation of meaning, linguistic
creativity, and literacy skills. That is, the kindergarten children were re-
ported not to perform any of these advanced tasks, whereas the students
in Grade 4 were reported to control all of them. Systematic growth in
ability was observed at intervals in Grades 1 to 3.

The conclusion from this study is clear. The students demonstrated
progress each year in specific language skills and cultural knowledge
and developed more advanced language functions throughout their
language study. Analysis indicated quite dramatically that these students
advanced in their proficiency, that the curriculum was well articulated,
and that with each passing year, the children could say and do more
with their new language.

The results of this action research led the teachers to realize the
need for child language learners to have extensive opportunities to

hear and produce the target language and the need for teachers to
include more discourse-level tasks (e.g., story telling) in the fifth-grade
curriculum. The results also indicated the need to prepare students for
content-based Spanish study beginning in sixth grade and to address
literacy skills even more vigorously in fifth grade. It also alerted teach-
ers in the lower grades to include more storytelling in their classes as
a means of preparing the children to understand and produce Spanish
in discourse-level contexts.

Features of Action Research
This project illustrated several features of action research identified

by Burns (1998) and Mills (2003). It was highly contextualized and
localized in its attempt to investigate a situation in a specific school.
The project converted tacit knowledge of student progress to explicit
knowledge that could be communicated clearly to other constituents,
such as board members and parents. The project results led to confir-
mation of individual opinions, observations, and intuitions based on
investigation and data. The impetus for changes in practice and cur-
riculum was based on information that was systematically collected and
synthesized. This information led to the goal of expanding the language
capacity of the children through a revised curriculum that involved
storytelling, sentence-level production of the language, and the use of
content-based discourse-level speaking tasks. The research was participa-
tory and collaborative, involving all of the Spanish teachers, the steering
committee, a university researcher, and—indirectly—the school board
members who reacted to the information presented. Finally, the teachers
collaborated to create knowledge of their program and took leadership
positions in helping the program receive an additional 5 years of fund-
ing. The instructional roles that the teachers played were enriched with
leadership opportunities that directly affected their program and their
professional practice. In Fullan’s (2000a) terms, these teachers became
participants in a collaborative culture of change.

Leaders for change can become learners as well when they engage

in research. As a result, they become less vulnerable to and less depen-
dent on external answers to the challenges they face (Fullan, 2000b).
To respond to the challenges in their Spanish program, the teachers
in the study described here took on new leadership roles and moved
beyond their traditional roles. Their leadership emanated from their
collaboration to understand their local situation and to bring about
change that would improve their teaching and the lives of the students
in their program.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (1998). ACTFL

performance guidelines for K-12 learners. Yonkers, NY: Author.
Burns, A. (1999). Collaborative action research for English language teachers.

New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fullan, M. (2000a). Change forces. The sequel. Philadelphia: Falmer Press.
Fullan, M. (2000b). Leadership for the twenty-first century: Breaking the

bonds of dependency. In The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership
(pp. 156-63). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hartman, D. K. (1998). Stories teachers tell. Lincolnwood, IL: National

Kemmis, S., & McTaggert, R. (1998). The action research planner. Geelong,
Victoria, Australia: Deakin University Press.

Mills, G. E. (2003). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Stringer, E. (1996). Action research: A handbook for practitioners. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage.

New folder (5)/literture review for 2-3 -pages use this.docx

Running head: Literature review 2

Literature review 2

Literature review


The Covid-19 epidemic has a variety of effects on school systems worldwide. The results are extensively investigated in this research to determine whether the tactics employed were beneficial in resolving the current difficulties. There are multiple sources from various perspectives ranging from administration and teachers to the parents of the children in question as a result of the abrupt change in duties where the parent or family were in most cases were the one’s responsible for the children’s education. The paper will focus on the recommendations are the most cost-effective tactics to employ.


As the world grows more interconnected, the threats we confront increase in number and severity. The COVID-19 epidemic has crossed national boundaries. It has afflicted people of all nationalities, levels of education, income, and gender. However, the same cannot be said for its repercussions, which have disproportionately impacted the most disadvantaged. Lockdowns in reaction to COVID-19 have disrupted traditional learning, resulting in statewide school closures in the majority of schools in the country, with the majority lasting at least 10 weeks. While the educational community worked hard to ensure learning continuity throughout this time, children and students had to rely increasingly on their own resources to continue studying remotely via the Internet, zoom meetings and the I ready system. Teachers were also required to adapt to new educational concepts and ways of instruction for which they had not been trained. Students from the most marginalized groups, in particular, who lack access to digital learning tools or the resilience and engagement to learn on their own, are at danger of falling behind.

The primary goal of this article is to determine the effects of Covid-19 on the educational system. The research focuses on the reaction to the negative effects of Covid-19, with the goal of evaluating which tactics were beneficial and which were not. In order to achieve the goal, a review of relevant literature is conducted with the goal of supporting the research, as demonstrated in the theoretical framework discussion. Toward the end of the literature, a research gap is found in order to decide the best method to filling the gap. Also, recommendations are provided in relation to what is needed in the future (Nguyen & Tran, 2022).

Theoretical framework discussion

In order to assess the influence of Covid-19, an examination of what was the typical practice or operations before to the pandemic must be conducted. The second stage must be to determine what changes occurred in the educational system as a consequence of the pandemic’s spread. As a result, there is a direct relationship between Covid-19, the independent variable, and the education system, the dependent variable. As a consequence of the pandemic, efforts to resist the spread and safeguard members of the school system are seen as reactionary methods. The figure below depicts the link between the independent factors and the dependent variables, as well as the primary areas of emphasis of the research.

Education system

Impacts/negative effects

Covid-19 pandemic



The method of document analysis was used to gather data for this investigation. This involved looking for peer-reviewed scientific literature and evaluating the sources based on their relevance to the main study issue. This method resulted in the development of a list of the most relevant sources, following which the data collection was carried out. In producing appropriate literature to assist the research investigation, just five sources were employed.


