A Research Proposal Presented to Dr. Steven Jones Missouri State University

In partial fulfillment of SFR 690 and requirements for the degree Master of Arts in Teaching

by Larry Neuburger June 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Larry Neuburger All Rights Reserved


INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM TO IMPROVE STUDENT MOTIVATION College of Education Missouri State University, June, 2009 Master of Arts in Teaching Larry Neuburger ABSTRACT This proposal reviews the available research related to integrating technology into the English classroom. There is not a lot of research which deals with the subject of utilizing technology in an English classroom beyond the scope of word processing and presentation software or as a tool for research. However, available research indicates students’ motivation increases when engaged in tasks they believe are relevant and create satisfaction. In addition, the available research suggests weblogs as an easy to manage venue where students may interact on the World Wide Web and share artifacts of work. The goal of this research is to determine if students’ motivation increases while engaged in blogging. Blogging activities range from daily writing to podcasting and video creation.



PAGE CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY.............................................................. 1 Statement of the Problem.......................................................................................................... 2 Purpose of the Study................................................................................................................. 4 Research Questions................................................................................................................... 5 Research Design........................................................................................................................ 5 Significance of the Study.......................................................................................................... 5 Limitations................................................................................................................................ 6 Definitions..................................................................................................................................6 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE .......................................................................... 7 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………...….... 7 Student Motivation................................................................................................................................. 8 Obstacles to Integrating Technology .........................................................................................9 Emerging Technologies for the English Classroom............................................................... ..11 Weblogs............................................................................................................................11 Podcasts and Digital Video..............................................................................................12 CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY...........................................................................................14 Research Design........................................................................................................................................14 Site of the Study.........................................................................................................................15 Participants.................................................................................................................................15 Data Collection ………………..…………………………………………………………........16


Research Instrument……………………………………………………………………………17 Data Analysis………………………………………………………………………………….17 CHAPTER IV IMPLEMENTING THE STUDY …………………………………………….18 CHAPTER V RESULTS OF THE STUDY…………………………………………………...26 Absenteeism……………………………………………………………………………………26 Group Dynamics………………………………………………………………………………..27 Senior Apathy…………………………………………………………………...……………...28 Teacher Inexperience……………………………………………………………………………29 Increased Motivation………………………………………………………………..………….30 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………32 Taking Technology Further……………………………………………………………………..33 Blogs…………………………………………………………………………………….33 Social Network…………………………………………………………………………..47 Final Thoughts…………………………………………………………………………………..47 REFERENCES..............................................................................................................................49 Appendix A Role Responsibilities – Director…………………………………………………...52 Appendix B Role Responsibilities – Camera Operator………………………………………….53 Appendix C Role Responsibilities – Editor/Props……………………………………………….54 Appendix D Role Responsibilities – Sound Engineer………………………………………...…55 Appendix E Role Responsibilities – Scribe…………...…………………………………………56 Appendix F Understanding and Agreement to Perform…………………………………………57 Appendix G Project Proposal – Bullying………………………………………………...……...58 Appendix H Project Timeline – The True Story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre……………..59


Appendix I Daily Log – The True Story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre…………………......60 Appendix J – Scoring Guide for Project………………………………………………………....61


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Some might think teachers of students going through the last two years of secondary education need only to continue adding the appropriate grade level content knowledge. However, this only happens with students engaged in their learning, usually college bound students who do not see high school as the last stop on their foray through formal academia. For motivation, these students usually need to know only what is required of them to get their “A”. Furthermore, these college bound students are less likely to pursue goals negatively associated with avoidance of effort, engagement, and achievement (Hardré, Crowson, Debacker, & White, 2007). These motivated college bound students soak up content as fast as one presents it. There has been much recent debate about increasing high school graduation requirements in order to better prepare students for college. According to Wilensky (2007), the discussion to align high school graduation requirements with college entry requirements does not make sense. For the majority of students, in his words, “College is not the answer” (p. B18). According to Wilensky, the majority of students are primarily interested in their peers and eager to find themselves in the world in a context that meets their personal expectations. They are more interested in the social aspect of school, and if they do not believe instruction will benefit them, they become unwilling participants in the classroom. Dealing with these unmotivated students can be a challenge. According to Joselowsky (2007), asking all concerned parties in the educational process what makes a good school will produce a variety of different answers. She asserts we should pay particular attention to how students answer the question. We should shift our focus from standardized test scores, accountability measures, and behavioral problems and focus on a “vision of nurturing and supportive schools that engage students and enable them to thrive cognitively, socially,


emotionally, and civically.” (p. 257) As a first year teacher constantly battling the problem of unmotivated students, I discovered students approached their assignments with more enthusiasm if they worked with technology. Statement of Problem My choice to teach at a rural high school was a deliberate one. I wanted to teach English in a small rural high school where getting to know all students would be possible. The school which hired me for my first teaching job has the demographic one would decidedly define as rural. Each spring the Future Farmers of America (FFA) students spend a week competing in state competitions creating a 70% absentee rate. The other students either farm and do not participate in FFA or live within the city limits of the southwest Missouri town of 754 inhabitants. The school is 98% Caucasian and approximately 45% of students receive free or reduced lunch. On a socio-economic scale, student population divides evenly between middle and lower class. During my first year of teaching, one of the English classes I taught was an English III American Literature class required for juniors. The junior class was split into two sections. Twelve students were enrolled in an English III Honors course, and the remaining twenty-four juniors were in the “regular” English III class. Of the twenty-four students in the class, five had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Three students with an IEP were in the English classroom for the first time since being identified as students needing special services. Because I believed writing on a regular basis is necessary for improving writing skills, the first ten minutes of every class was devoted to journaling. There were three journaling rules: keep the pen moving, do not worry about spelling or grammar, and write for ten minutes. If they needed a prompt I would provide one. This worked well in the honors class, but a host of problems occurred with Eng III.


The problems with Eng III became apparent right away. Many of the students could barely manage more than a few sentences in ten minutes. Some students’ entries would be a few scribbled sentences that degenerated into elaborate doodling. I tried several methods to rectify this. I modeled the activity, but many students would take advantage of this with a lot of off task behavior. Attempts to pace around the room and watch them had moderate success. Some would write when they saw me coming their direction and stop as soon as I left to watch others. In an effort to determine individual motivations and learning styles, I held individual conferences with many students who performed poorly on writing assessments. Many students repeatedly stated they just did not care; all they wanted was a passing grade. Some mentioned I could do whatever I wanted with their grade. I was astonished when they would look me in the eye after my whole-hearted effort to motivate them and say bluntly, “I just don’t care.” On the other hand, the students who responded they would try harder rarely kept their promise. For most of them, all they wanted was to get through the class with a passing grade. A “D-“ was fine by them. The extent of apathy towards learning in general surprised me. The major portions of the assessments given to these students involved essays and constructed responses. After the first time grading illegible handwriting, I decided to have students write on word processors as often as possible. There was also a hope that spelling and grammar would improve. In addition, I thought their answers might have more depth and analysis. Spelling and grammar did improve, but students still refused to truly engage any sort of meaningful analysis. Constructed responses consisted of a sentence fragment or one short sentence, and essays lacked structure and the meaningful analysis they should be able to demonstrate. I observed one critical thing: students enjoyed doing their work on computers. During the second semester the class was entrenched in a research paper. I noticed that they seemed to


enjoy researching information. Furthermore, when the time came for writing down what they learned, their writing improved. Instances of off task behavior were greatly reduced. I began thinking about other ways to incorporate more technology into the English classroom. The curriculum at my high school is well developed for English III. We were using brand new textbooks with a variety of resources to go with them. I felt the need during my first year to teach from the textbook. However, there were no meaningful resources tied to technology, so the use of technology in my classroom was limited to word processing and the aforementioned research paper. I began to search for more ways to incorporate technology into my English classes that went beyond the basic word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software. Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing took place during the second semester. The results were almost predictable. Compared to the previous year’s results, the scores dropped. In the Eng III class, all students except for one tested Basic or Below Basic. In addition, toward the end of the year, I found out I would be teaching these same students the following year in an English IV class. The curriculum for English IV is not set in stone and has virtually no textbook or resources to support a teacher. During the discussion with my principal about the curriculum, I mentioned my ideas about incorporating more technology into my classroom. He seemed supportive of all of my ideas, and with his blessing I began planning to see if my ideas about motivating reluctant students with more technology would work. Purpose of the Study What I specifically want to know is if integrating more technology into the English IV class room will improve students’ motivation to perform assignments.


