Sunday, June 24, 2012

Action Research Lesson Reflection

Action Research Lesson Reflection

This lesson plan was originally planned and implemented for my K-2 class for students with multiple disabilities. I completed this lesson with my students during the month of May (2012). I also did a “mini version” of this lesson with my own children, ages 6 and 4 as part of this action research project. Reviewing the lesson with my own children help to remind me of the process I used with my students as well as provide me with model for developmental processes of a 6 and 4 year old. My reflection is based primarily on the implementation of this lesson with my students. Modifications to the lesson that I used with my own children are in italics.

The Lesson
The students are introduced to various animals through whole group instruction using various websites, videos and SMARTBoard files. Animal fact files will also provide information for students when conducting their research. Animal file sheets were not used with my own children.

Used with CC permission - Flickr user
The students are given time 1-1 with an adult to complete research on an animal of their choosing. The specific (teacher made) research pages contain questions to answer regarding the information that the students are looking for. Research pages were not used with my own children. In replacement, we bookmarked webpages that contained the information needed for the animals they chose.

Once the initial research is complete and the student has reviewed the information the teacher models taking the “paper research” and putting it into the online format. After this has been modeled with the students, the students are paired up with a 5th grade “tech buddy” to help navigate Glogster (online multimedia poster creation site) to create their animal presentation poster. I did not create a glog (online poster) with my own children; we reviewed the glogs that my students created.

My Classroom
When this lesson was implemented with my class, the project took place of the course of 3 weeks. Students completed activities at least 3 times a week for up to 45 minutes. The lesson was completed with 4 students in a classroom for students with multiple disabilities. One student is close to grade level and will be transitioning to a different intervention specialist next year. Two students are verbal, but rely heavily on visuals to participate within classroom activities; they are functioning at least 3 years below grade level. The last student is non-verbal, although can effectively communicate with familiar adults through gestures, some sign language, and vocal approximations. She is functioning at least about 3 years below grade level and requires augmentative communication opportunities to allow her to participate fully within classroom discussions.
Transferring written research to online poster.

The students from my class were very engaged in the lesson. They retained much of the factual information about his/her individual animal and were able to report out to the class. The use of multimedia really assisted in the engagement and retention piece for the students. The collaboration with the “tech buddies” was a great experience for all the students. My students were more verbal, active in ‘telling’ the 5th graders how they wanted their poster to look, and took ownership of the poster. They were very proud of their work and enjoyed working with the older students.

As for the essential questions, I was able to discuss similar questions with my students; however, the high order thinking of “what if animals switched habitats” was a little more than the students could process without moderate guidance. The question that I asked/discussed with my students was: How would you describe the best habitat for your animal? The students were able to take information from their research and answer the question without me asking about specific facts.

My House
When implementing the “mini lesson” with my own children, the lesson was completed within a week, completing the activities for about 30-45 minutes each night. My children enjoyed the lesson and it paired well with two recent trips to the local zoo. As previously mentioned, using my own children as a model for developmental skills for their respective ages, help me reflect on whether some of the activities were developmentally and/or age appropriate for the students.

Students’ Learning and Understanding
Though this experience, the students were able to explore animals and animal habitats. The students, who often are expected to produce work that is specific to IEP goals/objectives, were able to work on those personal goals through this lesson. All students met their individual learning goals that ranged from tracing letters to fill out part of the research sheet to making a choice between two pictures to cutting out a picture staying within the given space. If we look at the grade level standards with varying complexities (see previous lesson plan assignment for Ohio Extended standards), the students also met the standard in relation to the respective complexity. Aside from the standard measurements, the students were able to demonstrate what they know on a more authentic and engaging platform through the use of technology. From planning to implementation, this lesson took into account the unique learning needs of the students.

Throughout the lesson, the students had access to photographs, videos, website resources, and paper resources that guided and supported their learning. Each student was provided with an animal fact file sheet and all information collected was organized in a folder with the help of the teacher. In addition to “content” learning, the students also learning about management of personal belongings as they were responsible (with some assistance from teacher) to keep track of their research folders.