From the review of the various scholarly reviews used in the study, various findings were made. The quality and availability of education in several Commonwealth countries was one of the report’s most significant findings. Students had less opportunities to learn and received lower marks as a result of the pandemic’s impact on communities that were not already struggling and didn’t have access to the resources and help, they needed. According to the research, females who drop out of school are more likely to get involved in domestic tasks, increasing their risks of academic failure and confirming the community’s belief that education for boys is more necessary than education for girls. For individuals who cannot afford technology or who live in rural areas where internet access is still a barrier, the use of urgent remote teaching to monitor and maintain in the learning and teaching activities further excluded vulnerable communities. still a big concern (MARTINEZ et al, 2021).

Because of the Covid-19 epidemic, remote classes were also formed. At the height of the outbreak in 2013, 45 countries in Europe and Central Asia closed their schools, affecting around 185 million students. As a result of the abruptness of the shift, educators and administrators scrambled to come up with last-minute solutions for remote learning. One of the limitations of emergency remote learning is the lack of facial expression interaction between teacher and learner. For obvious reasons, this is not possible with broadcasts. Remote learning can benefit from a wide range of additional tools, including email and even the post office.

Because of its widespread distribution, the coronavirus has an effect on educational systems around the world. All leaning institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities have been shut down because of the coronavirus. School closures have an impact on students, teachers, and parents alike. Distance learning can help keep the educational system running smoothly. The absence of communications infrastructure, computers, and internet connectivity are all disadvantages of distant learning in underdeveloped countries. Because of this, countries design a strategy for using educational technology, free online academic materials, free learning internet resources, and education-related television broadcasts on the Internet. During the time when schools are closed, teachers and students are preparing lessons for after the coronavirus outbreak. As soon as schools reopen, plans are put in place to assist students in regaining lost knowledge and getting back to class as quickly as possible. The coronavirus has impacted the face-to-face schooling system in poor countries (Qutishat et al, 2022).

Despite the pandemic, some countries found strategies to keep the educational systems up and running as normal. Technology options for online learning could be put to the test during a virus outbreak and nationwide lockdowns. Few systems have made it to this point prepared for the challenges ahead. Despite the closure of many institutions, Chinese education has continued because to the internet and distance learning. Preparedness in those other countries or educational systems is lacking High-bandwidth internet and mobile phone use are connected with household income even in middle-income nations. As a result, efforts to quickly identify those most in need are crucial. During a crisis, educational activities can benefit students and their learning, and they can help to prevent and recover from public health crises. If there are no hospitals in the area, schools can serve as crisis centers. Making plans requires careful consideration of all factors, especially during the difficult periods of adjustment and recovery.

Technology options for online learning could be put to the test during a virus outbreak and nationwide lockdowns. Ultimately, only a few systems have reached this point where they are well-prepared for what is to come. China’s educational system has remained strong despite the closure of numerous institutions, mainly to the internet and distance education. Another country’s or school’s lack of readiness A household’s ability to afford high-speed internet and telephones is directly linked to its wealth. Therefore, efforts that can quickly identify those in most need are essential.

Since it initially surfaced two years ago, the COVID-19 epidemic has wreaked havoc on educational systems all around the world, with the most vulnerable students facing the brunt of the damage. It has exacerbated existing educational disparities. Some countries have not had any school closures, while others have had closures that lasted up to an entire school year. Some students were unable to take advantage of online learning due to a lack of internet connectivity and electronic devices. Most countries have developed health and safety rules and vaccination programs in order to keep their schools open, despite the existence of the Omicron variant. In relation to educational setbacks, health concerns and school dropout rates, the implications are tremendous. To avert a generational calamity and promote long-term recovery, education must be prioritized as a public benefit. It is imperative that education systems adapt to and build on the new ideas and partnerships that arose during this crisis (Gobbi & Rovea, 2021).


Based on the review, the pandemic resulted into closure of schools and learning institutions. This contributed into mass disruption of the curriculum as majority of students stayed at home rather than going to school. Also, the level of disparities in the education system widened as less privileged communities and students experienced more challenges compared to other communities and societies particularly those that had sufficient resources to support the new education systems. In addition, the pandemic led to the establishment of distance learning platforms to support learning for the students. The literature also shows the inefficiencies in the procedures adopted to counter the disruptions in the educational systems. However, there is a research gap on what needs to be done in enhancing efficiency in the interventions adopted to counter the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on education system. This include determining ways of countering the high costs of distance learning.

Implications for future research

In future, more research efforts should be made towards determining cost effective strategies to use in improving the quality of education offered to the students during a crisis. Among the factors to consider in developing educational policies include accessibility of education as well as reliability of the adopted interventions. This should be carried out across all states in the United States. An effective way of attaining this is using a sample constituting institution across the states and using the data collected from the study in developing more efficient policies.

The literature has provided a clear view of the prevailing situation in the US education system following the impact of the Covid-19 and the needed improvements. Therefore, there is a need to focus research efforts on optimal funds allocation systems and impacts of student mobility programs. There is a risk that education spending will be reduced in the next years. Even in a developed country such as the US where short-term stimulus packages have been implemented, long-term public investment on education is a risk. As the economy deteriorates and the number of unemployed climbs, private support will be harder to come by. In nations such as the US where tuition is higher for international students, the reduction in international student mobility as a result of travel restrictions already reduces the cash available. In addition, the lockdown has increased the gap between the rich and poor in the workforce. With this disparity, there is a high risk of inefficiency unless a strategy is developed to strike the balance and enhance efficiency.


Gobbi, A. & Rovea, F. (2021). Distance teaching and teaching ‘as’ distance. A critical reading of online teaching instruments during and after the pandemic. Teoría de la Educación. Revista Interuniversitaria, 33(1), 71-87. https://doi. org/10.14201/teri.23451

MARTINEZ, J., AMİCK, L., & McAbee, S. (2021). The Reopening of a School during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Administrative Lens. Research in Educational Administration and Leadership6(2), 515-552.

Nayir Funda & Sari Tamer (2021). Identifying Parents’ Home-schooling Experience During Covid-19 Period.

Nguyen, N. T., & Tran, H. T. T. (2022). Factors Affecting Students’ Desire to Take Upcoming Online Courses after E-learning Experience During COVID-19. iJIM16(01), 23.

