2009-2010 SCASD-PSU Teacher Inquiry Conference Abstracts and Papers

April 2010

The Glacial Inquiry: Investigating Earth Science Inquiry Lessons in a Fifth-Grade Classroom
Janet Alley, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 5th Grade
Elementary school is a time for children to find their identity as students, to help them prepare for their future as citizens. Helping students to read and write and begin to get a sense for numbers is essential. Equally as important is teaching students how to think like scientists. The use of inquiry science lessons in elementary schools is one of the best ways to accomplish this. It immerses students in the ways that scientists think as they explore materials and phenomena, develop wonderings, experiment, and make claims about the things that they see based on their evidence. Additionally, as compared to note-taking science lessons, inquiry science helps students to retain information for a longer time, and increases their enjoyment of science overall. Through consistent use of inquiry, students may begin to overcome negative stereotypes of science as boring, and those interested in it as geeks or nerds. Most importantly, inquiry science can affect how curious students are about the world around them. Inquiry science is the most effective way to help future generations learn to appreciate science, an essential aspect in a world faced by challenges that only science can solve.

Increasing Students' Level of Engagement while Meeting Daily Curriculum Requirements
Devon Parks, Intern, Houserville Elementary, 5th Grade
Katelyn Arnold, Intern, Houserville Elementary, 4th Grade
Our inquiry focuses increasing students' level of engagement while meeting curriculum requirements throughout the school day. Our inquiry focuses increasing students' level of engagement while meeting curriculum requirements throughout the school day.

From Me to Us: A sixth grade class's journey from individuals to a classroom community
Jennifer Bagun, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
From daily conversations with kids and their interactions with peers, I noticed that students were very concerned with themselves, always interjecting the words "me" and "I" into discussions. This obsession with themselves began to impact student behavior and academic success in our classroom. Calling out, engaging in side conversations, and disrespecting peers and adults led to frustration of both students and teachers. These issues seemed to stem from the social network in our classroom, so I began to wonder 2010 Teacher Inquiry Conference page 3 if building a stronger classroom community would alleviate some of these issues and help us find success as a class. In this inquiry, I explore ways to strengthen the community in my sixth grade class and examine the effectiveness of different strategies on our journey from "me" to "us."

Activities to foster confidence in "at-risk," and struggling students
Rachael Barasch, Intern, State College Area High School 11th Grade English and English as a Second Language
When "at-risk" and struggling students say, "I can't do that, I'm stupid," what can teachers do to show them they can? This presentation provides examples of techniques and strategies that were used to give struggling students confidence in themselves and their learning abilities.

Class-Yes! Using Whole Brain Teaching in Kindergarten and Second Grade Classrooms to Increase Student Engagement and On-Task Behavior
Brittney Bart, Intern, Corl Street Elementary, 2nd Grade
Christina Donnelly, Intern, Corl Street Elementary, 2nd Grade
As beginning teachers, we face the challenge of delivering effective instruction while learning to handle off-task student behavior. After discussing our concerns with colleagues, we discovered Whole Brain Teaching, a classroom management system that focuses on techniques teachers can use to meet the needs of various learning styles of their students. Through careful implementation of these strategies in each of our classrooms, we were able to determine the effectiveness of Whole Brain Teaching practices in our classrooms. This inquiry helped us develop as teachers and explore various classroom management strategies.

Empowering Parents: Effective Self-Management Strategies for Children
Laura Barthmaier, Mentor & Teacher, Easterly Parkway School, 2nd Grade
As a veteran classroom teacher, I have observed many families engaged in the struggle of helping their children manage social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. This has been mirrored in the classroom, where teachers and administrators are dealing with increasingly serious issues regarding student selfcontrol and self-management. Through this inquiry, I hope to discover how best to provide strategies parents need to assist their children with managing emotions and behavior. I am also interested in specific structures that allow this information to be delivered to parents within their neighborhood school setting.

One Center Does Not Fit All: Incorporating Student Choice and Multiple Intelligences into Literacy Centers
Sarah Lauder, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade
Andrea de Carle, Teacher, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade
Courtney Beers, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade

As primary teachers, we strive for our students to receive instruction at their personal instructional levels. However, we felt that our traditional literacy centers did not always reflect our teaching philosophy. Therefore, this year we restructured what our students are doing when they are not receiving direct instruction. We reflected on student work, Pennsylvania state standards, SCASD curriculum, students' multiple intelligences, and observed student engagement to design our independent choice centers. Our inquiry explores to what degree we were able to incorporate differentiated instruction through independent language arts centers.

