Essential Question Week 7

I have been working hard to prepare for data collection and analysis this week.  First off, I have been pouring over my new Brain Gym teacher’s edition book and I have been working hard to select the activities that will improve the focus and engagement if students.  In addition to preparation for implementation, I also spent this week recording my students to collect comparison data.  I have five engagement percentages for my students in the 10 minute period I will be collecting data for over the next few weeks after we begin doing Brain Gym activities.  This practice has not only been helpful for comparison purposes, but I have also gotten used to the method I will be using to observe my students and to collect data.  I have been recording each day’s observations on an individual observation data form.  Additionally, my students have become used to seeing my computer recording them, and don’t really questions its presence anymore.

I have all my data collecting forms ready, the observation sheets, the surveys, and the focus group questions ready.  I have become familiar with my data collection methods and I am prepared to begin Brain Gym implementation on Monday.  I have already gotten my research proposal approved and I am ready to get my project going!

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Reflection Blog Week 6

I received some very helpful feedback from my peers this week.  First, one of my peers read over my methods paper and help me notice some editorial errors, which is always very helpful!  Also, another peer made a recommendation for a way to improve the survey I posted that I will be giving to my students.  Some of my peers also commented on my method of data collection.  I had some feed back that supported the method that I outlined as using, and some feed back that suggested making some changes of adjustments to my data collection method.

I read carefully over the adjustments my peers suggested, such as length of time for data collection and time of day of data collection.  Their suggestions gave me a lot to think about, and I re-read over my method/research design, and considered making the suggested changes, but ultimately I decided to keep my data collection method as is.  I decided that the method I developed would help me answer the question I am asking most accurately.  I appreciated the feedback though, because it forced me to really think about my plan and make sure that my plan best fits the question I want to answer.

I was also able to look around a quite a few other blogs, and I was able to see that some people have similar data collection methods as I do, and others are doing something quite different.  I really enjoyed to opportunity to read others’ research designs.  It helped me think about if I needed to change mine in any way, and I was also glad for the opportunity to help my peers in the same way they are helping me.

Essential Question Week 6

For me data collection will largely consist of taking observational data.  I will be reviewing ten-minute recordings during the same ten minute period over the period of a few weeks.  I will be randomly scanning the students and marking whether or not they are currently engaged at the moment they are scanned.  A plus sign on the data form means the student was engaged, a minus sign means the students was not engaged.  After collecting this data for 10 minutes, I will divide the number of plus signs by the number of marks collected total, and this will give me a percentage of engaged students for the given observed period.  Additionally, at the end of the data collection period,  I will be administering a survey to my students to collect their impressions and feelings about the Brain Gym program, and to collect their thoughts on how using these activities affected their engagement.

One of the biggest challenges I am anticipating is having to remember to record my class for the ten minute period each day for a few weeks.  Often when I am teaching I get so involved in what is going on with my students as school, that I forget about anything else!  There have been times before where I meant to record myself for other various purposes, but simply forget because I’m too busy thinking about my kids, rather than my academic obligations!  I will be using notes to remind myself, and I will prep my recoding area before school starts.  Also, hopefully after doing it a few times, I will get used to the routine of recording myself, and it wont be a struggle to remember.

Method/Research Design is posted below:

Method

In this study on the effectiveness of Brain Gym as an intervention to improve engagement, I take a qualitative inquiry approach examining a real world situation without manipulating it. I take a naturalistic approach in this research through a case study that is both historical and observational.

Participants

The participants for this action research study were nine female students and three male students, among the ages of right through ten. Participants were selected because they are the students I teach in my 3/4 classroom. Students were not informed of the purpose of the study. Names and other personal information of the students is not presented in the research project, as the objective of the project was to analyze the influence the behavior of the students as a whole, rather than as individuals.

Observations

Observations will occur daily over a 3-4 week period. Instructional time will be recorded each day, occurring at 10:30 AM, which will consist of the instructional time that occurs immediately after Brain Gym exercises. Observations will be ten minutes long. First round of observations will occur before implementation of Brain Gym, second round of observations will occur while Brain Gym is being implemented, the purpose being to have comparable data and to clearly see influence and effectiveness of Brain Gym.

Observation Protocol

Survey

Towards the end of data collection, students will be surveyed on their perceived understanding and attitude of the Brain Gym implementation. Surveys will consist of questions that ask students how they feel about the Brain Gym activities, and if they feel as though the program has improved their engagement.

