Focusing on researching various reading strategies to help my struggling readers 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 a reasonable inference. 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. Moving forward I will continue to model and coach the reading strategies I learned from my research. Explicit instruction and scaffolding works. I plan on continuing to develop students’ analytical thinking skills by seeking out more literacy research that helps promote student growth. At the end of the action research project I presented my findings to colleagues.
I learned about ISTE standards. These standards ask teachers 1) to use tools to inspire student learning and creativity 2) to design digital age assessments 3) to have students apply digital tools to gather information 4) to have students use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions using appropriate digital resources 5) to have students show understanding of technology systems and 6) to promote lifelong learning by promoting the effective use of technology.
I am interested in Standard 1: Creativity and Innovation, and I’m interested in finding ways to apply newly learned concepts to generate a product using the tools of digital media. I would like to help students design their own website using teamwork to come up with creative ideas to show and share learning. Using technology, they could collaborate in groups to synthesize the learned content into interesting images and creative writing. I like the idea that the digital revolution is allowing kids to refine and apply their knowledge and create a social media product. At the end of the technology leadership course, I presented to colleagues the ways I apply the ISTE technology in my classroom.
Research on Collaboration:
The teacher leadership course helped me be more aware of how principals are evaluated. Their evaluation framework is very similar to a teacher’s evaluation framework. This makes sense since principal success is very much tied to teacher success. I wrote a reflective essay evaluating my strengths and weaknesses in relation to 6 teacher leadership standards. The standards are: 1. Visionary Leadership, 2. Instructional Improvement, 3. Effective Management, 4. Inclusive Practice, 5. Ethical Leadership, 6. Socio-Political Context. This exercise helped me understand more clearly the high expectations of being a teacher leader. After reflecting on these standards I became more aware that my true passion is geared toward instructional improvement. This is an area that I want to be a teacher leader. I was given the opportunity to research an area of teacher leadership that I was curious about and I chose to find educational articles on teacher collaboration. This area of research would be tied to Standard 2: Instructional Improvement. I learned that collaborative inquiry has proven to be the high yield strategy of professional learning. School leaders are seen as co-learners in the process and this relationship is the key to making an impact on student outcomes. (Belchetz and Witherow, 2014) I learned that school leaders need to create consistent, powerful professional learning that helps teachers scaffold rigorous and engaging learning. (Gleason and Gerzon, 2014) I also learned that bad professional developers jump on the bandwagon of every new trend in education. There are tried and true methods and the baby should never be thrown out with the bathwater. (Thomas, 2013) I learned that best practices are doomed to fail when administrators pressure teachers to make quick fixes. This puts a wedge between teacher and administrator. Teachers need space and time to engage in authentic learning. When administrators act as allies and thinking partners, teachers are able to make improvements that enhance student learning. (Van Tassell, 2014) And I learned that effective collaboration respects individual teachers’ voices. Reflection is integral part of the learning. The learning is then applied to real life. All are expected to participate and receive and offer feedback. (Stewart, 2014) I learned that good leaders set goals, plan activities that will achieve those goals, and show evidence that the goals were achieved. Moving forward I plan to continue to study Danielson’s framework and brainstorm with my collaboration team creative ways to distinguish ourselves as educators by exceeding the rigorous expectations of teaching and learning. At the end of course I presented my research findings to colleagues.
Moving forward I would like to continue conducting research on ways to improve teaching and learning and I plan on sharing research findings with colleagues. My principal has asked me to co-teach next year with an ELL teacher and we plan to share our experience co-teaching with the faculty. Leadership is all about sharing with others and helping others become better. By sharing ideas with others and inquiring as a team on ways to improve, the whole community wins.
Please see my Action Research Presentation, my Leading with Technology Presentation, and my Research on Collaborion Presentation as evidence that I present professional practice for the review of colleagues.
Belchetz, D., & Witherow, K. (2014). Ontario District Embraces an Evolving Approach to Learning. Journal Of Staff Development, 35(1), 18-20.
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.
Gleason, S. C., & Gerzon, N. (2014). High-Achieving Schools Put Equity Front and Center. Journal Of Staff Development, 35(1), 24-26.
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.
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.
Stewart, C. (2014). Transforming Professional Development to Professional Learning. Journal Of Adult Education, 43(1), 28-33.
Thomas, L. R. (2013). 10 Good Ways to Ensure Bad Professional Learning. Journal Of Staff Development, 34(4), 60-61.
Van Tassell, R. (2014). The Trouble with Top-Down. Educational Leadership, 71(8), 76-78