What is classroom research and how can it improve technology integration in my classroom?

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.

References

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

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6 thoughts on “What is classroom research and how can it improve technology integration in my classroom?

  1. Chinitronics seem to be a fun and engaging activity from what I briefly saw on websites. How are you planning to integrate Chibitronics into student learning. Is this a stand alone project. Is it art and technology integration? Is there a way to integrate chibitronics with mathematics or ELA?

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    • I am planning on my Chibitronics being a science/art/technology integrated unit. It could be integrated into math very easily because the sticker will light up when circuits are completed. Circuits could be run so that the light would light up when correct math facts are connected. For example, you could run the circuit to turn the light on when a student correctly lines up the paper to show that 2+2 is 4.

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  2. It would be cool to see the research you did last year. What are learning centers? I know teaching elementary is different than high school, but I think some of the ideas can definitely work in both age groups. Those circuit stickers sound really cool. I’m teaching physical science this year, so spring semester I will be teaching physics to 9th graders and they might like that. Science has some of the coolest technology to use in classrooms!

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    • You can see the research I did last year by clicking on the research tab under the picture at the top of my blog. Learning centers are stations are usually used in primary grades. They are stations that have learning activities for students. Last year, my students had Legos, iPods, puzzles, a sensory table, painting, writing, reading, math, science and dramatic play stations. This year, my learning centers are going to be more of a makerspace. My students will be building, creating, and problem solving during that time. I agree that things that some things that work in elementary school also can work in high school. I love science, but I am not super confident teaching it. My niece is in tenth grade and she asked me to let her have any of my extra stickers. She has some artwork planned that she wants to add lights to using the Chibitronics. I love how excited my students and I get about technology.

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  3. I agree with what others have said. Chibitronics sounds really cool. I have never heard of it. I also teach science to older students, middle and high school, and after looking at the website I think this would even work for them. I will be interested to see what you find out from your classroom research. I think I am always trying to improve classroom management. I can see how using these resources would involve looking at classroom management. It seems like it would be a little bit like when I do lab with my students. I have found it helpful to divide the class into groups. I give one group something that they won’t really need my help on (a set of fill-in the blank notes), and the other group I help with the activity. This seems to make it easier to help each student, and to make sure that no one gets completely lost. Not sure if you could do something like that with your little guys or not.

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  4. I didn’t hear about Chibitronics until Lee told me about it last spring. It blows my mind what people come up with and are able to do. I like your idea of splitting up the class so half have an independent activity while the other half get to work with you. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make that work for me. I might be able to do it when my students are doing their daily writing or even when they are in learning center time.

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