For this course, we have been asked to create an action research plan related to our innovation plan. Spend a little time checking out tweets on education and you will find that many educators are talking about personalizing learning opportunities and innovative learning strategies, but it is challenging to translate ideas involving STEM and tech innovation to an ELA classroom. At the end of the day, ELA students still have to read, and they still have to write in order to access the curriculum. Through this portion of the innovation plan, I am exploring the idea of combining ELA, technology, and personalized learning while also targeting an area of instruction that needs improvement. The next step in this process is to create an action research plan and investigate the possibilities.
For several years in a row, teachers at the research school observed that student writing skills were lower than expected with many falling below grade level. This fact was verified by standardized test performance and benchmark data. Teachers engaged a variety of remedial strategies and attempted to improve writing scores, but student attitudes toward writing were negatively affected and gains were not made. Teachers at the research school are seeking a new strategy to improve student writing skills.
Implementing eportfolios will allow the teachers at the research school to gather data regarding the combining of ELA, technology, and personalized learning. The eportfolio will allow teachers to introduce a personalized topic of choice. This choice component will allow teachers to cultivate instrinsic motivation while students explore and write about topics of their own choosing and interests.
Additionally, students will be able to post writings assigned from the standards with the knowledge that they have an authentic, live audience. Students will be encouraged to share links to their writing with each other giving them the opportunity to collaborate and communicate on their writing. Periodically, students will be directed to return to previous writings to edit, revise, and reflect on their writing skills and areas that need improvement.
This new aspect and adjustments in writing instruction that will be made due to the change are expected to provide opportunities for students to be involved in writing in a way that is authentic while improving fluency and skills. Research will be gathered to document if this is the case.
Fundamental Research Question
Students will, no doubt, find the development of their own websites and blogs interesting. The real question will be whether the eportfolio strategy will improve writing skills over the course of the year.
There are multiple additional questions that will arise during this research process, but the primary goal related to improving writing skill so that writing scores on benchmarks and standardized tests will improve.
Research Design and Methods
This research will begin in August of 2018 and conclude in June of 2019. Writing skills, fossilization of content, and transference of skills takes time and will require the length of the school year to begin to see changes. Future studies should explore the long term affects of continued eportfolio use.
Type of Data
Quantitative data reports provide details regarding previous benchmark and standardized test scores. Student scores have been recorded and tracked in the previous year and areas of strength and weakness have been identified. Teachers also have qualitative narratives regarding student attitudes on writing and research. Research will include quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Every nine weeks, students will be given benchmark exams for data purposes.
Each grade level team will design diagnostic and benchmark materials based on the specific standards for their course. These scores will be used in conjunction with previous state and local benchmark data. In addition, teachers will monitor student attitudes toward writing and their work on the eportfolio through conversation and surveys. Teachers will analyze the data in regularly scheduled PLC meetings and document the findings, feedback, and adjustments being made by each grade level. Teachers will create formative assessments based on lessons taught, which may vary depending upon content created by students. The final component will be analysis of their state standardized test scores. Upon receipt of these scores, teachers will reflect upon the practices related to the eportfolio to determine if progress was made and what adjustments can be made for the future.