Research: October & November 2015 digest

It’s been a challenge to work blogging into my routine the past month – partly because I haven’t succeeded in making it a priority, partly because I’ve been dealing with flu.  However, I have been taking field notes, analyzing those notes, and writing short reflections.  I’ve also written some incomplete draft posts, which I’m going to “collect” in this post as a record of my thinking about my inquiry.

October 18

I indexed my field notes, a la Shagoury & Power p. 75-76.  I noticed that a lot of my notes had to do with inappropriate student behavior.

I wonder if this is a holdover from my earlier approach to classroom management, which involved documenting “misbehavior” so as to be able to “bring a case” against misbehaving students.  I think I still worry that if I trust my students, they will take advantage of this trust, so I document all of my conversations with students about appropriate & inappropriate behavior.

The predominance of “inappropriate behavior” notes in my notebook, though, suggests that I am focused on the wrong thing.  Instead of noting “inappropriate behavior,” maybe I should also try to note when students are focused on the right things?  When students are taking chances and learning?

Another theme:  extensions on deadlines.  I have been trying to incorporate flexible deadlines into my classroom culture.

November 5

It’s taken a bit longer than I anticipated to get student permissions and write the survey for initial data, so I’ve amended my research calendar:

November 2 – 10 – obtain permissions from students, revise research brief as needed

November 12 – 18 – initial data (student perceptions of power)
I got help from colleagues Aaron Sepulveda & Santiago Moran with the Spanish translation of the permission slip, and these have gone out.  I’ll go ahead with the survey next week.

I’ve been collecting data, however, and taking field notes.  Some themes and questions have emerged.

  • Students have begun to make progress on their curriculum integration projects, though not at the pace I would like.  The workshop format seems to help with structure; I think patience may be a key in working with the groups that are moving more slowly.
  • One period of seniors is quite happy with our class constitution, while the other period has expressed some concerns.  The latter period has expressed confusion about how the assignments work.
  • My field notes have shifted from noting “bad behavior” toward questions related to moving groups’ projects forward.
November 15

Another discovery:  it’s hard to keep to a calendar for my research.  Due to delays, some self-inflicted and others due to external circumstances, I’m amending my research calendar.

October 8 – publish research brief on my blog

October – November – obtain permissions from students, revise research brief as needed

It took longer than I expected to get the permission slip ready, partly because I needed (as noted above) to get help from two colleagues to translate it into Spanish.  This is not a critique of my colleagues, who generously lent their time and attention to help me, but rather of my planning.

It’s also taken longer than I expected to get the permission slips out and back from the kids.  

Lesson learned:  make a research permission slip part of my beginning-of-the-year communication with parents, and talk to the students about my project(s) throughout the year.

late November/early December – initial data (student perceptions of power)

This has also taken longer than I expected, mainly because I needed to adapt questions from existing surveys to create a survey for my project that would be sufficiently focused.


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