PURPOSE: The purpose of my action research is to promote student leaders across the school corporation who can model digital citizenship and the use of technology to enhance learning.
SITUATION: Since students often use technology in their everyday life, it has been taken for granted that these digital natives know how technology can be used in educational settings. Not only is this an unfair assumption, when teachers observe students making poor choices in the classroom, they are inclined to reduce the student use of netbooks as a response. This is counterproductive to the school corporation’s goals for the one-to-one computing program.
RESEARCH QUESTION: What impact will student contribution in a district wide student tech team have on the integration of one-to-one technology in middle school classrooms?
The resources that have helped me the most are the cumulative studies done on one-to-one programs in Texas and Maine. These in particular led me back to some of the prominent researchers: Dina Rosen and Charles Nelson; Kelly Shapley; and Andrew Zucker. Marc Prensky and Sylvia Martinez who often present opposing sides were very influential as well as new voices in the field William Ferriter and Adam Garry,Teaching the iGeneration; and Nancy Frey, Doublas Fisher and Alex Gonzalez, Literacy 2.0.
What I have learned about this endeavor from these resources includes that teachers’ beliefs about their students and the potential for learning technologies in respect to their definition of good teaching will determine how they use technology in the classroom. In a sense the transformation of learning must come before the application of technology. Over and over I read about the shift in teacher pedagogy and practice being the key factor of success in one-to-one programs that showed gains in engagement and achievement. Teachers who are already moving toward student-centered learning and project based learning have higher satisfaction with the integration of technology. In classrooms where students are merely using technology in replacement for old methods of completing a task there is a disconnect.
COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE: I am part of the iTeam that supports the one-to-one program in grades 6-12 as well as general technology integration for all teachers K-5 in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. The team is headed up by the Director of eLearning and has two groups of support for teachers in the classroom (1) district ICATS and (2) building eLearning coaches. I spent two years as a high school coach at the implementation of this initiative and am now an ICATS (Innovation, Curriculum, and Technology Specialist), so I can relate to the experiences of the new coaches in the middle schools. Only one of the eleven building coaches has previous experience in the one-to-one rollout; although, another one of the coaches was previously an ICATS. My primary charges as an ICATS are digital citizenship and digital content creation but as a team we are all responsible for promoting the use of the netbooks and the digital resources that the corporation have provided (learning management system, ActivInspire Boards, curriculum programs, etc.). This is year one of two for the middle school rollout and coaching model, so while we are building our community of practice as a team in tandem we are connecting teachers to learning opportunities and networks that support the integration of the netbooks.
MY ACTIONS (Cycle 1) : I am working to improve my technology integration support so that all stakeholders take on a role in successful implementation of the 1:1 program in the middle schools. I believe student tech teams can have a positive impact.
The action research question in this first cycle is “How can I improve my practice to enlist invested stakeholders (administrators, students and teachers) who will support the work of a district level student tech team focused on modeling digital citizenship and the use of technology to enhance learning?”
The first actions that I will be taking
- Gain the support of building administration for a district level student tech team. This is necessary in order to meet the requirements of the school district research review board. They have requested that each participating school principal have signed a consent to the action research. I must submit these before next steps.
- Invite EVSC students in grades 6-8 to participate in a district level student tech team regardless if their school has a building level student tech team.
- In schools where the eLearning coach is sponsoring a team, the coach and I will negotiate our collaboration so that I do not interfere with their school projects.
- In schools without a team, I will meet with students regularly to support the culture this research aims to cultivate.
- Selection for the district student tech team will be based on student interest in addition to teacher, coach or administration recommendation. All students will be accepted on the team. Conditions for remaining a member in good standing will be established through a social contract and will include a minimum of passing grades, regular school attendance and upholding school expectations.
- Members’ teachers and parents will be notified of their participation and encouraged to communicate any concerns to me. While the team will be working on developing leaders in digital citizenship, being recognized as school leaders is vital to our success.
- Members’ parents/guardians will be asked to complete an informed consent form for two reasons. The first is to make them aware that the intention is to publish student work through a public blog, the ICATS webpage and other public forums (EVSC newsletter, etc.). The second is to gain permission for their student to participate in community activities in a leadership role as well as engage parents as stakeholders in this process. Students without the consent can participate in activities; however, they will not have contributions posted on the blog or be representing the team in the community.
