Brecknock Elementary School

Team Members: Kelly Dupas, Greg Frederick, Lyn Hilt, Beverly Libell, Amber McCabe
Community: IU-13 Year 1, 2010-2011

The goal of our action research project was to institute changes in teaching practices that would involve students in more authentic learning experiences, the impact of which would expand beyond classroom walls, and to consider the effects of these changes on students’ knowledge of the use of technology for communication, collaboration, and research. A secondary goal of the project was to evaluate the impact our PLP team teachers have on the school’s faculty through their modeling of innovative teaching and learning.

How can we involve our students in authentic and connected learning experiences that will encourage collaboration with classmates, among grade levels, and with students from all over the world?
Students will…

  • understand new ways to locate, use, and evaluate information to direct and support their own learning
  • make connections between content and relevance to their lives
  • relate content they’re learning with the needs/happenings of the community and global world

Our PLP team will…

  • recognize the shifts in learning that are occurring and the impact of connected learning on our students and their lives
  • devote themselves to professional growth by developing a personal learning network through the use of Twitter or other online communities
  • through connected learning, incorporate the use of new technologies in the classroom
  • examine their leadership impact and serve as lead learners in our school, modeling for other staff members technology integration/21st century teaching and learning

At the conclusion of our projects, we want students to be able to answer “Yes” to these questions, and demonstrate or explain how they met these criteria:

Did you experience authentic learning? Learning is authentic when it….

  • is relevant to students’ lives
  • allows them to explore their interests
  • helps them make connections between prior knowledge and new material
  • requires application of knowledge and creation of a learning product

Did you experience connected learning? Connected learning involves….

  • students communicating with peers and adults to facilitate learning experiences, through face-to-face and virtual interactions
  • students collaborating with others to achieve an end product
  • students utilizing a variety of media to help access and evaluate information for use in learning
  • students sharing their ideas with others

We will know the above objectives are achieved through classroom observations, student project work, assessment of students’ skills via rubric, and teacher surveys.

Fall 2010

  • Introduce ideas to stakeholders: students, staff, school community
  • Needs assessment: where are we now?
  • Familiarize students and selves with digital tools for learning
  • Begin developing personal learning networks

Winter 2010

  • Staff leading learning sessions for colleagues
  • Develop connections through PLNs
  • Grade 2 – Project work with Kidblog, Skype
  • Grade 3- Project work with Glogster, Prezi, Kidblog
  • Grade 4 – Project work with Glogster, Prezi, Kidblog
  • Student council – Kiva project work; collaboration with NC 6th grade classroom

Spring 2010

  • Grade 2 – continue Skyping project work and student blogging
  • Grades 2/3 – Collaborative social studies learning unit
  • Grade 3- Develop student voice in the classroom using Today’s Meet; project work with Prezi, collaboration with Google Docs
  • Grade 4- World outreach project; project work with Prezi, collaboration with Google Docs
  • Student council – Students Rebuild project work
  • Assess teachers to evaluate the team’s impact on their practices

May 2010

  • Final student assessment using student descriptors rubric
  • Presentation at PLP culminating event

June 2010

  • Final presentation to Brecknock staff and administration
To pre-assess students’ levels of understanding and learning descriptors, teachers conducted student interviews. As the project began, student descriptor rubrics were developed using a tool from Learning Point Associations, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL). This organization created an extended rubric for student performance based on ISTE’s NETS. Our resource was crafted based off of this work.

The domains of the NETS*S/rubric on which we chose to focus:

  1. Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
  2. Technology Productivity Tools
  3. Technology Communication Tools
  4. Technology Research Tools
  5. Technology Problem-solving and Decision-making Tools

Click here to access the Student Descriptors Rubric

PLP team teachers assessed their students’ proficiency levels using the descriptors in the rubric in late April/early May. Results indicate that students’ proficiency levels have increased across the board. Graphical analysis of the data can be found on the Results page.

To evaluate the impact our PLP team had on professional practice in our building, Brecknock’s teachers were surveyed about their comfort with and use of various educational technologies this year compared to last year. Results indicate that teachers this year are more comfortable implementing new technologies in their classrooms. The frequency and types of technologies used have increased. Teachers look to our PLP teacher leaders for support and guidance in these areas.

The PLP team will be sharing the results and artifacts of their work this year with staff at a June faculty meeting. Lyn will be sharing the team’s efforts with administration. All PLP team members completed a personal reflection to share on the Reflections page.

Where do we go from here? The teachers in our PLP cohort have developed into leaders in our school and inspire their colleagues to integrate technology into the curriculum and empower students to engage in self-directed, passion-driven learning opportunities. They provide encouragement and support to their peers and will continue to inspire new classrooms of students year after year.

We would like to include parents in the design of a more student-centered educational experience. This will involve evaluation of grading methods, investigation of student-led conferences, and inclusion of parents and community members in collaborative learning experiences with technology.

 

About Action Research Projects

Action research is a process in which Powerful Learning Team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative

View all Action Research
 

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.
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