7/13 Class Notes

PowerPoint Presentation
  • 10-12 slides
  • Aim for 6X6: up to 6 bullet points per slide, 6 words per bullet point
  • Title slide - your presentation title, your name, school in which you conducted the research, your participating teacher's name, your Brandeis cohort, date, etc...
  • Opening slide - your research question and possibly an opening quotation or a couple of related thoughts
  • Research process slides - data sources and data collection procedures. (2-3 slides)
  • Findings slides - principle findings; what your data analysis reveals (3-5 slides). Literature could go here.
  • Significance slide(s) - significance of your findings; how this might inform your own practice and the work of other teachers. Literature could go here.
  • Conclusion slide(s) - reiteration of the 1-3 key points you want members of your audience to carry away
For my presentation:
  • graph of teacher moves/types
  • video clip of my comment + Goldie acting
  • a handout for people to pick up if they want
  • 3 copies of the book Lyddie

7/6 Class Notes

Literature Review
Analytic Memo
Working title:
Looking out from within: Fifth grade students taking on the perspective of a literary character

Research Question:
How do my facilitation moves push students see the world from the perspective of the main character?

  • rooted in text?
  • able to extend this thinking to hypothetical situations?
  • Was I explicit about wanting them to get into the character's perspective?
  • Modeling about using textual evidence as support/claims model, expanding use of textual evidence.
  • Did the conferences have an effect on their later work?
  • Ch 19 + 20 class discussion about luke and lyddie: teacher move to give time for pre-thinking, allowed the discussion to go on
  • Teacher move: during drama I reminded the students that Lyddie has a motive, after which Goldie nailed it

In-class work:
  • final research question
  • analytic frame
  • how are you looking at your materials?
  • other angles into this story that might enrich/support/compete with your findings
Note: In the video of improv, the teacher move was to remind students that Lyddie was going to the overseer's house with a plan. Then Goldie goes on to act out a scene with tone, passion, empathy, and (mostly) accuracy.
Teacher move: Students read Chapters 19+20 independently, and I posed several questions to think about or write about, including "Why didn't Lyddie respond to Luke Stevens' letter?" which I later put to a class discussion. Teacher move was to put the question out there for the students to think about, and then have students share. Both Brandon and Goldie didn't write anything down. This move was to ask a question about a character's motives, allow for pre-thinking, and give students space to articulate.

Revised Analytic Memo assignment
  1. Your research question(s); how your question emerged and your thoughts about how this might inform your practice.
  2. Characterization of why you collected this data + how you collected this data
  3. Discuss the means of analysis you found useful
  4. What you learned from your data - as clear and straightforward as possible (use charts, graphs and other visuals)
  5. Your hunches about what these data mean
  6. Discuss the relationship between various types of data. Can you support your interpretations with multiple sources of data? (Triangulation)

7/1 Class Notes

The artifact/material under review: Interpretive responses to literature, creating hypothetical responses based on text
Your approaches to opening that material up
Your thoughts about how you might organize what you find
Initial hunches
The purpose of this literature review is to place you into conversation with other educators and scholars who have considered and written about areas of practice related to your research. In the years to come, you may also choose to write these questions or to attend conferences where people discuss them. In this course, you can only begin a relationship with this larger field of work. Specifically, you need to identify and discuss 3-5 articles or books that inform your work in some manner. It is important to center your discussion on the ways in which the content of these works intersects with your research questions and material. Your literature review should be 3-4 pages and should include: 1. the logic behind your literature search. Why did you choose these particular works? 2. a brief characterization of each piece, either all together or a discussion of each piece. 3. a thoughtful discussion of how each piece intersects with your research question and research findings.

6/29 Class Notes

Possible for teacher research:
From "What Expert Teachers Do" reading about anecdotes: find a
good anecdote to include in PowerPoint.
Could include:
interview with teachers involved?
Member check: check results/findings with mentor teacher or another involved party.

Library resources

Library website
Some articles are full text with a downloadable PDF, yet some are only citations that require an inter-library loan.
Research guide for Education on the Brandeis Library page (click on the Education link, then look at the top tabs and click on the Electronic Databases tab) and look for the useful links.
It is recommended to type in several search terms. When you get the article, it will list some search terms, and you can click on those search terms to find more articles on that topic. Ex: Elementary Education + Hebrew + America search will bring up an article "Immersion model for Teaching Hebrew" which is under the subject header "Language Acquisition + Hebrew" which you could click on to find more on that topic.

Getting the text

Once you find the article, look at the article listing for "Linked Full Text" which indicates that you can immediately grab the text in PDF form. Just click on the link for full text!