- Begin regular meetings. All students will have opportunities to meet virtually and face to face for district events. Our main collaborative work will be the students’ blog. We will begin preparation for the Public Education Foundation showcase and family workshops open to EVSC students grades 5-8 and their parents/guardians that will take place March 2nd.
ARTIFACTS TO BE COLLECTED:
- Primarily data will come through engagement with others in the research cycles and will be captured in my reflective journals.
- The student authored blog and the comments posted by peers and teachers will be a crucial artifact for evaluation.
- I will conduct open-ended, unstructured inquiry interviews with teachers, administrators and parents.
- If expected outcomes are achieved, I will be collecting video artifacts of instructional practices that stemmed from student stewardship; ideally these will be narrated by both teacher and student.
- To collect student participant perspective and compare pre and post experience responses, I will administer a survey for student members that will evaluate how they perceive the success of the one-to-one netbook program; particularly in how it impacts their learning experience.
- I will compare pre and post performance on the Atomic Learning Technology Assessment which covers the ISTE NETS for Students.
EVALUATION: I will rely primarily on the qualitative data to indicate if there has been a change in the perception of students’ ability to manage and utilize their netbooks and the web in the classroom. While students’ self perceptions are important, I will be gauging the impact on teachers’ instruction through the quantitative student surveys. Student engagement and use of the netbook in school is largely determined by teachers, so four of the six questions specifically assess how students perceive their experience in school in terms of engagement, meaningfulness, netbook usage and transformation.
PLAN (Cycle 2): Once the team is established I will be able to identify students who are motivated and committed to communicating what and how they can learn with the digital tools at their disposal. I will focus this particular group in developing blog posts for publication. This group will need to be smaller due to the project restraints; however, other members will also be encouraged to “specialize” in skills such as storytelling, researching, analyzing, etc. so that we develop presentations for family workshops.
The action research question for this cycle is: “How will providing opportunities for students to publish blog posts, lead workshops and host presentations affect school leadership and community confidence in the 1 to 1 program?”
ORIGINAL PLAN for Cycle 3: Assuming that student posts will generate teacher comments and feedback, I will be able to partner teachers with team members. Team members may assist the teacher with a demonstration, serve as an expert in the classroom for peers or simply be a contact if the teacher runs into a problem.
The action research question for this cycle is: If I partner student tech team members with teachers, to what extent will this reduce anxiety and promote risk-taking on the teacher’s part? In other words, in what ways would teachers’ approach to technology be changed with a student leader assisting in the classroom or providing peer support?
ADJUSTED PLAN for Cycle 3: Multiple factors prevented the original plan from being possible, so I framed a new cycle that ran alongside cycle 2. The idea came from a realization that had been forming over the course of my action research. I realized that in order for teachers to model and teach digital citizenship that they would first need to learn the skills. With this in mind, I revised my research question to “How effective will the practice of engaging faculty members in online professional dialogue be in increasing the integration of technology in classroom instruction?”
November IRB Approval; development of consent forms and surveys for review
December Communicating with school eLearning coaches and securing building administrator consent (required by district review board)
January Announce district level student tech team and go through the process of recruiting members; Inform parents and teachers
February Initial meeting with each school to meet students, demonstrate use of Adobe Connect; establish group wiki and open discussion of expectations/social contract; begin weekly virtual meetings; permission slips for PEF event; planning for the PEF technology showcase and the “net book primer,” have students complete initial survey.
March Public Education Foundation Technology Showcase; administer the tech skills assessment to 6th & 8th graders (7th graders took in Nov.);
schedule parent workshop(s) and blog activities: begin identifying students who want to contribute to the blog; promote readership; begin matching teachers with student tech team members as appropriate; work with other specialized groups in preparing workshops
Blog; schedule parent workshop(s); capture video of teacher lessons with student/teacher reflection Unfortunately state testing and the early collection of student netbooks interfered with the timeline.
May Blog; post assessment, post student surveys;
capture video of teacher lessons with student/teacher reflection; collect parent feedback
June Final wrap up of data collected; present action research project