Qutishat, D., Obeidallah, R., & Qawasmeh, Y. (2022). An Overview of Attendance and Participation in Online Class During the COVID Pandemic: A Case Study. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies16(4).

New folder (5)/main example pls don;t copy but follow format .pdf

Implementing Reading Strategies for

Second Grade Immigrant Students to

Increase Reading Proficiency and Help

Them Enjoy Reading


Abstract: The purpose of this study was to describe the effect on reading proficiency by using diverse reading

strategies to improve ESOL student reading achievement. Twenty-five second grade students in a

Reading/Language Arts located in Miami, Florida were the participants. The methods included a

questionnaire that assessed students’ reading habits, strategy use, and reading problems. Results indicated

that less than half the class enjoyed reading, about 52% of the class read less than two days a week, 57% of the

students were not independent readers, and more than half of the class was reading below their level. As part

of the intervention students were taught several reading strategies, including think alouds, context clues,

making predictions, making connections, asking questions, rereading, finding the main idea and key details,

self-monitoring, drawing inferences, and visualizing. While test scores did not increase significantly, interest

in reading was enhanced.

Introduction and Statement of the Problem
As immigrant children arrive in the United States and are placed in public school classrooms they are often

confused and afraid due to their new surroundings and their inability to speak English which inhibits

communication with teachers and classmates; individual’s that can help them navigate the educational system.

Understanding the school language helps demystify the immigrant experience within the governing society. It

is estimated that in the United States there are about 4.6 million English language learners in the public school

system and it has been documented that English language learners (ELLs) have difficulties comprehending

what they read (NCES, 2014). This fact stresses the importance of teaching proven reading strategies that

increase reading comprehension for ELLs. Thaise Mustelier, one of the authors of this article states, “I think

back to my childhood when I first arrived in the United States at seven years old, I remember feeling confused

and scared because I did not speak English. I could not understand my teachers or classmates when they spoke

to me. This is the same feeling, I imagine, the lower level English speakers of other languages (ESOL) students

experience when they are placed in an all-English speaking class. Therefore, it is understandable when they

struggle with the grade-level curriculum that is taught to them. Although we are unable to change the situation,

we wanted to provide students with the tools that they needed to become better readers while learning English

as a second language; we also believed that becoming better readers would help them develop good reading

habits. In meeting their needs we believed that we were giving each student an equal opportunity to learn”.

In this study, we describe a reading intervention developed for a densely Hispanic immigrant classroom of

25-second grade students at diverse ELL proficiency levels that were struggling with reading in the English

language. This was a challenging situation since ESOL levels ranged from one to five and while struggling

readers deserve to learn at their own pace, more advanced readers deserve increased opportunities as well.

With this in mind the intervention focused upon reading strategies that had the potential to benefit all of the

students, regardless of reading level. The specific goal of this intervention was to impact reading proficiency

by using diverse ESOL strategies to improve ELL reading achievement.

Literature Review
Research on this topic indicated that the reading strategy and type of instruction used have a positive impact on

students’ reading performance. According to Noursi (2014), students score very low on reading tests,

especially English Language Learners (ELLs) that tend to have problems understanding what they read.

Researchers stress the importance of teaching students to use several cognitive and metacognitive reading

strategies. According to the research, the most positive outcome of teaching reading strategies is that it

increases students reading comprehension (Aghaie & Lawrence, 2012; Choo, Eng, & Ahmad, 2011; Latawiec,

2010; Noursi, 2014).

In addition, research indicates the importance of teachers becoming knowledgeable in reading and pedagogy

pedagogies in order to be able to teach students appropriate reading skills and strategies (Noursi, 2014).

According to Noursi (2014), teachers need to know about reading comprehension, basic cognitive knowledge,

comprehension strategies, how to motivate students to read, quality instruction, and to assess reading

comprehension to ensure that their students become better readers. Furthermore, it is important to teach

various reading approaches and make students aware of the strategies that they are using, especially low level

readers, with the intent of helping them become more successful, independent readers (Griva et al., 2009). For

instance, modeling and think-alouds are effective ways of helping students become more aware of the

strategies that they use (Lawrence, 2007).

Specifically, it was found that teaching comprehension strategies, such as predicting, questioning,

summarizing, and clarifying, enables students to construct meaning from the reading passages (Choo et al.,

2011). Similarly, Griva, Alevriadou, and Geladari (2009) found that using a combination of cognitive and

metacognitive reading strategies, enables students to construct meaning from texts. In addition, strategies such

as problem-solving, planning, and translating, enabled learners to understand and decode reading passages

(Jafarigohar & Khanjani, 2014). Finally, Noursi (2014) asserted that teaching students the appropriate skills

and strategies will enhance their performance and engagement in reading classes as well as improve fluency

and reading comprehension, which are vital skills for ELL learners.

An action research plan was developed by the researchers in order to focus the literature and to develop steps to

accomplish the study to align with the literature and practices of other educators. The goal was to increase the

ELL students reading proficiency using diverse reading strategies which were developed for use during

specific reading lessons while addressing the research question:

Action Research Question: Will the implementation of specific reading strategies increase reading

proficiency for a group of second graders made up of a predominantly immigrant population and help

them enjoy reading?

The classroom had 25 second grade students, 23 of the students ranged in ESOL levels one to five, five being

proficient and one being not very proficient, two were non-ESOL students. Originally, the study was to focus

on ESOL levels one and two, thinking that these two low proficient groups would benefit most from the

targeted reading strategies. Yet, since the range of proficiency varied in the group, it was decided to use

targeted reading strategies so that all of the groups could benefit from this type of intervention. Student levels

were determined by the Florida Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment which is

administered once a year and it measures the progress of proficiency in English, these scores allowed us to

place the students in group by proficiency.

Table 1.1 Student Level of English Language Proficiency

Level 1 9

Level 2 5

Level 3 6

Level 4 2

Level 5 1

Non ESOL 2

Additionally, a questionnaire was developed and administered (Appendix A) to learn about students’ reading

habits, the strategies that they used, and problems that they encountered while reading. This questionnaire

would help to target specific needs in the development of reading strategies; it was designed to help us

comprehend each student’s needs. The idea was to learn about students’ reading habits and whether they were

already using reading strategies. It was also created to learn about the kinds of strategies that have been helpful

to them and what else could be used to help increase their reading proficiency. In addition, the questionnaire

was kept simple with some pictures for the low level students who are still learning English as a second

language. The questionnaire also included simple open-ended and closed questions, it had a multiple choice

format where the students were able to choose as many answers that applied to them, while still being able to

provide their own answers using the “other” multiple choice option. This design was chosen over other

instruments because it was easier to answer and it took less time than an interview.

