Volume 1- Number 1, 1998
V1.1E - Celebrating the Research of Teachers - Jackie Delong and Ron Wideman
Welcome to the first issue of The Ontario Action Researcher. (OAR)
This journal has grown out of the partnership that produced the professional development kit, Action Research: School Improvement Through Research-Based Professionalism (Delong & Wideman, 1998).
We intend to provide an on-going forum for sharing action research studies and the growing knowledge base about the potential for action research to improve student learning and teacher practice. About two-thirds of the articles will be from practising elementary and secondary school practitioners and one-third from university students and teachers.
Action research is an approach to school improvement that honours teachers' professionalism. Individually, and in groups, teachers identify questions about their practice, make appropriate changes, and collect data to discover the impact of those changes. They record their studies and share the results of their investigations with others. The key research questions are, "How do I improve my practice?" and "What evidence can I gather to demonstrate the impact of my work?"
All too often teachers are forced to teach the content at the expense of the child. This article describes the use of action research in a Grade 9 vocal music class to enable the teacher to improve her ability to develop students’ self esteem so that they might be able to take a more active role in their own learning. The use of specific strategies for developing self esteem and the resulting change in the atmosphere of the class are described. The teacher observed positive changes in the motivation of individual students and improvements in group dynamics and social responsibility in the class as a whole. The findings encourage her to continue the incorporate self esteem building activities and journal writing in her vocal music curriculum.
V 1.12 Action Research - Teaching Mathematics with Projects - Paula Rasokas
Will teaching Mathematics using a project approach enable me to develop and evaluate students’ skills, in all the strands of Mathematics, efficiently each term?" The introduction of The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 1-8, Mathematics (Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, 1997) required careful planning in the classroom in order to meet the requirements of teaching and assigning a mark to five strands of Mathematics each term. This research examined the possibilities of teaching Mathematics using projects. The projects were developed over the course of a single year in a Grade 5 classroom. The projects connected Mathematics concepts and skills to the real life experiences of the students and were organized by the five strands of Mathematics outlined on the Ontario Report Card. The experience of this researcher and her class demonstrated that projects were a useful tool for managing instruction, assessment, and individual student needs in a manageable and meaningful way.
The standards of practice of professional educators are of fundamental importance to the profession. The problem with educational standards of professional practice is that they are value-laden and have meanings which cannot be captured solely in linguistic statements (lexical definitions). The values and meanings are embodied in practice and linguistic definitions require supplementing with ostensive definitions which show the meanings in practice. This is the problem addressed in this paper. The newly-established Ontario College of Teachers (the OCT) is at the forefront of the process of defining standards of professional practice. Yet, there exists a danger that the documents produced by the OCT, because they are linguistic texts which may not be supplemented with visual records of professional practice, may become checklists which control teacher professionalism, rather than creative contributions to the continuous regeneration of educational standards of practice.
Resource Available: A New Professional Development Kit entitled "Action research: School improvement through research-based professionalism" includes two books and a 22 minute video program ia available.
Recent Publication: The story of the Partnership that has produced Action research: School improvement through research based professionalism, and the Ontario Action Researcher has now been published in the International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning (Couture, Delong, & Wideman, 1999). The article contributes to the literature on partnerships between schools and universities.
Action Research Forum: The fourth annual "Act, Reflect, Revise" forum on Action Research will be held on April 29 and 30, 1999 , at the Waterloo Inn. The emphasis will be on dialogue and reflection. Recognised leaders in the field of Action Research will be on site.
Be Active: List-serve to discuss with other registrants the articles in this journal and the issues related to Action Research that they raise. The List-serve may be accessed through the button at the top of the Home.