Monday, March 16, 2015

Action Research 3, 2013

Initial observations:
Children were allowed to take breaks during the project when they needed them - instead of asking for more breaks, many chose to stay in at their playtimes to work - this indicates they were engaged and interested in their projects.

All children negotiated useful learning goals which covered the core curriculum.
They were using technology to support their learning in a variety of areas and some chose not to use digital technology.  Some children listened to music as they worked and were reluctant to stop working.  Eating was happening but not getting in the way.  At this stage there was high productivity and engagement.
Lots was happening at this stage: researching, practising, investigating and progress seemed very positive.  Incidental reading and writing was of a good standard.
The children were engaged in their projects and performing well in the mode of gathering information / doing the project.  They are very comfortable with this mode of operation and in a more teacher-directed environment they are usually scaffolded to take more steps to add depth and "so what?" to their learning.
Further observations:
The children did not seem to realise when they had reached the end of this cycle and at this stage they began to become aimless.  They needed direction to begin to synthesis, analyse or evaluate their progress.  Most children barely responded to feedback, only doing a minimal amount so they could move on to "presenting."  In a normal class situation I would have brought this back for some whole class teaching and guided them in specific process but I was still wanting to see how the motivation of their own interest would help them push for achievement.
Many children used their time very unwisely at the end and did not finish their projects to a high standard.
The project was divided into sections and achievement points awarded per level.

The total possible points was 12.  I made an OTJ on each child as to whether they were in general above, at, below or well below the overall year 7 level.
      OTJ           Average score
 Above     6.4
 At 6
 Below 8.4
 Well Below 10
Possibly the sample was too small to make generalisations.  However there was a similar pattern for the "above" children in their science fair work.  
The children "well below" showed the highest levels of concentration, commitment, self management and willingness to accommodate feedback ie qualities of 21 century learners.
The children "above" on the whole did not make meaningful learning intentions and only superficially engaged with the negotiated intentions.  Similarly they only superficially engaged with cues towards deeper thinking. 
 Part of the process    Average score out of 3
 Beginning -    2     
 Middle -     
The higher average score for the middle part correlates to the observed enthusiasm and success at this stage of the project.

The difficult parts were: 
  • children owning the negotiated learning intentions - some felt this detracted from their project,
  • children doing something meaningful with their gathered resources/experiments/information,
  • quality of the product.

Many of the children saw no value in working on their projects to put in their own creativity or critical thinking.  When left to their own devices there was a very prevalent Powerpoint mentality (gather and regurgitate).  It is clear that moving beyond this, at this stage, for these children, needs to be teacher-directed.

To become more active learners these children need to see achievement in terms of their learning agency and cognitive engagement.  E.g. an active learner considers and responds to feedback and shows how they have integrated this into their work.

I believe we could look at this as a whole school and see what sort of progressions we can put in place to grow more active learners.  For my own class this project has shown me that the children are comfortable with the researching/gathering phase and a lot of reading learning has taken place to make this happen.  In their next project, I am going to provide these children with information and scaffold two relational thinking processes to help them handle the information.

This video shows the students' self-evaluations and some of their reflections on the project.  It is a private video and St Joseph's staff can view it by emailing me for a link.

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