AR Focus Statement- I will use technology in the classroom to combat the combined problems of student apathy and lack of motivation to learn.
Target Audience – My target audience for Cycle 2 was a class of twenty-five 15-18 year-old biology students. This class was comprised of thirteen boys and twelve girls, thirteen of the students self-reported as African-American, ten as Caucasian and two as other. The entire group was lower middle to middle class, highly involved in sports, band, choir and drama. In this class, I had one student repeating the class for the second time; he was removed from my class during week five for failing to maintain a minimal grade in a state-tested course. This class was the first period of the day, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The class lasted a total of 18 weeks, Cycle 2 occurred during the first six weeks.
Summary of Cycle 2–
- I gave my students the pre-survey to fill out on the second day of class. I was not surprised to find that their examples of technology in class only included PowerPoint and projectors. Yet all of them stated that they preferred classes where teachers used technology to teach them. The first week I introduced the student response system that we used to take our first weekly vocabulary test. The students responses were predictable: “This is fun!”, “Are we going to use these every week?” and “I wish my other classes had these!” Every week for the next six weeks I introduced new technology in either my teaching of the main concepts or in their practice of the lesson during rotations.
- Activities implemented during Cycle 2 included:
1) Weekly Vocabulary Tests given using the student response system.
2) Lab Safety game: monopoly style lab safety board game that students can play to practice the lab safety rules.
3) Interactive Virtual Lab Tour: Students are able to “tour” a real lab and learn about procedures using the interactive white board.
4) Lab Safety Rap: students watch a video and learn the words to the lab safety rap song.
5) Identify the parts of a microscope: Flash video that prompts students to recall the parts of the microscope and their function.
6) Original music, lyrics and motions: Acid & Base Song that helps students remember the pH scale and the ions involved.
7) Student-created rap song: using the iPod Touch and an app to create an original piece of music about a chemistry concept learned in class.
8) YouTube Video: They Might Be Giants music video on Elements.
9) GEMS Virtual Alien Juice Bar: Students use their knowledge of acids and bases in an interactive setting.
10) Video: Jamie Oliver presents to TED, video about nutrition.
11) YouTube Video: They Might Be Giants music video about cells.
12) Cell Analogy Comic: Students used the iPod Touches to take pictures around the school then placed them in a comic app to create an analogy, the school is like a cell.
13) Mitosis review: Students created a foldable with the steps of mitosis on it, then reviewed videos of mitosis and took a quiz using the iPod Touch and the Mitosis app.
14) Inside a Cell: Interactive website where students explore the inside of a cell and identify all of the organelles, interactive white board.
15) MegaCell Organelles: Students play an interactive game at nobelprize.org to win they must get the appropriate organelles back in the cell (Angry Birds style game.)
16) Cell Cycle Control: Students play another game at nobelprize.org and attempt to control the cell cycle, if you mess up the cell explodes!
17) Becoming Human: interactive documentary at becominghuman.org, students must navigate their way through the program and answer questions as they move through the site.
18) Uncovering the Romanovs: an interactive website where students navigate through the methods used to identify the murdered Romanov family.
19) Transcribe and Translate a Gene: interactive website where students apply what they know about DNA and genes to the production of a real protein.
20) Music Video: Take AIM at Climate Change, students learned the words and then studied the scientific facts that back up the lyrics.
21) Interactive Photosynthesis: using the interactive white board students explored the process of photosynthesis, including an experiment and a quiz.
