Session 6.1 - Programme review and action research
1 Review of follow-up activities from last session
All the participants should have tried out a mini-EBL lesson or have organised an extended EBL ‘field or project day’. Check with each other that you have the following documentation that should be included in your portfolio:
1. Students’ recordings (on sheets of paper) of their data collection, analysis, findings and any other presentation documents (e.g. models, charts, pictures) and audio/video recordings of students’ presentations.
2. Your audio reflections of the planning and implementation of all parts of the EBL mini-lesson, field trip or project day.
3. Your written reflections about EBL, major take-away messages (e.g. using PMI to think about the planning and implementation of EBL) and ideas on what you would like to try out for your future planning and implementation of EBL in your class.
4. Questionnaire on how much you have learnt and tried to practise EBL in your classrooms.
Spend about 5 minutes scanning through all the homeworks (in the form of some of the documents listed above) that have been completed by yourself and your colleagues.
Discuss as a small group, what you feel has gone well and what are some areas for improvement in the planning and process of EBL. As far as possible, make use of the evidence in the documents to support your views. Nominate a spokesperson to present to the bigger group your group’s assessment on how successfully you feel you have learnt and tried out EBL in the last three or four weeks. Your group should also provide a recommendation of how you would help OTHER teachers in the school get to know and learn about EBL.
2 Reviewing across units
Congratulations for coming this far in your learning journey which has brought you to discover and develop interactive teaching. We have challenged you to think about how your teaching can be pedagogically interactive so that you will think of ways and means of engaging your students (rather than them being passive consumers of content). In doing so, you have been asked to try out new ideas - some might have worked better than others and some others may have indeed seemed rather strange at first! We hope that by doing so you have discovered new ways of approachiing and responding to student learning.
We would like you to look quickly through the list of units you have explored in the past months. After that, spend about five minutes responding to these two questions:
- Can you think of a particular unit(s) or session(s) that you have found MOST challenging for yourself? Consider why it has been most challenging for you.
- Which unit(s) do you feel you have benefited from the most (i.e. which unit really opened your mind to the possibilities!) and which unit would you like to learn more about and why?
It would be very helpful if you can quickly make notes of your thoughts on paper. Spend about five minutes taking turns to share your responses with another participant. Listen and write down what your colleague has said and ask questions to clarify if you are not sure what he/she is saying. In the last ten minutes, each participant could quickly share what their partner has told them to the bigger group.
3 Preparing final portfolios
To obtain the full OER4Schools programme certificate, we would like you to present three more examples of new practices for your final portfolios. These should concentrate on Units 5 and 6. You don't need to write a lot about the techniques themselves:
- Present as much student work, lesson plans/materials as you can, so we can see clearly what went on in the lessons and how you applied the techniques (mention which ones you used and why/how).
- Submit your reflections on your learning from this classroom application, either by typing them (bullet points are quite sufficient, it need not be an essay!) and/or by doing an audio reflection where you think really hard about how your practice and thinking have changed over the course of the year, referring to examples wherever possible. If your paperwork doesn’t make it completely clear what you and the students did, then elaborate on this too. Note that if you type something you don’t need to speak it too – audio and written reflections should be complementary.
- See whether you can apply e.g. a Leadership for Learning lens or perhaps the thinking hats to your reflections, to help you structure them.
- The final part of the portfolio is a most significant change story (see below) recorded as an audio reflection, including any related paperwork, electronic or other materials.
Do not hesitate to dwell too on the challenges and pitfalls you experienced and how you overcame them. It's very unlikely that every new technique would work brilliantly the first time you tried it; there will always be adjustments to make, so please describe that process too and be self-critical. For example, were your talking points and questions open-ended enough or did some of them have “right answers”? If some learners did not participate fully or respond as you had hoped they would, what could you do next time to try and address this? If you think something needs adapting for certain learners, suggest this.
These should be individual reflections; although you’ve worked closely with colleagues and have jointly planned some activities, you have trialled them in your own classroom and it is your individual responses that we are interested in here please. Have a look at some portfolio reflections and comments on them below to guide you.
