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Action Research Project: Enhancing Involvement. Network Group Jane Morgan: Craigcefnparc Primary Julie McElroy: Glyncollen Primary Alison Evans: Manselton Primary. Gender Differences. Aim: To look at gender differences: teacher led activities child initiated activities.

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action research project enhancing involvement
Action Research Project: Enhancing Involvement

Network Group

  • Jane Morgan: Craigcefnparc Primary
  • Julie McElroy: Glyncollen Primary
  • Alison Evans: Manselton Primary
gender differences

Gender Differences

Aim: To look at gender differences:

teacher led activities

child initiated activities

background to my school
Background to my school
  • Small, rural school.
  • 83 on roll including Nursery
  • Year 1 / 2 class: 15 morning (4 Y2, 11 Y1)
  • Reception join in the afternoon (23 total)
  • Throughout the school there is a higher ratio of boys so we are aware of gender issues.
  • In my class there is more even split (7 girls, 8 boys).
why i chose to research gender difference
Why I chose to research gender difference.
  • The school has a higher ratio of boys to girls.
  • I had observed that the boys had highly stereotypical roles in class.
  • Boys engaged mainly in construction and computer activities to the exclusion of other learning areas.
  • Boys generally needed more encouragement to stay on tasks.
background to motivation for research choice
Background to motivation for research choice.
  • On Wednesday afternoons children have free choice – they are able to do whatever they want within reason in the areas within the classroom (eg creative, roleplay, computers, carpet area, construction).
  • I observed that during these free choice sessions that boys were mainly choosing computers and construction.
  • I observed that during free choice sessions the girls were mainly choosing roleplay and creative areas.
  • There was very little interaction between girls and boys during the free choice sessions.
plan for child initiated activities
Plan for child initiated activities
  • Observe children during free choice sessions.
  • Make changes.
  • Observe children.
  • Reflect.
  • Refine and improve on earlier changes.
what i did
What I did….
  • Reorganised range of activities in free choice sessions. Removed activities previously favoured by boys to encourage more interaction with other creative areas.
  • The girls were able to choose between the computers and table top activities.
  • Children used the more directed choice of activities but were reluctant.
  • The levels of involvement were lower than before when they had free choice of all activities.
  • Motivation decreased and they were less enthusiastic about this session.
teacher led activities
Teacher Led Activities
  • I observed them during Numeracy sessions.
  • The boys showed more involvement during the mental maths warm up sessions which included the quick fire round questions. The girls were less involved and more reticent to participate.
  • Girls and boys like hands on activities using equipment such as multiblocks, the whiteboards, number fans and the interactive whiteboard.
  • Girls were more inclined to answer when using the practical equipment.
the way forward
The way forward….

To increase the level of involvement during:

  • Teacher Led - I intend to always use some form of practical equipment during the mental maths warm up.
  • Child Initiated – I intend to allow children to choose any activity during free choice sessions.
enhancing involvement in a nursery class
Enhancing Involvement in a Nursery Class
  • Nursery class - 31 children (13 girls / 18 boys) – aged 4 years (moving to Reception next Sept). Teacher in second year of teaching. Setting still very much under development (moving towards Foundation Phase).
  • Initial motivation stemmed from an explosion of daily fighting games influenced by films and TV programmes (especially Power Rangers). Observations showed the game was played mainly by core group of 6 boys but game sometimes involved more children including one or two girls too.
  • Small guns were being made from the construction toys (lego and sticklebricks). Observed chasing, aggression and enactment of shooting people. Little language used. Some children upset by pretend violence especially those not playing and getting caught up in it. Games resulted in lots of daily accidents also spilling over into squabbles and real fighting! A parent approached me with concern that one child was reluctant to come to school due to a ‘fighting game’ (the child was a ‘player’ of the fighting games).
Discussed with Nursery team (3 TA’s). Spent many weeks using different tactics in effort to discourage the games (whole class discussions, circle time discussions, reward system for not playing, game ‘spotters’ encouraged to tell on players, taking away of construction ‘gun’ toys, talked to parents about watching of the programme – all said their child did not watch).
  • Some children got clever, started to pretend to be playing other ‘nicer’ games and that the ‘guns’ were ‘flowers’ even though it was the same game in reality!
  • Something had to be done! Looked at what was happening and where. Observations showed that my continuous provision areas were being used for other purposes (to play the fighting game!). Used the Laevers Scale to observe activity in my areas on a daily basis over a week. Other adults also recorded their observations on post-its in an observation book. Results showed that involvement observed my areas was around Level 2 and 3 (frequently interrupted activity and mainly continuous activity) with some Level 4 on times (continuous activity with intense moments). Decided my areas needed some change.
plan of action
Plan of Action
  • Identify two areas currently not working to engage children.
  • Observe children in these areas using the Ferre Leavers Involvement Scale to assess effectiveness.
  • Ask the children about the areas (likes, wishes).
  • Reflect on what I have found.
  • Reorganise the areas with aims i) to enable children to become more engaged with area, and ii) in time be able to access area independently.
  • Observe, reflect, make any changes.
  • With time repeat whole process with all continuous provision areas.
then i asked the children
Then I asked the children:
  • What do you enjoy most in the Nursery?

