Tag Archives: research question

Getting Serious as a #SEACCR – Week 3 Reflections

Photo: Reflections

Reflections – cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Dead Habits

Use these guiding questions as you consider how you contributed to the learning of others:

Sharing Resources & Ideas

I have not been the best sharer of curated sources for this course, thus far. However, I suspect that may change in the coming weeks. There are a few projects that I might be able to offer assistance by sharing some known resources. So I suspect that I may be adding tot he Diigo group. Apart from the articles included in my annotated bibliography, I don’t believe I shared a lot of other resources. I have had my hands full trying to pursue my own line of inquiry.

Image: #SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper

#SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper – aggregating course activity

Still, I have been trying to continue to model different ways of archiving a lot of the Twitter chatter associated with class.  I do think that more frequent Twitter updates of the SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper that I created a couple of weeks ago, from the list I created, might be useful. It is a much cleaner way to read the latest activity from the course. Plus, assigns a ranking of top tweets, based in part on retweeting. I have now automated a tweet promoting the page of collected #SEACCR tweets to be published daily at 4:00 PM Alaskan Time. This should anticipate our weekly Twitter chats, which is an active period for fellow classmates. I may need to adjust the time. That is another item on which I need to solicit some feedback.

I am not sure how much use others will find the Tweeted Times paper, but it is more an experiment. I will try to solicit some more feedback in the next Twitter chat. I think not publishing regular updates very likely left it a forgotten resource by many. Plus, it may have been just a bit too much for anyone new to Twitter. However, by now most of the participants have been tweeting with much greater regularity.


It is pretty difficult to discern the impact I have made by participating in this course and community. I like to think that I am having some, but I am definitely removed from the Alaskan cohort, no matter how much I might try to stay connected.

In some ways, I have had to begin burrowing in my own head a bit more, as I suspect many other participants, trying to fashion a path that I will begin to take for my own inquiry. Narrowing and focusing a question, while investigating what is already out there in the research community is time consuming. Focusing on my own concerns necessarily cuts into the time for sharing, exchanging, and engaging with the community. Similarly, contributions from others become less visible and harder to track. Again, as everyone begins to emerge with a clearer vision of what they are pursuing and where they are headed, I imagine opportunities will arise where a greater impact can be made.

One area that I continue to try and make an impact is through commenting and encouraging colleagues by reading and responding to their blog posts. I have also been tweeting when I comment, in hopes of encouraging others to read and comment on those posts as well. I am not sure that it is working, but it also serves as a record of my own activity for myself, which has been useful. That is a tip I would encourage others to consider doing too.

It is really interesting and informative to read others’ blogposts. Of course there is the benefit of reading about their evolving project, which should reassure anyone that they are not alone. Yet, I find there is a lot to be gleaned from how individuals go about posting, including content, structure, and style. My observations make me think more about how I blog, something I have been giving a lot of thought for the last few months, as I have been making a concerted effort to post daily during the work week and at least once over the weekend.

Tracking Twitter Activity

Keeping with the tradition of using Storify to highlight contributions to the weekly Twitter chat, Here are a few tweets and exchanges that characterize some of my contributions and conversations from the week. Storify is proving to be a really useful tool, far more than I previously thought. It is perfect for collecting and curating Twitter activity in a narrative way, which is useful for an open course like this that leverages Twitter use by participants.

