I really enjoyed the research process of Accomplished Teaching. We were assigned to research and share an article on teaching and learning with a fellow cohort. I found a great article on teacher leadership. The article “High Impact Leadership” by John Hattie showed that instructional leaders who focus mainly on student growth achieve the greatest impact on teaching and learning. Effective teacher leaders have high-impact mind frames that “believe that success and failure in student learning is about what they, as teachers or leaders, did or didn’t do.” Effective instructional leaders ask four questions based on learning impact: Is the impact valid? Is the impact equitable? How great an impact are you seeking to achieve? What teacher practices are most related to student learning? Hattie’s research shows that effective leaders “get everyone in the school working together to know and evaluate their impact.” Hattie goes on to say, “The high-impact leader creates a school climate in which everybody learns, learning is shared, and critique isn’t just tolerated, but welcomed.” The article reinforced the lessons learned in this course. The lesson being: reflective practice shows teachers and students how and where to achieve growth. A fellow cohort, Cindy Burt, shared a great article called “Fostering Reflection.” I was fascinated by the idea of dialectical reflection. It was interesting to read that there are multiple levels of reflective thought, and dialectical thought is the highest form of reflective thinking. When a teacher has the capacity to question without judgment and the flexibility to try different strategies, they can achieve a higher level of reflective practice and are able to change their old practice and adapt to a new and better form of instruction. Dialectical reflection is problem solving. (Danielson, 2009) I think it would be great if fellow teachers shared articles like these during teacher collaboration time.
Focusing on researching various reading strategies for my Action Research Project was immensely beneficial for me as a teacher and more importantly for my students who needed the support. I observed many students who were unable to answer literary analysis questions during a test. They would leave that part blank. I also noticed students who did not use evidence to support their ideas or used evidence but did not explain the evidence. I believe the problem was a lack of modeling and a lack of explicitly teaching the step by step process of inferential thinking and text analysis. I knew I needed to find ways to scaffold inferential thinking for my struggling readers. I found great articles in the Seattle Pacific University ERIC database. One article “Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum” recommended I scaffold inferential thinking with a two column graphic organizer—in one column record the text, in the other column record thoughts (Bintz, 2012).” “The Main Idea Strategy” recommend students learn how to close read a text and circle words that seem important (Boudah, 2014). “Searching for Evidence” also recommended teaching students to close read and have students ask the questions: What is the author saying? How does the author prove it? (Gormley, 2015) The articles “Detective Question” and “Making Inferences from Texts: Its Vocabulary that Matters” recommended providing explicit vocabulary instruction. Both articles said poor vocabulary is the number one deficit for reading comprehension. (Jimenez-Fernandez, 2015) (Lucas, 2015) I began by having students find synonyms and draw visual for the words: evidence, analysis, and inference. I gave a baseline assessment with a graphic organizer that had students record text evidence in a separate box. Only 60% of my students were proficient making inferences. My first intervention was a graphic organizer that asked students to record direct quotes in one column and analysis in another column. Students struggled connecting good evidence to reasonable inferencing. My next intervention asked students to write two details and a logical inference in each row of boxes. The post test results showed the interventions made an impact. 82% of my students were now proficient using text evidence to support inferential thinking.
My future growth goals are to continue reflective practice individually and with colleagues. I want to share what I’ve learned with my building team. I would like for my team to share further research and new discoveries on best practices to promote student growth. We could use protocols like “Peeling the Onion” to dig deeper with thoughtful questions and responses. A true leader establishes principles and then forms a consensus around a vision for the future. The lessons learned in Accomplished Teaching help instill good principles. Now my task is to bring these ideas to my team and try to implement reflective practice techniques at my school. Moving forward I will continue to model and coach the reading strategies I learned from Action Research. Explicit instruction and scaffolding works. I plan on continuing to develop students’ analytical thinking skill by seeking out more literacy research that helps promote student growth.
Bintz, W. P., Moran, P. P., Berndt, R., Ritz, E., Skilton, J. A., & Bircher, L. S. (2012). Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum. Voices From The Middle, 20(1), 16-24.
Boudah, D. J. (2014). The Main Idea Strategy: A Strategy to Improve Reading Comprehension through Inferential Thinking. Intervention In School And Clinic, 49(3), 148-155.
Ghere, G.S., Montie, J., Sommers, W.A., & York-Barr, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
Gormley, K., & McDermott, P. (2015). Searching for Evidence–Teaching Students to Become Effective Readers by Visualizing Information in Texts. Clearing House: A Journal Of Educational Strategies, Issues And Ideas, 88(6), 171-177.
Hattie. J. (2015). High Impact Leadership. Educational Leadership, 37-40
Jiménez-Fernández, G. (2015). Detective Questions: A Strategy for Improving Inference-Making in Children With Mild Disabilities. Intervention In School And Clinic, 51(1), 45-50.
Lucas, R., & Norbury, C. F. (2015). Making Inferences from Text: It’s Vocabulary That Matters. Journal Of Speech, Language, And Hearing Research, 58(4), 1224-1232.