Action Research Plan

Below is my action research plan for exploring the use of video production in fostering reading and writing skills for at-risk students.  I am so excited about getting started and I am looking forward to examining my findings at the end of the nine weeks.  I am currently in the 3rd week of the project and the students are engaged and excited about using video production to express how they feel about an important person in their life.  This week in my grad course, I have learned more about the importance of documenting my action research project and have planned how it will be shared with administration and fellow teachers.

Action Planning Template
Goal: To use video production to improve the reading and writing skills of at-risk students.
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources

Get approval by administration.

Sonya C.

By Jan. 26, 2012
Written documentation and approval of tutoring permission forms for students.

Identify target population- Student who meet two or more of the following criteria:
  • has been retained
  • failed Reading TAKS in 3rd grade
  • failed 4th grade Reading and Writing benchmarks
  • has failing grades
  • is receiving Special Ed. Services
  • is receiving reading intervention during school hours

Sonya C.

By Jan. 26, 2012

Data from district data system

Pass out and collect signed permission forms for after-school tutoring.
Sonya C.

January 26-30, 2012

Permission Forms

Brainstorm why people watch movies. Watch and discuss short clips. Compare and contrast movies and books.
Sonya C.

January 31, 2012

Elmo projector, paper, and pen
Students should be able to make a connection between movies and written stories, the emotions and messages conveyed, and the impact on
the audience.
Introduce first video assignment: Create a short video about a person who is important to you. Relate to a writing prompt or
identifying a story topic.
 Students are to bring a variety of photos of the important person.
January 31-Feb. 7, 2012

Students bring pictures.
Introduce the concept of storyboarding. Identify storyboarding as a tool for organizing. Relate to planning phase in Writing and
using imagery when reading.

Sonya C. and students

Feb. 7-8, 2012

Paper for storyboarding and student pictures.
Students should be able to identify why organization is important to storytelling.
Introduce scripting and provide examples. Students develop a script for their video. Relate to Writing and emphasize organization and

Sonya C. and students

Feb. 14-15.

storyboard, pictures, and pencil
Students can write complete sentences.
Students share their scripts in small groups and receive feedback on the emotions conveyed in their scripts. Emphasize word choice and
relate to writing.

Sonya C. and students

Feb. 21-22

storyboard, pictures, and pencil
Students should be able to explain that reading a script aloud is a great way to check for sentence accuracy.
Introduce technology equipment such as a scanner and video editing software.
Sonya C.

Feb. 28-29
storyboard, script, pictures, scanner, microphones, laptops Students should be able to explain how to scan a picture and use a video editing software program.
Scan pictures and upload into video editing software. Intro to adding audio.
Sonya C.

March 6-7
storyboard, script, pictures, scanner, laptops, microphones Students should be able to explain how to add audio
Students learn to add music to their movie.
Sonya C.

March 21-22
storyboard, script, pictures, scanner, laptops Students should be able to explain how to add music.
Complete movie and showcase.
Sonya C.

April 3-4
storyboard, script, pictures, scanner, laptops Students should be able to complete movie and premiere final movie.
Students will write a composition about the person portrayed in their video.
Sonya C.

April 10-11

video, storyboard, paper
Students will be assessed on improved writing skills using composition. Reading skills will be monitored during the reading block.
Attention will be brought to using imagery to sequence and retell a story.


Video Production and Learning

My proposed action research project is inquiring, "How can video production promote writing and reading skills for at-risk fourth grade students?"  My inquiry was inspired by my experience and new learning in my last grad course Multimedia Video Technology.  Not only does the video production process share similarities among the writing process, it is quite engaging and a rewarding experience.  I plan to use two after school tutoring sessions per week for 5 consecutive weeks.  Students who will be invited to attend "tutoring" are students who struggle with skills such as making visualizations, sequencing, retelling, planning, and organization.  Often, these students struggle to get their thoughts on paper and I truly believe that integrating technology will help motivate them as these skills are practiced and reinforced.  Another significance of this action research project is addressing the motivation factor of at-risk students.  Many of these students struggle with focusing and lack of engagement during traditional instruction.  This action research could offer more insight into utilizing additional methods for engaging at-risk learners.

This week in my grad course, Research for Teachers, I learned about how action research can be applied to various educational areas such as staff development, curriculum development, teachers, students, school culture/community, leadership, management, school performance, and social justice/equity.  Schools face many challenges in each of the areas mentioned and action research is a great way to take the problem into your own hands and do something about it.  As a current teacher, I already find myself using my new understandings to reflect on challenges I am facing in the classroom.


Action Research

Action research is the focus of my current grad school course Research for Teachers.  Unlike the traditional education research, action research involves local school leaders and teachers exploring ways to address a campus need in an organized and systematic manner.  The steps to action research include identifying a current need of a campus, collecting and analyzing the data that highlights the need, researching relevant literature and best practices associated with the need, making changes based on new findings, and then sharing findings with stakeholders (Dana, 2009, ch. 1, para. 4).  

