Saturday, August 27, 2011

Region 16 Spotlight Education: 1,000 new laptops for Pampa High School students

Region 16 Spotlight Education: 1,000 new laptops for Pampa High School students: As technology continues to evolve so do the ways that school districts are integrating it into the classroom. Pampa High School is doing that by placing laptops in hands of all students and teachers this school year.

Go Harvesters!  I am a 1975 graduate of Pampa High School and at this moment, I could not be more proud of my hometown.  Pampa's high school has stepped out into the 21st Century.  Love the idea of the Green and Gold Geek Squad.  Students empowered to help with technology problems.  This is a giant leap and many other schools need to follow suit!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quality Indicators for Practitioner Research

Quality Indicator 1

Context of Study: 
As the principal-researcher, I will need to provide explicit information about the context of the research.  This will include but not be limited to information about the school, district, teachers, students, content, and curriculum. It is important to provide background and surrounding information in the action research inquiry. Clearly, one needs to identify and be very forthright about the context of the inquiry. Have I provided enough context for my research for others to understand?  In what ways have I considered the context in the design of the inquiry?  These are questions I can ask as I complete my research inquiry.
To ensure others will be able to understand by research, I will need to thoroughly evaluate my context of study.  Will others be able to understand my context for the inquiry and how it might transfer to similar situations?  If the context is clear and complete information is provided in the action research inquiry then others will be able to possibly apply the outcomes research to their own circumstances (Dana, 2009, p. 179-180

Quality Indicator 2

Wonderings(s) and Purpose:

“Principal –researchers explain the root of their question(s)/wondering(s) in detail (Dana, 2009, p.180).” This quality indicator focuses on the conception of the question(s)/wondering(s).  The research will need to provide detail explanation that will provide a convincing argument as to its importance and relevance.  All stated wondering(s) should be connected to literature in the field of study.  The researcher’s intent and questions should be “clearly articulated, free of educational jargon, focused inward, and open ended (Dana, 2009 p. 180.)”
As I work through this indicator, it will help me to focus on my inquiry and not that of others.  I will learn to ask the questions that will keep my inquiry focused and appropriate to literature and other research in the same field.   While I am pursuing the answer to the questions in my research inquiry, it will encourage me that I have  provided enough information that others will understand what led me to the wondering or inquiry. While assessing the quality and transferability of others’ inquiry, I will  as several questions as Dana suggested in relation to “tension, dilemma, issue, or problem of practice” that the inquirer faced.”  This quality indicator will show others how determined and passionate I am about my topic and wondering.  (Dana, 2009, p. 180-181).

Quality Indicator 3

Principal Research Design (Data Collection and Data Analysis) :

This quality indicator stresses the validity of data collection and analysis from multiple sources.   When conducting a research action project, it is imperative that one use quality data. The researcher must provide “detailed explanations of all procedures and a timeline for data collection, as well as an explanation of how data were analyzed.”  (Dana, 2009, p. 181)  This explanation should include what sources were used to collect the data and how the researcher analyzed the data.  
In the evaluation process of data collection, I will use several of the suggested questions to help focus on my efforts to gather accurate, up-to-date, credible information instead of data for data sake.  I will make sure I explain all procedures associated with the inquiry and describe any changes or adjustments that were made in my inquiry procedure.  All of this will help me maintain the research for the time needed to complete my project.  (Dana, 2009, p. 181-182)

Quality Indicator 4

Principal-Researcher Learning: 
A Principal-research should articulate clear, thoughtful statements abou5t what they learned through the process.  I will need to provide statements and reflections about the action research project that are relevant.  I should follow up my statements with pertinent readings and findings that will support the data collected and analyzed.  This detailed process will provide clarity for my reader and those that want to transfer the findings to their situations.  
I will not only discuss what I have learned, but will reflect on my own journey as well so that I remain unbiased in my thinking.  I will need to remain focused as I gather the data, document my experiences and findings, and share my readings that relate to the action research project and process (Dana, 2009, 182-183).

Quality Indicator 5

Implications for Practice: 

This quality indicator requires the researcher to give “detail examples of change they have made or will consider making based on what they learned through their research.’  (Dana , 2009, p. 183)  This is critical throughout my research in order evaluate what they have learned in the process.  This discussion will provide information for future action research based on what was learned in the process.  Detailing the changes that have or will take place is critical throughout the process. All changes should be based on research and outcomes of the action research project.

During the action research project, I will keep the wonderings and questions that have been spurred from the literature read and the data analyzed as a result of my inquiry.  In the future, I will use this quality indicator to further my questions or wonderings.  (Dana, 2009, 183-184).
Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

EDLD 5301 Week Five Final Reflections

Research for research sake!  At the beginning of this class, I thought I would be researching an assigned topic just for the sake of researching.  Through the lectures of Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Arterbury I began to learn what an action research project would involve.  Their discussions on the  videos were produced with such quality.  It made one feel they were sitting in the office transferring their knowledge or action research.  The information I gained from the text, the videos, and the discussion boards, helped me to formulate my project. 