The questionnaire was administered in the regular classroom setting during Reading and Language Arts

period. Each question and answer choice was read to the students and they were given enough time to provide

their responses. The students were told that the questionnaire was to learn a little more about their reading

habits and the strategies that help them read. They were also told that it would not be graded and that their

answers were not going to be shared with the class. The reasoning behind this was to make them feel

comfortable and to encourage honesty. Twenty-one second grade students participated and the assessment

took place in the regular classroom setting, four were absent. The questions and answers were read to each

student. Following the reading of the sentence, each student was asked to circle or write in their answer the

space provided. Students were given enough time to answer each question. The assessment was collected and

the class proceeded to the reading lesson for the day.

Once completed, the questionnaire along with the test scores helped the researchers understand the level of

student proficiency and level of engagement in reading. Based on the results of this assessment we predicted

that the ESOL levels 1 and 2 students were going to need intensive instruction in ESOL strategies because their

test scores were very low on both the state exam and the assessment created for this study. The data also

indicated that about 57% of the group were not independent readers. Overall, these students required help

understanding what they read, identifying the meaning of unfamiliar words, and reading with fluency. Later on

in the study we learned that even the students who spoke English needed to learn to use reading strategies to

help them become better readers.

With the baseline data we developed various interventions that consisted of introducing students to a variety of

genres (fantasy, realistic fiction, fiction, expository text, fable, poetry) through stories. Scaffolding techniques

were used during “think alouds” to explain and model how to self-monitor, make connections, ask questions,

draw inferences, make predictions, and summarize. Then the students practiced these skills as they read. For

example, students were taught that looking at pictures gave them information about a story. Also, participants

were taught to use context clues to identify unfamiliar words. Additionally, participants were taught to activate

prior knowledge and ask themselves questions about how the events in the story were similar to the events that

they have experienced in real life.

Throughout the study, students used reading journals to write down main ideas and key details using the

graphic organizers. They wrote sentences using the new vocabulary words and were assessed each week.

Interventions included think alouds twice a week, graphic organizers twice each week, context clues and

vocabulary once each week, making predictions for three weeks over the course of the study, making

connections once each week, asking questions throughout the study, rereading one week, finding the main idea

and key details over six weeks, self-monitoring each week, drawing inferences throughout the study, and

visualizing throughout the study (Table 1.2).

Table 1.2 Student Level of English Language Proficiency

Interventions and Frequency of Use

Think Alouds 2x Per Week

Graphic Organizers 2x Per Week

Context Clues Weekly

Vocabulary Weekly

Making Predictions 3x Over Course of Study

Making Connections 1x Per Week

Asking Questions Ongoing

Rereading 1 Week

Finding Main Idea 6 Weeks

Self- Monitoring 1x Per Week

Drawing Inferences Ongoing

Visualizing Ongoing

The school principal provided us with another second grade reading teacher to act as a sounding board for the

methods being developed and to help in developing the curriculum content in the home language of the

students. This was extremely helpful because this teacher was able to work in a small group with the ESOL

level 1 students that spoke little to no English at all. The teacher gave them the one-on-one time they needed

and helped to reinforce the reading strategies taught in each lesson over the three months. Field notes were

taken through observations each week during the various activities and interventions developed in order to

reflect on the practices being implemented and behaviors of the students. This helped to inform how we could

further help to improve their English language learning and reading habits. Portfolios were kept for each

student which contained all of the weekly skill building activities and reading strategy interventions along with

assessments. Progress reports for each student included all of these documents.

In order to encourage independent reading, the plan of intervention also included a new book display in the

classroom library, the implementation of a reading log that tracked students reading at home for at least fifteen

to thirty minutes each night (Appendix B), time allowed in the classroom to read while students used the

reading strategies they were taught, and a book of their choice was read to them each week as a reward for good

behavior. At the end of each week, students volunteered and talked about a book that they enjoyed reading

during that week. The students were motivated to read a book of their own when they saw and heard their peers

talk about their favorite books. We found that more students needed to read books that were at their level, they

needed to be challenged a little more and encouraged to read more books. Small groups were created to assist

these readers.

Results and Conclusion
While the intervention plan had a positive influence on students’ reading habits, it has not had a significant

impact on their reading test scores. The reading strategies implemented have demonstrated to improve student

reading habits and attitudes, students are more interested in books and want to think and talk about the stories.

Another important outcome was that about 60% of the students were reading on their own after the

intervention as opposed to 43% when the study began. The remaining the students chose to read with a partner

which increased interaction in the reading and comprehension process since students would ask each other

questions, point to the pictures while they discussed a story, and built comprehension through these

collaborations. This finding is supported by research conducted with third graders involved in a study on how

discussions around reading influence comprehension (Gruhn-Tomczak, 2014). They also looked for context

clues when they came across a word they did not know. They talked about the characters in the books and how

the events reminded them of something they have seen in real life. This really helped the students understand

the story and enjoy reading when they had a partner to share it with

However, the grades have remained about the same after three months with the ESOL levels 4 and 5

performing the highest and the ESOL levels 1 and 2 the lowest. However, we know that the students are still

adopting the new strategies and some still need time to learn the English language. We are also aware that the

exams are more challenging for the lower ESOL levels because they are in alignment with the grade-level

curriculum. The lessons learned for our teaching practices include being patient and providing student’s time

to learn; encouraging interaction among students in reading practice, and that some need time and practice to

process the information. Working with these children in small groups has been very helpful. It gives them the

opportunity to understand the lesson when they can practice at a slower pace. Also, reading strategies need to

be introduced one at a time and students need to be given enough opportunities to practice those strategies

inside and out of the classroom. Modeling and guided practice are extremely important when teaching; as

educators we should never assume that students already know the information. Research is still needed to

understand the long-term effect of reading strategies on reading achievement. The study helped clarify

practices that have the potential to work, increased the feeling of community in the classroom, and further

helped us understand the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, we expect our students to learn

enough reading strategies that they can apply outside the classroom in their everyday lives that help them make

sense of their world.