The article might say "Get It" which looks through the databases to try to find the article/journal. Sometimes you will have to look for the available journal dates to make sure the available journal/article is the right date/edition. When you click on the database or link, look for the link for "PDF" or HTML text link.

If the text is only available as an Inter-library Loan (ILL), you will click on the link that says "Inter-library Loan" or ILL and fill out your information and submit the request. You will be notified by email when the article arrives in your ILL account.

EndNote and RefWorks for citation management (suggestion).

6/24 Class Notes

First step of teacher research is to organize data.
  1. Class discussions - what questions I ask, open-ended or finite? How students respond? Extending the reading.
  2. Reader response questions that ask students to respond to a question using interpretation and evidence from the text.
  3. Reader response prompts that ask students to construct a hypothetical situation using evidence from the text.
  4. Conferences - students have a chance to extend and explain their thinking.

4/22 Journaling

My research question is about pushing students to dive into the mind/perspective of the character of a book.
What have I learned so far about this: I have learned that students generally tend to put their own mindset/thinking into the situation of the character, rather than using clues from the book to determine what the character's motives are. I know that the wording of a question should be chosen carefully so that the student knows that they will need to look for clues, and use the character's previous actions to predict future actions.

  • Josh: can offer some original insight, but does not carry his thoughts to a deeper level
  • Jerry: Gets stuck on comprehension, which makes it hard to
  • Mark: Very thorough and original thoughts, is generally good at diving into the character's thoughts
  • Jasmine: Very thoughtful, will come up with original thoughts, but not always revolutionary or using inference from text
  • Lyndsay: Often goes with her first thought without taking a moment to think her thoughts through first. Puts herself in the situation, but doesn't always go into the character's thinking
  • Lily: Doesn't always get through to more complex ideas or thoughts.

4/22 Inquiry Checkpoint

April 22
I. List the current versions of your main research question and your sub-questions:
How can I help students use the text of a novel to really understand a character's perspective? (Interpretive discussion)

  1. What kinds of questions: push the students to find textual evidence in order to answer them? help the students see the world from the perspective of the main character? engage student curiosity?
  2. How do my facilitation moves: push the students to find textual evidence in order to answer them? help the students see the world from the perspective of the main character? engage student curiosity?
  3. How can I help students identify which passages in a book are important to focus on, that are the most illuminating passages for understanding a character's perspective?
  4. How do students’ oral and written comments reveal their understanding of the character’s perspective? What types of responses do students give in informal discussions? What types of responses do students give in reader response journals?
II. Have your questions changed since the beginning? If so, how and why? My questions have somewhat changed. I really wanted to explore how children get into the mind of a character. At first I was thinking about exploring the limits of structured versus free flowing discussion, but I didn't really have a good idea of how to measure and evaluate the data.
III. Create a brief list of the different kinds of data you have collected so far. The unit has not started, so I have not collected any data so far. It starts May 3.
IV. How is your plan for data collection working? Do you anticipate any problems using your data? I don't anticipate any problems. I will record Tuesday classes, and if there is a technology failure, I've asked the other Guided Reading teacher to come in and take notes.
V. Are the data you have collected providing answers to your questions? N/A
VI. Do you need to make any revisions to your plan for data collection? If so, describe the reason for the changes and include the revised plan with this assignment. N/A
VII. What challenges (if any) are you facing? Do you need any help? N/A

-expanding the use of textual evidence in group discussions
-different possibilities for interpreting a character
-keep options open so the students have to return to the text to support their claims

Teacher Research Proposal

February 24
  1. Research Question The first section includes research question and sub-questions, describe how you decided to investigate this particular topic and why it matters to you. Be sure to include relevant context or background information (e.g. grade level, number of students, classroom set up).
  2. Data Collection The second section should contain a detailed description of your plan for data collection. Include who you will be studying and list your data sources. For each source, describe specifically from whom you will gather the data and when you will gather it. Plan to complete your data collection before you begin lead teaching in May. Describe any materials or equipment you need to obtain (e.g. a tape recorder, a journal). If appropriate, include how you will store and organize the data you collect.
  3. Charts and Data For your third section, create a chart like the one on page 67 of Blumenreich and Falk, listing the sub-questions down the side and your data sources on the top. Indicate which data sources will provide information for which sub-questions.

