Featured MAT Student
Interning at Framingham High School
Read about some of the 2013 Teacher Research Projects
Teacher research is systematic intentional inquiry conducted in and for practice, on a matter of concern to the individual teacher-researcher and relevant to the profession more broadly. MAT students identify an interest or concern and begin to frame a question in December/January. Over the next several months, they refine the question, develop a plan for data collection, typically including an action component, and begin to collect data—all the while carrying on their teaching responsibilities. For several more months, they continue to collect data, begin the process of data analysis, revise their plans, collect more data…teaching all the while…reach the summer term, continue analysis…identify findings…frame conclusions and pose questions for further inquiry…until they arrive at this point: Sharing their findings with others. Read some of their research projects.
Socio-economic status (SES) matters. Children from families with low SES experience greater stress during childhood, show elevated cortisol levels, and experience different brain development patterns when compared to children of high SES. These biological differences manifest as lower self control and executive function in the classroom.
Modeling my research from Dr. Angela Duckworth's, I attempted to improve the executive function of my lower-performing students in my high-school biology honors class using Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) strategies.
Of the students who actively participated, 100% significantly increased their GPA. In conclusion, a larger sample size and better controls are needed to determine whether these results are significant.
How Will You Ever Make History if You Can’t Read It?: Teaching Literacy Skills Within a History Curriculum by Pete Caccavale
As Facebook, Twitter and texting have become the main forms of expression for young adults, educators are faced with the challenge of teaching literacy skills to a generation raised on spellcheck and fluent in slang. At the same time, teachers
face an uphill battle with their own curricula, as they attempt to balance a seemingly infinite amount of content with a very finite amount of class time. As a result, literacy skills are nowhere near the top of the priority list for most history
teachers and many refuse to teach them, citing both a lack of expertise and a lack of time. This brings me to the focus of my research: how can I increase my students' literacy skills through a content based medium with which they are comfortable and I can provide instant feedback and assessment? The goal of my research was to ascertain how I could teach my sophomore US History students the literacy skills they were lacking, without compromising my curriculum.
Mandarin is a tonal language where each distinctive tone serves a role in distinguishing the lexical meaning. Seeking different strategies, my action research was an attempt to improve students’ Mandarin tones. Using songs, poems, tongue twisters, videos, games and jokes as small teaching sessions, the students each recognized the significance of tones and improved their performance on tones at significantly different paces. The data shows that I can play an important role in the tone learning process. By stressing the significance of tones, giving frequent feedbacks, and using various interesting strategies, students will get more opportunities to practice tones. I believe repetition is the most effective way to improve students' tones. And, in language study, practice makes perfect.
Through a careful selection of canonical 19th and early 20th century poetry, I honed in on the themes of urban strife and anxiety about the city’s encroachment on nature. I designed a curriculum unit in which students would compare these themes as seen in the poetry to how the themes are manifested in what I consider the ultimate poetic masterwork of hip-hop, the song “Respiration” by Mos Def and Talib Kweli. The unit was envisioned as a means of providing a relatable entry point to canonical poetry to students who are disengaged with and alienated by conventional English curricula.
Creating Writers and Thinkers: Legitimizing Creative Writing as Academically Rigorous by Justin Howland
It has always been my firm belief that it is through writing that we broaden our conceptual worlds, ultimately learning about ourselves and how to better express ourselves. It is both peculiar and frustrating that English education at all levels has never placed any real importance, or even legitimacy, in engaging students in creative writing, which has the power to reinvigorate what can become stale routines in the study of literature—the language achievements of others, the nuances of which can often remain a mystery if not attempted from the perspective of being the author rather than simply the reader and academic thinker. Considering that literature itself is creative writing at its finest, what could account for such an oversight? And with the prevailing emphasis on academic writing to produce measurable skills, there seems to be a clear lack of student interest and engagement in the overall practice of writing. Unfortunately, writing that has an immediate connection to students' lives appears to be both increasingly necessary and generally undervalued as academically rigorous. It seems to be undervalued by many individual teachers pedagogically and is often absent from larger frameworks—a sad indication that non-academic writing is generally perceived as an extraneous luxury. We insist children read, study and write about fictional literature that is metaphorical, abstract, multi-dimensional and emotional, without providing them the opportunity to explore and operate in this world themselves.