Our Lady of the Angels

Team Members: Mrs. Theresa M. Burg, Marie Williams, Karen Fischer, Joanna Spicer, Theresa Carey.
Community: IU-13 Year 1, 2010-2011

Our goal is to create a safe classroom environment that encourages and promotes the utilization and synthesis of the 21st Century Skills. Our plan includes completing an assessment, evaluating and discussing current practices, creating a research based professional development plan and implementing the plan. The professional development will take place during the 2011-2012 school year and will involve the use of higher level questioning skills, essential questions and the ongoing integration of technology as one of their instructional tools. The plan also includes the strengthening of Higher Order Thinking Skills across the curriculum.

We determined that our students were lacking in Higher-Order and Inventive thinking skills, specifically risk taking and critical thinking. We decided that we wanted to create a safe classroom environment that encourages and promotes the utilization and synthesis of 21st Century Skills. We recognized that in order to accomplish this, we would have to start at the top, with the faculty, and work down to the students.
We want to see the teachers using higher level questioning and promoting critical thinking in their students. To that end, we are looking for the following characteristics in the classrooms:

  • student are thinking and understanding, not simply memorizing
  • activities serve and end purpose, not activities for the sake of activities
  • teachers will naturally use technology when it serves the purpose
  • teachers and students are collaborating for the enhancement of the classroom

The teachers will take a traditional lesson that has been successful and incorporate 21st century skills. They will reflect on the outcome of both lessons to determine the success. Our assessment will be evaluating the effectiveness of these lessons and ongoing evaluation of classroom practices (types of questions asked, types of assignments and assessments given).

Indentify and Establish Common Language for 21st Century Skills

  • Brainstorm in Small Groups
  • Review Data and Establish Common Vocabulary
  • Provide List of Vocabulary to Faculty (Intranet and Wiki)

Teachers Complete WebQuest Exploring Essential Questions

Record Current Faculty Questioning Methods

  • Discuss “Critical Friends” concept with Faculty
  • PLP Team Members record questions used in classrooms for each classroom teacher
  • Discuss Questioning results

Teach and Model the 21st Century Skills to the Faculty

  • Preassessment
  • Teach 21st Century Skills during August Inservice
  • Postassessment

Teachers Create 21st Century Lesson from an Existing, Well-Established Lesson Plan

  • Lesson created
  • Lesson used in classroom
  • Lesson effectiveness evaluated

Create a Safe Classroom Environment

  • Class Meetings
  • Establish and Promote Learning Community

Utilize Higher Level Questioning in Classrooms

Give Choices in Assignments and Assessments

We are in the initial stages of the process. As of now we have completed, discussed and evaluated the teacher survey. We have discussed 21st Century Skills as a group, and have worked on an Essential Question Webquest. Before the end of the 2010-2011 school year, we will be using the Critical Friends model to observe each faculty member and document the numbers and types of questions currently being used. We will develop and present our Professional Development Plan in August 2011, and the faculty will be reworking their Lesson Plan to present in the 2011-2012 school year. We expect to see the fruit of our labors as the 2011-2012 school year progresses.


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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