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So, What’s the Problem? Session 1 Part 1 Literacy and School Success Action Research Minicourse, Phase III. Dr. Carol Gordon Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries [email protected] September 23, 2008 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Agenda.

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So, What’s the Problem?Session 1 Part 1Literacy and School SuccessAction Research Minicourse, Phase III

Dr. Carol Gordon

Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries

[email protected]

September 23, 2008

8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.


Objectives: At the end of this session participants

will be able to:

  • Define 21st century literacies

  • Define the role of the school library media specialist in literacy

  • Define action research as a reflective and recursive activity.

  • Reflect to identify problems in their practice related to literacy

  • Develop a deep understanding of the problem through the theoretical foundations and research results in scholarly literature.

  • Articulate the problem and formulate researchable questions.

  • Design and implement authentic learning tasks and assessments for Guided Inquiry that generate evidence.

Action research is
Action Research is

Looking at a problem in our practice

Reading the research about the problem

Reflecting on the problem

Creating a plan to find solutions using action research methods

Action Research needs a Context

What are 21 st century literacies
What are 21st Century Literacies?

  • Reading literacy

  • Language literacy

  • Mathematical, Historical, Scientific literacies

  • Information literacy

  • Media and Visual literacy

  • Technological literacy

  • Spatial literacy

  • Multicultural literacy



Partnership for 21 st century skills
Partnership for 21st Century Skills




Aasl s standards for 21 st century learners information skills are thinking skills
AASL’s Standards for 21st Century Learners:Information Skills are Thinking Skills

The Standards describe how learners use skills, resources, and tools to:

inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge;

draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge;

share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;

pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

Information skills

are thinking skills



Reading skills are thinking skills
Reading Skills are Thinking Skills




Remembering: Recall or remember information, define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce state

Understanding: Explain ideas or concepts, classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase

Applying: Use the information in a new way, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.

Analysing: Distinguish between the different parts, appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.

Evaluating: Justify a stand or decision, appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, evaluate

Creating: Create new product or point of view, assemble, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, write.

School librarians changing role in reading

20th Century:

Recreational Reading

Library collection centered

Recreational reading (fiction)

Passive activities (Book Talks, Author visits, Displays

Fiction oriented

Reading motivation

Broadening reading interests

Free Voluntary Reading

Summer Reading

21st Century:

Reading for Understanding

Unmediated reading materials

Digital reading environments

Reading for learning; reading in content areas

Standards for 21st century learning

ISP & Strategic Reading

Literature Circles

School Librarians’ Changing Role in Reading


How do we help learners to be 21 st century literate
How do we help learners to be 21st Century Literate?

Action and Reflection


  • Gain knowledge through active engagement

    with their environment

  • Take responsibility for their own learning

  • Experience connects learning and challenges learners through continuity and interaction

  • Teachers create learning experiences through inquiry and questioning

  • Reflection helps learners to make sense of experience and identify routes for future action – experience without reflection does not produce real learning.

Questions the keys to inquiry
Questions: The Keys to Inquiry

  • Inference questions – the learner has to go beyond immediately available information. It could involve pupils being asked to look at a holiday photograph and make suggestions about what type of holiday it suggests to them

  • Interpretation questions – these seek to explore pupils’ understanding of information or ideas, such as ‘What sort of life did Goldilocks have at home?’ or ‘Why did her mother not want her to go into the woods?’, in the three bears story 

  • Transfer questions – pupils are prompted to apply their knowledge in new contexts. One example might ask pupils to reflect on how sniffer dogs are used to help find earthquake victims and in what other situations they might be used

  • Predictive questions –  what can be predicted and tested helps pupils construct hypotheses or ideas to test. For example, pupils could be given data about the heights and shoe sizes of girls and boys in years 8 in a school and then asked leading questions such as ‘What sorts of patterns would you expect to see in Year 10 pupils’ heights and shoe sizes?’ ‘How could you set about testing your idea?’

Action research is reflection inquiry action
Action Research is Reflection, InquiryAction…

Start here

New action






Observation, reflection,

Problem identification,

Collecting evidence

New action




The Purpose: To improve the transaction between student and teacher

What is action research
What is Action Research?

“I am on the outside looking in.”

“The research is a portrait of ourselves.”

“My research is an invention created by me.”

“My research is a unique expression of my classroom story. In many ways, it has a life of its own.”

Why action research
Why Action research?

  • Acknowledges the teacher is knowledgeable

  • Is ongoing

  • Gives teachers the power to make decisions

  • Is collaborative

  • Gives teachers the responsibility for professional growth

    Wood, P. (1988, April). Action research: A field perspective. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Action research needs context
Action Research needs Context

  • Reading and literacy themes for problem identification

  • What the lilterature says about literacy

  • What the literature says about solutions

  • A design model for creating experiential learning

Experiential learning the diary of anne frank in search of truth
Experiential LearningThe Diary of Anne Frank… In Search of Truth

You are an Investigative Reporter for

YTN (Youth Television Network). You

have been assigned the job of research-

ing and writing a news story about

holocaust survivals. Your arch rival,

Mat Fritzlinger, from YBC (Youth

Broadcasting Company) recently

made a public statement denying

events recorded in The Diary of

Anne Frank. According to him the

diary is a hoax. He, along with many

others, believe none of these events,

or any events like them have ever taken

place. Your job is to gather and publish

data that will persuade Mat and his

followers to seriously question their beliefs.


