Sunday, August 14, 2005

Teacher Research

I am taking a step back as an "accomplished teacher" (I'm sure the irony will become apparent) with a number of years of experience and attempting to articulate what it is that I know now as a result of my experience, formal and informal study, and reflection. The use of blogging in my classrooms has an impetus from a number of sources: the blogs that I read, my interest in constructivist classrooms, my philosophy of teaching (I’ll post more on this later), my own enjoyment of learning about blogging and finally getting up the courage to commit to a blog of my own, and the potential I see for this to be useful. The Open Classroom is an ongoing place where I can reflect in the company of like minds, who inspire me, whether in awe at their ideas and prodigious energy (yes, I’m thinking of you Steve Dembo, among others (good that you’re back) or to self satisfaction (no comment – I know that pride goeth before a fall). As a teacher researching my own practice for my Masters I can keep a research journal on this blog as they both have a similar purpose. The thesis that I write, however, may be in the form of a portfolio, recording my learning throughout the process. It is intended to be an account of my learning, but it doesn’t have to be in a traditional form – indeed I feel now it must include hypertext. Could it end up being a portfolio like this (possibly not), or maybe even a digital portfolio?

When I started my study I thought that I would implement a strategy such as Literature Circles and investigate this in the context of the increased emphasis in the Victorian curriculum, through VELS, on the social aspects of learning as well as the integration of technology and collaborative learning in a constructivist type of classroom. But the data I have collected is not substantial so far. The students have experienced Literature Circles and they recorded their impressions in learning journals; talk happened in the groups and some learning undoubtedly was constructed by the students. I even recorded the discussion of a focus group of students who agreed to be involved in the experience, but it all seems rather thin.

This semester we (the students and I – some the same, most different) are doing other units, and these do not include Literature Circles. Instead, I am teaching writing to two classes. Both groups have been given a writer’s notebook to facilitate the recording of ideas, but this journal is essentially private to each student and not for assessment. They have certain pieces to write for assessment: a writing folio consisting of a short story for a teenage audience, a poetry anthology with examples of different forms of poetry they have written, a critical review of a film and an informative piece based on research. It seems like a lot for a semester. And, as well, they are being introduced to blogging. There are certain problems with the software the school is using that has prevented them from being made public at this time, but I expect that will be fixed soon.

Throughout this unit with these two groups I think I am learning as much as the students. I am certainly impressed with the amount of craft that has gone into some of the short stories. The poetry is bringing out some interesting results too, some variations on the sonnet form and haiku based on events in the world gathered from newspapers as I have already posted about. I love what is happening in the classroom but again I am not sure how to record it so that it can be data for my research. I guess I’ll keep thinking about it, but if anyone has similar experiences and would like to let me know what you have found about researching your own practice and contributing to teacher knowledge I would be grateful. Here are my links for my study.

At least now when I’m blogging I can say it’s for my study and I won’t have to feel so guilty about all the time it’s taking (time that I love, btw). Still am not up to date with my marking.


  1. You might be interested in a hypertext narrative about my prof learning that I submitted to 'English Teaching: Practice and Critique' last year. Here is the link:

  2. I will continue to check on your progress.... I did research for my masters program too, several years ago, and now want to start a new project soley for classroom/personal purposes. I'm alittle nervous about the time and effort involved, even tho I know its value.
    Thanks for sharing!