As I read more about action research, I realized that action research is quite a logical and organized method of problem-solving.  As a teacher I often find myself questioning how I can best address a need in my classroom. The next step is often researching best practices and then taking action. I now realize how using action research can greatly enhance and improve my own problem solving process and professional growth through increased organization, documentation, and sharing.

Sharing ideas throughout and at the completion of action research is a critical component and this can be accomplished using weblogs. Blogging is a powerful tool that educational leaders can use to track their thoughts, concerns, and progress. Photos, videos, and podcasts that apply to the research can be easily uploaded and provide easy access to visitors. Another benefit is that commenting features can present educational leaders with instant feedback from their staff or colleagues.  Much like an online journal, blogging allows organized archives to be revisited when needed.  With blogging, the sharing of ideas and information becomes limitless.

Dana, N.F. (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge, the principal as action researcher. (Kindle ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. DOI: www.amazon.com


Windows Live Movie Maker Tutorial and Evaluation

The need to incorporate technology into the classroom is becoming quite important and evident based on the needs of today’s learners who are growing up in an increasingly technology rich society.  Media production may just be the solution to addressing this need.  According to Garrison (1999), “Media production engages and excites; it leads to unexpected discoveries, increased self-awareness and esteem, sharpened critical thinking, analytical skills, group work skills, and ability to communicate ideas.  Media production demands writing and rewriting, research, group effort, and clarity of thought.”

Since Windows Live Movie Maker is the video editing software available on school computers in my district, I decided to download it this week from explore.live.com and give it a try in order to learn more about how to navigate the software as well as to evaluate the product and skills involved for classroom use.   My experience with media production is quite minimal.  While I do know how to import video, music, and photo files into my computer, I have never edited or created a video before.  Nor have I attempted to do so in the classroom with my students.  So as I prepared for my first movie making experience, I was quite eager to put my skills, and Garrison’s strong words, to the test.

I decided to create a short video about my dog Hoyt and I embedded my finished product below.  Overall, I found Windows Live Movie Maker incredibly easy to use.  It features basic editing functions that are simple to use, but interesting enough to add some fun into your movies making you feel like an expert.  Garrison’s words kicked in when I found myself analyzing and using critical thinking skills to trim parts of my video, foresee needed footage, ask for opinions, make decisions, and rethink my options.  In the end, I felt a great sense of pride over what I created.  One of the great aspects of media production is that is can be modified to any grade level and class subject.

This experience was immensely gratifying to me as a teacher because as I created my video, I could visualize my students just as engaged, challenged, motivated, and proud.  Today’s learners have the need to find meaning and engagement in their learning and media production offers them just this.  Windows Live Movie Maker is a great video editing software that is perfect for novice movie makers.  Below is a podcast tutorial that I created about using the software and it offers some tips and insight on how to use some of the basic editing features.

Garrison, A. (1999,Winter). Video basics and production projects for the classroom.  Center for Media Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/video-basics-and-production-projects-classroom#bio

Podcast Tutorial

Creative Commons License
Windows Live Movie Maker Tutorial by Sonya Castro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at explore.live.com.


A Thankful Linky Party

...in the classroom for the privilege to teach.
...for a very special person, Tony. I laugh and smile each day because of him.
...for blogs that inspire me through color, design, and amazing ideas.
...for my guilty pleasure, the Colbert Report.
...and most of all for LOVE. It is love that inspires brave people to stand up for the injustices in our world so that ALL can say that they too are thankful.

Mr. Snowman Edible Craft

This marshmallow snowman craft was a HUGE hit last year with my fourth graders.  They had extreme fun making it.  Only a few kiddos could hold off from devouring this treat because they wanted to take Mr. Snowman home and introduce him to their parents, and THEN bite his head off, naturally :)  It's a total must for this year too! I followed these instructions and made some changes such as using two oversized marshmallows for the base and body, pretzel sticks for arms instead of toothpicks, and adding a pipcleaner underneath the last marsmallow to prevent slipping.  I think this year I will add a chocolate candy, like Rolo, on top of the oreo to create a more top hat shape.  


Technology in the Classroom

I cannot believe that it's already November!  I have been fortunate to have an amazing group of students this year who are eager to learn!  They have been quite the guinea pigs as I have explored using technology in the classroom.  I am a graduate student in Lamar University's Educational Technology Leadership Program and I am learning so much about how to meet the needs of our digital kids. From the response of my kiddos in the classroom, they are loving it!  My current course, Multimedia and Video Technology, has been quite exciting.  Below is a video that I made recently about a special person in my life.  I cannot wait to incorporate Digital Storytelling in the classroom and a colleague and I are even planning on starting a film club!  Here is a blog that I started in one of my first courses at Lamar.  Unfortunately, I forgot the password and I can't get into it and so I've decided to blog about my learning and coursework here.