I. Research Question

How can I help students use the text of a novel to really understand a character's perspective? (Interpretive discussion)
  1. What kinds of questions: push the students to find textual evidence in order to answer them? help the students see the world from the perspective of the main character? engage student curiosity?
  2. How do my facilitation moves: push the students to find textual evidence in order to answer them? help the students see the world from the perspective of the main character? engage student curiosity?
  3. How can I help students identify which passages in a book are important to focus on, that are the most illuminating passages for understanding a character's perspective?
  4. How do students’ oral and written comments reveal their understanding of the character’s perspective? What types of responses do students give in informal discussions? What types of responses do students give in reader response journals?
Student Sample:
Jewish Community Day School—Rhode Island

Fifth grade—17 students, 13 in the combined guided reading group
Guided reading in the classroom, on the rug, with reader response journals and book

Why this topic?
I find this question of connection-making very interesting because I've seen an array of responses to text in my guided reading groups. One student in particular, “Brandon,” has made some very good personal connections to the text in our guided reading group for Sing Down the Moon
. However, some of his responses, particularly in his reader response journal, have been tenuous at best. (Ex: “Tall Boy was mad because he was shot. I would be mad, too.) I think he suffers from writer's block, where he feels debilitated from a task set before him. However, when given some flexibility, or in less formative assessments, I've seen some very powerful identification with the characters of a text. I'm interested in promoting connections with the story that come from a deep understanding of the character, and that show the student understands the character's thinking, along with the context of the book.
I think the students will be especially equipped to get into the context of the story and the thinking of the character because their learning in social studies will support their understanding of the novel we are reading. The students will be reading this novel in two groups: one group of 13 students and another group of 4 students. I hope to assign more reading at home, along with a weekly project of summarizing the story, which I hope will promote reading comprehension.
A possible assessment: Could the students solve a hypothetical future problem using the character's thinking? OR: choose a moral questions about a decision the character made and have students evaluate the decision with textual evidence, and make an argument for or against the decision.

II. Data Collection

I will be using a camcorder to record discussions in guided reading. I will also photocopy responses that I feel give insight to my research question. I will track the actions I take and questions I ask, and track student responses. I will also reflect on these responses as I go. I will use a spreadsheet to track these responses. Because I am creating the unit that I will be conducting the research on, I will use the entire unit as data (except Thursdays). This means I will record 4 guided reading sessions to record informal responses. Additionally, I will choose 8 students to represent a range of learning styles and levels, and I will meet with these 8 students once a week to discuss their reader responses for clarity. I will also examine the final assessment for these 8 students.

III. Charts and Data

Informal responses from 8 students from four Tuesday sessions. I will look for my questions/moves, to see what pushed their thinking, what led them to look from the character outside.
Formal responses from these 8 students; I will pull them aside on four Wednesdays to discuss and clarify their responses; and record what questions I use to deepen their understanding of the character's perspective.
Final performance assessment: I will evaluate these students' assessments to look for understanding of the character in a hypothetical situation.

Question wording:
Response A
Response B
Response C
Response D
Response E
Response F
Response G
Response H
Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Does this question:
Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Push students to find textual evidence for answer (not supplemental)?

Push students to see the world from the perspective of a character?

Push students to draw on context?

Push students to identify important/illuminating passages?

Push students to utilize emotion to respond?


Questions in and about the classroom:
  • Poem about England and Colonies: what does this imagery tell us about what the Colonists think about England? Josh says that because it says England is never content, they will try harder.
  • During Parshat Yitro, Eliana asks the students to name the commandments they know. They get to adultery. Some of the students know what adultery is, some don't. One boy says to another, it's like when someone cheats, like what Tiger Woods did. The other boy seems to understand, or wants to give the impression he understands. Throughout the rest of the lesson, however, he makes some comments like, I don't follow golf, er, tennis, or whatever it is.
  • When students are engaged and why? What topics? What kind of connections they make on their own?
  • When students feel like they aren't understood: Who can remind me the question you were discussing that went on the bike rack?
    AJ: What's the difference between killing fish and killing plants?
    I walk over to him and hand him a piece of paper. Do you want to read that?
    AJ: I didn't write that, Josh wrote it.
    Do you want to read it? Did you write that?
    AJ: "What's the difference between killing animals versus plants?"
    OK, so I wasn't here for the discussion but I would like for...
    AJ: But that wasn't the question...
    So it arose froma bigger issue. I wanted to hear what issue this arose from, and address that issue.
    Jamie: If Aaron doesn't feel like that was the question, what was the question?
    AJ: It was fish versus plants.
    Eitan: It makes more sense animals versus plants.
  • dual curriculum as a method for integration: how does having one teacher for both Jewish and general studies effect integration? Does is help integrate the classroom if there's one teacher for all subjects? What accounts for the difference, if any? What are the criteria of integration? how can one teacher teaching across all subjects impact/affect integration
  • subjectivity in assessment: what role does subjectivity play in assessment? Does it have a place there?
  • How does the KLW method of discussion dictate the type of discussion that happens? What are its limits? What are its strengths? What are the pros and cons? (I was thinking about how KLWs in discussions allow for more student input, but can also be less structured, and more student-determined.
  • Where is that perfect balance between free-flowing intellectual discussion and structured, teacher dictated "discussion?" (I use quotes because I'm not sure if this is discussion or recitation, but I think it's discussion.) I've planned and taught two lessons with a whole class discussion as a main part of the lesson. Both times, what I envisioned for the discussion was vastly different from the actual discussion. In my mind, I imagine somewhat free-flowing discussion, mostly coming from the students, including thoughtful wonderings, questions, connections, insights. Then something happens. In the midst of teaching the lesson, I determine that I need to keep a tighter control on the discussion. I see some kids over here starting to get distracted by something, I notice that some of the quieter students are staring blankly into space, some students have little awareness of their own talk time. So, I implement rules of engagement, or set a air or seriousness about calling out. I resort back to recitation, even if I pose an initial question, I use the Teacher-Student-Teacher-Student format to regulate who is talking when.
  • Idea: reading group as a place for research?
  • IDEA: Are students more invested in their work if they are able to start the homework in class or if they do it all at home?
  • Does time spent on RRj work have a relationship with thoroughness/quality of work?