Literature, Technology and Reading

Experiential learning

Authentic Learning Tasks

Authentic Research

Experiential Learning

Action Plan




Action Research

What are the elements of action research
What are the elements of action research?

Generic Research Question: How can I do it better next time? and survey

Proposal 1


Your Question: ????

Theoretical Framework

Proposal 2

Your Action Research Plan

Collecting the Evidence

Analyzing the Evidence

Action Plan

Sharing the Plan


Survey how can i do it better next time
Survey: How can I do it better next time?

Measurement: Likert Scale (Strongly agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly disagree

Examples of closed-ended questions

  • I could get help when I needed it

  • Explanations of the reading strategies were clear

  • I was able to use the strategies with little or no help

  • The reading strategies helped me to understand what I was reading

  • The library has books and magazines that I can read and understand

  • I will use these strategies when I read on my own.

  • I had enough practice with the strategies to be able to use them on my own.

Survey how can i do it better next time 2
Survey: How can I do it better next time? (2)

Examples of open-ended questions

  • The easiest thing I was asked to do was…

  • The most difficult thing I was asked to do was…

  • My favorite reading strategy is…

  • My least favorite strategy is…

  • The source I found most helpful for this inquiry unit was…

  • The source I found most difficult to read was…

  • I think I can read better now because…

Proposal part 1 what s the problem
Proposal Part 1: What’s the Problem?

Write your answers to the following questions. Try to establish why this problem bothers you and what you know about it.

  • Describe a problem related to literacy as you observe it in your practice

  • What do you think causes the problem?

  • Why is this problem significant?

  • List sources you have read and ideas that inform this problem and that suggest possible remedies.

  • What theories relate to this problem?

  • How can you state this problem in the form of a question?

  • What ideas do you have for a plan to get evidence?

Theoretical framework
Theoretical Framework

Examples from Constructivism

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

  • Vygotsky’s Zone of proximal development/intervention/metacognition

  • Sternberg’s Learning Styles

  • Krashen’s Free Voluntary Reading

  • Pearsons’ Gradual Release of Responsibility; reading compehension strategies

  • Piaget and knowledge construction

  • Dewey: Experiential learning

  • Ausubel: Prior knowledge; rote and discovery learning

    Why is learning theory important?

  • Teaching is a decision-making process.

  • The way we teach reflects our mental models of how our students learn

  • Theory can lead us to a way to collect evidence

Four principles of learning
Four Principles of Learning

Prior Knowledge:

What we know, or think we know, affects what we learn

Social Interaction:

Learning is enhanced when learners talk to each other

Particular Situations:

Learning is situational and not readily transferred to other situations

Use of Strategies:

Successful learning involves the use of numerous strategies

Proposal 2a the plan
Proposal 2a: The Plan

What is you timeline? (Start and finish dates)

With whom are you collaborating?

Describe your action plan.

Proposal 2b where is the evidence
Proposal 2b: Where is the Evidence?

Think about the best ways to collect evidence that will help you answer your question. Check off the collection method or methods that you think will give you the best evidence. Everyone will create a survey to collect evidence on the unit of inquiry or action research project they designed.

_____ How can I do it better next time? Survey

_____ 1. Interviews _____ 6. Surveys

_____ 2. Focus groups _____ 7. Observation/journaling

_____ 3. Student journals _____ 8. Rubrics/Checklists

_____ 4. Photographs _____ 9. Authentic learning tasks

_____ 5. Content analysis _____ 10. Student work

_____ 11. Case studies _____ 12. Shadow study

_____13. Correspondance _____ 14. Primary sources

_____15. Formative assessments _____ 16. Debriefings


Analyzing the evidence
Analyzing the Evidence

  • Color coding verbal data

  • Descriptive statistics (averaging)

How do i analyze information and data
How do I analyze information and data?

Look for…

How can I…

  • How it works

  • Chronological order

  • Procedures/steps

  • Causes/effects

  • Problems/solutions

  • Similarities/differences

  • Relationships (human/spacial)

  • Themes (literary/artistic)

  • Pro’s/con’s

  • Main ideas/supporting evidence

  • Patterns, trends

  • Perspectives

  • Best-worst/Most-least

  • Connections

  • Defining characteristics

  • represent/display data?

  • classify/categorize?

  • generalize?

  • find exceptions?

  • predict what is next?

  • imagine what if...?

  • determine what’s wrong?

Sharing and reflection peer evaluation pqp
Sharing and ReflectionPeer Evaluation: PQP

  • Directions: Discuss your project with your partner. Allow your partner to use your proposal to give you feedback.

  • PRAISE (What are the strengths of the project? Be specific)

  • QUESTIONS (What helpful questions would you like to ask about the project?

    What problems do you see with the project?)

  • POLISH (What suggestions do you have to solve the problems or improve the project?)

    Reviewed for:

    Reviewed by:

“It is not enough that teachers’ work should be studied;

they need to study it themselves.”

L.Stenhouse, L.


Even if you are on the right track,

you’ll jut get run over if you sit there.

Will Rogers


If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process,

You don’t know what you’re doing”

W. Edwards Denning

Reflective thinking is always more or less troublesome
Reflective thinking is always more or less troublesome

because it involves overcoming the inertia that

inclines one to accept suggestions at their face value;

it involves willingness to endure a condition of mental

unrest and disturbance.

Reflective thinking … means judgment suspended during

further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be somewhat


To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic

and protracted inquiry-these are the essentials of thinking.

John Dewey