Research Questions As stated earlier, my students in Eng III lacked the motivation to perform beyond what they deemed necessary for them to graduate. Motivation and performance appeared to improve slightly when the students used computers to complete tasks. I began to ask other education professionals if incorporating more technology would improve student motivation. Almost all indicated the belief that technology increase would indeed, help. I talked with teachers in my school from other content areas about their experiences with technology. Most teachers I interviewed indicated some success in varying degrees. Will increased use of technology in my English classroom improve student motivation? This is the primary question I hope to answer with the study. However, there are some obstacles to overcome. What technologies do I use, and how do I implement them? Research Design The design for this research project is an action research study where the process and the outcomes will be studied. The study will be conducted through observations of student behavior and performance. Assignment objectives for the class during these observations will mirror the objectives these same students had the previous year, and work from both years will be compared and analyzed. Motivation will also be measured by monitoring student behavior and approaches to assignments. Significance of the Study If integrating more technology in the English IV class indicates improved motivation, adaptations to other English class instruction may prove successful as well. Furthermore, other teachers in small high schools, where the class is divided into honors students in one class and the rest of the students in another may face similar motivation problems with their students. The methodology used in this study would have implications for further implementation of


technology into an English classroom. The types of technology used and the assignments students perform play key roles in the success of the study. Limitations Since there is no quantitative data collected, results from this study cannot be generalized for all classrooms. The context of the study is a very small, rural, agriculture-based community high school. Students are limited in their choices for fulfilling English requirements. They have to choose either an Advanced Placement course, or “regular” English course. Definitions 1. Technology – anything having to do with computers or digital media 2. Blog – short for “weblog.” An online journal or diary that can be shared with others using the World Wide Web. 3. Blogging – the act of creating or posting an entry for a blog.


CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction Professional educators constantly look for new ways to increase student motivation in a quest to improve student performance. If they are lucky, they may find successful strategies that work, but this success can be fleeting. Complicating the task of increasing and maintaining student motivation are emerging technologies which constantly and rapidly alter the teaching landscape. The demand for student understanding of these new technologies creates some unique problems for educators. Many school administrators and school boards understand this need for students to be technically literate and provide the means as best they can to accommodate this need (McGrail, 2007). Teachers are given their respective curricula, instructed to meet state standards, and informed they need to integrate technology into their instruction. Integrating technology into the curriculum is more easily said than done. An administrator knows he just purchased forty new computers, but he does not understand that merely increasing the numbers of computers does not translate into increased technical literacy for a variety of reasons. According to McGrail (2007), access to these new computers may not increase because of increased demands for them, and teachers may not understand how to incorporate the technology into their curriculum. Most importantly, teachers may not be convinced the technology will help with achieving the standards they achieve without the use of technology. In an English classroom, the primary modes of technology integration have focused on the mastery of word processing and presentation software. In addition, teachers spend time teaching the “how to’s” for researching for papers online. English teachers have been slow to


figure out new ways to use the World Wide Web. According to Leu, Kinzer, Coiro & Cammack (2004), the keys to integrating newer technology into an English classroom without diminishing Missouri Assessment Program achievement lay in the ability to access to those technologies, incorporate technologies that create meaning for the student, and promote the same higher order thinking skills as regular classroom instruction (cited in McGrail, (2007). Student Motivation According to Schiefle (1991), student motivation for learning can be tied to student interest (cited in Weber, Martin & Cayanus, 2005, p. 71). The use of technology has demonstrated the effectiveness of increasing student interest (Keller, Suzuki, 2004). However, according to Keller and Suzuki maintaining student motivation proves more difficult as the novelty of the technology wears off. In order to go beyond mere identification of motivational problems, Keller and Suzuki describe a process designed model (Keller, 1987a) based on attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction (ARCS) designed to “assist educators with analyzing learner motivation and designing motivational tactics that are keyed to specific areas of motivational problems and integrated with teaching/learning strategies” (p.230). The ARCS model is based on four beliefs. A lesson must gain and maintain attention, build relevance, and instill confidence. These three conditions are necessary to establish motivation. The fourth belief, satisfaction, is necessary for positive feelings about student learning experiences (p. 231). Keller and Suzuki (2004) believe their research indicates the possibility to identify motivational requirements of students and design motivational enhancements to instruction that will predictably improve student motivation (p. 239). In a study to test the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of motivationally adaptive computer-assisted instruction (CAI), Keller and Sang (2001) used the ARCS model. They studied sixty tenth graders representing all levels of academic ability with the exception of


special needs students. The students were randomly assigned to one of three levels of CAI: “motivationally adaptive, motivationally saturated, or motivationally minimized”. (p.100) In an effort to understand how to adapt CAI as student motivation increased or decreased, Keller and Sang identified three approaches to design and development of CAI. They determined the ARCS model approach could effectively detect when learner motivation peaked or ebbed. While Keller’s ARCS model and Keller and Suzuki’s research provide means to measure motivation and adapt teaching strategies when utilizing technology n the classroom, their research does not address the obstacles to integrating technology in individual classrooms. Obstacles to Integrating Technology In a qualitative study McGrail (2005) describes the dilemma of English teachers regarding technical innovation as one where teachers are compelled by administrators and legislators whom assume inaccurate classroom conditions to implement innovation and turn a deaf ear to teacher judgments. McGrail further explains how teachers blame computers for “moving students away from literature defined by them as a book-based culture…where reading, writing and literature exploration were portrayed as difficult rather than attainable tasks.” (p. 9) Additionally, (McGrail, 2005 along with Keller & Bichelmeyer, 2004) illustrate a common problem where administrators whom have purchased multiple new computers cannot understand why teachers do not increase technology integration. They do not understand the process of trying to reserve computer space. For example, if a teacher is able to plan far enough ahead to reserve a lab and underestimates the time he needs for students to complete a project by a day or two, they find themselves in a quandary. They suddenly find themselves in a situation where they are in conflict with another teacher who also needs the lab. Many teachers just avoid the problem by not using the lab at all. As McGrail suggests, more computers do not necessarily mean more technology integration.


In a later study, McGrail (2007) observed classroom environments where all students were given access to laptops from laptop storage carts. The carts are designed for storage and charging purposes. According to McGrail’s study, the carts took up much needed space, and before the end of the school day laptops required charging and resulted in wires strewn around the room. Even if these obstacles were overcome, McGrail discovered in one classroom the nature of tasks assigned and how the teacher facilitated the tasks resulted in the poor outcomes. The outcomes she describes in all of these instances are “social isolation, limited interaction, and off-task behavior.” (p. 69) She discusses possible solutions to these problems. Regarding the physical environment she states, To support the teachers in this study in regard to problems such as limited physical space and furniture constraints, administrators need to develop a strategic plan about how to create a supportive physical environment in each laptop classroom, with amenities such as: appropriate furniture, adequate space for equipment, and a supportive technical infrastructure (i.e., electrical outlets). (p.79) Regarding behavioral and pedagogical issues, To deal with the problems around the social space in their classrooms, such as limited interaction, social isolation and off-task behavior, the teachers in this study need to review their current pedagogical beliefs and practices. In this way, they can perceive whether their instructional frameworks and technology uses support interaction and collaborative learning, whether they provide students with enough scaffolding and modeling of such learning, and whether the roles they assume for themselves and for technology encourage student participation, ownership, and multi-channeled communication. (p.80)


In order to implement the use of added computers such as laptop carts, teachers need to arrange the furniture in the classroom in a way to accommodate the needed space. This requires some advance planning. In addition, to avoid running down batteries, teachers need to plan to use computers in a way that allows adequate charging time in between uses. However, the biggest concern facing teachers who are facing increased pressure to integrate technology into the curriculum revolves around the teachers’ doubts whether or not integrating technology into their instruction will increase student scores on state mandated tests (McGrail, 2007; Keller, Bichelmeyer, 2004). Keller and Bichelmeyer believe professional development is the key to solving teachers’ apprehensions. Teachers need instruction on not only how to use certain technologies, but more importantly, how to use the technology to benefit students effectively and efficiently. They believe technology use in the classroom needs to be moved beyond a peripheral role where teachers merely supplement established instruction with word processors and presentation software. Furthermore, technology should be used in a more central role and teachers need to be become more progressive in their pedagogy (Keller, Bichelmeyer, 2004). However, even if teachers utilize progressive pedagogy, have the technical skills, and have unlimited access to computers in a perfect environment, they must decide what technologies should be used and figure out how to implement them. Emerging Technologies for the English Classroom Weblogs Weblogs (blogs) have been considered nothing more than online diaries (Eastman, 2005). However, recent advances have made it relatively easy to expand the blog into English writing pedagogy (Eastman, 2004; Lowe, 2007; Brooks, Nichols, Priebe, 2007). Lowe maintains that students need to partake in and reap the benefits of written social discourse. Siegle (2007) believes educators need to capitalize on student fascination with this technology. Lowe, Siegle,