What I learnt from the usage of traffic lights is that during teaching and learning pupils concentrate. This is so because there is no pupil who feels happy displaying a red card all the time. During interactive teaching and learning, pupils in groups work very hard through collaboration in order to get correct answers and display green cards. This activity applies to all subjects whether using ICT or non-ICT. The only challenges are usually that those who don’t understand concepts fast then feel shy to show the red card. However, they are encouraged. In all it is a very good activity to use when learning and teaching.Judith
The lesson was introduced by asking the learners to say the meanings of the traffic lights found on the roads. Thereafter the class monitors helped me to share out the traffic lights. Each learners were given three different traffic lights with different colours. Then I explained to the learners how to use them. I ask the learners to say why the bible was written in different types. The learners flashed out the traffic lights and I pointed to a learner who had lifted the orange light so that he can be free to express himself and to my surprise he gave a correct answer. I ask the second question and learners lifted different types of colours this time around. I pointed out the ones with red. I wanted to find out what they did not understand. Afterwards, I pointed out the ones with green to say their answer, so that they can explain to their fellow learners why they gave out the answers they gave. In the end I pointed out the ones with red lights to try and explain what they had learnt from the other learners who flashed out green. At the end of the lesson I was able to assess my learners if they had learnt something from the lesson. Because they were able to say out correct things. I feel that traffic lights support interaction among learners because learners were able to share out ideas with both learners and the teacher. It increases participation among learners in a way that all learners learnt not to sit idle. Leaners are free to express themselves if they are not very clear about something. In the end they get the help needed unlike before were some learners who did not understand used to feel shy to speak out. As a teacher I think it has helped me to understand the progress of my learners. I am also able to give my learners the attention needed. All in all it captures the minds of the learners and acts as a voice for those learners who are too shy to express themselves.Celestina
4 Identifying most significant change
Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs Have a discussion with a partner about what you each feel is the “most significant change” you have made in your own practice through involvement in the OER4schools programme (all 6 units). Tell your partner a story about how this change came about, detailing what was the stimulus for it, why you decided to make a change, what you and your learners did, and what kinds of change you observed. What is the evidence for the change that you could present if, for example, you were talking to the principal of another school and wanted to convince them that the programme led to some changes in your practice?
This activity is a kind of rehearsal; as part of the process of creating your final portfolio, we would like you to make an audio reflection that tells the story of such a significant change (it can be the same one).
5 Reflective educators
Many great teachers and philosophers like Socrates and Heidegger have emphasised the importance for students and teachers to reflect. Reflections in the educational context, involve thinking about our past, present and future teaching and learning experiences. Unfortunately, most of us are not thoughtful enough to differentiate these three stages or the relationships between our thoughts and actions. Consider this quote:
Heidegger has pointed out that our minds are prone to wandering between past, present and future. The most challenging type of reflection is thinking about your current actions and about your thinking, shifting between ‘thinking about doing’ and ‘doing the thinking’.
Think-Pair-Share (10 min) on what you are doing now Have a go at thinking about what are you doing now. Are you really thinking of the present or are you thinking of what you need to do next after this workshop or what has happened prior to coming here? What is the implication for your students? Are they usually ‘present’ in your class? How do you know or not know if they are? Spend a few moments thinking about these questions before sharing your ideas with another participant.
A reflective educator seeks to be aware of his/her identity as a teacher and most importantly, what he/she believes strongly and is acting on. A reflective educator asks questions like:
- What am I doing now? Why am I doing that?
- What do I believe in about teaching and learning?
- Am I practising what I believe in? Why and why not?
- Am I a role model for my students to imitate (e.g. being a life-long learner)?
In the course of this programme, we have encouraged you to be self-reflective by asking many questions. We do understand that some of these questions take time to respond to or it may be years before a ‘belief’ in teaching and learning can develop.
Think-Pair-Share (10 min) on self-awareness as a teacher You can develop a keener self-awareness by answering the questions above. Some of them may require a lengthy contemplation and we encourage you to write in your own personal journal or record your thoughts using a dictaphone later.
For the moment, share with your partner your thoughts about the following:
- Why did you choose to be a teacher (your past)?
- What is it about teaching that you really enjoy now (your present)?
- What classroom practice would you like to improve on in the next few months for yourself (your future)?
We would like each participant to be prepared to share what their partner has answered for the third question above.
Although reflections on the past, present and future are very important skills for a reflective educator, these may not be adequate to solve problems or meet certain challenges in the classrooms. Each of us has a limited capacity to change a practice or to find new practices that will work for ourselves. Your reflections can be significantly enhanced by systematic collection and analysis of data from your students, and working together with the rest of your colleagues. By using a suitable research method, you can move beyond just focusing on yourself, to engage your students and colleagues in deliberation on how to improve their teaching and learning experiences in the classroom. Action research and lesson study are two methods that can help you to develop professionally: to improve elements of your practice or to address wider issues beyond an individual’s classroom. You were briefly introduced to lesson study in session 1.5 when you analysed the following video through a Leadership for Learning lens. You will learn about action research in this session.