Top Five

1. Bikes: 5 girls / 4 boys

2. Art, Craft, creative : 4 girls

3. Sand, water: 4 boys / 1 girl

4. Roleplay areas: 3 girls / 1 boy

  • Train Track: 2 boys


  • Boys not using/enjoying the Roleplay area (house with usual domestic items). Must make more appealing to them.
  • Boys not enjoying/using the creative area (painting, junk modelling, cut and paste) preferring instead the sand and water.
  • Both boys and girls love the bikes and outdoor play.
2 what would you like in the nursery
2. What would you like in the Nursery?

Top Five Wishes

  • More dolls – 4 girls
  • A trampoline – 1 girl /2 boys (fighter)
  • Power rangers toys - 3 boys (fighters)
  • Change house roleplay areas - 3 girls
  • More outdoors equipment (slides, balls, hula hoop) – 2 girls / 1 boy


  • Roleplay areas not inspiring high level of independent play or learning.
  • Roleplay areas need regular change, more than one area to meet all interests of both boys and girls and to include more challenging equipment and materials.
  • 3 boys really love Power Rangers!
  • Girls really love playing dolls!
  • Need to think about enhancing/changing outdoor play – buying some new equipment and introducing some new activities.
the old creative area
The old creative area

* uninviting * uninspiring * unorganised * children not using independently

the new creative area
The new creative area

All materials made more accessible to children at all times and changed regularly.

Projects have included making a wall for Humpty, a Beanstalk, models of vehicles and a giant (all were optional to join in and all activities in the area attracted the ‘fighters’).

Observations show involvement of Levels 4/5 on Leavers Scale.

our old house area now glyncollen travel agency inspired by the children talking about journeys
Our old House area – Now Glyncollen Travel Agency(inspired by the children talking about journeys).
Amazingly all the fighting boys love it (were the first to play!). The children now:
  • * Roleplay the customer – select a brochure and choose the holiday, provide the travel agent with their holiday information (what holiday, where going, when going, how travelling, who going), pay for the holiday with a credit card including typing in their pin number, plan what they are packing in their suitcase etc.
  • *Roleplay the travel agent: ask the customer questions as above and type that information into the computer, book the plane seat(s) on the computer, phone the hotel to check availability, give the customer the price, take the payment via credit card, give the customer a receipt and tickets, even use appropriate language (hi how can I help you! etc).
  • All observations indicate involvement is higher at Levels 4/5 on the Laevers Scale.
The children wanted to visit a travel agency but it was felt that the class of 31 children might be too big so we asked a local travel agent to visit us and give a talk about what happens there.
next the old construction area
Next: The old ‘construction’ area
  • Uninspiring, under used.
  • children not using independently
  • Area currently being developed by the children (they want a Bob the Builder Fix It Shop). They have chosen what goes in the Fix It Shop.
  • Girls are using the tools from the Fix It Shop to fix bikes and scooters.
  • 3 previous fighters love this area!
  • Level 4/5 on Leavers involvement scale observed plus much singing of the Bob the Builder song!
  • Observed children: taking/making phone calls to customers re broken toys and
  • phoning for more helpers to fix the toys.
overall reflections
Overall Reflections
  • Boys were particularly attracted to the new areas (these included all the boys who liked to play the fighting games). Revisited roleplay areas each day.
  • Observations showed that in one week the fighting games were only played by (the same) 2 boys on a regular basis.
  • Observations showed that the children are playing and using the areas independently every day (once shown their way around it).
  • Plan to carry out the same process with all continuous provision areas in Nursery (observe, ask children, reflect, implement change etc).
  • Also very keen to do something with measuring / improving wellbeing too (probably September 08).
action research into the levels of involvement
Action Research into the levels of involvement.
  • Aim: To monitor the levels of involvement during –
  • Teacher led activities
  • Child initiated activities - through the use of the ‘choice board’
action research involvement background
Action research – InvolvementBackground
  • Year 2 class
  • 30 children in the class – 21 boys and 9 girls
  • 1 child with a statement
  • 1 ‘B’ Band and 4 ‘A’ band children
  • Range of ability
  • Very small classroom on the second floor of the school – limited room for learning areas
  • Lively, enthusiastic class
action research involvement reasons for choice of monitoring
Action Research – InvolvementReasons for choice of monitoring
  • We were already using the choice board in the class
  • As a class they generally needed encouragement to stay on task during activities
  • I wanted to monitor the extended involvement of certain members of the class
  • I also wanted to monitor the involvement of the class during a range of different activities.
what happened
What happened