and Eastman all agree blogs have opened up a wonderful avenue to create web content with very little hassle. Blogs offer distinct advantages over traditional web publishing tools. According to Lowe and Eastman, adding and editing content on a blog is basically a three step process. In the past, posting content to the web required special software and a file transfer method that could only be altered on computers equipped with the special software. Furthermore, Lowe states, “Teachers no longer have to act as a web design tools educator and technical support.” (p. 4) Another huge benefit he describes entails student reluctance to have writing publicized. Students who are initially reluctant to have others read their writing lose their discomfort and discover it is actually fun to read others’ writing and respond when compelled to do so. Finally, Lowe writes, “Blogging represents the interaction of a community in the sense that all posts are subject to concerns about audience.” (p. 4) The findings of one study on weblogs conducted by Brooks, Nichols, and Priebe (2007) conclude that “working with technology (regardless of genre) has the potential to motivate student writers.” (p. 9) Podcasts and Digital Video Today’s students have become fascinated with all sorts of technology. This is certainly true with MP3 audio as well as digital video (Siegle, 2007). According to Siegle, schools have all the equipment necessary to create podcasts and capitalize on this fascination. Furthermore, students can now demonstrate their connections with educational content with something more than text. Students can create weekly news magazines or conduct interviews. By creating hyperlinks, podcasts are available to anyone with a MP3 player and most personal computers. Digital video (DV) has created a medium for representational literacy (Beilke &Stuve, 2004). Beilke and Stuve further describe DV’s uses as a construction medium that consists of


multiple dimensions. Students can create documentaries, inter-active videos, and school-based broadcasts. Beilke and Stuve state, The educational application lies in the capacity and skill that the learner brings to the processing of images and video. This represents media (television, video, imagery) processing as a literacy separate from the more traditional notions of literacy (i.e., print materials) that are addressed in K-12 curricula. (p. 160) According to Goodman (as cited in Beilke & Stuve, 2004) creating digital media presents several opportunities for students. Students can analyze information from a variety of nonformal education sources. Digital media formation creates opportunities for technological development and encourages technological competence.


CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY Much has been published about the need to incorporate technology into everyday curriculum. Administrators and school boards scramble to find funds to buy more computers and digital tools such as still cameras, movie cameras and various software packages. However, as noted in Chapter II, teachers are handed all of these new tools but have little knowledge about how to incorporate them into their daily routine (McGrail, 2007). Compounding this problem is the lack of confidence by teachers these new tools will actually enhance students’ achievement scores on state mandated tests (McGrail, 2007). The goal of this research project is to determine if increased use of these digital tools will enhance students’ motivation to complete tasks. In order to implement this study, decisions regarding what technologies to use and how to use them need to be determined. Research Design The design for this research most closely resembles classroom action research as described by Hendricks (2006). The scope of the research is limited to a single classroom. However, if the results of the study indicate increased student performance, the types of technology used in this study could easily be adapted for other English classrooms. The plan to conduct this study involves a practical action research approach as defined by Gay, Mills, and Airasian (2006). Since the researcher has no experience utilizing the added technology, the study of how to integrate the technology is important as well. Although the primary goal of the action research is to determine student motivation while engaged with technology in an English classroom, ongoing observations and reflections will guide how to integrate the technology in a meaningful way.


The time frame for this study will be over a six week period. The participants in the study will be engaged in blogging for four months prior to the study in order to allow the novelty of the technology to erode and to prevent skewed observations. Site of the Study The site for this study is an English IV classroom in a small rural high school in southwest Missouri. The school district has a student population of less than 600 in grades K-12 (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), 2007). Almost 70% of the student population participate in Future Farmers of America. According to DESE (2007), 48% of students receive free or reduced lunch. The emphasis by the district for technology integration is indicated by the lower than the state ratio of students to computers. The state ratio is just over 3:1, while the site of this study has a ratio of just over 2:1 (DESE, 2004). During 2007, the high school purchased an additional fifty-five handheld and twenty desktop computers, as well as a mobile laptop cart with ten Apple Notebooks. Participants Sixteen twelfth grade students are involved with this study. They are enrolled in my English IV class. Options for these students when choosing a senior English course are limited. They have the choice of enrolling in Dual Credit English or English IV. The students participated in the Communication Arts portion of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) during the previous year. According to DESE (2007), performance data indicates the breakdown of the class as follows:    Two students tested “Proficient.” Ten students tested “Basic.” Four students tested “Below basic.”


The participants for this study were in my English III class the previous year, and their attitudes, performance on assignments, and motivation are familiar to this researcher. There are no ethical ramifications for these students if this study is implemented. Students, parents, and the high school principal will be informed of the study and their consent given prior to implementation. Participants’ identities are not needed to conduct the study. All participants will remain anonymous upon disclosure of findings. Furthermore, application will be made to the Missouri State University Internal Review Board for approval to conduct the study. Data Collection Since I taught these students and have samples of their work as juniors in English III, student writing in this study will be compared to their work as juniors and analyzed. However, the primary data collected to indicate student motivation will be collected through the following two methods: 1. My observation of students’ willingness to engage in assigned tasks and avoid off task behavior will be recorded through field notes (Hendricks, 2006). I will look for willingness to engage assignments, off task behavior, and performance. 2. Group exit interview to determine ideas and feelings about the technology used in the study will be transcribed into text. Previous experiences with these students and the small size of the student population prohibit individual interviews because individually, students will be more likely to tell me what I want to hear instead of being honest. Questions for the interview will be primarily exploratory to determine attitudes toward the technology. The interview will be set up by asking students to reflect on their experience and write their thoughts in a journal. After journaling, I


will start asking them both closed and open questions to allow the students to both evaluate their opinions and put them into context if they choose to do so. Research Instrument In this action research study, the researcher is the primary instrument for collecting data. Field notes and daily reflections on observations made of student behavior will be inductively analyzed. The daily reflections are vital to the success of the study. During the six weeks of the study, daily reflections on observations of student behavior and performance will be used to determine how and when different types of assignments are implemented. The videotaped exit interview will consist of questions based on Keller’s (1987) ARCS model. Data Analysis Data analysis will be performed in the following methods:  Student writing artifacts from this study will be compared to artifacts of writing performed as juniors in the English III class to see if there is any change in level of performance. I will be looking for improved writing in the areas of content, spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  Observation data will be recorded and inductively analyzed for patterns. I will want to determine if students enjoy or avoid particular assignments. This data will be monitored closely and utilized as a guide for adjusting day to day instruction. Since all finished student work during this study will be posted and kept on the class blog, monitoring student performance should be a relatively simple task. Furthermore, since almost all work will be done in the classroom, observations of student engagement or off task behavior should be simple as well.


The students involved with this study engaged in a variety of computer based assignments in an English IV-Applied Communications class over the course of a semester and a half before this study started. Students became familiar with blogging by posting a mini research assignment followed by an online book study. When the book study concluded, students started creating podcasts. Once students became proficient in podcasting, they started creating video projects. It was at this point the study began. Choosing to wait so long before actually studying student behavior towards increased use of technology was intentional for three reasons. First, students needed to become accustomed to coming into class and doing the bulk of their work on a computer. Second, they also needed to become familiar with the various tools used for digital media creation such as cameras, microphones, and editing software. The third and most important reason for waiting until later in the year before implementing the study was to allow for the novelty of using these tools to wear off. We started the year off on the first day of school by creating a class blog though a Google supported service called Blogger. Three steps were taken to maintain the privacy of students. The blog was set up as “Private” so only invited people could see or post to the blog, and only the teacher could invite people. Students were instructed to use code names when they created their profile or use first names only. The same instructions applied when posting any content to the blog. Once everyone completed the process of joining the blog, we immediately launched into a short research project on the story of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Students posted a summary of their research findings and then began an online discussion of the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Using student generated questions as a guide, students began posting individual responses to the blog, and then commenting on each others’ posts. I was 18

encouraged when I compared their writing to their writing the previous year. They also appeared to be much more engaged than the previous year as well. Although their writing still contained some mechanical, grammar, and spelling issues, the increased fluency and use of age appropriate vocabulary in their writing were encouraging signs. One student showed marked improvement with his writing. I had approached this student a year earlier after reading his writing and noticed some serious writing problems. His spelling was awful, so awful I kept getting stuck as I attempted to decode his words. I finally figured out he was spelling words as he would pronounce them. For example, I stumbled across the two words opicits atrak, which correctly spelled would be opposites attract. When I approached him about his writing issues, he informed me he had been identified for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) when he was in the seventh grade. However, our special education department, for a variety of reasons, had failed to follow through with his referral. He was now a junior, and I realized time was running out to help this student. He was more than eager to come in after school and work with me to see what we could do to help him before he graduated. We worked together to increase his reading and writing proficiency. While working with him, I noticed a marked improvement when he typed his writing on a word processor and he could use a spellchecker. He would still misspell words when they were so badly misspelled a word checker couldn’t recognize the word. Opicits is a case in point. A spellchecker will not give you opposites as a suggested spelling. Since time was running out for him, we decided to have him type as much of his writing as teachers would allow. His spelling improved as he became more and more proficient at recognizing the correct suggested spellings from the spellchecker. His posts during the discussion on the blog of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland showed marked improvement. Although his posts were short, he did demonstrate the ability to perform a writing