About the Authors

Dr. Floralba Arbelo Marrero, Assistant Professor of Education at Carlos Albizu University in

Miami has been involved in education for over a decade. Dr. Arbelo Marrero has had the privilege of

teaching and collaborating with NGO projects in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and

in the United States in the areas of curriculum development, social justice research, immigration

policy, action research methods, instructional design, and grant writing. Research interests include:

the academic success of Hispanic students, academic persistence, retention, and the socio-cultural

factors that impact achievement for Hispanic students. Dr. Arbelo-Marrero has earned degrees from

Brooklyn College, Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, and a

doctorate from Liberty University. Dr. Arbelo-Marrero has presented her research and work at the

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Association of Hispanics in Higher Education,

Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators, and the National Association of Hispanic and

Latino Studies.

Thaise Mustellier is an elementary school teacher in south Florida and has earned a Master of Science in

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She completed her graduate degree with a 4.0 grade point

average and chose TESOL as her major because she wanted to master the appropriate strategies to help her

students gain English language proficiency. Her focus in on immigrant student education and helping them

reach their maximum potential and succeed beyond their own expectations.

Aghaie, R., & Lawrence Jun, Z. (2012). Effects of explicit instruction in cognitive and metacognitive

reading strategies on Iranian EFL students’ reading performance and strategy transfer. Instructional Science,

40(6), 1063-1081.

Choo, T., Eng, T., & Ahmad, N. (2011). Effects of reciprocal teaching strategies on reading

comprehension. Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 11(2), 140-149.

Griva, E., Alevriadou, A., & Geladari, A. (2009). A qualitative study of poor and good bilingual readers’

strategy use in EFL reading. International Journal of Learning, 16(1), 51-73.

Gruhn-Tomczak, K. (2014). How does talk around reading influence comprehension in third grade? Networks,

16(2), 1-15.

Jafarigohar, M. & Khanjani, A. (2014). Text difficulty effect on metacognitive reading strategy use among

EFL learners. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 14(2), 47-59.

Latawiec, B. (2010). Text structure awareness as a metacognitive strategy facilitating EFL/ESL reading

comprehension and academic achievement. International Journal Of Learning, 17(5), 25-48.

Lawrence, L. (2007). Cognitive and metacognitive reading strategies revisited: implications for instruction.

Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 7(3), 55-71.

Noursi, O. (2014). Teaching comprehension: what teachers should know. Perspectives (TESOL Arabia),

22(1), 11-17.

National Center for Education Statistics (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), English

Language Learners. Retrieved from

Appendix A

Needs Assessment Questionnaire


1. Do you like to read?

a) Yes

b) No

c) Sometimes

2. How many days a week do you read books? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

3. Usually, do you read by yourself or ask someone to do it for you?

By myself With someone

If you prefer someone to help you, whom do you usually ask? ___________

4. Where do you most often read?

Home School Library

Other ___________________

5. Do you read books that are easy, just right, or difficult? _______________________

6. Do you have problems when you read? What are they?


Check all that apply

7. When I don’t understand what I am reading I

 Look at the pictures

 Read it again

 Look for familiar words

 Underline

 Ask the teacher

 Other ______________

8. I want to learn to

 Read faster

 Understand the meaning of words

 Understand the main idea

 Other _______________

9. I learn best when

 I see pictures

 The teacher speaks slowly

 I hear the story aloud

 Other ______________

Appendix B

Reading Log

Week of


Book Title Author Time Read Parent









New folder (5)/Main instrcutions please follow everything.docx

Action Research Manuscript Template

This document serves as a guide for the requirements of the FINAL ACTION RESEARCH PAPER SUBMISSION – each section must be completed. USE APA and Double Space

a) Cover page – Per APA – Title of Project, Your Name, University Name, Course Title

b) Abstract – The abstract consists of a single, concise paragraph describing the problem, purpose, methods, and results of your study. Use no more than 250 words. Do not write the abstract until you are nearly finished writing, and then draft and redraft until it reads as is a clearly as possible.

c) Introduction and Statement of the Problem (1.5 page maximum)

An overview of the topic of interest and some background information on what your topic is about and how it relates to your school and community. The research question should be described here and remember that at it is to be answered at some point later in the paper. The goal of this section is to combine information about the setting of the action research project and the story behind the project into a smooth narrative that gets the reader engaged in your work’s context; the critical question is also introduced here. This section is usually about three to five pages long. The reader should have a good idea what the paper is about before finishing the first page. In the introduction, be cognizant of the following:

· Context. It is important to communicate to the reader a clear picture of the overall context of your AR project. The way you write the beginning of your paper lays the foundation (weak or strong) for the credibility and trustworthiness of your results and conclusions.

· Use storytelling. Instead of telling about your setting, illustrate it for the reader using stories and anecdotes taken from your notes, reflections, and data. Introduce major players in your analysis and results.

· Include active and layered description. Use multiple data sources to illustrate the setting and story behind the research. It must be clear to the reader that you are thoroughly immersed and engaged in your setting, and are therefore qualified to make credible analyses and interpretations. By referring to some data here you signal to the reader prior to the rest of the paper what type of research this is and how data were generally collected.

· Your story. It is also important to communicate to the reader a clear picture of yourself as the student teacher-researcher and how your own biases and experiences, and assumptions not only influence the study but also provided the fodder for your critical question. This may be woven into your illustration of context by including your own thoughts and memories. If there are key quotes that tell your story in another’s words, consider including the quote in this section. Make it clear how you arrived at your critical question.

· Your critical question. Bring your narrative to a climax in which you lay out your critical question in detail. Explain briefly what your action(s) consisted of. Tell briefly what your conclusions look like (don’t try to keep the reader in suspense).

Literature Review of your Topic (3 page maximum) – Please take your literature review and synthesize the fine points, major themes into a maximum of 3 double spaced pages. What have other researchers found on your topic and in your area? The goal of this section is to introduce the reader to the major issues and/or themes learned from distant colleagues in the literature surrounding your critical question. By broadening your readers’ understanding of the major issues surrounding your research, you further solidify the credibility and trustworthiness of your work. This section is generally about three pages long.

