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Action Research. Sindy Buford Hollie Whitcomb.

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action research

Action Research

Sindy Buford

Hollie Whitcomb


“For the last few decades, I have kept little notebooks of inspiration, consolation, and meditation – quotes from others that have awakened the sleeping beast in my mind poked my imagination into flames, comforted me in times of blockage. These quotes come from everywhere and anywhere – Shunryu Suzuki to Samuel Johnson to Eudora Welty to Muriel Rukeyser. Sometimes they come from friends and family. I write them down in my notebook and annotate them with my own thoughts.”-Erica Jong


It is with this quote in mind that the researchers hoped to “awaken the sleeping beast” in the minds of our students and “poke their imagination into flames” in their narrative and creative writing pieces written to support position.


Will the Use of a Writer’s Notebook Improve Writing Assessment Scores?

ralph fletcher resources used
Ralph Fletcher Resources Used
  • A Writer’s Notebook
  • How to Write Your Life Story
getting it down
Getting It Down
  • Throughout the year students were asked to record their thoughts on writing, things they wondered about, ‘Ah-ha’s’ in their lives, memories, and bits and pieces of everyday life that made an impression on them.
zoomerang computer survey
ZoomerangComputer Survey
  • A Zoomerang Survey was conducted at the conclusion of the The Writer’s Notebook at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the fourth marking period.
at the end of the year students were asked
At the end of the year, students were asked:

1. When doing a writing piece this year, how did your Writer’s Notebook help you?

  • 51% answered such that researchers felt confident that the purpose of the Writer’s Notebook was realized and used
at the end of the year students were asked1
At the end of the year, students were asked:

2. How many times, other than class assignments, did you make entries in your Writer’s Notebook?

  • 61% answered that they had made entries other than for class work. Of those,
  • 26% indicated that they had written entries at least ten time or more.

The student personal narrative pieces are scored on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0. The researchers found the following:

  • 42% improved on their score on writing pieces from early November to late May
  • 30% stayed the same from early November to late May
  • 28% received lower scores in May that November
  • Having a population of reluctant writers for this study does not have the researchers convinced that the “Writer’s Notebook” helped scores improve, but does suggest an area to consider for future action research.
  • “The Writer’s Notebook helps to keep thoughts about what you would like to write about. You can draw pictures or write a complete thought. It is like a rough draft with some detail.”
  • “I used my thoughts to think about other things.”
  • “It helped me because I needed to know how to write to learn how to become a better than I am now.”
  • “It has helped me when I need to review my thoughts about something.”
  • “It helped me by getting the emotion of one word. I’ve learned how to make words grab someone’s attention.”
  • “None because I hate writing!”
  • “It helped me organize my writing parts and helped me learn how to put stuff in paragraphs.”