Action Research Plan
The purpose of this plan is to have you think about the overall scope of the action
research project. Please complete the items below with your current thinking.
Name: Arlene Barte-Lowe School District: Montgomery County School: Takoma Park Middle School MTC Representative: Catherine Long, Andrew Miller
A - Given the MTC banner investigation question of “How can the integration of
technology improve student achievement in reading and writing?”
What is your action research question?
In terms of organizing and elaborating ideas, how does using the Inspiration Program
affect student performance in my students’ reading comprehension and writing?
B - Write a summary of your research findings that will influence your action research project.
I did not find much information about students using graphic organizers to support reading
strategies or vocabulary on the computer. There were quite a few articles that supported
student use of technology for writing and research. However, I did find support
concerning teachers using technology to enhance instruction. Some of the articles touted
that teachers who use technology are more likely to feel confident and willing to take
risks. Also, some of the articles confirmed that although students enjoy using technology,
data does not prove that technology improves student mastery in content areas. I did find
an Internet site with numerous graphic organizers that I believe will support reading
strategies. However, I was disappointed to discover that a student cannot interact with the
organizer on-line, but the organizer would have to be pasted into Word for the student to
actually use it. This was my original plan; however, after meeting with Andrew Miller, I
have decided to design my own graphic organizers using the Inspiration software. This
program will allow me to tailor each organizer to a specific reading strategy and text.
C. Analyze the Need: Describe your students’ needs and why you believe your choice of technology will meet those needs.
My rationale is derived from the varied needs of my students. I teach sixth grade reading
and English to students at the following reading levels: 6 at the second grade level, 1 at
the third grade level, 5 at the fourth grade level, 4 at the fifth grade level, and 4 at the sixth
grade level. I believe that using the Inspiration software will give students the opportunity
to respond to the requirements of the reading and writing assignments by supporting them to organize information thoughtfully through visual and kinesthetic paths.
Briefly describe the hardware and/or software that you will use during the project. Include how this technology will address the need described above. I am hoping that by using the Inspiration Program to organize their thinking for the pre-writing or pre-reading step, students will apply this practice by comprehending their
reading material at a higher rate and will organize and elaborate the material in their written assignments.
D - Background data: List and briefly describe sources and types of data you intend to
use to develop a baseline for your class.
I have already tested my students through a variety of qualitative and quantitative sources. The fourth grade CTBS tests were not available, so the reading teacher, Rebecca Oates,
tested all of my students using a Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) published by
Houghton Mifflin. Each QRI required a fifteen one-on-one assessment in word
recognition, a running record of the student reading aloud, and an oral comprehension
assessment. I will also determine how long each student has been enrolled in Montgomery
County Public Schools, which language the student speaks at home, and the number of absences of each student from September through April.
E - List sources of data for collecting during the project (at least three). I will be using the following data: The QRI, students’ work on the computer, a teacher’s
log, which will document my reflections after the lessons, and student grades for their
F - Plan for additional dissemination of findings:
To whom do you intend to present your findings? What is the location? When would
you be doing this? Other possibilities for dissemination include in-school meetings, writing an article, or providing an in-service.
I will be presenting this information to my team and at the Teacher as Researcher
Conference on May 28, 2003.
Complete the section below after implementation of the action research project.
Summary of Project
? Date of Project: September 2002 through April 2003.
? Pre-assessment Analysis: The QRI test results in September.
? Number of Interventions: Students worked on the Inspiration Program from
10/7-4/03. Students have been writing in the traditional paper/pencil mode all year.
? Post-assessment Analysis: The QRI test results in January and April.
? Conclusions: Overall, student reading comprehension in this diverse group of
students has increased considerably. Six of the twenty students speak Spanish as
their first language, one speaks French Creole, and the remaining thirteen speak
English as their first language. Five of the twenty students were new to the
Montgomery County Public School System. Student absences, though significant
in some cases, had no effect in improved reading comprehension. Six of the
students who are below grade level speak Spanish at home, even though their
reading comprehension scores have improved since September.
? After the data was compiled and analyzed, some compelling data was revealed. I
thought students would prefer using the Inspiration Program to organize their
writing rather than paper/pencil; however students were divided fairly evenly as to
the preferred method for organization. Half of the students felt using the
Inspiration Program helped them to organize their thoughts more clearly and half
of the students thought Inspiration took too long or they felt comfortable
organizing on their own.
? I read quite a bit of research about the student achievement and computers in
August 2002. I focused on articles that attributed improved scores in reading and
writing to computer instruction. Most of the data confirmed that although students
enjoyed working on computers, the technology had little impact on academic
growth. In July, I taught writing to college age students in a computer lab. They
were motivated, but I did not believe the computers improved their writing.
Revision improved their writing. Thus, my student s enjoyed the kinesthetic
experience of typing and visuals of the graphic organizer, however they were able
to achieve equally as well or higher on paper pencil assignments.
? I attribute my students’ growth as readers and writers to my implementation of the
School Improvement Plan and solid instruction; however the Inspiration Program
was a valuable tool to help my students organize their thinking before projects and
? My initial assumptions were correct as my students enjoyed the kinesthetic
experience of working on computers, however, when the final scores of
technology verses paper pencil organizers were compared, there were minimal
variations in student achievement.
Educator’s Evaluation/Reflection of the Action Research Project A Reflection on the Effectiveness of the Learning Activity: Students were consistently motivated and excited about using the Inspiration Program to create graphic organizers
after reading, before creating a project, or writing a prompt. Also, students gained more confidence in creating their own graphic organizers on Inspiration as they continued to use
Appropriate Next Steps for the Action Research Project: I plan on creating another action research question and collect data next year. I will integrate technology into classroom instruction, but I will not focus on using technology as a means to the end.
Changes to the Action Research Project for Future Use: I believe that project was a positive and meaningful learning experience. I will not change the project, but I plan on presenting an Excel presentation to demonstrate how staff can use graphic organizers to
interpret reading and writing scores for the School Improvement Plan.