by  – Mon, Sep 30 2013 16:46:55

Tweets of a #SEACCR – Week 3

  1. Finally getting to read some fellow #SEACCR people’s reflections. @fadwa has solid list of differences in ELA standards…
  2. Interesting thoughts about #SEACCR action research question by @barbradonachy differentiationdiary.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/new…
  3. Here are examples of how I tweet the blogposts both to promote the work of others, as well as track my own activity. It is an easy practice that others might find worth doing, as well.
  4. BTW If anyone wants to be added to the #seaccr list I made twitter.com/akh003/lists/s… just let me know – don’t know if I missed anyone
  5. This was an effort to ensure that I have all the #SEACCRs listed in  Twitter list, which I also use to generate the SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper. The list seems appreciated and having an impact.
  6. I am thinking my #seaccr question will give me excuse to finally get @hickstro Troy Hicks’ new book – been wanting to get it anyway
  7. @akh003 That’s great, thanks. Is #seaccr a teacher research project? That seems to be what I am getting from the tweets.
  8. @hickstro @akh003 It is – a nine week experience to help teachers conduct research in their classrooms! #seaccr
  9. @ak_leeg @akh003 Sounds great! Please let me know if I can be of help… I am always interested in teacher research. #seaccr
  10. @hickstro @akh003 #seaccr we’d love for you to come in at 4:30 AKDT on Tuesday or Thursday with us! A wonderful group of AK teachers others
  11. As it turns out, Troy Hicks’ new book may not impact my inquiry as much as I originally thought. However, mentioning him did prompt a response, which may result in his participating in one of our upcoming Twitter chats which would no doubt benefit everyone. Hicks is a great ambassador scholar.
  12. Wondering if I can find any #seaccr literature on using Google Docs with students that isn’t propaganda, plenty on reader response grps
  13. @akh003 #seaccr I wouldn’t focus on Google Docs…that won’t be the end all – it will be the way you use it – your teaching strategies & Mgmt
  14. @ak_leeg I hear you, but I am interested in how the built in digital collaboration of GDocs changes the writing process for students #seaccr
  15. @akh003 #seaccr ah – well I’ll do some looking and see if I can find…I’m sure there are articles and conf proceedings. Tried Google Scholar?
  16. @ak_leeg Will do. Just starting the #seaccr hunting and gathering
  17. @JNUrain @ak_leeg Not quite. More interested in the tool’s impact on reader response groups and the writing process. #seaccr
  18. @JNUrain @ak_leeg Wondering what the impact actually is? Does that live interactive ability record comments and such help or hinder? #seaccr
  19. Here is a longer exchange around my inquiry that helped clarify and lead to an instructional video from Dr. Lee Graham. That in turn helped me identify a number of potentially helpful sources to read.
  20. @RazorMath @BarbraDonachy @ak_teacher I’m gatherin you all know the mother of differentiation in Carol Ann Tomlinson #seaccr – met her once
  21. @akh003 @BarbraDonachy @ak_teacher #seaccr – I didn’t, but I actually haven’t looked into anything. thanks! You just gave me some good info
  22. THis exchange was all about sharing knowledge and assisting a colleague with a potential resource.
  23. @fadwaedais So I am really fascinated what you find with this. I can tip you to a bunch of stuff that they have done in Australia #seaccr
  24. @fadwaedais You might want to take a look at the work of David Rose and JR Martin from Univ. of Sydney #seaccr – fascinating stuff as alt.
  25. Similarly, continuing to pass information that may be helpful, based on prior knowledge and project.

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Final Thoughts from the Week that Was

Ultimately, I was able to get a good start on gathering up some research material and articles. I still hope to dig a bit deeper into the roots of peer response groups, since that is a considerable foundation for my line of inquiry. I know from reading and experience that quality peer response groups are predicated on explicit teaching and practice. It takes time to cultivate practices and habits that are beneficial. My hope is to find some additional methods and strategies to improve the groups as well as glean insights into how Google Docs might be better leveraged in the process.

Shaping a Research Question as a #SEACCR

Image: Literature Circle Meetings and Posting Notes of Meeting to the Group's Google Site!

Literature Circle Meetings… – cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by The Unquiet Library

I must admit that I have fallen a little off the pace in the SEACCR Community as this week progressed. There were a number of disruptions at the school where I work, including the tragic accidental death of a eighth grade student in the immediately adjacent middle school, as well as an unexpected leadership change in my building. Needless to say, all of that diverted a lot of energy away from a typical focus I might have had on this project. Add to that, I have come down with the annual welcome-back-to-school-cold, so I am currently playing a bit hurt.

But enough excuses.

