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Chapter Three: Methods

In order to identify what happens when student voice and student reflection guide my teaching and our learning, I collected and analyzed data in the areas of student empowerment, academic achievement, and community. Goals Student Empowerment What It Looks Like I hoped my students would feel empowered to take charge of their learning by sharing what theyd like to learn in each grading period and how they preferred to learn new concepts. I wanted to see if my students were proud of their learning, and if they could identify how they arrived there and how they would like to continue to grow. I wanted to learn if my students felt a belongingness in our classroom, through both peer and teacher partnerships. Data Collection & Analysis Survey, interviews, student reflection journals, student observations, and exit slips

Academic Achievement

Interviews, district formal and informal assessments in class, student reflection journals, - and work samples


Student observations, student and teacher reflection journals

Survey Data Collection My entire class took a survey (See Appendix A) in the beginning of school year. I administered the survey at the beginning of each new grading period (September, January, and May) because these months come after a month long break. I noticed that the return from this length of a break typically felt like a new beginning or renewal of a learning period for our class. I wanted to take advantage of these opportunities to hear how the students would like to guide the next learning period. Through the various open-response and closed questions (ranking, rating, and multiple choice) I gathered what my students thought and felt about what theyd like to learn about, how they preferred to learn, and how comfortable they felt about sharing ideas on how to adjust the current state of our learning environment to what they needed. Due to the various writing readiness of the young age group I teach, we discussed the more open-ended questions as a whole class and continuously reflected upon them the whole year. We used our curiosity wall to document their answers to the more open-ended survey questions from the survey (Appendix B). The students also accessed this wall to share and request the expertise of other students in class. We

listed areas that we felt we were experts in and areas that we wanted to become experts at. When a student stated that they had difficulty writing a sentence for their research project, they would use the wall to find names of students who stated that they felt confident as a writer and wanted to help others. We used the wall to find student experts to help us write. Data Analysis Student responses were observed for themes and trends that emerged that addressed my goals of student empowerment, academic achievement and community in our learning environment. The students and I co-analyzed their responses from the open-ended questions documented on our curiosity wall. The students and I discussed the items that stood out for us and used the responses to guide what and how we learned. I also followed-up with students who marked that teachers only decide on changes in class and who felt students can say what they think but the teacher has final say and interviewed their reasoning behind their responses. The interviews were entered into my observation journal and analyzed for themes. Student Interviews Data Collection After the administration and analysis of the survey in the beginning of the year, I chose to interview my focus group. My focus group was a representation of the students who are hardest to reach in my school as well as those who are easy to reach. The group is composed of 4 students with 2 girls and 2 boys. There were 2 students who were classified as hardest to reach and 2 being the easiest. The hardest to reach group was made-up of the following: 1. Boy performing above grade level, had a IEP, was an English Language Learner, and had a behavior contract 2. Girl performing below grade level, English Language Learner, and quiet The easier to reach group was made-up the following: 1. Girl performing at grade level and didnt have a behavior contract 2. Boy performing above grade level and didnt have a behavior contract I interviewed each student separately with the questions in Appendix C, and recorded their responses in my observation journal. I administered these interview questions in the middle of a grading period three times a year. These questions helped me get a deeper understanding of how my students felt about themselves as learners, the personal stories theyve had that left a significant impact on their current state as a learner, and what they believed the role of their learning environment should be. Data Analysis I transcribed interviews the weekend after, and wrote about any moments that stood out to me within my observation journal. To identify themes, I looked for

connections to academic achievement, empowerment, and collaboration experiences within a community. I also looked for changes in responses from my focus students. For example, when interviewing Abbey about what she does not like about school she stated,I like everything! I wrote in my journal to follow up with Abbey because I was skeptical about her enthusiasm. Then when I asked her what her learning goal was during a student led conference she told her parents and I, I have a hard time figuring out 6+6 because I use my fingers and its bigger than 10. Her parents and I then provided Abbey with more support in addition. After the conference I asked Abbey how she felt about the student led conference and she said, I like that my parents and you know if I do or dont need help. These series of interviews with Abbey showed me that she felt empowered by telling us what she needed so that we could support her. Student Observations, Student and Teacher Reflection Journal Data Collection Throughout the year, I used my journal to write my observation of student behaviors around how they shared what felt good and not during a lesson, collaborated with one another or worked independently, and took notes from interviews of my focus group. I documented student input and opinions about our learning environment from weekly classroom community meetings and partner conversations. I was attentive to students who didnt normally speak out in class but wrote down changes they wanted done in our community meetings Ideas for Change box. I also documented the times when students would advocate for another students needs. I took note of students having difficulty working in a team and how they resolved problems in community meetings and when they did not. I documented my own reflections in the form of questions, themes that stood out from my observations of student behaviors, student to student interactions, my interactions with students, and interviews within my own reflection journal of my focus group. I documented my observations and thoughts on a daily to weekly basis. In order to deepen my understanding of how reflection affected empowerment, achievement, and community building through collaboration, I asked my focus group students to either draw or create a visual representation that reflected their own sense of growth and write how they saw themselves as learners in specific areas of our current study. We used the results of our discussion and responses to develop the norms for our classroom. They also record their reflections in their own journals, creating art pieces on a weekly to monthly basis or on exit cards after lessons. In order to encourage authentic reflective responses on exit cards, students interviewed each other and shared what their partner said in whole class discussions. Students were asked to compare how they had changed over time at the middle and end of the year. I recorded what they noticed in our conversation within my observation journal. Data Analysis

My focus group students and I discussed how theyve changed over time. I looked for themes and trends from what was shared from responses in the journals and art pieces. I noticed that my academically proficient students had difficulty sharing what they needed or had needs their parents and I had been unaware of. I also invited the whole class to help me look at the anonymous exit card results and share what they noticed. We looked for any changes over time from the responses. Work Samples and District Assessments Data Collection I used our district assessments to collect evidence of academic achievement from all of my students. These assessments are formally given in September and at the end of the three grading periods (November, March, and July). Our district assessments are called Benchmarks. There is a benchmark assessment for both literacy and math concepts covered in three trimesters. The concepts covered are state standards-based and follow the pacing of the curricula suggested by our district. The benchmarks are in a standardized testing format. I conducted more informal assessments through my daily observations and work samples collected from my students. Although I collected from every student in my class, I closely analyzed the work from my focus group. Data Analysis I made note of any themes and trends that emerged from responses in the work samples and district assessments in my journal. I looked for any changes over time from the responses. Students were asked to take part in the analysis. I asked my focus group students about their work samples. We looked at their work and discussed how they felt proud of their work in the areas of reading, writing, math, being a friend, and how theyd like to grow. They read through their responses and shared what changes or themes they noticed within themselves to their parents and I at each trimester report card conference. We called this our student led conference. I co-analyzed the district assessment data results with colleagues. We made any connections between what the focus group students voiced was an area of needed growth and how the steps implemented for growth affected their academic achievement on the formal assessments. We also looked at student work protocols with student drafts so that we could find ways to challenge the work forward. This collaboration with my colleagues created more opportunities within my school to talk about using student voice to influence the way we foster learning.