Teacher Research Step 1: Developing a question (Due February 4)
1. Puzzling moments during Guided Reading class discussions (I can see many connections to our Parshat Hashvua discussions, where they're also called upon to make a personal connection to the story):

  • Puzzling moments: One girl, JG speaks very quietly. What is going on with her? Is she feeling unsure of her comments/thoughts? She has a lot to say in her RRJ, but holds back from sharing during reading discussions.
  • PS uses every opportunity to relate a personal experience, which isn't always necessarily connected to the story or the big ideas of the story, but more just word association. (Ex. There's a horse mentioned in the book, and she tells the group about when she went to horse camp.)
  • Some of the students seem to be in their own thoughts while their classmates are talking, working of formulating their own thoughts instead of listening. When are students actually listening to the thoughts of their classmates, and when are they merely in their own thoughts?
  • In SDM, one student was terrified when the dog in the book was in danger of harm. What are the topics, moments and characters that foster a strong identification with the book? What topics are naturally interesting or personal to them? What other topics are worthy of making those personal connections to?
  • For the parsha where Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac, the students were asked to make a personal connection to a story about arranged marriage! The students found this to be incredibly difficult. They complained that they didn't have a personal example. When the question was reframed as: Do you have a personal example of a time when your parents made decisions for you “for your own good?” Then they were able to connect.
2. Why did these moments speak out to me?
  • Reading is such a great tool to be able to explore other worlds. Students usually naturally love reading. The best kind of reading is when you dive into the story and think about what you would do in that situation, get into the thinking of the characters, develop imagery of the setting, think about extensions beyond what's written in the book. How do the students naturally make these strong connections (like with the dog in SDM)? Which kind of guiding questions really encourage these questions without getting “old?”
3. Choose one issue, problem, confusion, or question that you want to investigate. (This may have been generated by step 2 above, but it’s fine if it isn’t.) Write a few sentences that describe the issue, problem, confusion or question.
  • I feel like my reading group has kind of gotten “tired” of the format of reader's response questions: Answer the question, find textual evidence, make a personal connection. Their personal connections are often tenuous or contrived, or unconnected altogether. They don't look for more than just the stock answer. The questions are often about characters' feelings: “How is Tall Boy feeling?” to which the students will answer: “I think he's mad because if I got shot, I would be mad too.”
4. Respond to the prompts below:
  • What are some initial impressions or interpretations about your issue, problem, concern, or question? What have you noticed or thought about that leads you to want to look into it? Is something wrong? Missing? Is there an aspect of teaching that you want to get better at? What assumptions lurk within your framing of this question?
  • I was thinking about using my guided reading group to explore the types of questions they are ready and eager to engage in.
5. Try to turn your issue, problem, concern or original question into one or more researchable questions.
  • What topics help facilitate connection-making during guided reading discussion?
  • How do I promote deeper and more original connections? How do I get them to make those connections like the student identified with the dog in SDM?
  • How do you set up questions to stimulate connection-making?

INPUT from Lea and Laliv:

  • The students choose their own questions
  • Literature circles: Come prepared to class, have to summarize it, different jobs for the students: text-to-self connections, visualize, write discussion questions.
  • Different format: students do most of reading at home. Come prepared to class.
  • Partner work? Partners are responsible for certain weekly work.
  • Each person has a job.

5/17 Class
What are the differneces between farm work and factory work:

LG: cleaner and safer on the farm, and the factory has fumes and is loud. The factory can make people go deaf (from Slater Mill trip)
MU: She feels safer on the farm because she all of her family there
EL: She can't visit Charlie now, at least back at the tavern she could have the option of visiting her brother