The Nature of the Problem

Michelangelo is often quoted as having said that inside every block of stone lies a beautiful statue (Zander and Zander, 2000, p26). In our current educational system, many students are viewed not as beautiful statues but rather simply as blocks that are unwilling to change. The industrial model of education has received the brunt of the blame being cast on all sides from teachers, to students, to legislatures and the larger community. Rather than focusing on assigning more blame, many researchers suggest what is needed is a shift in conceptualizing student learning and motivations in order to create learning environments that are beneficial for all parties (The Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008; Tapola & Niemivirta 2008; Jones, 2008; Khamois, Dukmak & Elhoweris, 2008; Vansteenkiste, Timmermans, Lens, Soenens, & Van den Broeck, 2008). This review of these studies will examine the modifications necessary to transform our traditional classrooms by focusing on reshaping the classroom environment, recasting the role of a teacher and his/her instruction, and increasing student motivation. My goal was to create a more student-centered classrooms where I personalized instruction, so that all my students are more motivated to learn and be successful. I want to uncover the possibility that lies within every stone.

Not all of my students were equally motivated to learn. This is my journey. It starts with that observation. I assumed it was their problem and I was going to find a way for them to change. But as the action research proceeded, I came to see that I need to change. I had become rigid in what I thought was the best way to teach. Together we learned how to create a context for student and teacher learning.

Anne Smith

Since I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, I have been a Language Arts teacher for 20 years and have had the pleasure of having laptop computers in my classroom since 2005. I have also been a part of an intense staff development process over the past decade exploring what learning looks like, how kids learn best, as well as the latest and greatest in technology tools to assist in transforming my classroom into a 21st-century learning environment where students are in-charge of their own learning. In 2008 I became an action researcher; In this website, I report and reflect on the action research that I carried out as my Master's Thesis and how this experience has shaped my teaching. To the left is a 10-minute presentation of my research.