6 Reflective educators in times of change
In their book Change in Schools (1987), Hall and Hord wrote about the concerns of teachers who face the challenge of trying out new practices in their classroom. They found that when asked to change their practices, they are concerned first about themselves (‘Can I carry out the new practice?’), later they become concerned with others (‘Will my students react well? What will their parents say?) and finally they become concerned with the results (‘Will the new practice really lead to better teaching and learning experiences?’).
|Focus on Self||Focus on Others||Focus on Results|
|Can I change my practice?||What do the others think of my new practice?||What can my students do now as a consequence of my new practice?|
|Do I feel comfortable with the new practice?||What are others’ non-verbal and verbal reactions to my new practice?||What lasting effects have I had on my students?|
|Is this what my career will be about? (by constantly adapting, changing and learning new practices)||Are they generally positive or negative towards my new practice?||What long-lasting contributions can my students make to improve the community, country and the world?|
|Is this congruent with my beliefs and goals of teaching?||How does it mesh with beliefs, practices and expectations in my school and community?*||What long-lasting contributions can I make to improve the community, country and the world?*|
Note that the above questions were devised by the OER4schools team and are not part of the original article.
Think-Pair-Share (10 min) on the questions Find another partner for this activity. Think about these questions that Hall and Hord have proposed. Do you agree they are relevant to you and if so, at what stage do you think you are now? What would be the implications for your other colleagues in the school? What are your teaching beliefs and goals now that you could be a different teacher (or the same!) from before you have gone through this OER4Schools programme? Share your thoughts with your partner.
7 Many forms of teacher leadership
You have learnt about the various aspects of leadership through the Leadership for Learning lens metaphor. As a reflective teacher, you may not be leading in the form of teaching and learning within the classroom, but taking on different leadership roles in the school.
In the US, a set of ‘model standards’ for teacher leaders has actually been produced and it states that “they need recognised responsibilities, authority, time to collaborate and support from school administrators to assume leadership roles.” (Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium 2011, p.12)
Whole class dialogue (10 min) on being a leader Are you a leader or a follower? Perhaps you are a leader in one context and a follower in another? Do you/could you inspire others? Consider the following teacher leader roles. Can you identify these teacher leaders in your school?
- head teacher
- subject coordinator
- workshop facilitator
- classroom teacher
- curriculum specialist
- learning facilitator
You may be surprised to see yourself, the 'classroom teacher' in the list. There are many roles that classroom teachers can assume to support school and student success. The international teacher leadership project, a case of international action research, explored the idea of teacher leadership and educational reform with the following as a central concept:
‘..the idea that teachers, regardless of their level of power and organisational position, can engage in the leadership of enquiry-based development activity aimed at influencing their colleagues and embedding improved practices in their schools.’
Could you see yourself in a particular teacher leadership role? You may realise you have different strengths of ‘leadership’ which may not reside in one role. This is the role(s) that we would like you to consider as you embark on your action research at the end of these workshops.
8 Action research (AR): a brief introduction
Listen to a Zambian teacher talking about a mathematics research project that she was involved with:
As an extension of the individual reflection activity, we are now proposing a valuable research method that can help a group of teachers come together to reflect and suggest possible improvement of their practice. This research method is call Action Research (AR). Take about 5 minutes to read the text below and discuss briefly as a group the questions below:
- 'What is AR?' It is part of practice of a group of reflective teachers to think about their practices and seek improvement. It is a cycle of investigation, application / implementation, systematic reflection, evaluation (see diagram under 'Background Reading' below). An iterative process of data collection and analysis is integral to this kind of research, rather than linear. It is a critical process of reflection on past and present actions. It gathers evidence to support claims for future actions.
- 'What is the goal of AR?' It is aimed at changing as well as understanding practice in real educational settings. It often involves a trial-and-improvement approach to practical problem-solving by the teacher themselves.
- 'Who does AR?' It involves those directly affected by the research (teachers in this case) as collaborators or leading investigators in researching their own practice. Interpretation is from their perspective. A professional researcher may be a collaborator or advisor/consultant.