assignment where he did not have to concentrate so much about spelling and could focus more on the content of his post. The following is an example. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2007 ?ions "...if Faries may for a moment lay aside cunning tricks and elfish play..." means that the faries need to get serious and open up. "The rest next time--" "It is next time!'' means why wait until tomorrow when you can do it today. There is orange marmalade on the shelf because rabbits like orange marmalade. Alice means that she got to much in the way, and expected nothing out of the way to happen. Mainly she shouldn't have went down the hole in the first place. Posted by Code Monkeys Rocks at 1:56 PM After several blog assignments, I asked students to post a reflection on their blogging activities. Here is how the same student responded to the prompt. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2007 I have learned that it is hard to be creative sometimes. That and it is very hard not to be reading a studder while reading. My writing has improved a little not that much but some. I have enjoyed making fun of my friends while reading the script and hearing their mistakes. I don't care for a lot of things but this was ok for the most part. I hated how their is a time limit. Have a checkers and chessed tounment when people are done with their project. Posted by Code Monkeys Rocks at 1:45 PM Later in the year for a midterm essay this student created a post which accurately demonstrates his marked improvement in matters of writing fluency. TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2007 Lewis Carroll better known as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was famous for writing Alice in Wonderland. Carroll wrote many books, including a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, called Through the Looking- Glass. Carroll has not only written nonsense into books, he has also written the comic poem, "The Hunting of the Snark", and a nonsense poem "Jabberwocky". Carroll's inspiration was from little girls. He also took pictures of little girls, but was believed that his family destroyed all the things that Carroll did, that would destroy his reputation. Carrolls writing styles have delighted audiences from a range of all ages, from little kids to older adults. Carroll's books influenced a few 20th century writers such as James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges. Dodgson family was mainly northern English, with some Irish connections, conservative and High Church Anglican, most of Dodgson's ancestors belonged to the two traditional English upper-middle class professions: the army and the Church. Carroll great-grandfather, also Charles


Dodgson, had risen through the ranks of the church to become a bishop. The other Charles also named Charles Dodgson was in the army, rank captain, but was killed in the war, 1803. Charles had two sons; they were hardly older than babies were. The oldest of all the Charles, reverted to the other family business, took holy orders; and he published some sermons, translated Tertullian, it is also believe that he went to Westminster School. Charles was mathematically gifted, even could have pursued a brilliant academic career, but Charles decided to marry his first cousin, and retired into obscurity as a country parson. Carroll was born in a church house, in the town of Daresbury, and he was the oldest boy out of eleven brothers and sisters. He grew out of his childhood into a bright, articulate boy. Young Carroll was home schooled for his education. He was limited on his reading, his choices was family testify to a precocious intellect. When he was seven the gifted Carroll was reading The Pilgrim’s Progress. There is consideration that he was naturally left-handed and suffered severe psychological trauma by being forced to work against this tendency. The sad thing about this question is his family “destroyed” all of the incriminating evidences that might have been bad for his career. On Carroll 12TH birthday, he was sent away to a small private school near Richmond, it was told that he was happy there. However, when he left to Rugby School, it was a lot less fun for him. After five long years in Rugby School, he lifted for Oxford, where his college was located at, and it was told that his father went to the same college. Christ Church was the college’s name, as Carroll arrived, he got a letter that informs him that is mother died. It is believe that the cause of her deaf, was by a stroke or something to do with the brain. His mother died at the age of 47, not bad for having a ton of kids, and raising them all. Carroll took up photography, so he would be able to combine the ideals of his sick mind, and his perverted ways. He used his mastery of photography to take pictures of little girls or subjects, with out shame or guilt. "Dodgson soon excelled at the art, and it became an expression of his very personal inner philosophy. A belief in the divinity of what he called beauty, by which he seemed to mean a state of moral or aesthetic or physical perfection, in the human form; in the body-images that moved him.” (qut. Biblio) His number one model was Alexandra Kitchin, whom he photographed around 50 times from the age of four until the age of about sixteen. He took pictures of Alexandra in a bath dress at the age of sixteen. He took pictures of many girls but about one third has survived sense 1880. They were long presumed lost, but six nudes have since surfaced, four of which have been published and another two are not known as will.

Posted by Code Monkeys Rocks at 2:13 PM

After finishing the online book discussion, students eagerly started into audio podcasting. They were required to write out dialogue based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland characters and themes. They could write dialogue for a commercial or an extended conversation between characters from the book. They then recorded the dialogue, converted the recording to an uploadable file format, uploaded the audio file to a web hosting website, and embedded the podcast to the class blog. Students seemed to enjoy this activity so much they asked if they


could create podcasts without the theme of the book. The students created a morning radio talk show, original music, and a commercial. Over the course of a month each student created at least three podcasts. I was extremely excited as we began creating video projects. When we began doing video projects students worked in pairs. For the first four weeks, the primary objectives for my students were to familiarize themselves with the capabilities of the camera equipment and editing software. The first video assignment required they use an Apple Notebook with a camera to record a short 5 to 10 second video of themselves, save the file to their desktop, upload the video to Google Video, and embed the video in the blog. After each student completed this assignment, they were required to come up with their own ideas for projects; the only requirement was to keep them around two minutes long. Some students thrived with the creative freedom while others struggled. One example of a video from a group who enjoyed the process was a mock interview of the boys’ basketball coach using Ken and Barbie dolls. Another group created an unscripted video that started out to be about how to install car speakers ended up being how not to install car speakers. One group made a total of five videos, while another group struggled to complete one project. The group producing one video engaged in a lot of off task behavior, such as talking and cruising the internet under the guise of research for their project. I observed the dynamics of how students engaged the video assignments in order to determine strengths and weaknesses of each student. For example, some could envision how a project should look visually before shooting video and take the necessary steps to create their vision, but they did not engage the tedious nature of editing. Some wanted to be on camera and some did not. My plan for the study was to form four groups each with four members where each group had at least one member who was good at each aspect of video production. However, through early graduation and two students dropping out of school I was left with eight students.


For this final project, I developed a unit plan consisting of five parts. The first part deals with brainstorming for ideas. Part 1 - Brainstorming and Teams  Each student will spend one day to think of and present two ideas for a digital project  Students will select which topics will be selected by rating educational value, viability, & interest, on a ranking scale.  Once topics are determined, students will be divided into five person teams

Presenting ideas and determining what projects were to be done prior to organizing groups in order to get as many ideas as possible. I wrote all of the ideas on the whiteboard as students shared their ideas. I intentionally disregarded all but five ideas which was easy because many were silly and the student offering the idea knew it was silly. For example, one offered the idea of seeing who could eat the most ice cream without getting sick. Students then ranked the five ideas with one being their favorite down to five being their least favorite. I collected their rankings, and we scored them together on the white board. The two projects with the least number of points became the chosen topics. One topic dealt with bullying and the other topic was the true story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM). I then divided the students into two teams and began part two of the unit plan. Part 2 - Research  Each student will spend three days independently researching and writing a 650 word summary of findings on assigned topics.  Works cited – each summary will include a works cited section  Summary of findings – Each team will have two days to collaborate and produce one revised overall summary with a works cited to use as a project guideline. Student summaries were then posted to the blog and we then moved on to part three. Part 3 - Determining Roles  Each team will divide themselves into the following roles: Director, Sound Engineer, Scribe, Cameraman, & Editor/Props  Each team will determine individual roles within the team  Role responsibilities will be explained on pages 6-10 (Appendices A-E)


Each person will sign and turn in an “Understanding of Roles and Agreement to Perform” form found on page 12. (Appendix F)

The idea for assigning roles came from seeing a demonstration based on Daniels and Bizar’s Literature Circles. After students argued, sometimes heatedly, over who was going to do what each person signed their respective Understanding of Roles and Agreement to Perform, groups began their assigned project by starting on Part Four of the unit plan, which deals with project proposals and timelines for the unit and Part 5, which describes the actual product each group will produce. When creating the unit plan, I anticipated group progress to go in different directions and speeds. The project timelines and daily logs were created to assist me in determining if each group made adequate progress each day. Part 4 - Project Proposals and Timelines  Each team will have two days to discuss and create a Project Proposal. See form on page 13. (Appendix G)  Each team will discuss project proposal with teacher  After receiving approval, team will create a project timeline using a calendar provided by the teacher (Appendix H)  Each team will turn in a Daily Log describing daily accomplishments (Appendix I) Part 5 – Project Creation  Teams will create a digital project that demonstrates:  understanding of the topic  the integration of at least four digital components  creative use of digital components  effective storytelling When determining how to grade this unit a couple of factors needed to be considered. Students needed individual accountability even though they were collaborating in a group and all team members would receive the same grade. Students would need to closely observed and confronted if they exhibited off-task behavior. Students with the role of Director were informed to report any issues with members of their respective group by letting me know when they turned in Daily Logs. Students also needed to understand how important this project would be in determining whether or not they would pass the course. When explaining the outline of the


course to students at the beginning of the year, I explained how we were going to work with several forms of digital technology. They were going to start with blogging, progress into podcasting and video creation, and end the year with a culminating assignment utilizing all they had learned. I wanted them to understand my high expectations for this assignment. Included with the unit plan handed out to the students was a scoring sheet detailing how students would be graded. (Appendix J) Up until this point, most assignments were worth around fifty to a one hundred points. This assignment, worth 700 points over a six week period, represented a significant portion of student points for the semester, and if they failed this assignment, they would fail the course and not graduate. After we discussed the unit plan in detail, and they began brainstorming for ideas, students appeared eager and excited.