Teacher initiated activities

  • Philosophy lesson
  • Making ‘worry dolls’ following EI work in Circle Time
  • Drawing own fairy tale characters – relating to story ‘Once upon a Time’
what happened27
What happened

Child initiated activities

  • Creating resources for a new role play area
  • Promoting a book for Book Week
  • My Body / Myself
action research findings child initiated activities
Action Research FindingsChild initiated activities
  • The overall theme was given to the children and they came up with things they would like to do relating to this.
  • The choices were then written on the individual boards, with a number indicating how many could reasonably partake in each activity.
  • The children then placed their name cards on the activity they want to participate in.
  • Although the children had choice they were still restricted to limited space thus limited resources. They also could not include outdoor activities as there was no supervision
plan for the action research
Plan for the Action Research
  • Focus on three children
  • Child A Statement – visual, speech and language, physical and general learning needs – 1:1 support 20 hours a week
  • Child B capable pupil, came from another school, difficulty listening on the carpet, constantly fidgeting, easily distracted,
  • Child C EAL pupil, some learning needs, requires instructions repeating, finds it difficult to maintain concentration during class work
  • These children will be observed during 6 separate sessions – 3 teacher led and 3 child initiated.
  • Each child’s involvement will be observed over the session and more intensely for a shorter period of time.
  • Involvement scales will be used from the course.
overall findings focus group31
Overall findings – focus group
  • Looking at the scales for involvement the scales of involvement are very similar
  • The type of activity is very important to the involvement
  • The teacher led activities I chose to use involved lots of key skills and an element of creativity, if I had chosen more mundane activities these results might have been very different.
  • All focus group children scored relatively highly on both teacher led and child initiated, higher scores than they would have with certain activities during the school day.
  • The creative activities were more successful, each child showed high levels of engagement
  • The choice board was very successful in engaging the children and they certainly responded to the element of choice and autonomy.
overall findings with class involvement
Overall findings with class involvement

What did I learn?

  • As a class the child initiated activities were more successful in engaging the children.
  • The children worked more collaboratively during child initiated activities
  • How inventive and creative my class were when give the chance
  • How the size of the classroom can hinder the success of child initiated activities
  • Children’s disposition and motivation is greater when they have an input and say into what they are doing
  • Resources and adult support is needed for more purposeful learning
  • Children will remain on task for longer when they have a say in what they do
  • Teacher led activities can be very positive regarding child involvement depending on the task.
where do i go from here
Where do I go from here!
  • Continue to use the choice board with the children deciding the activities
  • Develop the use of the choice board – next year. Use it every day with a mixture of teacher led and child initiated activities
  • Make a greater effort to bring a more creative element into activities.
  • Make a concerted effort to increase the children’s involvement in more activities during the school day
  • Get a bigger classroom!
network group findings
Network Group Findings
  • In all research the level of involvement was higher in the majority of children when they were given a greater element of choice.
  • Boys and girls prefer certain activities according to their gender (both Nursery and Yr1/2).
  • However, this was not so prevalent when the children were working out of doors (eg Forest Schools). Not only was the level of involvement high but girls and boys had higher interaction together.
  • The greater the element of creativity the greater the involvement (in both teacher led and child initiated activities).
  • The younger children responded well to more parameters during roleplay.
network group conclusions
Network Group Conclusions

Challenges to children’s involvement:

  • effective learning areas depends on size of classroom,
  • regular change of focus in learning areas,
  • resources, time, LSA support,
  • effectively incorporating the philosophy of the Foundation Phase and the restrictions of the National Curriculum in YR1/2.


  • The fact that we are able to have the freedom to carry out a small scale piece of research on children’s dispositions to learning and involvement, and have time to discuss and reflect with others from completely different schools has been extremely beneficial.
  • Spotlight is now on children’s learning (rather than on teacher’s teaching) and this emphasis is a crucial factor in increasing the wellbeing and involvement and future success of every child.