- During the implementation process, the inquiry questions posed to my Target Audience were two-fold. Would an increased use of technology in the classroom motivate students to attend class and participate in learning? And would an increased use of technology in the classroom result in authentic learning in my classroom? I would say that my students answered the first question emphatically yes during Cycle 2. The only student with an attendance problem in that class was the student who was repeating biology for the second time and was subsequently removed from my class before the cycle was completed. He already showed a strong pattern for absenteeism, and even though he enjoyed using technology (he was one of the leaders in the music video) it apparently wasn’t enough to overcome his general dislike for school. I did hear from several of my students parents who commented that this was the first science class their child had enjoyed, or that this was the highest grade their child had ever made in science. The high achieving students also enjoyed the addition of technology to the class, they were fully engaged and learning during all of our activities. Normally this would be the hardest group of students to motivate because they think they already know all they need to know about biology. I was able to lure them in with videos, music and Web 2.0 tools so that they actually enjoyed learning a few new things. As far as measuring authentic learning, I hope to be able to show that when our state test scores come back in June. My Cycle 2 Target Audience will be taking this test the first week in May. They took a district-wide pre-test this week and scored higher than any other class in the county (eight high schools.) If those results hold true, our tests results should show an increase in authentic learning from Cycle 2.
- The outcome of the implementation process was eye-opening for me, as well as for my peers and my administration. Everyone was a little leery about me using iPod Touches in class, allowing my students to use their phones in class, using ClassParrot to text my students, etc. I’ve always had great classroom management though, so my principal decided to support me wholeheartedly in my research. We have already talked about meeting with a select group of teachers in other subject areas over the summer and sharing my Action Research with them. I hope, as does my principal, that other strong teachers will be willing to try using new technology in their classroom with a focus on increasing motivation and authentic learning.
Data Report– In the pre-survey, students reported that they were only slightly motivated to attend school every day. In this survey, 90% reported that they came mostly because they had to, not because they wanted to be there. They also reported that they liked classes where technology was used, but they listed the technology used as a projector and PowerPoint presentations of notes. All but one student reported that they enjoyed classes more when they were allowed to “do” activities instead of just sitting and listening to the teacher. On the post-survey, 22 out of 24 students reported that they felt motivated to attend school. All of the students stated that they enjoyed a class that used technology, but now they listed iPods, Smartboards, “clickers”, iPads and their own phones as technology they would use in a classroom. And notably, they commented that students would use the technology, not the teacher. Student comments ranged from: “love this class”, “learned a lot”, “favorite class”, to “please talk to the other teachers” and “please tell them we can use our phones.”
Insight –The data tells me that what I proposed in my Action Plan can be accomplished. It does take some work on the teacher’s part, a paradigm shift you could say. Instead of looking at technology as something we have to lock up during school hours, we should look at it as just another tool in our quest for knowledge. If students are properly supervised and adequately challenged, they will use the technology that they love as a learning tool. It’s a win-win situation! Having completed both cycles, I feel I can accurately state that students are more motivated to learn when technology and Web 2.0 tools are included in the teaching. I’m also confidant that our state test scores will support my goal of producing authentic learning outcomes in my classes.
Surprises –One of the best activities during Cycle 2 was the addition of the original Acid-Base song with movements. I was very nervous about creating the song, much less performing it in front of anyone! My fellow teachers were so supportive though, they even went so far as to help me come up with hand motions and perform them on camera for my video. It was totally unexpected. The two other Biology teachers then used the video in their classes to enhance their own lessons. Because I was so nervous about performing in front of my students, I devised a lesson that had them creating and performing a rap song the week prior to my video. It worked like a champ! They were excited at first about recording their own song, and then they were a little apprehensive about everyone hearing it. In the end, they were proud of their finished product and how hard they worked on it. When I finally presented my song/video they were completely on board, even asking when we were going to do it again!
Future Direction-At this point, I am working on my “Perfect Cycle 3” and implementing a Learning Management System via Schoology into my classes for next year. I plan to tweak a few of the activities from Cycle 1 and Cycle 2, but I will definitely be using them again next year in all of my classes. In fact, I plan on adding a few more tools to my Teacher Toolbox over the summer and implementing them when we return to school in August.
Evaluate and Reflect –The only modifications that I made from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2 were improving directions and adding a few activities like games. I did not have to change my timeline, everything went as planned. I will continue my plan of action in the future, if anything I will be adding more lessons using technology in the future.