CHAPTER V RESULTS OF THE STUDY The purpose of this study was to determine if using more technology in my English classroom would motivate apathetic students to become more engaged in assignments. The results of this research project are mixed. This researcher hoped to find students totally engaged throughout the study. While observations of student performance showed an increase in student engagement, several unforeseen obstacles prevented the project from being a total success. Four distinct obstacles preventing a total success can be summed up as absenteeism, group dynamics, senior apathy, and teacher inexperience. Absenteeism At first the students engaged the project studied with a good deal of energy. Each student completed the research portion of the assignment during two class periods. However, at this point problems began to occur. The school studied is a small rural school with the majority of the students raised on farms. It has an award winning Future Farmers of America (FFA) program that competes every spring in contests. Six students involved with FFA each had over eight days absent due to competitions. On days of FFA competitions there were only two students in the class. One girl participated in track and missed seven days, while two girls missed two days for a Family and Consumer Science trip to the state capitol. Two students involved with baseball missed ten days. During prom week, two girls missed two days. The class studied met every day for 55 minute periods. Over the six week period there were only four days when all students were present. The absences turned into a huge problem on days when two members of a team were missing. Observations of students with two members of their group missing showed very little motivation to do anything beyond filling out the required daily log. I urged student to plan ahead


and work around those days they knew people from their group would be absent, but never saw any improvement. However, absenteeism did not turn out to be the only obstacle. Even when three or more group members were present, one group had a hard time get along with each other. Group Dynamics All but one of the students studied grew up around the same school district, which means they attended the same classes in the same classrooms with same teacher for almost thirteen years. Three weeks into the study, it became apparent two students in one group were having trouble getting along. On three different occasions I observed the director of one group with her head down on the table appearing to be asleep. She was instructed to get her head up and participate each time. The first time she reluctantly raised her head up, but said nothing the rest of the period. The second time she had moved to another table before putting her head down and when instructed to get back into her group, she responded loudly, “How do you expect us to do anything when student A is a complete moron.” This produced much laughter from student A and the rest of the group. She sat with her group without saying a word for the rest of the period. The third time I told her get her head up she stood up and yelled, “This whole project is a bunch of crap,” walked out of the classroom, and was absent the next two days. When she returned, we met and she appeared contrite but requested to be removed from her group. She was informed that was not possible and requested to at least be relieved of her role as the Director of the group. This request was accommodated after another student in the group agreed to change roles with her. There were no more blow ups within the group, but observations indicated she was taking a very passive role. This group’s dynamics and the absentee problem contributed to the third obstacle – senior apathy.


Senior Apathy Some apathy was expected with the class studied. However, over the course of the year, this did not appear to be the problem as students seemed to enjoy exploring new technological tools and ways of presenting their work. Three weeks into the study and four weeks before graduation students appeared to get frustrated because they began falling behind. The absences caused both groups to fall behind, but instead of working harder to get back on schedule, they appeared to give up. When the Directors turned in their daily logs, they indicated they might have to scale back on what they wanted to present. It appeared they wanted me to lower my expectations because they wanted to lower theirs. I instructed them to make use of class time and informed them they would have to come in and work on their projects on their own time. They were also informed they could come in and use my classroom anytime during the day if they could get their other teachers to let them out of class. Neither group took advantage of this offer, nor did they work on their own time. Students did try to make better use of class time, but with less than a week to go to finish their projects, both groups could see they were not going to get done on time. I extended the deadline one week to one day before graduation, but with one week left before graduation they started to just stop working altogether. The final week before graduation seniors are required to go to all of their teachers and have the teacher sign a sheet with the students’ grade to make sure they are passing and eligible. After informing each student I could change the passing grade, and their verbal commitment to get the projects finished, I signed off. In the end, one group produced a rough draft but no final draft. The other group turned in a rough draft after one student came back after graduation to get it done. The fact that the neither group produced a final draft of their product put six students in a position where they should fail the class based on the grading system for the project. I found myself in a position, where if I failed the six students,


the diplomas they already received would be voided and they would have to come back for six weeks of summer school. Upon reflecting on the obstacles occurring during the study, I realized most of them could have been avoided if I had been a more experienced teacher. Teacher Inexperience Two of the obstacles could easily be avoided had this researcher been more experienced. The absences are unavoidable and occur every year during the spring. A more experienced teacher would anticipate the huge number of absences occurring during the spring months at this particular high school and would plan accordingly. Furthermore, a more experienced teacher of senior would know how hard it is to get seniors to focus during the last days of secondary education. Understanding these facts, a more experienced teacher would start the project earlier. Expecting students to make up for lost time by coming into my classroom during other times of the school day or by working on their own time was unrealistic. With five members in each group, students could never arrange to have teacher allow all group members to leave a class to come to my room to work on their project. They tried, but I quickly realized it was unfair to ask teachers to give up class time, as they also have to deal with the absences. Getting students together to work on the projects outside of school proved impossible as well for a number of reasons. All of the students had jobs and scheduling workable times to meet after school could not be accomplished. In addition, students in this rural area live as much as twenty miles from each other making transportation to a meeting location very difficult. Because I could see there was no way to get the projects done on time, I reluctantly agreed to extend due dates to the last week of school knowing full well it might not do any good. The problem with group dynamics could also be easily avoided. When the group which experienced problems determined roles for the project, they sabotaged themselves by selecting


Student A as the Director. When informed of her selection as Director of the group, I suspected trouble, but made a decision to give the group the autonomy to operate independently. Had I interfered with the group’s decision, the problems occurring later probably would have been avoided. One other decision made with this group turned out to be a poor one as well. This same group was creating a video on bullying. They turned in the outline for their project revealing a couple of scenes where students would reenact several forms of bullying, which seemed like a great idea. However, when I saw the footage from several days of shooting the scenes I became appalled. The students, in an effort to add a humorous twist, had the smallest student in the high school bullying the largest student in the school. I told them this was unacceptable for such a serious subject, but they insisted on doing things their way. Two class periods had already been used to film what they had and another two days would be required to reshoot the scenes. Knowing time was running out, I reluctantly allowed them to use the scenes already shot. The quality of this video turned out to affected by this decision because even after some editing the humorous twist did come off as humorous at all. Increased Motivation Based on experience with these students the previous year in an English III class, some apathy was expected. By incorporating new forms of technology into the pedagogy of a senior English class, this researcher hoped to increase student motivation to engage assignments. Steps were taken to make certain the novelty of engaging in new forms of technology wore off prior to the study by having students engage in blogging, podcasting, and individual video assignments. Over the course of the year, observations did indeed indicate a marked improvement in motivation to engage assignments. Even with the problems encountered during the study, student motivation appeared much improved when compared to the previous year.


Despite the delays and problems caused by absences, when students did meet as an entire group, observations indicated some off task behavior, primarily in the form of idle talking. However, students quickly reengaged when reprimanded by the teacher. In addition, the previous year, students would regularly try to sleep in class. During the study, only one student had to be told to wake up and join their group. Many times while observing group discussions students became quite animated when discussing ideas. Some disagreements occurred, but students managed to work out most problems without any teacher interference. Even the group having problems with Student A managed to have lively discussions without her input. Once the period of discussion ended and the time came for the technical aspects to start such as filming sequences, creating voiceovers, writing scripts, or editing, students appeared more engaged than I had ever seen them. For example, on days when students were to shoot video they would always excitedly come to my desk as class began to remind me what they were going to do. All video for both products was shot at the high school, and I was able to observe students as they went through this process. There was much laughter between takes as students would try different ideas knowing they could pick the best when editing. It was obvious they were having fun. When it came time to edit projects, I expected some off task behavior because editing only requires the skills of the director and editor. However, students not involved with the editing process could be found standing behind the editor involved with the process every step of the way. Despite the obvious student enthusiasm, motivation seemed to ebb as students realized they were going to have problems meeting the deadline for their projects. When one group finished their rough draft of the true story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a week of school left, they refused to work on it anymore. As far as they were concerned, the project was finished, and my insistence to the contrary did not motivate them at all. The group creating a