Brain Gym Survey

Analysis

Internal validity in this study will be accomplished through triangulation, the analysis of multiple sources of qualitative data. A content analysis will be conducted using the collected sources of data. This analysis will determine the effectiveness of the Brain Gym program as a tool to increase engagement in the classroom.

Reflection Blog Week 5

Since this course is not instructor led, I am really learning to appreciate my peers, their thoughts, contributions and feedback.  When making my original post this week, my answer to this weeks essential question, I was not sure if my data method would be a good enough method to provide data for my project, but after receiving some feedback, I am feeling much more confident about my ideas.  My peers informed me that my data collection method was adequate and a good method.  One of my peers even asked me a question about the randomization of my data collection, and I was able to adjust my methods using her suggestion!

Also, as I looked around at other people’s blog posts I was able to get some really good ideas.  I enjoyed reading about other people’s data collection methods, and I was able to see that one classmate is using a similar data collection method to me, but over a longer period of time.  I am planning on adding this method to my project.  I also noticed that a lot of people will be using observations and student surveys or interviews as data for their project.  I think using observational data would be beneficial for my project as well and will be a good complement to the numerical data I will collect.  My own observational data will help either confirm or disagree with the data I collect and would be a powerful piece of evidence to add to my project.  Student surveys also sound interesting to me.  I might consider surveying my students to see if they enjoy the Brain Gym activities, just for my own professional and instructional knowledge.  I do not think surveys would be applicable to my research question, unless I ask the students a question like “Did you feel more engaged after doing a Brain Gym activities?”  But it would be hard to get accurate and reflective responses from my students.  I would be more interested to know, just for personal purposes, if they enjoyed the activities and would want to continue to do them.

Theoretical Framework

Theoretical Framework

The research conducted in this study present three main themes. Initially, many studies demonstrate the benefit of taking breaks in the classroom. Students benefit from breaks and are more likely to stay engaged and learn actively when provided with breaks during the school day. Secondly, breaks can manifest themselves in the classroom in a variety of way, including games, or purposeful physical activity and movement breaks called brain breaks. There is one well-known brain break program called Brain Gym. This program has been used in classrooms for over 40 years, however many researchers advise again the use of the program, despite its immense popularity and recommendation for other sources, because of its lack of research based evidence to support the program’s claims.

Essential Question 5

The question I am thinking of asking for my research project is:  Is Brain Gym and effective intervention for improving student engagement?

So to answer my question I will want to collect engagement data.  Engagement checks and data analysis is already something that the district and school that I work for do, and I have been trained how to do engagement analysis in classroom.  Over a period of 5-10 minutes, you look at a random student every ten seconds (of course after a minute or so students will begin to be seen more than once) and mark a check if the students is engaged and an X if the student is not.  From this data collection you can get an average engagement percentage, and use this to make generalizations about the subject/class/etc.  For my project I think I will use a similar system to collect data.  Since I want to see if Brain Gym improves engagement, I will collect data for a week or so before implementing Brain Gym and then for a week or so after implementing Brain Gym.  I will collect data from the same time frame each day, so time of day will not be a variable.

By collecting data before and after implementation, I will be able to directly see the effects, if any, of Brain Gym in my classroom.  Also, since I cannot teach and collect data simultaneously I will either try to train an aid, ask another teacher to collect data, or just record my classroom and take data from the recordings.

Reflection Blog Week 4

I had some really great interactions with the PLN over the past week, and as I am becoming more used to giving and receiving feedback from my colleagues I am realizing how valuable these interactions are.  As the course has continued, I am becoming more comfortable with expectations and delving into the formal research aspects of this class and paper, but when I get comments, suggestions or questions from others, their feedback makes me feel so much better and more confident about the work I am doing.

Ashley, Starr, Heather and I have begun sharing ideas and research through an email chain as well as a google doc.  their support and advise and answers has really improved my success in the class so far, and I’m glad the four of us, who are working on related topics for our research papers, have been able to connect so early in the class and I hope we continue to support one another as we delve deeper into the research project.

Also, the Tuesday Twitter session continue to be helpful.  I really appreciate the opportunity to ask any questions I have and get answers from a variety of sources.  I will continue to attend the twitter meetings and hopefully soon enough I’ll feel confident enough to give hosting a try!