Observe what happens
Identify what happens as a result of your action. Gather assessment information and compare it with what students could do before the intervention began. Using the information you have gathered, look for evidence of student improvement. Do not forget to use your students as a rich source of information. Ask them what they have learned, what is working for them and what difficulties they find. You might want to video them while they participate in activities such as small group discussions to assist your analysis.
As Jacqui, Rob and Amina begin implementing their plan they make notes at the end of each lesson to record how students responded and which students had difficulty with the tasks. They also record any modifications they make to what they had originally planned. As well, they collect the written work that students produce as a result of the new teaching plan. Jacquie develops the strategy of pausing frequently during a lesson to check that all students are on board. Amina uses a class list for each lesson, making notes on each student as they work on group or independent tasks. Rob gives his students a written survey asking detailed questions about their experience of Literature Circles and what they have learned.
Reflect on the data
By looking at the data you have gathered during the first phase of the intervention you can see what is working well and what is not. Be specific about what you think and use evidence to support your opinions. There will probably be questions that are still unanswered, areas where clear conclusions are not yet available. Build these into your future action. Take notes about your conclusions and record these as a set of ‘findings’. Consider how you will use what you have learnt. Discuss what is working and what needs to be modified to improve your teaching and your students’ responses.
Rob, Amina and Jacquie meet after two weeks to discuss what has happened so far. They are impressed by how much their students have gained from their reading aloud and ‘think-aloud’ strategy. They look through Amina’s students’ answer sheets and realise that although most of the students were able to infer the feelings of the child characters many were less sure about those of the mother and father. They realise that the thoughts and motivations of the adults are less easy for students to infer than those of children like themselves.
Rob’s students’ surveys show that they are enthusiastic about Literature Circles but that he needs to provide more support for students to assist them in taking on Literature Circle roles. Jacquie looks at the notes she took while students were completing the cloze passage and realises that some of her students required significant help with this task.
Plan future action
Think about, ‘What next?’ Based on what you have found in the first round of your action research, plan to take the next step in your research. Devise the next step in your program that will lead you and your students onto the next phase of improvement. This might include:
- a new teaching strategy
- a new classroom management strategy
- refinement of strategies you are already using
- ways to collect data.
Think about which students may need more support and scaffolding and consider how tasks can be differentiated to cater for the varying learning needs of students in your class.
Rob, Amina and Jacquie each agree to modify their teaching to take their observations into account. Amina suggests that their students need more explicit information about the learning goal of each task — what exactly they are meant to be focusing on as they engage with a task.
Rob decides to use the ‘fishbowl’ strategy to model Literature Circle roles for his class. This will involve the class sitting in a circle while a small group forms a Literature Circle in the centre. With Rob’s ‘coaching’, the Literature Circle will enact their discussion with the rest of the class watching. Then each Literature Circle will form and conduct their own discussion. Rob also decides to provide discussion cards for each group.
Jacqui realises that her teaching should involve more modelling and demonstration so that students know exactly what they are to do, and what the learning goal for each task is. She also realises that she needs to differentiate the learning tasks for some students so that the tasks truly match their learning needs.
Amina finds an after-school professional learning workshop on reading comprehension that PETAA is offering and they all decide to attend.
Jacquie suggests that, to find out how focused and explicit their teaching is, it would be helpful to observe each other’s lessons and provide feedback. They construct a format for recording the observations. Rob suggests that they also video the lesson. Everyone agrees as it will enable them to reflect more deeply on their practice.