Rod Smith Shane Penrose Kate Whited Sandusky High School Submitted to Dr. Joanne Arhar Action Research in the Classroom
2 eTech! eFuture! eHistory! An Action Research Report on Improving Writing Skills Abstract Our research question was “How can we use blended technology with an interactive whiteboard, document camera, and distance learning equipment to improve the writing skills and social studies OGT scores of all students?” In our study, we found that providing a writing workshop at the beginning of the school year and using the interactive whiteboard and document camera to project rubrics and then having students grade writing samples of OGT answers provided numerous AH!HA! moments. From that point on, student writing samples showed a marked improvement from the previous year. Pre- and Post-Surveys, teacher journal entries, and critical colleague input showed that student interest and attitude toward social studies and writing improved when we used the interactive whiteboard, document camera, and distance learning equipment. However, the use of the blended technology did not help increase student attendance.
3 What Is Our Research Interest? What is our question? How can we use blended technology with a whiteboard, document camera, and distance learning equipment to improve the writing skills and social studies OGT scores of all students? Why are we interested? The OGT results showed us the deficits in writing skills among our students. We believe all students should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential. As a team, we wanted to advance students to their greatest levels of potential, seek to encourage them to work hard, be better citizens, and be equipped to face life. Writing skills go beyond social studies and they go far beyond high school. What do we already know? The targeted population was approximately 225 sophomores and juniors enrolled in Social Studies at Sandusky High School. Sandusky High School has a diverse population culturally, socio-economically, and academically. On the 2004-2005 School Year Report Card, SHS was designated as a school in “Continuous Improvement” meeting only 1 of 7 indicators. SHS students made up a diverse group of learners: 46.6% were identified as Economically Disadvantaged; 33.4% are African American, 3.5% Hispanic, 6% multi-racial and 56.9% were white. 16.6% had identified disabilities. In March of 2005, only 66.6% of Sandusky High School (SHS) students passed the writing portion of the OGT and just 64.2% passed the social studies section. Our students consistently scored lower on the social studies standard called “Social Studies Skills and Methods,” a standard that involves reading and writing. The item analysis
4 revealed a 6% lower average than the state’s on that particular standard. Our analysis revealed a “gap” in achievement between African American students and White students. The percentage of African American students proficient in social studies was 51.1% compared to 73% of the White students. In addition, only 57.4% of African American students were proficient in writing compared to 75.5% of White students. We as social studies teachers had not been consistent in teaching writing in our classes. We had been focused on the social studies content rather than writing across the curriculum. What do others know? Motivating students was a key component to eliminating the writing problems at SHS. Blending emerging technology in the classroom should have motivated students to improve their writing skills. According to Charles E. Notar (2005), students learn best through “direct experience” and when they are highly motivated. Distance learning provides the “direct experience” that brings out heightened motivation and enhances the ability to retain information. Students in Kate Whited’s classes experienced the excitement of distance learning when they connected with...