2006 PDS Inquiry Conference
Abstracts for Secondary English Interns

Jennifer Schroeder, High School South
Beyond the Bubble: An Exploration of Alternative Assessment in the English Classroom.
This inquiry will explore alternative methods of assessing reading comprehension from both a teacher and student perspective. I will especially consider the ways in which alternative assessments can impact various learning styles. Says Michele Forman, teacher of the year in 2001: "If anything concerns me, it's the oversimplification of something as complex as assessment. My fear is that learning is becoming standardized. Learning is idiosyncratic. Learning and teaching is messy stuff. It doesn't fit into bubbles." Alternative assessments provide an innovate means of engaging students in the act of critical thinking, but are they practical?

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Meghann Ryan, High School South
Applying Alternative Methods of Assessment to a Traditional Classroom

High school students often have an anxiety towards testing. My inquiry project explores the concepts and practices of alternative assessments, including a variety of ways to acquire, test, and demonstrate students’ knowledge of what they are reading. There are many ways to a successful classroom, especially when there is a balance between traditional tests and creative activities.

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Victoria Gregory, High School North
Journaling: An Outlet for Critical Thinking
Many students enjoy journaling as a form of personal expression through writing. On the other hand, many students dislike journaling and view it as a meaningless activity. Through my inquiry, I investigated student opinions and attitudes toward journaling. I focused my inquiry around the question, “How can we encourage students to be critical readers and writers and how can journaling be used as a tool to foster this skill?”

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Katherine A H Pezanowski, High School North
Title: Collaboration through Consensus, Community, and Possiblity
How can we create an environment that fosters creative collaboration allowing all participants to develop? Some ways this can be achieved might be through teaching consensus rather than compromise, building community, and creating a pedagogy of possibility. I will consider collaborative relationships between: teachers and teachers; teachers and students; and students and students.

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Elizabeth Czap, High School North
Not In Front Of the Guys! How Preexisting Relationships Can Affect the Environment of the Classroom.
How do students act in a classroom when they know that their peers are watching them as they engage in various classroom activities? How do the students who are being observed feel? How does the peer relationship change when students are informally assessing one another? Moreover, how do teachers attempt to develop these preexisting relationships in order to nurture the classroom environment? This research explores how to enhance these relationships in order to encourage more classroom discussion.

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David Rutter, Park Forest Middle School
Breaking Boundaries Into The Classroom Frontier: A returning adult student’s journey back onto the classroom
The journey into the classroom can be a frightening adventure, especially if you are a returning adult student. This session will explore my own personal journey as a returning adult student venturing into the classroom while embarking on a second career. The session will focus on the development of my personal teaching philosophy, effective classroom management skills, assessment strategies and feedback from students that I have acquired over the past year at Park Forest Middle School.

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Andrew Neely, High School North
Do the numbers add up? A look at class size and its effects on curriculum, discussion, and classroom climate.
Class size is a topic that enjoys prominence in many educational circles. Through my own reflections, as well as student, teacher, and administrator interviews / surveys, I have explored the impact class size can have on learning. This inquiry specifically focuses on the impact class size has in the areas of curriculum implementation, class discussions, and overall classroom climate.

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Jennifer Day, High School North
Meaningful revision in student writing
Why do students resist and avoid the revision practice? Frequently, students stigmatize revision and editing as practices for “bad writers,” subsequently resisting the process. Throughout the year, I have investigated why students perceive the revision and editing process as assessments of value and how we can implement strategies and techniques that will help dissipate negative connotations and foster meaningful rewriting. During the session, I will discuss the results produced by various attempts to foster meaningful revision as well as students’ reflections on the process through observations, surveys, and interviews.

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Patrick Lewis, High School South
Celebrating Success
How do we as educators celebrate student success? How do these different forms of celebration influence the students’ understanding of their own success? This research study investigates different student and teacher perceptions of success (in the classroom) using surveys, interviews, and personal teaching reflections.

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Katie Behr, High School North
Expression of students’ multiple intelligences through different projects
Students have many different ways to learn and it is our job as educators to nurture and strengthen these multiple intelligences. I will show how students learn in different ways in the classroom and how teachers can allow for the students’ multiple intelligences to be expressed. I will use data from The Crucible/The Witch of Blackbird Pond unit and various projects throughout the year to show how various forms of “reading” can occur without having every student using the same strategy throughout the unit. I will also suggest the reasons why this is beneficial to the students.
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Nicole Bobitski, High School South
The Classroom “Audience” and its Impact on Student Effort
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My inquiry has been an exploration of the affect creating an authentic “audience” within the classroom has on student voice and agency. I will use data from several of my units throughout the year to show how projects and nontraditional assessments that allow students to “publish” their work in the classroom setting not only raise student efficacy but also inspire a higher level of ownership and accountability. In this way, I think sometimes publication (from in-class presentation to online discussion postings) has a way of making learning more authentic and meaningful.

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Nicole Yeastadt, High School North
Technology Belongs In The English Classroom
Throughout the year I’ve been observing other teachers, interns, and students using technology in English classrooms. In this Inquiry I will explore the variety of ways technology is currently being used in English classrooms and analyze its consequences.

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Christina Manbeck, High School North/South
Generating self-motivation
This inquiry presentation will explore intrinsic versus external motivation, and what an educator does/can do to promote self-motivation. Several examples of lessons from my English classroom are analyzed to explore student and teacher ideas about interest, choice, and motivation.