"Tech Buddy" helping organize glog.
Learning took place by scaffolding the learning activities and providing models for the students. Since this was the first type of lesson for these students, I needed to be the model and guide them through the steps of the lesson. I modeled how to research information, how to find information on the common drive, and how to create a glog. I organized the research pages as to create an organized way to collect the data that was on the students’ instructional level. In the end, the students worked together with the 5th grade ‘tech buddies” to create the online poster. This was extremely powerful as a method of the social constructivist theory. The students had to interact with other students and communicate with the “tech buddies” which isn’t always “a strength” for my students.

This lesson was created to supplement the existing curriculum. Recently, the state of Ohio released Ohio Academic Content Standards – Extended intended to provide a framework for giving students the access to the curriculum. As a way to familiarize myself with this new set of extended standards for students with complex needs, I decided to use this one of the strands to plan the lesson. This lesson was intended to use a Life Science standard from the OACS-E to provide overall framework, incorporate student interests, and to differentiate the content so that the individual student goals were also addressed.

Before starting this lesson, teachers would need to have basic computer knowledge, know how to access the Internet, place items on a common drive accessible to students, effectively utilize Google search, and have a glogster account with student sub-accounts. The teacher would also need to know the students’ individual needs and be able to structure the lesson according to their needs. The learner would have to have basic computer skills and a basic knowledge of categories, i.e., animals. Various adaptations, such as picture cues, communication devices, and modified worksheets are incorporated to meet the needs of each student.

Student assessment took place throughout the lesson by observation, direct questioning, task competition, and project presentation. Providing these various assessments allowed myself multiple opportunities to assess students throughout the lesson. It is also helpful that I have a small class and could work 1-1 with the students to get a better assessment of their understanding through dialogue with them. The students were held accountable for all aspects of their work. Expectations for each session of the lesson were identified. Due to the structure of the classroom, the students knew that they needed to complete the requirements before they could move to the next activity.

I consider this lesson to be one of the most successful and engaging lessons of the school year. The students mastered the content at their individual level and a few even surprised me with processing of the content. I feel the high level of interest for this lesson by the students helped increase engagement and the scaffolding of the tasks helped each student feel success and achieve their goals.

Students’ Technology Use and Understanding
For this lesson, technology played a supporting role to the content of animals and animal habitats. Using the technology to explore multimedia about the animals supports the content, helps set the groundwork for the lesson as well as accesses prior knowledge of some students. The use of technology supports the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that I try to incorporate into my lessons as much as possible. The multimedia also provides a variety of modes of representation for the students, especially when watching videos that bring the animals to life. Using technology to research the animals also provides students with various modes of engagement as well as representation. For a couple of the students, the use of the written research paper provides enough information on assessment. Using the technology to complete the online poster provides an opportunity to display their knowledge independently more than they might be able to complete the written assignment, which provides the students with multiple ways of expression.
"Tech Buddy" taking directions from student.

My expectation for technology use was that the most students (all, but one) would tell an adult what to do with the laptops and the adult would be the one manipulation the computer.  My students struggle with visual-motor component of using a mouse and manipulating on the computer without some adult guidance. To my surprise, the students were very interested and more independently with the laptops than expected. The students were interested in learning how to save pictures on the iPads and navigating glogster as independently as they could. All, but one of the students were able to use the touchpad mouse effectively which was a revelation for me. Due to the time constraints of the “laptop schedule” my students to not use the laptops, instead they use the classroom desktop computers or iPads. This lesson also provided me with evidence that the touchpad mouse may be a more viable method of accessing the computer than the traditional mouse. In the end, this lesson took a little longer than expected due to the teaching of how to use some of the technology that I initially did not think some of the students were ready to manipulate independently.

I definitely think that the students made sense of the content. Each student was able to tell me (verbally or through the use of a communication device) about his or her individual animal as well as answer some basic questions about peer projects. I even had a student who told a visiting parent about her project using the iPad and an AAC app that we recently began using.


If you have time and want to check out our "glogs", here are the links!

Kamaiya's Elephant Glog created with the help of Joey from 5th grade.
Kearia's Giraffe Glog created with the help of Maggie from 5th grade.
Malone's Kangaroo Glog  created with the help of Jeffery from 5th grade.
Jacob's Emperor Penguin Glog created with the help of Lucas from 5th grade.

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