· It is best to organize this section in one of two ways: either group the literature you are reviewing by themes or review the literature to provide an overview of the history leading up to the framework for your AR project. For example, one of our students organized her literature review according to these themes: 1) literature on the effectiveness of reading aloud; (2) strategies for increasing reading fluency and comprehension; and (3) meaningful reading fluency and comprehension assessment strategies. Another student organized her literature review as a historical overview of assessment in mathematics. Her review looked at the evolution of mathematical assessments to its present emphasis on problem-solving.

Choose a format that will allow your readers to make the connection between your literature review and the AR study by establishing the theoretical foundation of the action, curriculum review, self-study, or ethnography you later describe in your AR paper.

Note: This section will contain the majority of your citations, although we suggest bringing in the voices of the other researchers that you used in your literature review and also sprinkle that information throughout the paper. Remember that the research question you are exploring is tied to other research that’s already been done on this question.

Methodology: My Action Research Project (4 pages maximum)

This is a brief, concise section focusing your reader on the essential elements of your AR project. Assume a more professional style and tone to answer precisely:

· Research Site and Sample Population – A demographic description of sample

· Research Methods Used – Procedures Carried out

· what the critical question was, why the study was conducted, needs assessment, baseline data,

· where the project took place (research site: description of setting);

Intervention (4 pages maximum)

· the interventions, analysis, or strategies you implemented to improve the “problem”;

· the data collection strategies and sources you used, when the data collection occurred (dates of implementation and/or data collection, length of study);

· how data collection was completed (data collection methods – in detail);

· the contents of the data sets you collected;

· the methods you used to analyze, interpret, and deconstruct the data;

· changes you made in your research design.

This is a technical piece of the paper in which the reader gets an inside view of your research process. The idea here is that someone else could do the same research in their classroom by following your detailed descriptions of methodology.

(Discussion/ Findings (3 page maximum)

The goal of this section is to illustrate what you have learned as related to your critical question. Use your data to tell the story of your research and support your conclusions and emerging theories. This section is the heart and soul of your action research paper. This is where you tell your story. The section is rich in voice, style, and data. Remember the writing advice: show, don’t tell as you write. Interweave important data into your narrative. Include tables, charts, and quotes from interviews and your observations and reflections. Use your data to illustrate your ideas, and to provide the reader the freedom to draw his/her own conclusions as well. Explain how you interpret your data. Support your interpretations with examples. Use multiple data sources to support major assertions or ideas. Include multiple voices and perspectives, including those of critical colleagues, students, and “distant mentors” (literature review). Deconstruct your work, providing counterexamples and alternative interpretations.

Further Reflection and Continuing Questions about My Action Research Journey (Conclusion)

In this section, you bring themes together and begin the process of concluding your paper. Consider the following questions as writing prompts for this final reflection of your action research journey:

· What are some of the most important lessons you will take into your teaching career?

· What will you do differently next time?

· What additional questions did this research project pose for you?

· What was your action research journey like? How has this journey transformed your image of teacher, teaching, students, schools, learning? How have your paradigms been altered, confirmed, and/or challenged?

· What have you learned about action research? How has your definition of AR changed? How do you see yourself using this process in the future?

Conclusion: How to Write a Memorable Conclusion

Conclusions are tough: how do you end a good date, or say goodbye after a long visit? More than likely, you will write your concluding paragraph several times before you are satisfied. An effective way to write the concluding paragraph is to use a quote, either from someone famous, your students, other participants, or from your own researcher’s notebook. Another possibility is to end with a short story, a vignette, from your data that illustrates the central focus of the study. Sometimes, a combination works well.

In the example below, the student teacher had conducted an action research project about homework. In his classroom, students either did not turn in homework or they turned in poor quality homework. He attempted two different kinds of homework strategies to improve both quality and completion rates. However, he found that a reward system which gave students “free time” points for turning in homework regardless of quality, trumped all his other homework strategies. This is how he concluded his piece:

To conclude my research I decided to ask the entire class one question. “Would you rather earn homework points by turning in an assignment that you know you could do better on or sacrifice the homework points but get the best score in the class on a big assignment?” Seventy-six percent of the class said they would choose the homework points. Only six of the 25 students polled would take the top score. Students are getting mixed messages. They’re motivated to get the homework points even though we want them to produce their best work. They’re motivated by the wrong thing; completing assignments no matter what the quality is. Absolutely, they still struggle to complete their work, but they do understand that completing work is what is valued regardless of the quality. More than anything else, I’ve learned that students are smart. They learn early on in the school year what is important, and most students strive to achieve that. As a teacher, I need to be aware of this and careful not to send a message to my students that I don’t want them to receive. Students will provide us with the information we need to create the types of classrooms we want if we look for it. I credit the students for teaching me the lessons that I will take from this action research project, one of which is summarized by this quote, “The question educators need to ask is not how motivated their students are, but how their students are motivated” (Kohn, 1994, p. 3).

This conclusion returns to the heart of the action research study. It summarizes the main lesson the student teacher/researcher learned. And, it encourages the reader to ask, “What kind of mixed messages do I send to my students?” This makes for a memorable final curtain call!


Consult carefully with APA guidelines, or whatever other citation methods required in your program, to ensure that references are done correctly. References are yet another element of trustworthiness. Plagiarism is not only legally and ethically wrong; it cheapens the quality of your journey. Attend to references carefully.


A writer places in the appendices additional information that supports or illustrates points in the paper. Items in the appendices allow the reader to go deeper or gain a clearer view of what is being said in the main text. Appendices are important but they are not a “dumping ground.” For example, not all data goes in the appendices; however, a log of data sets may be appropriate. Not all student work would be placed in the appendices, but a sample that clarifies an assignment would be appropriate. Must include questionnaires, surveys, interview questions, pre and post tests, etc. used in the study

Possible inclusions in the appendices include:

· a log of data sets or specific items from a data set;

· assessments;

· surveys, questionnaires, and interview questions;

· letters home (including how you gained permissions);

· lesson plans;

· artifacts.

