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FCCJ_06_pres - University of North Florida

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Inquiring into Teacher Best
Practices through Action
Research Partnerships
Marianne B. Barnes
Terence Cavanaugh
Lehman W. Barnes
University of North Florida
Concern about Reforms in Schools
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Lingering achievement gaps
Need for teachers who believe that change
can occur (action research)
Development of teacher leaders who use
inquiry processes and are supported
Challenge of curriculum mandate
(supported by teacher integrated action research)
Research Questions
1.
2.
3.
What are the effects of a specialized graduate
course on teacher leaders in science and
mathematics and their practice in their own
settings?
What are the impacts of a state funded action
research initiative?
What are the impacts and issues connected to
action research workshops in Florida and New
Mexico?
The Original Context
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Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) - the 20th
largest US school district
Serves 129,000 students (47% White, 43% African
American, 5% Hispanic, and 5% other, with a large
percentage of low SES students
8,000 teachers work in the schools
Presence of an NSF/USI for past six years with
emphasis on teacher PD and teacher leadership
University of North FL—longtime partner
Teacher Leadership in Duval
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Essential to health of a school in which all children
can learn (Barth, 2001)
Sustained by strong partnerships (Patterson, 2002;
Zimpher, 1988)
Tied to the needs and concerns of teachers
(Lawrenz, 2001)
Focused on inquiry and action research, school
improvement, effective teaching, collaboration,
and understanding of leadership roles
Action Research
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Contextualized, systematic, localized, and aimed at
developing changes in practice and student learning
(Mills, 2003; Wallace, 2000).
Fundamental components include
(1) developing a plan for improvement
(2) implementing the plan
(3) observing and documenting its
effects
(4) reflecting on effects for further
planning and informed action (Kemmis
& McTaggert, 1988).
Graduate Course: "Teacher Leadership
in Science and Mathematics"
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Team developed with lead faculty
Emphasized school reform aspects
relevant to this large, urban school
district
Text: Action Research: A Guide for
the Teacher Researcher, by G. E.
Mills, 2003 (to guide action research
projects)
Culminated in conference
- poster sessions and focus groups
Studied by graduate student
and participant, D. Kerlin
supported by USI and Center
for Public Policy and Leadership
Course Participants
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Four groups of varying backgrounds starting in
Spring 2003
Teaching experience from 1-31 years
Levels were mixed in group 1, secondary in
group 2, elementary in group 3, and mixed in
group 4
Groups ranged from 11-21 teachers
Course Data Gathering
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Throughout and after the course
Surveys, journals, focus groups, and
interviews
Responses coded and grouped under
headings to allow relationships and patterns
to emerge (Miles & Huberman, 1994)
Sample teacher action research preparation interview
http://www.nefstem.org/teacher_guide/videos/Prep_phase_interview.wmv
Identified Teacher Needs
Initial survey during course revealed strengths and
concerns:
пЃ¬ Time, communicating, mentoring,
пЃ¬ Working with administrators, collaborating,
пЃ¬ Using inquiry strategies and resources,
пЃ¬ Leadership, and pursuing personal professional
development
пЃ¬ Course emphasis was adjusted accordingly
Course Goals Developed with
Teacher Input
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Increasing teacher leadership capacity
Strengthening the science and mathematics
teacher support network
Learning action research knowledge base and
skills
Using action research to enhance student
achievement
Comprehending past and current reform initiatives
Engaging in reflection for planning
Teacher Action Research Projects
Projects included emphasis on
пЃ¬ mentoring of students and teachers,
пЃ¬ integrating reading or technology with
science and mathematics learning,
пЃ¬ motivational techniques,
пЃ¬ scientific visualization,
пЃ¬ and grade level inquiry approaches, among
others.
Sample teacher interviews on action research project implementation
http://www.nefstem.org/teacher_guide/videos/action_phase_interview.WMV
Sample Project
Project Proposal:
пЃ¬ Can the use of handson math materials
increase student
achievement when
used during
introductory lessons?
http://www.nefstem.org/pr
oject/final_reports/Gas
kins.pdf
Midpoint Question and Journal
Review
How is this course impacting you personally
and professionally at this point in time?
пЃ¬ Fatigue/stress with role confusion
пЃ¬ Excitement/enthusiasm about AR process
пЃ¬ Benefits: course readings, database
searches, personal development
пЃ¬ Dialog with principals and peers
пЃ¬ More attention to student voices
Impact and What’s Next for the
Teachers?
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More effective leadership, collaboration,
reflection, and research skills
Continuing and sharing action research at
home school
Plans for further education
and/or National Board
certification
Most Beneficial Aspects in Course
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Reviewing professional journal articles
Learning to search databases electronically
Interacting with colleagues, including peer reviews
and poster sessions
Pacing of work and support
Emphasis on role as a teacher leader
Action research - learning steps and data collection
techniques
Expert visitors
Perceptions
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Instructor: “The most fulfilling experience in
all my 28 years of teaching”
JUSI director: “I need the reality of your
experiences to continue to support our
endeavor as teacher leaders."
Teacher: “We need support, sharing, ideas."
Teacher: "Some principals are now seeing
for the first time that good learning goes on
in noisy, interactive, sometimes messy
classrooms."
Consultant: “We need to investigate
together.”
Focus Group after 2nd Course Offering
11 participants, staff, and consultant
Further Action Research work
with state funding (MURMSI)
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19 teachers with 3 mentors in workshops for 7
months
5 university faculty
2 graduate student action research projects
Coordinated by NEFSTEM: NE FL Science,
Technology, and Mathematics Center for Education
(Colleges of Ed and A&S)
NEFSTEM MURSMI project on action research:
http://www.nefstem.org/project.htm
Outcomes of MURMSI Project
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a real and virtual
network of teacher
leaders implementing
action research
teacher-generated
assessment data
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a model for teacher
development that
includes characteristics
inherent in changed
behaviors associated
with action research
leading to enhanced
student performance
Project Outcomes (cont’d)
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a dedicated website describing the project and
sharing teacher action plans and experiences
(www.nefstem.org)
a web-based guide describing
action research for teacher
leaders including real examples
of teacher-generated problems,
data, and results, located at the
project website.
http://www.nefstem.org/teacher_guide/intro/index.htm
NEFSTEM Action Research website
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http://www.nefstem.org/p
roject.htm
NEFSTEM Action Research Teacher
Blogs
http://www.nefstem.
org/action_resear
ch_journals.htm
Work with Teachers in
Other Venues—FL and NM
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Nassau County, FL—5 teachers
State funds for action research through
competitive process in NM
Work in NM in Fall 2004
and Fall 2005
Proposals developed in
3 sessions with some
partnering
Time and confidence issues
Impacts of Action Research
Supported by Partnerships
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Action research is a viable strategy to sustain
science and mathematics teacher inquiry into
practice in an urban setting.
Teacher empowerment
Teacher generated data on student behavior:
reduced absenteeism, heightened engagement,
and increases in student achievement; need
longitudinal studies
Teacher development of coaching and mentoring
skills, especially with new teachers
Awareness of need for time and trust
Awareness of need for partner and administrative
support for sustainability
Project Outcomes
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Pervasive influences on teaching practice,
student development, parent and community
involvement
Impact on collaboration, networking, selfefficacy, and empowerment
Generation of collective reflection and new
approaches to finding solutions
Sample teacher interviews on action research project implementation
http://www.nefstem.org/teacher_guide/videos/results_interview.WMV
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