Experimenting with Action Research in the Classroom

At the beginning of this school year, like many literacy interventionists, I was asked to fulfill a different role. After years out of the classroom, I suddenly found myself teaching “in-person” kindergarten. Despite having been a classroom teacher for years in the past, I’ll admit that I was nervous and wondering how I would handle my new position. Fortunately, I found that returning to the classroom was a lot like riding a bike after you haven’t for years.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of constraints and obstacles that make this an interesting teaching experience to say the least. I’m finding that as I enter month 8, I’ve gotten better at maintaining my balance and going with the flow when I encounter new obstacles. Now I’m ready to take a closer look at my teaching and identify areas to work on.

Two summers ago, I read the book What’s The Best That Could Happen: New Possibilities for Teachers and Readers by Debbie Miller. Recently, I picked it up and started to read it again. This book is definitely not a “one and done” type of read as there is so much to contemplate.

As I was diving into this book once again, I came across a section on the importance of questioning what we are doing and the dangers of moving ahead on autopilot. The book also spoke about the importance of enacting action research in our classrooms as part of reflecting, rethinking, and revitalizing our teaching. When the book pointed out that action research does not have to be overwhelming I was sold!

I started out by asking myself a few questions:

  • What might I want to take a closer look at in regards to my teaching?
  • What could I experiment with that wouldn’t be overwhelming?
  • What could I change that doesn’t have any COVID-19 related constraints?

To begin exploring these questions, I recorded lessons during writing workshop, reading workshop, shared reading, and read aloud time. I then watched the recordings and wrote down my observations, some of my teacher talk as well as a few student discussions.

Next, I identified more specifically what I wanted to work on. Miller suggests framing this as a “action-oriented, positively worded question”.

Then it was time to think about how I would approach the area that I wanted to work on. Miller’s book helped me to identify the steps to take in order to address the action research problem and create a plan.

Inspired by D. Miller (p. 84)

What do you think about action research in the classroom? Do you have specific areas in your teaching that you would like to tackle this school year? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to read:

Reading Teachers: helping students take responsibility & embrace mistakes

What Works? Independent Reading Works!

Independent Reading: The Basics

Independent Reading: The Necessities

6 thoughts on “Experimenting with Action Research in the Classroom

    1. Hi Meghan!

      What I noticed was that my students were frequently interrupting me during my small group work and 1:1 conference time for problems that we have procedures for. When I checked with my students about the most frequent interruptions they appeared to know the procedures. When I looked at my responses to students I saw that I was immediately answering or taking care of their problem for them. So, although I often talk to my students about being “problem solvers” my actions weren’t aligned to this practice. I was actually reinforcing the teacher as the problem solver.

      The question I created was – “how can I empower my students in order for them to become independent problem solvers?”

      Thank you for visiting our blog.
      Stay healthy!
      ~Rhonda

      Like

  1. Christina Gaura, NBCT

    I first conducted action research during grad. school. I loved the authenticity of the learning. It was relevant and tailored to me and my students. I was teaching kindergarten and researched block play. Who knew I could write 100 pages about children’s play! It was heady stuff! I am currently a reading specialist and this year have been teaching intervention remotely. My focus has been on helping students learn foundational skills. I thought about what I could feasibly do online to move my students forward, while supporting them emotionally. By keeping the important end goals in mind, my students have seen success. Sometimes, less is more.

    Like

    1. Hi Christina!
      Thanks so much for sharing. I LOVE the idea of researching children’s play.
      I can’t imagine the challenges you are all facing doing your reading interventions online.
      I wish you a happy and healthy school year!
      ~Rhonda

      Like

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