action learning for reflective practitioners ? web viewusing the diagnostic task i was able to...
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Action learning for reflective practitioners
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Approved by Academic Council 4 March 2009 (AC/34/2009)
Overview of the teaching context and the action research aim/s
I am currently an intern at South Coogee Primary school (SCPS); with a diversity of students (21% speak a language background other than English) (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014). After working with some students I found myself asking could I confidently teach students to recognise most sound-letter matches? (ACARA, 2014). Have I found effective approaches to facilitate student learning? These questions allow me to become a reflective practitioner and thus acting upon them allows me to improve teaching/learning (Pine, 2009). Following this, I have chosen to focus on year two students, particularly those who need additional assistance in developing their literacy capabilities at SCPS. The purpose of this research is to allow me to discover strategies to assist students with learning difficulties, particularly in literacy; whilst additionally gaining content knowledge and confidence to be able to identify them in a classroom setting. I have become involved in the school remedial programme called MulitLit (Wheldall & Beaman, 2000), which focuses on supporting students who are unable to reach the expected learning outcomes for their year level. During this time I aim to be able to effectively identify the different abilities in literacy, and assist those who do not reach the expected standards for their year, whilst incorporating play-based learning (DEEWR, 2009) as well as becoming more critical in my teaching approach, thereby critiquing current school programs and discovering the effectiveness of them.
Identification of the strategies undertaken to achieve the aim/s
Following my action research rationale, I plan to develop more content understanding as to what literacy is, and the expectations various year groups have. To do this I discussed with the year two classroom teacher how she plans and sequences her learning (appendix 1). I also sat in on staff meetings which discussed the whole-school approach to phonics, Letters & sounds (Department of Education, 2007). I furthered my research and review the MultiLit guide, Letters & Sounds book and the Australian Curriculum.
As mentioned, I am involved in the MultiLit program, and focus on 6 students twice a week, following a set lesson structure (appendix 2). From that I have reflected, using my reflection journals (appendix 3) and modified certain elements of the program, in the aim to link in the mandated Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) as I believe that whilst these students are at the brink of early childhood they still should be provided with the opportunity to ...actively engage with people, objects and representations (p.6).
When reflecting on the above strategies I began to question the influence the program had on the students once they returned to the classroom. I then had a meeting with the MultiLit coordinator to address my concerns and supported them with my classroom observations (appendix 4) which were conducted prior. It is crucial to complete these reflections and plan and act on them as it allows me to understand [more] about (myself) as (an) educator and about the education in a broader context (OConnor & Diggins, 2007, p.58).
Discussion of the data collection and data analysis processes (450)
In order to become a reflective practitioner I need plan-act/observe-reflect (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005) which I have done through research of programmes used in the school, involvement in those programs, classroom observation, teacher discussions and then modifications to my lesson plans and a development of understanding of the literacy content.
To begin, I created a diagnostic assessment task using the MultiLit program and Letters & Sounds to find my outcomes. The purpose for the diagnostic task (appendix 5) was to assess students and notice if I would have been able to identify as needing additional support. This was the case for 4 out of 6 students, whereas the other two I deemed as below satisfaction. The process of the diagnostic task was not play-based at all, however the main purpose of the task was to diagnose strengths and areas of need in all students (Department of Education, 2007). I do believe that when needing such results, there is no need for a play based activity, instead I aimed to create lessons using the EYLF to support their learning.
I worked each student individually, for twenty minutes twice a week; following the strict routine (appendix 2) suggested by MultiLit. I also observed the students for a full day in the classroom; taking notes on their social interactions, overall classroom engagement, engagement with structured English lessons, and the way they settled back into the class after participating in MultiLit. Whilst observing, I reflected on what I saw, and my own reaction to the lessons and students; which were noted in my reflective journal. The journal was a great tool as it allowed me to answer my own questions about practices and become more willing to research, plan and reflect; as supported by OConnor and Diggins (2002).
Additionally, I spoke to different teachers about their teaching style and approach to literacy. The purpose of this was to allow me to become familiar with the content within English, as it will allow me to set clear goals and expectations. A particular meeting was held with the coordinator of MultiLit which was very beneficial, as it confirmed that the aims of my project are very realistic and in fact shared amongst other teachers. . From that meeting (appendix 6) I realised that she had the same concerns, and too wanted to make the program more play and less structured.
There are work samples (appendix 7) from students who have completed MulitLit a brief statement (appendix 8) about what they think of it. The purpose of this was to gain a basic understanding of the childs point of view, of the program. Following from the conversations, I created modifications to the lesson; (appendix 9), which centred more on a play-based style of learning. Again using the reflective journal and a brief statement from the students, I found that there was in fact a development in engagement and learning.
Discussion of the preliminary findings
As mentioned above there is a number of processes which I have undertaken which have allowed me to create particular conclusions (Johnson, 2012). Using the diagnostic task I was able to identify a majority of the students would were referred to the remedial program, as needing such assistance, however, I was also unable to identify two of those students as needing such help. As planned in cycle two, I hope to reassess all students again aiming to create more accurate assessments.
After analysing my discussions with the students I came to the conclusion that many students were unable to see the purpose of the remedial program, as they did not enjoy it and felt excluded from the class. I soon learned that they found the program very boring and motivating; they only enjoyed it when they were taken out of a class activity which they did not enjoy. It was through these discussions that prompted me to become creative and develop strategies which I could implement to assist these students in the classroom as well as create engaging activities with the same outcomes.
During the classroom observation I noted that these students did struggle in their learning, particularly in their morning writing activities as the teacher did not seem to have time to cater for their difficulties; for example one of the students did not have any full stops or capital letters, the entire page was one sentence. This highlighted the fact that my research project is very narrow, as I seem to be focusing solely on the writing of sounds and lett