Note that anything placed in the appendices must be referenced in the text of the paper. Check the appropriate citation guidelines on how to do this.


New folder (5)/Three examples of Action Research.doc

1. Mills, G. (2000). “Come to my web (site),” said the spider to the fly: Reflections on the life of a virtual professor.

In this example the data analysis was conducted by identifying emerging themes from the data (surveys, interviews, and student projects). The four major themes identified by the teacher researcher were: a) frequency and type of communication, b) benefits and drawbacks of listserv communication, c) learning styles and traits for success in a Web-based class, and d) online resources. In the analysis process the teacher researcher reads through the data multiple times, sorts data into common themes, and identifies common elements among the data within each theme. In this example, you will see that each theme is identified with descriptors, and that some themes are further broken into subcategories. Subcategories allow broad themes to be further understood, as in this case the theme “Benefits and Drawbacks of Listserv Communication” was further sorted into two subcategories (Benefits and Drawbacks).

Data Analysis and Interpretation
The following themes emerged from the analysis of the surveys, interviews, observations, and students’ projects.

The Frequency and Type of Communication

The frequency and types of communication varied considerably throughout the length of the course. Frequently, students reported being “overwhelmed” with the volume of e-mail that was an integral part of the weekly class participation. Although not every e-mail required a response from the instructor, like the students in the class, I found the daily task of responding to e-mail quite daunting.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Listserv Communication

Students considered the benefits of listserv communication as follows:

· Comfort level of being able to give feedback in an on-line setting. Many students expressed high levels of satisfaction with being able to give and receive feedback without feeling pressured to “talk” in class.

· Frequency of responses individual students received appeared related to their area of focus and the frequency of responses they made to other students in the class, that is, if the content area was something a number of students had in common, they tended to gravitate toward each other. The matrix of frequency and kinds of responses indicated that quiet students received less feedback on their projects.

Students considered the drawbacks of listserv communication as follows:

· The overwhelming volume of e-mail messages. It did not appear to matter whether there were 10 or 20 students registered in the class—both groups described the volume of e-mail as “overwhelming.”

· Delay in receiving feedback. Some students expressed frustration with not receiving “immediate” feedback from the instructor and/or colleagues in the class.

· Lack of nonverbal cues. A number of students requested that we “post” digital photographs so that we could “put a face with a name.” There appeared to be interest in getting to know each other but a virtual classroom environment was not the ideal setting for establishing rapport.

         Related to the use of the listserv and e-mail was the use of a discussion board (chat room) during the second offering of the class. My intent in implementing the discussion board was to cut down on the frequency and total number of e-mail postings. However, the use of the chat room appeared to cause more problems than it solved due to technical problems of access to the discussion board. Students were given the option of using one communication network or the other. Ultimately, this did not work and caused a division in the class that challenged the continuity of the communication among all students.

Learning Styles and Traits for Success in a Web-Based Class

The completion rate for students in the first offering of the class was 50% and increased to 63% in the second offering. I believe that this completion rate raises questions about matching students’ learning styles with the medium of instruction. For example, my traditional “live” offerings of this action research class average about an 85% completion rate. The majority of students (70%) indicated that if traveling distance to the university was not a factor, they would have preferred a “live” class.

Online Resources

Students indicated a high level of satisfaction with the availability and quality of online resources available on the Internet. However, there were some students who expressed concern about the “black hole” of time that accompanied searching for materials on the Web. Similarly, students who were new users (“newbies”) expressed concern about the amount of time it took for them to acquire the skills to search the Internet in an effective and efficient manner.

2. Fagel, L., Swanson, P., Gorleski, J., & Senese, J. (2003). Emphasizing learning by deemphasizing grades. Highland Park High School.

In this example the teacher researchers examined their practice of deemphasizing grades in their instructional practices and its effect on student learning outcomes. Data was collected through many means, including student surveys, observations, and interviews to assess the effect qualitative assessments (i.e., comments, self-assessments) versus letter grades had on students’ learning. The data results were interpreted into three major themes that illustrated changes in students’ learning outcomes: 1) self-assessment worksheet, 2) student-teacher conferences, and 3) grades. A shift in students’ perception of their roles in the learning process due to deemphasis of grades was identified in each of these three areas.

Self-Assessment Worksheet
After some modification during the first semester, we adopted a self-assessment worksheet that encouraged students to reflect on their progress periodically throughout the year. The worksheet included the following headings: Content Mastery, Skill Mastery, Completion of Work, and In-Class Activity. This worksheet evolved into an end of quarter self-evaluation that asked students to select a grade they felt they deserved and then to provide evidence by referring to specific assignments, tests, quizzes, and projects. Finally, by the end of the school year, we were using an end-of-quarter evaluation sheet that listed the student’s mid-quarter grade range, the marks they received on specific homework assignments completed since the previous student-teacher-parent conference, and a general comment for each major test, quiz, and project they had completed since mid-quarter. Students’ grades were then assigned without holding an end-of-quarter conference.
         Another important part of this project was that students accepted responsibility for their grades and participated in developing criteria that would be used to assess the quality of work. The following criteria are an example of what evolved from involving students in the decision-making process:

“A” Criteria
Participates actively in class
Shows a great deal of effort
Does all homework
Does well on tests
Is on time for class
Shows respect and works well with others
Is always prepared

“B” Criteria
Shows good participation
Misses no more than 1 to 2 assignments
Has 1 to 2 tardies
Shows good knowledge of material
Has no unauthorized absences
Shows some effort
Demonstrates respect for others

“C” Criteria
Demonstrates some knowledge of material and passes all tests
Work is frequently late or not turned in
Rarely participates in class
Shows little effort
Has several tardies
Has unauthorized absences
Is frequently not prepared

“D” Criteria
Doesn’t show knowledge of material and performs poorly on tests
Has large number of assignments not turned in
Shows no effort or participation
Shows little respect for others
Has several unauthorized absences
Is disruptive in class
Is often tardy

         By using this rubric, students had guidelines they could use as a reference to accurately assess their performance. The onus on defending a grade now became the students’ responsibility and not the teachers’. If students could justify their self-evaluation grade, based on the criteria we had agreed to, that was the grade they received. As a result of this ownership, students had few complaints regarding their grades.

