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Monday, January 28, 2013

Project

Deciding on an action research project is something that seems a little overwhelming.  One of my greatest concerns was being able to find a topic to research that did not overwhelm me, but also had enough substance to be able to have some sort of affect on the campus vision.  Of course, this requires that there be an issue currently facing the school that my principal would allow me to research and that I believed would have enough data to support significant finding.  Luckily we are going through a scheduling issue that fits all of these criteria perfectly.  As opposed to studying the "double-blocking" issue that is very interesting to me, my site supervisor encouraged me to look into the possibility of researching the scheduling of tutorials during the day as opposed to offering it after school on a volunteer basis.  Our middle school is currently transitioning from after school tutorials to a modified schedule on certain days of the week to include in school tutorial time.  As a result, I will have a significant amount of data to support the decision to either continue this schedule next year or to return to the after school tutorial time.  Hopefully this decision will fit well into the action research project guidelines that are shaping this course and the other courses to follow.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Educators and Blogs

The use of blogs in the professional world is becoming more common and this should also be true in the world of education.  Educators (particularly principals) could use the medium to gain insight from other educators going through the same issues.  Principals often face the issue of feeling like they are alone in their struggles and concerns.  Blogs allow the world to become smaller and bring people together over long distances with the simple click of a mouse.  Blogs also allow a certain level of reflection for those that are composing them.  This type of reflection is often as productive for the composer of the blog as it is to the reader.

Action Research

     Action research is a strategy that is used by many administrators to increase the level of success of their students and faculty.  However, the technique has many other benefits that make it a more powerful tool than the research techniques that have come before it.  Action research allows the focus of the administrators and staff to be on the specific needs of the campus.  This means that instead of using a packaged staff development from outside the district, the principal helps guide the investigation to what the campus' needs are at the time.  This helps to foster the idea that teachers and administrators can, and should, continue to make improvements on their campus by adapted their teaching strategies and other aspects of education that affect student performance.  While the principal is usually the leader of the action research, teachers are often involved in the process which helps them to have a sense of ownership in the project.  Also, since the research is centered around a local issue, all parties involved are more likely to be energized by the work involved.  This is not always the case when an outside entity makes the decision as to what the administrators or staff will spend their time investigating.  Action research is different than conventional research in that it is not simply a series of readings or time spent finding literature relating to the topic.  It is the act of identifying a specific problem to be addressed, brainstorming specific solutions, gathering data to support a course of action, and then coming up with a plan to make the desired changes.  Sharing the results of the inquiry is an important part of the process as it helps those who are sure to come across the same problem in the future.

     Action research could be used to help investigate the effectiveness of double blocking students in certain subjects in middle school.  This method of approach will allow a school to analyze the test results of the students that were double blocked and see if the process is effective and worth the investment of time.