At first, I was a little hesitant about the research.  Research for me was something I had done in my last undergraduate class back in 1979.  To my surprise, I discovered that this action research was simply, “systematic, intentional study of one’s own professional practice.”  (Dana, 2009, p. 9)   This is a practice I have done the last twenty years while reading and studying myself.  I have posed questions and had wonderings that led to collecting and analyzing data while making decisions that would lead to change in my classroom and my school. 

Through our readings, I discovered that the things we are passionate about can become the source of our questions and wonderings.  As a professional development provider, I have been involved in the more traditional approaches to staff development.  Chapter 1 of the Dana text revealed the movement to change the traditional professional development practices to that of the practitioner inquiry movement.  At first, I was a little hesitant to think about how this would affect my career, but then I read the following from Dana’s book.  “The ultimate goal is to create an inquiry stance toward administrator practice.  This stance becomes a professional positioning, owned by the principal, where questioning one’s own practice becomes part of the principal’s work and eventually a part of the culture within the principal’s school.”  (Dana, 2009, p. 10).  This became a reality while working with McComb School District this past month.  The administrators wanted me to analyze their data and tell them what professional development they needed this next year.  I soon discovered I was using the very knowledge I had gained from the class and the readings about inquiry research.  To my amazement, I lead the administrators in developing their questions/wonderings and developed an action plan for researching to find their answers.

One of our assignments was to develop a personal action research plan.  This plan was to be birthed from something we were passionate about and one that our advisor would approve as a project.  In chapter 2 of The Passions that Drive Your Journey, Dana explained in depth the nine passions that drive researchers. Before reading this chapter, I had not realized that these nine areas would lead to the “wonderings and questions” that one would have in their profession.  What are your wonderings in each of these areas, and what burning questions do you have about your administrative practices?  These were questions that began to develop in my mind and in the discussion with my advisor. 

In the EDLD 5306 class, we began the journey of reflective processing with the creation of a blog.  This made it easy to continue into this class.  Dana’s text in chapter 5 supports the significance of a blog and how important they are in the action research process. Dr. Abshire required each of us to keep up with our postings and to comment on each other’s action plans that were posted.  As we read each other’s action plans, it reinforced the importance of sharing information with others and soon our class began to collaborate more than before.  We were also required to post weekly reflections to chronicle our journey through the process.  As a result, we each became more open with each other and our thoughts. 

Each week we would post our reflections to questions on the discussion board. During the process, I realized how important it was to post early in the week and then continue to read the postings of others.  I learned valuable pieces of information from my colleagues.  At times, I would catch myself thinking, “I don’t remember reading that.”, only to go and search the text and reread the information.  Sometimes when reading it through the first time you focus on a specific detail of the text and find yourself wondering in depth.  Before you know it, you have skimmed right over something that someone else gleamed valuable information.  The discussion board allowed us to reflect, wonder, and inquire with each other throughout this entire course. 

As we collaborated with each other, I found myself feeling responsible for analyzing my cohort’s action plan just as they had analyzed mine.  Nancy Halwell recommended I change my question to one that did not have a definite answer.  This was something I was pondering and her suggestion reaffirmed I needed to restate my question, which I did.  Alfroze pointed out in one of my blogs that I had made a reference to Dana’s book when it should have been Harris’s.  Wow!  I was delighted to know someone had actually taken the time to read thoroughly the blog and would share with me for my benefit.  Allison Wells read my action research plan and noticed where I had copied a line twice in two different locations.  I was able to go back and delete the two extra lines.  Everyone in the class became a unit as we read each other’s plan and shared our thoughts.  The entire process was uniting. 

Now, it is the end of the fifth week of my second graduate class and I am excited about implementing the action research project plan.  Tomorrow will begin my first meeting with the staff at the high school where I will share the plan that I have developed.  My hopes are that the teachers and the students at San Marcos High School will benefit from my research and that other schools will be able to transfer the findings to their schools. 

Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Harris, S, Edmonson, A., Combs, J. (2010).  Examining what we do to improve our schools, Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

EDLD 5301 Week 4 Reflections

During this week, we had the opportunity to read other colleague’s Action Plans.  While it was both informative, it was a time for us to choose to read deeply and assist aother colleagues in their plan.  I found I was at times hesitant to recommend or question someone’s plan.  Then, at other times, it was not difficult. 
While reflecting on the process, I discovered my own insecurities in my attempting to carrying out my plan.  The feedback was slow at first, but after a few days, we all started to send emails inviting others to read our blogs.  It was at this time, I became motivated to check and see what others commented on my blog and on others.  This week, I realized we were growing into a collaborative group of learners and that we would become stronger as we journeyed through this next year of action research.  I am so fortunate to have such GREAT fellow educators in this class and journey with me.  I do hope some day I will be able to meet them in person.
Allison’s words of encouragement affirmed my thoughts of the plan.  I know they were detailed but it was good to see that the information was considered by others as having the ability to “see each  step”.  I was glad she saw some duplications in my action plan.  I looked as those entries and several times when creating the document and never saw the duplication.  I appreciate Allison taking the time to read carefully and show me those entries.  I have deleted the duplications with her recommendations.
Nancy made the following recommendations of which I explored the other survey option.  At this moment I have not made a decision on which site I will use.  I did like the example of a student’s survey on Nancy’s site.  This gave me valuable information as I prepare my surveys.