What intervention did you test and how did each person in your cohort try it?
Henderson: The first step was designing a tool to help our students focus while reading and improve comprehension. I informally tested out this template in my Winter 2016 English 201 class sections and had concerns about usability (See Artifact Initial Template). At our meeting, our cohort decided to redesign it to be more user-friendly and we spent a lot of time deciding what vocabulary to use for the different boxes on the template (Artifact 1 Reading Template). I tested out the newly designed template more formally in my Spring 2016 classes. I pretested my students’ ability to identify and articulate a thesis from a homework reading, an academic nonfiction essay, (in my case, Turkle’s essay “Growing Up Tethered”) without the intervention or any instruction. We evaluated student ability to articulate the author’s thesis with a simple system:
- + plus sign if the student nailed it
— Student clearly understood Turkle’s main point and decently articulated it
- check mark if the student was close but not quite getting it
–Student somewhat understood but perhaps it is vague or badly articulated
- – minus sign if the student missed the mark
–Student wrote something down but it was too vague to be clear or it clung to one of Turkle’s points, but not her main point.
Then I introduced the intervention, the Active Reading Template, teaching students the terms and directions in a partner, small group, and whole class instructional session (Artifact 2 Template with Inst., and Artifact 3 Instruction Video). After engaging with the template in a group setting, the students were asked to use it independently with other readings over the course of the quarter. In my class, even if it was assigned independently, we almost always discussed it as a group afterwards.
For both of these tests, I did not discuss the assignment with students before collecting them to avoid students “changing” responses. Also the essays are similar in length and difficulty.
Lambert: We tested a reading skills intervention. We all agreed early in our discussions that students had a very difficult time isolating a central thesis in many of their readings. We used this template to help both the teacher and the student focus their energies and attention. One challenge I faced while using our template was the difficulty in determining the accuracy of a thesis (central point, main idea) in the pre and post testing. Students phrased their understanding in so many different ways that I had to use my best holistic understanding to make a determination about the students’ accuracy and improvement. However, I did see improvements in their ability to hone in on the thesis of a piece.
Newman: The biggest challenge for me was bridging the sophistication of language needed for the work on our project with the level of my English Language Learners. During the first year, it became clear that I would need to create major scaffolding in order for my ELLs to understand the product that we created.