Science Teacher Action Research
Fifth Grade
Mrs. Mildred Johnson,  North Salisbury School
Question - Will the use of technology improve student motivation and learning in Science?

Hypothesis - The use of technology will motivate students to learn science skills through investigations and activities, thus improving success on formative and summative assessments.
 
What prompted me to look at this project? - I have to prepare four classes for the online Science MSA, given in the spring of each year. Though this test is currently not part of AYP, it is required, and data is being kept to see whether Science teaching in Maryland's public schools is improving. It is my belief that technology will play even more of a part in its instruction.

Step 1:    Identify a SIT (School Improvement Team) plan weakness that could be used as a focus for your action research. 


A9 Utilize technology to enhance student learning and increase proficiency with administrative tasks.

                       

        Students will receive practice in journaling, reading electronic tests, evaluating on-line information, and searching for information on the Internet.

                       

        Teachers will provide students with the opportunities to interact with a variety of technological tools such as Turning Point, PDA’s, EBeam, InterWrite, laptops, desktops, closed-circuit TV, GPS, iTouch, etc.
 

A10 Utilize the grade level standards of the State Science   Curriculum. Use the standards in planning instruction that will meet the needs 

of students, and improve learning in Science.  

                       


Step 2 : Research online sources for possible articles and/or strategies or tools used to improve this area of weakness.


 Source URL  Applicable Strategy/Information
http://www.textmapping.org     Textmapping is a graphic organizer technique that can be used to teach reading comprehension through identifying and interpreting text features.
http://bce.eanes.k12.tx.....ce/Elementary Science.htm

Links to Science Lesson Plans and interactive activities
Inquiry Science Lesson Plans Fun, grade level Science Plans
http://www.classmarker.com Teacher-made interactive quizzes
The Graph Club Application for making computer-generated graphs
 http://www.kids-science-experiments.com   Kids Science Experiments
 Fifth Grade Science & Health How science & health should be taught to fifth graders

 http://www.unitedstreaming.com

 video streaming of various science topics


Step 3 Brainstorm possible technology integration strategies that might increase this area.


     Students will generate projects, with written pieces, for their own webpage of Science activities. Since I have 4 classes participating, the management of the website will be done by me. The students will do the work and have it ready to be published on their individual webpages. 

     We will use a digital camera, PowerPoint, Movie Maker, Photo Story 3, and Google Docs Presentations  to make movies and slide shows.  They will be embedded in the student webpages, for various projects being covered throughout the school year.



Step 4:   Choose strategies and a means of collecting data. 


Strategy 1 and data collection:

Students will be given a survey about how they prepare for, and take Science tests. 

How will I share this with my school? 

I will let the staff know about the research during one of the faculty meetings. They will be given the results of the survey the fifth graders will have taken.


Strategy 2 and data collection:
     Students will keep an electronic portfolio using the network shared folder. Each will be given their own folder for use as an e portfolio. Students' chosen writings for science projects, will be edited by students and downloaded by teacher into their individual webpages along with photos and/or pictures of projects. 
     As the classes complete the various experiments and activities in class, digital photos will be taken and put into Google Documents presentations. Those slide shows will be downloaded into the classroom website.
                  Webpage for Slide Shows

 
How will I share this with my school?    Teachers will view Students' and Classroom Websites.

 
Strategy 3 and data collection:

 
Each class will have a class average generated for each quiz. I will use The Graph Club to make a line graph showing how the classes as a whole are improving.  
 
How will I share this with my school?
I will let the staff know  that they can visit  the classroom website to view the test average of theme assessments.
 
Strategy 4 and data collection:  Students will practice taking online teacher generated quizzes and BCRs using the following website:      
                      http://www.classmarker.com

 
How will I share this with my school:  Teachers will view links on the students' website of the various quizzes made available.

 

 
Implementation Time Line:
 
Strategy
Date of Implementation
Date of Assessment
Date of Sharing
 1. Science Survey
 
 Beginning the week of Jan. 11, 2010
 Beginning the week of Jan. 11, 2010
 May 2010
2. Student Website with Science Projects


3. Graphs of 
class quiz
averages

4. Interactive
Science quizzes

Beginning in October 2009




Beginning in April, 2010


Beginning in October 2009
Ongoing throughout 
school year



Ongoing



Ongoing
Live Online in students' website throughout school year

May 2010



May 2010





 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Step 5:   Analyze data.


      Initially I gave the students a survey on Science tests. Many of them showed confidence in their ability to succeed on them. However, the results of many of the tests did not show that the majority of the students, though confident, actually prepared for them. 
       I used Graph Club to make graphs that show quiz averages per term, and overall averages of homework, classwork, and quizzes combined for the four classes that I teach.  
    When viewing the graphs, it might appear that overall improvement in learning is not evident. However, individual student progress is, in various areas. Students' classroom participation was off the charts, especially during group experiments and when using technology. I'm not as encouraged about their testing progress. (The third term showed a drop due to the amount of days missed because of the snow storms. Those many days absent, made it difficult for many to catch up.) 
    I did provide study guides for each topic, and online practice quizzes. This year I made use of Chapter tests that were provided by the textbook, more often than not. I'm aware that they are difficult, but I wanted the students to be used to that form of testing, because of their comprehensive nature. They were very  similar to the Science MSA form of testing.
    Students who were already academically disciplined showed the most success on the formal assessments. Students with learning challenges were given modified exams, thus allowing them a certain amount of growth. 
    I made sure that all students experienced success, by allowing each one to participate in group experiments, activities, and special projects.  
    Our classroom blog gives some reflections the students had about Science this year.

Step 6:  Reflections and Discoveries: 

     Working on this action research project was quite rewarding. It allowed me to look closely at the way in which I teach Science. I've been teaching this subject, along with others, for almost 35 years, and still know that there are many things I need to do to improve. I've discovered that the more engaging the students are in their investigations, the more they get excited about learning. Not that I didn't already know this. It's just that when you teach a certain way for such a long time, it's harder to change. (Old dog, new tricks?) Well, I have changed my teaching methods in Science. Even with the difficult tests they take, the students still seem excited about coming to my class, just to see what else I have in store for them. Are we having an experiment today? What project are we going to do next? Yeah, we're going to work on the computers! These are the kinds of things I heard from the students more often this year than ever before. What an endorsement!     

    Are there things I could've done differently, better? Absolutely! I probably should have had them do more at- home activities involving their families. I could've shown them better ways to prepare for exams, even if it meant giving after school study sessions. I really want to get fifth graders ready for Middle School, by making them realize how important it is for them to take their learning more seriously. They need to know that their futures depend on them being independent learners. Many of my students really didn't get the kind of encouragement to study at home as I had hoped. Some did. It was obvious. However, I still must find better ways to reach students who need that added push to succeed on formal assessments.

     I definitely believe that technology is the means to that end! Oh, if only I had  a class set of computers  for my students to be able to work on everyday! What a dream!

So, next year I plan to once again do an Action Research project for Science!