I have written an 8-step plan that will serve an a blueprint for my action research. My plan is as follows.
Setting the Stage
My intern school has mandated that all grade levels incorporate the use of student notebooks into their curriculum. The focus of my research will be to gain insight on the effectiveness of the use of interactive science notebooks towards student achievement. Does the use of these interactive science notebooks enhance student learning in science, writing, and general study skills for students? Are these notebooks a powerful tool that teachers can use as a springboard for other learning? More and more schools are using these notebooks and one of the inquiries that I have are whether they are taken seriously by the students. Do these students refer back to them to study for tests? Do teachers monitor what students have in their science notebooks and hold the students accountable for the content? I am curious as to whether the findings in a bilingual class will be similar to a monolingual class, so both of these will be used in my research.
Science assessment data will be collected from benchmarks and state mandated tests, such as the STAR tests to track the student’s knowledge of science. My data will include interviews with a bilingual class of students and of a monolingual class of students. Data will also include interviews from the teachers that use interactive science notebooks. Samples of the students work and their science notebooks will be analyzed as well.
Developing a Deeper Understanding
Observations of the students in their respective classrooms involved in the research will be observed to gather data on how and why these notebooks are actually used. Analyzing the use of the interactive student notebooks will help me gain a clearer picture of the use of these notebooks by the students and how their learning was enhanced.
Engaging in Self-Reflection
Periodically throughout my research time period, I will continue to analyze the data. I will seek feedback from my administration and other teachers. As I prepare my data in various formats it will allow me to pause and study the results to find variables that may affect my research. As I find data that does not support my research, I may need to seek other paths to help focus on the topic at hand.
Exploring Programmatic Patterns
Throughout my research, I will seek guidance from my mentoring school administrators and teachers. These people will provide the influence I need to stay focused with my study. As variables in my study arise, I can seek advisement as to which path I should seek and possibly remove any variables that will hinder the focus of the research.
The inquiry of this research is to seek the effectiveness of the use of interactive science notebooks and if they can enhance student learning. I am curious if the visual drawings, charts, etc. affect the level of learning the science knowledge. Do these notebooks help bilingual students? The research gathered from both bilingual and monolingual will be interesting to compare. Can the notebooks help students become more organized and have a better understanding of study skill formats such as outlines and note taking? As the research data becomes available, the effects of each of the steps and procedures will help me understand if the students’ learning is enhanced from one grade level to the next. My direction for this research is to show the effectiveness of these journals towards students’ learning.
Taking Action for School Improvement
The action planning template, tool 7.1, found in the book, Examining What We Do to Improve Our Schools, 8 Steps from Analysis to Action by Sandra Harris, Stacey Edmonson and Julie Combs will be used as a guideline and a reference that I can go back to as a reminder of the what, when, and why of my research. I will collaborate with my administrators and teachers to help my research stay focused. As the data from the research becomes available, I will format it into charts, graphs and summarize the findings to put into my final research paper.
Upon completing my action research, the results will be documented within a report to share with the staff and my administrators. Any positive outcomes will be shared with the staff, so that they can change or implement how and when they are using the interactive notebooks. Hopefully, once the staff is convinced that the data demonstrates the positive influence of these notebooks towards students’ learning, they will continue to use and improve on the ways that these notebooks can enhance student learning.