video on bullying could have completed a rough draft, but two of the team members, the director and editor, were absent two days of the last week of school. Once they realized they were not going to get done in time they stopped working all together. With no final drafts of the project to grade, several students did not have enough points to pass the course. A decision to go ahead and pass the students was made because I did not believe the students were entirely at fault for not getting their projects completed. With more experience, I would have started the project earlier. Even though the students did not make use of their time during the last week of school, I did not think failing them would be fair in light of their performance over the entire semester. In the end, I wound up abandoning the grading scale developed for this project altogether and gave passing grades to all students. Conclusion Despite the problems encountered during the study, students appeared much more motivated to work on assignments when compared to their motivation as juniors. The study would have been a huge success if some things were done differently. Upon reflection, I have no doubt the students would have finished their projects on time if I had started the project one or two weeks earlier. Starting earlier would have avoided having these seniors finish a major project during the last week of school. Furthermore, had some things been handled differently when setting up the groups, most problems experienced with group dynamics could have been avoided. For example, I could have assigned the roles each student would take in their groups. The group producing the True Story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre assigned roles as I hoped they would, but the group producing the Bullying project’s selection of Student A as the Director was a bad choice as I saw it, and I should have vetoed this choice. The last thing I would change is to assert my authority by informing students I have final editorial control. This would have prevented the quality issues experienced with the projects. As the school year wound down and


reflecting on the success of using more technology in my English classroom in regards to student motivation, I began looking for ways to use technology in my other classes as well. Taking Technology Further Blogs As the next school year was about to begin, I was excited about plans for using incorporating more technology into my pedagogy. Plans for the senior English – Applied Communications class were basically the same as the year of this study. We would blog, podcast, and make video projects. However, some major plans for my Advanced Placement College English class had been developed. While attending a Holocaust Education seminar in New York City, I met another teacher from a small rural area in Nebraska. She was intrigued by a blog I created for the seminar and was very excited about the idea of using a blog in her English III Honors classroom where she spent extensive amounts of time teaching about the Holocaust and genocide. We discussed the disadvantages of teaching in a rural school and discovered we had similar issues. The main problem we both had was getting students to be honest when peer reviewing another student’s work. The problem as we saw it was our most of our respective students grew up together, had the same teachers and classes every day, and would not say anything negative about a friend’s writing. I suggested a blog where our classes collaborated on a book study of Elie Wiesel’s book Night. CITE We both became excited at how this might turn out and I created a blog “Breaking Down Barriers.” (2008) Our classes were the same size, and we each created five groups of four students. After each chapter, students would get into their group, and the groups would discuss questions I had posted as an assignment to the blog. Here is an example of blog assignment.



Faith in God... Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never... (p 34)

"Yisgadal, veyiskaddash, shmey raba...May His name be celebrated and sanctified..." whispered my father. For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for? (p 33)

The night had passed completely. The morning star shone in the sky. I too had become a different person. The student of Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded--and devoured--by a black flame. (p 37) Is a person truly alive if he or she has abandoned all in God, faith in life, faith in man?What part of our identities does faith play? How can the abandonment of fait Discuss the prior questions in your group. It is not necessary to answer all of the questions, but rather to post an honest response and reflection of your group's conversation.

Students were required to discuss the questions and one student from each group would post a summary of their respective group’s discussion to the blog. Each group rotated the writing responsibilities in order to make sure everyone shared in the writing. However, students were encouraged to edit each other’s summaries because all group members received the same grade. After all groups from both schools posted the summaries, each student was required to comment


on the posts from the other school. My hope was students would give honest feedback since they did not know the students who wrote the post they would comment on. The results exceeded my wildest imagination. The discussion of Night produced some of the most honest and heartfelt discussions I have experienced as a teacher. The writing is rich and full of voice. There were some interesting teachable moments, such as students getting offended when someone disagreed with them, and students learning how to disagree in a respectful manner. What follows is an example of the discussion of one group’s posted response to the assignment above. It should be noted regarding comments that students were not graded on grammar and spelling. In the future, steps will be taken to improve this.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2008 Faith Physically, you are alive, even if you don't have faith. But, everything else about you would be dead. Without faith a person really has no reason to live. There is no purpose in their lives. Everyone has faith in something. What you believe in makes up who you are. It also influences your morals, actions, and thoughts. The abandonment of faith is the equivalent of death because without anyting to believe in, a person has nothing to live for. They would feel dead inside because they wouldn't have hope in any thing.

34 COMMENTS: Faith in God said... I really like how you worded how you would be alive without having faith. You would have a physical and emotional life.
OCTOBER 24, 2008 2:09 PM

Shelby E. said... I agree with you all the way. You are alive in a sense but not really. If there is no faith or God in your life what is there to live for? I like how you said that "They would feel dead inside


because they wouldn't have hope in anything." That was a really good line. Its very true, what is there to hope fore when you no longer believe in anything. OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:1 3 AM

donnie p. said... So, youre saying since I don't have a faith then I have no reason to live? Because I feel I do, there's more than the question, God or no God?, I have my family, and friends and why not stay alive for them? I live for my future, not for any "God". OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:1 5 AM

Andrea said... Well I started reading yours thinking it wasn't going to be good because it was short. But it is really good. I like your sentence "The abandonment of faith is the equivalent of death because without anything to believe in, a person has nothing to live for." It is really strong. Good job! OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:1 8 AM

brady said... your right if you don't have any faith in anything then you may not feel its worth living any longer. weather its faith in god or faith in your life or family. Good job! OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:2 4 AM

Shelby Lynn said... I love the line "The abandonment of faith is the equivalent of death because without anything (by the way you spelled anything wrong in your post) to believe in, a person has nothing to live for." I completely agree with that. Very well written post. Short but sweet. OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:2 4 AM

Michael said...


I agree with you too if you don't believe in anything not only god but if you don't have faith in anything theres no reason to live. Faith and hope is a big part of our lives.

Donnie P-Yes you don't have to have faith to live but if you say you live for your family and your friends then you have hope that they live and want to stay alive for you too right? therefor you have some faith or hope inside of you! OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:2 5 AM

Siebz said... This is really true, I agree with your post all the way. Everyone needs to have faith in something, or your just a empty soul just floating around. An empty shell with no life to it. OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:2 7 AM

Jack Marie said... Okay, I thought that your post wouldn't be that much in detail, sense it's a bit short. But after reading it, I was amazed! It was very good and you described it well!!! So good job and keep it up!

P.S. Loving the wonderful nicknames! ;) OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:3 7 AM

Wade said... I'm not sure what to really say...Umm I agree that faith or religion is a big part of who you are. Like with all the morals and influences. But who are you to say if you have no faith you have no purpose in life. I really disagree with that statement and maybe think about what you type before you post it. Some people could take that very offensive. Like me I believe in god and I believe god has a plan for everyone, that they have been put on earth for a reason. God has a plan for everyone. I like the one part, good job on that. But as of the other part i think that is a little harsh and you should think about other people first. Just cause you don't believe does not make you a bad person OCTOBER 27, 2008 9:5 7 AM


katrina said... If you don't like what we write just disagree with us and move on, it is what we believe in, that is what the question is asking, what do WE think, as in our group. That is our opinion. If if offened anyone we are sorry. We just answered the question. OCTOBER 27, 2008 11: 19 AM

Erika said... Donnie p, I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!! OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:2 2 AM

Elizabeth said... Donnie P- You may not believe in God, but everyone has something they believe in. Everyone has faith in something, and to live without faith is to live with no purpose. Apparently, you live for your family and your future. That would mean you have faith that you actually WILL have a future. Thats faith, right? OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:2 2 AM

katrina said... good job Webb [: OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:23 AM

Wade said... Well I did disagree, And stated a reason for it. I just don't see what would make you think that there is no point to life if you do not believe in anything OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:2 8 AM

katrina said... okay. that is your opinion. leave it at that. OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:3 3 AM


Wade said... Well what is the reason? Why do believe that without faith a person has no reason to live. It sounds as if you do not believe just go commit suicide. OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:3 8 AM

Elizabeth said... Faith may not always be present in how or if you believe in God. Don't you have to have faith that you will wake up in the morning? Hope that you will? Everyone has faith in something. OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:3 8 AM

Elizabeth said... Faith may not always be present in how or if you believe in God. Don't you have to have faith that you will wake up in the morning? Hope that you will? Everyone has faith in something. OCTOBER 28, 20 08 9:38 AM

Wade said... Ok, good point Elizabeth Thats what I was trying to reach or get to. It came of as if you do not believe or have faith at all that you might as well put the barrel to your head and pull the trigger. OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:4 1 AM

Shelby E. said... I agree with what Michael said to Donnie P. Even though you live for your family and friends you still have hope in something. You must believe in something to get you through the day. I know thats his opinion and thats how he feels but there has to be some sort of faith inside of him. OCTOBER 28, 2008 9:4 3 AM

Danielle said...