Student-Teacher Conferences
Students appeared to have a difficult time assigning and defending their grades during student-teacher conferences. For many years, students had been conditioned to accept the grades given to them by a teacher without question. They had rarely been asked to participate actively in assigning their own grade. The most valuable part of these conferences was the opportunity to speak with all students and to get a sense of how they were feeling about the class in general. Often the discussion of grade came at the end of the conference and was the shortest part of the conversation. Students were asked to suggest a grade (before the teacher), but there was a sense that a guessing game was in progress as we tried to balance the teacher’s expectations with those of individual students.
         The data collected from surveys, observations, and interviews with children suggest that the majority of students were either happy with the grading system or neutral about it. A majority of students indicated that the alternative grading system did affect their academic preparation and performance in class (in a positive way), and that they had a more positive attitude toward the class.

As we reflected on grade distributions, comparing this year to the previous year, there appeared to be a significant increase in the number of students whose grades fell in the A/A-minus range (55% this year compared with 27% last year). There is no way of knowing exactly what accounted for the increase of A’s and A-minuses; however, we believe that students’ involvement in deciding their own grade, as well as the less objective nature of the way grades were assigned (that is, not entirely based on the percentages scored on tests), had something to do with the outcomes. We believe that the increased focus on personal learning, growth, and improvement that evolved from de-emphasizing grades made it less likely for students to fail and more likely for students to accept responsibility for their learning and to provide the evidence that they had learned.
         The end-of-year survey revealed that 71% of students agreed with the following statement: “I feel that the grading practices used in this course helped me to focus more on my learning than on my grade.” Seventy-four percent agreed that “they would recommend that this teacher continue using these grading practices because they help students learn better.” We believe that these kinds of statements indicate student support for our de-emphasized grading practices and that learning can occur in an environment where the pressure to earn grades is reduced. Students made supporting comments such as these:

“I felt I could concentrate on education.”
“It helped me concentrate on improving myself.”
“It helps you focus more on information and less on what the teacher wants.”
“It relieved a lot of stress and I was able to work at my ability without the competition of grades.”
“In comparison to the traditional grading system, this system is the most effective way of assessing my level of performance.”
“This method helps me perform best because it’s personal to my needs.”

         It was very reassuring to us to see the pride that students showed and the importance they placed on giving accurate self-evaluation grades. The following two comments illustrate the integrity with which the majority of students approached this responsibility:

“I knew I had to be honest with myself.”
“Integrity defines you, and if you die tomorrow, people won’t remember your grades or your statistics; they remember how true and real you were with yourself.”

3. Annice, C. (2003). The use of technology to enhance mathematics achievement. Billabong Elementary.

In this example, the teacher researchers chose to collect their data by observing in each other’s classrooms, interviewing teachers and children, analyzing mathematics test data, and comparing the mathematics curriculum taught as compared to the NCTM standards. Here the researcher presents the results from each of the data sources and then compares the data results as a way to triangulate the data. For example, the classroom observation data suggested that children were engaged in low-level activities that had little to do with math learning and that computers were being used as “electronic worksheets.” The second data source was student interviews. Again the interview data was sorted into common themes. The interview data suggested that students felt some class activities were a waste of time, and that some teachers were “clueless” about computers. These results were validated by the classroom observations data and analysis of the curriculum.

The Project
As you move through the halls at Billabong, there is a great deal to be seen—classrooms are open for the inquiring eye. Kindergarten through third-grade classrooms characteristically have six computers, as well as scanners, color printers, and networking with the school’s library (thus having access to the extensive CD-ROM collection). The fourth- through seventh-grade classrooms have all of these resources and another six computers per classroom. In one class, all of the children are given an individual laptop computer to use for the year. Children can be seen using computers as part of their class assignments, busying themselves with creating hypercard stacks for creative writing, “playing” math games, and so on. Math learning centers are evident, and each child is given varied opportunities to interact with a number of different math manipulatives: base 10 blocks, place value charts, construction materials, colored chips, tangrams, and geo-boards, to name a few.
         However, what we saw from the inside of each other’s classrooms was distinctly different from what we had seen from the outside “looking in.” For example, in many of the classrooms children could be seen busily engaged with the computers playing math mazes. For the most part, however, children were engaged in low-level activities, and the purpose of the tasks was lost. Many of the children were engaged in “drill-and-kill” activities that had little relevance to their math learning. The computers had taken on the role of an electronic worksheet to keep children busy once they had completed other assigned math tasks.
         Interviews with children were revealing. When we interviewed the children, we did so with a guarantee that their responses would be confidential and asked that they be honest with us—after all, our goal was to provide the best possible mathematics learning environment for them that we possibly could. Some children were brutally honest, telling in great detail the kinds of math activities some teachers used on the computers. Some activities were singled out by children as being a “waste of time,” and others described some teachers as “not having a clue” about how the computers were really being used. Indeed, some of this information was confirmed by our own observations of classrooms where children had become proficient at “scribbling” on the computer screen using the mouse and a graphics program and quickly returning to the “drill-and-kill” screen when the teacher approached.
         While the computers were being heavily used, the appropriateness of their use was questionable. This was no more evident than in classrooms where the calculator function had been removed from the computers. As one teacher explained, “The children are unable to mentally compute, and their basic skills have deteriorated . . . so we can’t have them using calculators until they master the basic skills!” There appeared to be consensus among the teachers that there was a direct relationship between providing children with access to computers and children’s lack of ability to recall basic math facts.
         The interviews with teachers revealed other problems. Many of the teachers knew very little about the NCTM Standards and continued to use their old “tried and proven” curriculum, in spite of a new textbook adoption promoted by the principal. In fact, some teachers were very unhappy about the textbook adoption because no teachers had been consulted in the process—the textbook had been selected by the principal who was a good friend of the author. In return for piloting the curriculum materials in the school, the principal secured free copies of the textbook.
         Compared to other schools in the district, our children appeared to be doing below average on statewide assessments. This came as quite a surprise to some teachers who felt that their children were doing well in most math strands with the exception of open-ended problem-solving and algebraic relationships. In these teachers’ views the problem was with the appropriateness of the tests, not the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

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