The problem in my environment is the low level of student engagement in my classroom. My proposed solution is to use novel, unique, hands-on, and computer based learning activities to grab student attention creating an intrinsic interest in their learning.
- Will using more collaborative technologies such as Schoology with my 8thgrade physical science students create more active participation in learning as seen in project grades being no less than an 80%?
- Will using unique, computer based learning and websites with my eighth grade physical science students create better connections to prior knowledge as shown in completed KWL charts showing what they Know, Want to know, and Learned?
- Can I use technology such as Schoology to create immediate feedback to my eighth grade physical science allowing for timely revisions according to their needs?
My eighth grade physical science students where 24 students participated between the ages of 13 and 14 and half were male and half were female. Of these 24 students 90% were Hispanic, 19.8% Caucasian, and 0.2% African-American. The area these students came from was extremely diverse where 55% of the 24 students were economically disadvantaged and the other 45% were middle class. These students were very active with about 50% being athletic and invested in sports.
Summary of Cycle 1:
Before I began implementing my Capstone project I started by introducing Schoology to my students. They then became familiar with the site first so they knew what was available to them, what was expected of them, and how to access the resources needed during class. I reserved the computer lab this first week and showed the students a video tutorial I created to walk them through the process of how to start using Schoology and the different tools it offers that we will be using. They created their accounts, browsed the features, completed a pre-engagement survey, and personalized their accounts. I walked around and monitored ensuring only school appropriate content was being used on their profiles.
During the first week of implementation the students logged on to Schoology and completed the pre tests about Newton’s Laws of Motion I had created using questions gathered from Quizlet.com (to which the students became familiar with in January). This gave them the opportunity to become familiar with taking a test on this site. I also had the students complete simulation activities on a website called Explore Learning through Schoology. Explore Learning had simulation lab activities to which the students became familiar with in the fall. Throughout the cycle the students also completed KWL (what you know, what you want to know, what you learned) Charts using Google Drawings, reviewed the Prezi given on Newton’s Laws of Motion, became familiar with their skit projects through a rubric on Google Documents, completed and submitted most projects on Schoology, and took their post test and survey.
I used pre and post surveys, pre and post tests, a skit project, post interviews, personal observations, and KWL Charts to collect my data.
In the pre-engagement survey 29% of the students who completed the survey found science to be interesting, 7% found it “kinda interesting”, 43% of the students described interest as “little” or “boring”, and the other 21% of the students only found the science fair portion of class to be interesting.
For the post survey 72% of the students found science to be more interesting, 14% of the students described this unit as “alright” or “not much different”, 7% described it as “not that exciting”, and the final 7% described something new learned. Between the pre and post surveys students’ interests in science changed from labs, chemistry, and dissections to Newton’s Laws of Motion and Physics because of the “cool” skit projects. In the pre survey there were 14% of the students who did not feel technology and science fit together because “they are not the same and don’t work well together. However in the post survey 100% of the students felt technology and science worked well together because “using technology makes science easier.”
In the pre test 82% of the students only answered 3 of the 20 questions correctly. Another 10% of the students answered 2 of the questions correctly. The final 8% of the students either answered 1 or none of the questions correctly. The questions answered correctly were random and were not consistently the same between students. This showed that the students only knew very little or nothing at all about Newton’s Laws of Motion.
In the post test 79% of the students received a grade of 90% or higher answering no less than 18 of the 20 questions correctly. Another 7% of the students received an 80% answering 16 of the 20 questions correctly. The final 14% of the students received a 70% answering 14 of the 20 questions correctly. The questions almost 100% of the students missed were labeling action/reaction forces. This showed that 100% of the students learned about Newton’s first two Laws of Motion and had trouble with the third law. They showed that they gained some knowledge about how the laws relate to real-life.
For the skit project 76% of the students received an 80% or better based on the rubric used for grading. This rubric graded the students in 5 categories with each being worth a maximum of 20 points each. The other 24% of the students received between a 70% and 75% on this assignment. None of the students received less than a 70%. This project showed that the students were able to apply what they learned about Newton’s Laws and apply that to a situation explaining how the laws work.
In the K (What I Know) portion 100% of the students put that they knew Newton’s Laws of Motion was related to Physics, how things move, and why things move. There were also 54% of the students who added that these were created by “a dead guy” and another 10% that said they thought these laws related to centripetal force. In the W (What I Want to Know) portion 100% of the students stated they wanted to know what these laws are and who created them. In the L (What I Learned) portion 100% of the students stated at least one of the laws either verbatim or in their own words and listed at least one example. The KWL chart showed that students were able to connect what they already knew to what we learned in class about Newton’s Laws creating a more substantial understanding of the concept.
My cycle 1 was relevant to my focus statement in that it addressed the issue of student engagement in the classroom and utilized unique forms of technology to discover the impact of these hands-on, computer based activities. My first inquiry question was answered in the skit projects completed by the students. The students utilized Schoology in their skit projects in order to better engage with one another. This was shown in 80% of the students receiving a proficient grade of 80% or better on their skits. The 5 students who did not attain proficient (80%) did not receive less than a 70%. For my second inquiry question students were able to make better connections to prior knowledge as shown in examples of their completed KWL Charts. In the learned section, the students referred to real world examples of Newton’s Laws of Motion to demonstrate or express what they learned thereby connecting this concept to the world around them. As for my final inquiry question I was able to utilize Schoology to provide prompt feedback to the students as shown in the grade book, comments, and resubmissions submitted by several of the students.
One of the largest surprises I experienced was the difficulty of the students to complete the simple activities such as the pre and post surveys. The students were extremely unmotivated to complete this two activities in particular not necessarily seeing the importance. I tried several times explaining verbally and with different examples of how these surveys serve a purpose and it made very little difference. Also when I was not able to reserve the computer lab it took more time than expected to complete these activities on my class set of laptops. This was due to several reasons; the wireless being uncooperative, computers not being charged due to faulty charging ports, etc. I expected the students to enjoy the Explore Learning simulations more than they did, therefore many of them spent all of their time on creating the skits and virtually no time on the simulation labs. This meant that very few of those assignments were completed. I immensely enjoyed the skit activities and all the time and great learning seen through those activities. I do wish in some cases the students would have been a little more imaginative in creating and performing their examples. I think had I created my own and demonstrated it for them it might have sparked more of what I was looking for. They students enjoyed creating the skits. Some stated that by created the skits they were able to look at the laws in actions they complete on a daily basis. It made the content more relatable to them.
In my next steps I will create new pre and post assessments, new student accounts, and new activities for my audience and new content area. I would also like to create the student accounts prior to introducing Schoology to save on time and allow me to keep track of usernames and passwords in case students forget theirs or cannot login. This cycle was relevant to my goal for this project in that it provided all students with the information needed for this class so as we reviewed information together it was as if they were learning one on one. It also aided those students who were absent or needed to look at the content again. The students were able to post discussions with one another and communicate more freely enhancing their learning environment. I now plan to utilize the same pre and post engagement surveys and KWL Chart for teaching Energy. I plan to also use a roller coaster project to demonstrate what the students have learned about the content. This will also be graded using a rubric created on Google Documents. All requirements will be posted to Google Drive and shared with the students via Schoology.