I feel that classroom research allows teachers to analyze the effectiveness of a unit or classroom procedure to answer a question or gain insight to the effectiveness of what they are teaching and doing. Simply put, “The action research process can help you understand what is happening in your classroom and identify changes that improve teaching and learning. Action research can help answer questions you have about the effectiveness of specific instructional strategies, the performance of specific students, and classroom management techniques” (Tech4Learning, Inc., n.d.). I used classroom research last spring to improve the learning center time in my classroom. I did not enjoy having learning centers, but my students loved it. As McNiff (2002) wrote, “think about your own life and work, and this involves you asking yourself why you do the things that you do, and why you are the way that you are. When you produce your research report, it shows how you have carried out a systematic investigation into your own behaviour, and the reasons for that behaviour. The report shows the process you have gone through in order to achieve a better understanding of yourself, so that you can continue developing yourself and your work.” The researched helped me to revamp my learning center expectations and procedures to make them enjoyable for everyone.
Having already done classroom research, I feel that I am better prepared to research technology integration. I learned about Chibitronics during my summer courses and I decided that it was something that my first grade students would enjoy using. Chibitronics are light-up circuit stickers that use copper adhesive tape to run the circuit from a three-volt battery. When I received the kit, I was excited to show my sixth and tenth grade nieces how they worked. It was not easy and it took us over a half hour to get a circuit sticker to light up and it only lit up very briefly. The entire time I kept thinking, “How am I going to do this with twenty-four six year olds?” I am very concerned that it will be a disaster. However, our new school principal is very excited to start a Maker Space Club and if I can get the stickers to work, I am sure I can get the school to purchase the next sticker kits. With that in mind, I think conducting classroom research will help me plan the unit better and learn where I can make improvements while supporting my students. To start I think we will do a lot of practicing and watch some of the tutorials, located on the Chibitronics Learn webpage (Chibitronics, PTE LTD, n.d.). My main concern is the adhesive copper tape. It is very flimsy and delicate. Anyone who has met a six year old knows that they are not always great with delicate items. I voiced my concerns in our Twitter chat this week and learned about SparkFun and I think I will purchase more hearty copper tape from them. One thing that I found while I was on SparkFun was that they have an educators tab with many different kits (SparkFun Electronics, n.d.). I will come back to this website to find more ways to incorporate technology learning into my classroom. It will be especially helpful if my students want to use colored lights in their future creations.
Chibitronics, PTE LTD. (n.d.). Learn – Introduction. Retrieved September 3, 2015, from Chibitronics: http://chibitronics.com/education/
McNiff, J. (2002). Action Research for Professional Development.
SparkFun Electronics. (n.d.). Educators. Retrieved September 4, 2015, from SparkFun: https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/232
Tech4Learning, Inc. (n.d.). Embrace Action Research. Retrieved September 4, 2015, from Creative Educator: http://www.thecreativeeducator.com/v07/articles/Embracing_Action_Research