- 'Why do AR?' Many problems and solutions in classroom teaching are complex in nature and there is no 'quick fix'. AR researchers suggest that the reflection and solutions coming from the teachers themselves are very valuable. Doing AR well in a school creates a research culture whereby teachers actively reflect and intervene on a problem, its causes and suggest possible solutions.
- 'What are the steps of AR?' There are different types of action research. Here we are introducing a participatory AR model that is suitable for improving practice in a collaborative way within a group of teachers. This begins with the group of teachers reflecting and discussing on the past, present and future possibilities of a particular teaching practice. The steps and illustrative examples for each step are outlined in the following background text:
Whole class dialogue (10 min) on teaching and learning practices Think about a new teaching and learning practice that you have learnt in these past months. How will participatory AR support your ongoing learning and updating of this new practice? OR Think about a problem you would like to address together or a new form of interactive practice you would like to develop. How will AR support you?
What kind of support will you need to carry out AR? What methods will you use to collect evidence? What are your main concerns about using AR?
9 ICT practice: Review
Whole group dialogue (10 min) on ICT. Spend some time discussing what you have learnt about using ICT in the classroom. What were your favourite applications? What were your favourite uses? Where did it really help students? What could be done better?
10 Final activity: Preparing a presentation
Same-task group work (15 min) on preparing a presentation As a final task in this unit (and the programme!), we would like you to work in a group of 3-4 participants to plan for a 5 minutes presentation on the highlights of your learning journey in the OER4Schools programme. You will be delivering this presentation on another day (to be determined at a later date). You will use the remaining time to plan for this presentation. You should ensure that everyone gets to share their views and to plan for a presentation that will really represent the group’s shared vision of the professional learning that has taken place and the follow-ups next year.
These are some possible ideas to help you plan for this presentation:
- You can draw ideas from the reflection tasks that you have done in this session and from your portfolios.
- You might chose to highlight and describe a particular unit that the group feels best captures the spirit of the entire OER4Schools programme.
- You can describe a few contrasting activities you have learnt and tried out in your classrooms, in terms of how you have found some success in trying out in the classrooms or not quite meeting your expectations (e.g. the use of ICT in the classrooms).
- It might be that you choose to speak mainly about your students’ reactions when you tried out activities in your classrooms.
- You might choose to do the presentation through a single LfL lens eg. through the ‘focus on learning’ lens
Whatever you choose to include in your group presentation, bear the following points in mind:
- It should not describe theory only, but instead give concrete lesson examples of theory applied to practice.
- Play to the strengths of your various group members and deliver a presentation that will provide a flavour of what the OER4Schools programme has been like for the next cohort of teachers or to any other observers
- The presentation should be no more than 5 minutes long - so you need to choose wisely what you would like to include!
- It should be a short sequence that is presented by a number of speakers (no more than 3), each speaking for no more than 1-2 minutes (time it in advance to ensure you do not overrun!)
- It is a whole group presentation so all members of the group should be involved in its preparation, even if they are not speaking on the day
- Be prepared to answer questions from audience at the end of the presentation
11 Final Homework: Preparing a presentation
The final homework involves you working as a group to prepare for the final presentation. We expect that you should be meeting at least once or twice before the presentation to discuss the final details of ‘who says what’ and/or ‘who does what’. We also encourage you to make use of relevant materials to accompany your presentations (e.g. charts, students’ works, pictures etc). Think of the possibilities of making use of creative means (e.g. artwork, songs/music, dance presentation, role-play or a skit) to put across your ideas. But remember you only have 5 minutes!
12 Additional resources
This online video provides a useful overview of the lesson study process, highlighting its cyclical nature:
This extensive pdf document on lesson study is excellent for providing a deeper insight into the process and has some useful case studies and example lesson plans:
- Frost, D. (2012). From professional development to system change: teacher leadership and innovation. Teacher leadership and professional development: perspectives, connections and prospects, 38(2), 205-227. doi: 10.1080/19415257.2012.657861
- Hall, G.E. and Hord, S.B.,(1987). Change in Schools: Facilitating the Process. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press
- Maddock, M., Peacock, A., Hart, S., and Drummond, M.-J., (2012). Creating Learning Without Limits, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
- Schmuck, R.A., (2006). Practical Action Research for Change. California: Corwin Press
- Wadsworth, Y. (1998). What is Participatory Action Research? Action Research International, Paper 2.
- ‘The International Teacher Leadership project’ a case of international action research, a paper presented at CARN 2009, the 33rd conference of the Collaborative Action Research Network Athens, Greece 30th October - 1st November 2009