It's important to note that just because you disagree with someone, they still have a right to state their opinion. There is a powerful liberty we have and it's called the freedom of speech. We can say what we want and believe what we choose. However, we must always be aware that by putting our opinions "out there," that someone will inevitably disagree with or be offended by our statements. Despite this, it does not make the original opinion invalid and it does not mean it shouldn't be stated.

Wade, this directly connects to your statement about this group needing to think of other people and how they might react. Such is the point - they are stating their opinion despite the reaction and disagreement that may follow. It's their freedom of speech. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:1 6 AM

Danielle said... And, it is essentially the point of this blog - conversation. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:1 7 AM

Wade said... Yes they have freedom of speech, and i may have been wrong to say that you should think of other people, but I also have the freedom of speech rights too and besides the point of saying think of other people I was still stating why I disagreed. It could have been a little more reasonable but I do not think that just because you lose faith you should lose your life. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:2 6 AM

Shelby Lynn said... I myself do believe in God. I think that Donnie's post is great. It brings up a interesting topic (but also a very touchy topic.) I think it's great that Donnie's not afraid to say I don't need faith in my life if I have my family and friend to live for. Which makes me think....maybe you have more faith in your life that you think Donnie. You have faith in yourself and others around you. You just don't have faith in any Gods. Your living for yourself and have faith in yourself and I respect that. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:2 7 AM


Danielle said... I agree Wade, you have a right to disagree just as they have a right to their opinion despite what anyone thinks. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:2 9 AM

Andrea said... I agree with you Shelby... Just because you don't have faith in God does not mean you have do not have faith. Who are we to judge those who don't have faith in my God? I can not discriminate against you just because of that. It isn't right for me to discriminate against a different religion is it? Donnie just because you don't believe in God does not mean you don't have faith. You have faith inside yourself! You also did a very good job stating why you believe the way you do. I don't think that it offends anyone.. Great job! OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:3 2 AM

Danielle said... Donnie, even if it does offend someone, it's your opinion and you're entitled to it. If someone states his or her opinion that is not a personal attack on another person, then it cannot be deemed offensive - just a point of discussion. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:3 8 AM

donnie p. said... It just concercens what you concider faith i guess. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:3 8 AM

Danielle said... Exactly. OCTOBER 29, 2008 12:49 PM

Jack Marie said...


Wow, for the first time I just read your comment Donnie! Every powerful and true! You do want to live for your family, friends, and yourself...Good comment! That opened my eyes a bit more about this Post! OCTOBER 29, 2008 4:5 4 PM

katrina said... I just wanted to say that we didn't in any way mean to attack or offend you. We were only defending our opinion and you were also. We never took it offensive, but maybe you did. But i apologive. OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:0 9 PM

katrina said... And we never ever said your comment was bad, so if people think we did we didn't, we defended our opinion like he did. Have a wonderful day [: OCTOBER 29, 2008 9:10 PM

Danielle said... Katrinalogan...I think these conversations were great and I love the emotion (just like Mr. Neuburger said). Keep up the intensity!

Since the blog discussion of the book Night turned out so well, I decided to try book studies on a blog with my English III Honors students following the same pattern of putting students in groups and having them discuss teacher directed questions, post a group summary, and each student commenting on other group posts. The only thing different would be the lack of collaborating with another school. This experiment also went spectacularly well. We did book studies on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and William Golding’s Lord


of the Flies. The following represents one assignment and one group’s post and the comments of individual students.

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2009 As you read The Lord of the Flies, the procedure we followed while reading Huck Finn will be the same for this book. I will divide you into groups and after each reading assignment you will get into groups, discuss the prompts I give you on the blog, and post a group summary of the discussion. For today, discuss the following. 1. Discuss the character traits of Piggy, Ralph, and Jack. Describe each function they perform in the novel so far. Do any of them have alterior motives? 2. Discuss the significance of the conch shell. 3. What does a society need to function smoothly. 4. What types of human characteristics will spoil a smoothly running government body. 5. Golding uses children to demonstrate base characteristics of humans. Discuss what characteristics are our base human nature and which characteristics are learned and practiced types of behaviors. LOTF Assignment 1 1. Character traits: Ralph: Ralph is the alpha dog of the group. He demonstrates leadership qualities and has a strong sense of freedom and adventure. Jack: Jack also has leadership qualities, and while he accepts his role, he feels that he should be the head of the group. Jack has a mature sense of duty. Piggy: Piggy appears to be one of the smarter characters in the story, and he seems to realize it. He knows that he is not the most interesting person, but he is discouraged by the fact that no one chooses to listen to him even when he has something important to say. Functions: Ralph is the leader of the group, and has set most of the rules so far. Piggy sort of acts as his ignored advisor, as he consults everyone even when they don’t listen. Jack is a leader as well. He leads the choir boys who act as hunters and watchmen. I don’t think that either Piggy or Ralph have any alterior motives. Ralph just wants to enjoy the freedom away from adults, and Piggy is just concerned about being rescued and everyone’s well-being until them. We don’t know enough about Jack yet to determine whether or not he has alterior motives.


2. The conch shell has a surprising significance, as it has become the “symbol” of their group. The conch shell is required to call meetings and during the meetings you have to hold the conch to be able to speak. There is a quiet power about the shell, everyone respects it. 3. In order to function smoothly, a society needs several things. A society needs a leader or group of leaders that they can get behind. A society needs laws or at least guidelines to maintain order. Also there are necessities of course such as ways to gather food and other resources. These are just the basics, but on an island, basics are all you really need to get by as long as everyone cooperates. 4. Like I said in the previous answer, things will run fairly smoothly if everyone cooperates. A personality that might throw things off is one that thinks they deserve more. More power, authority, or respect. This quality hasn’t presented itself thus far, except for a glimmer from Jack, who wanted to be the leader and thought that he deserved to be. This could develop, but there s no telling so far. 5. The characteristics of human nature that aren’t necessarily learned are: the want for more than what you have, craving the attention of others, and needing to survive. Envy is kind of a characteristic that humans are born with. All other characteristics are learned, such as laziness, being mean to others, kindness, etc. Emily Betsy Nicole Wil POSTED BY WIL AT 10:38 AM 8 COMMENTS: Tyler S. said... I do not completly agree with your answer to number five i do not think that envy is something that you are born with. througout your life you experience things and you see people that have it better than you and then that is when you begin to develop envy of that other person. if we lived in the perfect society there would be no envy because no one will be better than someone else we really would be considered equals. Except for that i agree with most of your post MAY 1, 2009 10:08 AM

cobo1990 said...


Very good. I thought that they might have the motive to get off the island. I like that you put they are enjoying no adults, but that isn't what I get from the book. I get that they cal everyone together to get a plan. That's why they are assigning duties.

I agree with your human nature thing. MAY 1, 2009 10:08 AM

~*Laney*~ said... Well i don't completely agree with your idea on human nature. Yes we're all born with something that tells us to fend for ourselves in order to survive but i believe envy is a learned quality. You only envy when you're not happy with the person you are. You start envying when people flaunt what you don't have in front of you... Which is also a learned characteristic. I do agree with the comment you made about piggy. He really is the only sensible one in the group. MAY 1, 2009 10:15 AM

Man of Steele said... I agree with most of your post, expecially with the way that you individually talked about each character and about what you think their role was in the book but I don't agree with you 100% that you are born with envy, were not really born with anything in particular, you learn those types of habbits and things later in life but other than that great post MAY 1, 2009 10:18 AM

Man of Steele said... This post has been removed by a blog administrator. MAY 1, 2009 10:21 AM

Cheyenne said... I agree with most of your post except for the characteristics. I think that Jack does have a mature sense of duty. But I don't agree with your answer to the characteristics that humans are born with or develope. I don't think you are necessarily born with envy but I think it is kind of a given so to speak. But over all good blog.