Angling for a Question

When it comes to developing research questions, I always feel like a have a bit of a weakness. I am not sure that it is true, but I certainly feel like it is. I sometimes have a hard time problematizing certain ideas in a way that makes them more readily research oriented. Perhaps it is simply a matter of over-thinking. I am not sure. Then there is always the issue of scale, which is no simple challenge for me, always a bit more ambitious than a course of study and schedules sometimes accommodate. Refining and narrowing are also challenges always seem to come in a rush as the deadline looms and I need to figure out how to wrangle all the research I have compiled into a sensible whole.

With the SEACCR Community’s focus on English Language Arts Common Core Standards as an anchor for the journey, however, I am operating in a comfort zone. I also knew, based on previous action research from last year, I was going to focus on writing. Last year, I suffered a bit from grandiosity of goal but in so doing actually was employing a whole lot of different strategies and tools, each of which could very well have been turned into a project, if isolated. So, as I got my students started writing their first assignment this year, knowing that I was going to be using it to introduce them to the practice of reader response groups, it occurred to me that I might have found a focus that could be examined over eight weeks.

Surveying Current Practice

I have been employing reader response groups for a number of years, but was rarely all that systematic about it until last year. In my class context a reader response group involves each student meeting with a few peers, in a small group of three or four, reading their work aloud to the group, soliciting feedback and discussion, in preparation for revising their work. The process is cyclical and nearly always precedes my seeing student work.

It is not a peer editing session. It is more about engaging the students in thinking about real audiences – themselves. In fact, I tell all my students, The first audience for your writing is yourself, always and forever.” Yet, I want them to share their work with each other and recognize that I, as the teacher, am not the ultimate audience for everything.

Making it a practice continues to challenge me to find different reasons and tasks for writing. While I hate the overused term “authentic” in education, I keep trying to create opportunities for writing that embrace a wider audience than me or even the classroom, while trying to employ professional models of craft for inspiration. It also means that essays about stories and books that we read in class have become less the focus and more just part of the process and just another genre opportunity.

Plus, everything changed once I began working in a 1:1 laptop environment with ninth grade students. Suddenly the ease and convenience of employing the approach opened in a way that made earlier attempts seem medieval. Since we are a Google Apps school, we use Google Docs, but truth be told I had student start using Google Docs years before the school got around to providing every student with an account. With each student able to share the document and the rest of the group to follow along on screen as it is read, potentially embedding comments in the document, everything can take on more of a charge, It is now a regular routine in my courses and continues to evolve my classroom.

Crafting a Question

So as I introduced my students to their first reader response experience this week, it was clear this would be the crux of my action research question.

How does the use of use of Google Docs impact in reader response groups change or shape the writing process?

I know that may yet need some refinement and tuning, but it is good enough to start. This week I will need to consider how I am going to gather data and what angle or approach I want to take to seeking an answer.

Shifting Standards

I have been working with the Common Core for a few years now, beginning just as states started adopting them. As part of a team of Massachusetts teachers involved in the National Writing Project’s Efforts in the Literacy Design Collaborative in 2010, I had an opportunity to grow quite familiar with the new standards early.

Considering that the state of Massachusetts’ previous frameworks served as a model, at least in part, for the new Common Core, as well as the stake in getting an early adoption from a highly successful state, I have generally found there to be a lot of similarities between the two. In many ways, the previous commonwealth’s frameworks were better written, arguably offered greater flexibility, and friendlier to teachers. yet, the differences are far more overstated to me and marginal, at least on the surface.

On a broad level, I am not convinced that new standards will have a significant impact on the teaching and learning in my classroom. Part of this is due to the fact that I have been adapting for the last three years, and part is due to the broad similarities. Once routine practice I have been doing since is using the new standards to audit curriculum and make decisions about what might need adjusting. Any new curricular efforts simply based on  the new standards from the start.

Ultimately, no one will really know how much of an impact the new Common Core Standards will have on the teaching and learning on any individual classroom until the results of the first battery of new tests are gathered and analyzed. I suspect that will have far greater ramifications than anything.