MAY 1, 2009 10:27 AM

Kurt said... First I don't think Jack has a very mature sense of duty. He seems pretty greedy and arrogant. Also I think a society needs a little more than what you mentioned. Organization is very important. But you are correct that while stranded on an island the basics are just to survive. I think that laziness isn't a learned characteristic but otherwise great job. MAY 1, 2009 10:31 AM

Damond said... I agree with most of what you say besides the thinking that jack has a mature sense duty. also i do not believe that humans are born with those characteristics they have to grow into them. MAY 1, 2009 10:58 AM

I was extremely pleased with how the book studies turned out and plan to follow the same format in the future. Integrating technology with the class for the research study showed an improvement in motivation to complete assignments, but using blogs with the advanced placement and honors students indicated just as much of an increase in motivation if not more. It was interesting to see students achieve the objectives of these book studies with very little teacher involvement. Sometimes, while discussing assigned topics, students would ask for clarification or resolution when they could not agree how to answer a certain question, but this happened infrequently. Once the College English class finished their collaborative study with the class in Nebraska, they moved on to a multigenre assignment with a “twist.” Students were required to create at least five genres dealing with the Holocaust or their sense of place. Most mutigenre assignments require a certain number of written pieces put together in some sort of portfolio. The “twist” in this assignment is it is paperless. The students did not use any paper with the exception of a sheet of butcher block paper if they wanted to do a


painting as a genre. Students created research papers, PowerPoint presentations, essays, poetry, picture collages, and narratives. They were shown how to upload these traditional paper assignments to the web and embed them in a blog post. For paintings, student took a picture with a digital camera in order to post them to a blog post. I had each student create a personal blog to house their mutigenre work. This worked magnificently with one exception; students could not see what other students were doing. Social Network The remedy for this problem turned out to be creating a social network where students could post all of their assignments. I created a social network supported by Ning. (2009) This network works on the same principle as My Space and Facebook, but is not blocked by the school’s internet filters. As with all blogs, the site is set up where the only people who can see it are people I have invited, and students must use a pseudonym or their first name only. The Ning also allows Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, which allows students to monitor other students’ blogs. If a student updated their blog, the RSS feed would indicate this on the Ning. RSS feeds also simplified my job when it came to reading and keeping up with student work. All blogs and Nings I am using have RSS feed capability. This allows me to monitor all blog and Ning updates through a RSS reader instead of having to navigate my way to each student blog or the class Ning. I use Google Reader because I can use it on my cell phone. Many times I have sat in the doctor’s office or waited to have my oil changed and used my phone to read student posts while waiting. Final Thoughts What I love about blogs and communicating online is students are learning how to create their own content and use the web as a tool to host this content. Students are adept at pulling content from the web or using the web as a form of entertainment, but have never figured out


how to use it in any other way. However, creating and posting original content to the internet is meaningless unless it has a purpose. Teachers need to understand why we have students do what we have them do. According to Glen Bledsoe (2009), “When students are led in collaborative digital writing projects, they will develop not only their technological skills but also improve their interpersonal communication and organizational skills. They will learn how to pitch their ideas and amend and build on the ideas of others.” As I teach students who have never know life without computers, I feel it is my duty to engage them in a way that prepares them for the digital age which is just beginning. When I stop and think about this I get really excited because I know some exciting things are going to come along and change a lot of what I am doing now in the classroom. I cannot wait.


References Beilke, J. R., & Stuve, M. J. (2004). A teacher's use of digital video with urban middle school students: expanding definitions of representational literacy, The Teacher Educator, 39(3), 157-169. Retrieved September 30, 2007, from Wilson Web. Brooks, K., Nichols, C., & Priebe, S. (2007). Remediation, genre, and motivation: key concepts for teaching with blogs. Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs, 1-9. Retrieved October 1, 2007, from Eastman, D. (2005). Blogging. ELT Journal, 59(4), 358-361. Retrieved September 30, 2007, from Wison Web. Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P (2006). Education Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice . Hardre, P. L., Crowson, H. M., Debacker, T. K., & White, D. (2007). Predicting the academic motivation of rural high school students . The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(4), 264. Retrieved October 13, 2007, from Wilson Web Hendricks, C. (2006). Improving Schools Through Action Research. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. Herrington, A., Hodgson, K., & Moran, C. (Eds.). (2009). Teaching the New Writing Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom (, ). New York: Teachers College, National Writing Project. Joselowsky, F. (2007). Youth engagement, high school reform, and improved learning outcomes:building systemic approaches to youth engagement. NASSP Bulletin, 91(3), 257. Retrieved October 12, 2007, from Wilson Web.


Keller, J. B., & Bichelmeyer, B. A. (2004). What happens when accountability meets technology integration. TechTrends, 48(3),17-23. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from Wilson Web. Keller, J. M., & Suzuki, K. (2004). Learner motivation and e-learning design: a mutinationally validated process. Journal of Educational Media, 29(3), 229-237. Retrieved September 16, 2007, from Ebsco Host. Lowe, C. (2007). Moving to the public: weblogs in the writing classroom. Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture in Weblogs. Retrieved October 1, 2007, from, McGrail, E. (2005). Teachers, technology, and change: English teachers' perspectives. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, (13), 59-85. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from Wilson Web. McGrail, E. (2007). Laptop technology and pedagogy in the English language arts classroom. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, (15), 5-24. Retrieved September 16, 2007, from Wilson Web. MO. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education. (n.d.). Columbia: State of Missouri. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from Neuburger, L. (2007). Alice's Restaurant Blog. Retrieved June 27, 2009, from Neuburger, L. (2007, September). Breaking Down Barriers Blog. Retrieved June 27, 2009, from Neuburger, L. (2009). MHS College English - Melding fact, interpretation, and imagination Ning. Retrieved June 27, 2009, from


Siegle, D. (2007). Podcasts and blogs: learning opportunities on the information highway. Gifted Child Today , 30(3) 14-19. Web. Song, S. H., & Keller, J. M. (2001). Effectiveness of motivationally adaptive computer-assisted instruction on the dynamic aspects of motivation. ETR&D, 49(2), 10-11. Retrieved September 16, 2007, from Wilson Web. Weber, K., Martin, M. M., & Cayanus, J. L. (2005). Student interest: a two-study re-examination of the concept. Communication Quarterly, 53(1), 71. Retrieved September 16, 2007, from Ebscohost Wiesel, Elie. Night. MacMillan, 2006. Wilensky, R. (2007). For some high school students, going to college isn't the answer. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(34), B18. Retrieved October 12, 2007, from EBSCOhost. Retrieved September 16, 2007, from Wilson


Appendix A – Role Responsibilities – Director

The director reports directly to the teacher. The person selected to step into the director’s shoes must demonstrate definite leadership skills. He must be honest, fair, open-minded, and a good listener. The director’s ultimate responsibilities are to ensure the objectives of the assignment and the vision of the team are met. He does this in a variety of ways. Here is a list of the director’s responsibilities:


1. Conducts team discussions and

2. Makes sure all assignments are turned in on time 3. Makes sure daily logs are completed, edited, and turned in at the end of class 4. Makes all final decisions when a group cannot agree on a decision 5. Makes sure all members are fulfilling responsibilities. 6. Delegates responsibility when no one volunteers 7. Oversees all video production 8. Reports to teacher 9. Edits all work turned teacher


Appendix B – Role Responsibilities – Camera Operator

The camera operator needs to do much more than merely turn a camera on and off. The camera operator needs to understand angles, lighting, and depth of perception. The camera operator Camera must understand the team’s vision of final project. Operator theaddition to these general types of In responsibilities, the camera operator performs the following duties:

1. Maintains the video camera and video tape 2. Understands the necessary functions of the camera 3. Operates the camera during video shoots 4. Participates in all team assignments 5. Makes sure all assignments are completed on time 6. Assists during the editing process


Appendix C – Role Responsibilities – Editor/Props

The editor can make or break how the final project turns out. You can shoot perfect video, pick the perfect music, and record a perfect voice over, but if the project is edited poorly, the end result can be disastrous. The editor must be patient, methodical, and cool under pressure. In addition to this, the editor will have the following responsibilities:

Editor/ Props

1. Participate in all team discussions 2. Become familiar with all aspects of video editing software 3. Assists the camera operator 4. Make sure team assignment deadlines are met 5. Works with sound engineer when integrating sound elements 6. Assist sound editor with voiceovers 7. Locate props as needed with scribe 8. Edits video per director’s instructions


Appendix D – Role Responsibilities – Sound Engineer Besides having a good ear, the sound engineer must have some unique technical skills. The sound engineer must know how to create audio files and convert them to a usable format for editing. Some of the specific responsibilities for the sound engineer include:

Sound Engineer 1. Participating in all team meetings 2. Making sure all team assignments are turned in on time 3. Practice making voice recordings for voiceovers 4. Creating voiceovers as needed for project 5. Working with editor when integrating audio files 6. Working with editor to ensure even sound quality throughout project 7. Fills in for director and scribe when they might be absent


Appendix E – Role Responsibilities – Scribe

S c r i b e

The scribe is the glue that keeps everything together. Without the scribe, no one be able to keep track of everything going on with each team. The scribe is a writer, recorder, and keeper of group details. A group with a good scribe functions smoothly and efficiently. The scribe is responsible for the following:

1. Participating in all group meetings 2. Filling out the daily logs and giving them to the director for editing 3. Transcribing the team summary 4. Filling out the team timeline 5. Assisting the editor with props 6. Assist with voiceovers 7. Transcribing the script 8. Submit interview questions prior to interview


Appendix F – Understanding and Agreement to Perform

Understanding of Role and Agreement to Perform I have read the responsibilities for the role of ______________ and agree to accept all of the said responsibilities and will perform all of my duties to the best of my ability.
_______________________________________ Signature ________________________ Date


Appendix G – Project Proposal – Bullying


Appendix H – Project Timeline – The True Story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Appendix I – Daily Log – The True Story of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Appendix J – Scoring Guide for Project


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