Rhythm As An RTI Intervention
Marion Wheland, Teacher, Park Forest Elementary, Kindergarten
Patti Begg, Teacher, Park Forest Elementary, 1st Grade

Is there a relationship between hearing a steady beat and learning the names and sounds of the alphabet? Is there a relationship between rhythm and learning to read? Can practice with rhythm and listening transfer to improved scores on benchmark assessments? Come and listen to what we have found.

Interns to the rescue! A Principal Works with PDS Interns to Improve Reading Fluency of At-Risk Students
Doris Grove, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
Brian Peters, Principal, Easterly Parkway Elementary
William Benson, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
PDS interns from PSU in partnership with Easterly Parkway Elementary School in State College, PA worked with the school's principal to identify, assess, intervene, and monitor students who demonstrated a need for improvement in fluency. The students identified for this intervention were students who did not qualify for any other levels of support (Title One, Special Education, etc.). Interventions took place from late October through early March. This session will describe the processes and the measures used to track student progress. The session will relate the impact this project had on student achievement and the school community. Since this project has a dual impact, the presentation will provide evidence from the teacher interns as to how it has impacted them in their journeys into the teaching profession.

Let's Move!...Now Let's Learn!: Incorporating Physical Activity Into the Kindergarten Day
Kim Biggs, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, Kindergarten
Kindergarten students are full of life and energy! As I spent time observing my students in whole group settings, I noticed some of this energy was interfering with their ability to remain on task. In an attempt to make whole group lessons more effective, I wondered how incorporating physical activity before rug time would positively impact my students' attentiveness to tasks.

Using Tools to Reach Beyond their Current Abilities
Christopher Brown, Intern, State College Area High School South 10th Grade English
Many students struggle with the writing process and need various levels of support. Having students produce a variety of symbolic tools that they used to mediate their responses to an essay led to the production of pieces of writing that were more sophisticated than what they were able to produce on their own.

How can we use Studiocode, a video analysis tool, to improve our practice?
Rebecca Burns, PDA
Christine MacDonald, PDA
Deana Washell, PDA

We wondered how utilizing an innovative video-analysis technology (Studiocode ™) would allow us to have more meaningful discussions regarding the problems of the practice. This session will demonstrate the technology and show examples of its actual use. Examples include ways to help novices deepen their reflective practices, enhance supervisory conferences, and make teachers' tacit knowledge transparent.

No Learner Left Behind: The Impact of Differentiated Professional Development of Students, Interns, Teachers and Culture
Rebecca Burns, PDA, Park Forest Elementary School
Donnan Stoicovy, Principal, Park Forest Elementary School
Professional development for current educators typically consists of a universal approach that fails to meet individual needs. As a result of the unique partnership between a university and a school district, a PDS offers a context where differentiated professional development and professional learning are not only a reality but are an embedded part of the school culture. Current educators tend to be the focus of such experiences, but such powerful learning opportunities do not happen in isolation; in fact, they impact all parties involved. Teacher candidates learn alongside their mentor counterparts, and students become the beneficiaries of such powerful professional learning engagements. This session will present the findings of an inquiry into how engaging in meaningful, jobembedded professional development impacts not only current educators but more importantly, teacher candidates and elementary students.

Catherine Campbell, Intern, State College High School South, 10th Grade English
A discussion of reading that students self-select and what these books can tell teachers about motivating students to read course material.

An Inquiry into Children's Perceptions of "The Others"
Jade Cheng, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary Kindergarten
Monique d'Entremont, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st Grade

There is a fundamental shift during a childrens development when they begin to shed the rosecolored glasses of "sameness" and begin to view differences in a new light. When and why do some children develop stereotypes of their peers? Many are quick to blame the parents, but other variables may be causing students to make broader assumptions of their surroundings. We took a look into our students' perceptions of others to better understand what types of anti-biased curriculum may work within classrooms. Through our inquiry, we have begun to form an understanding of what teachers can do to help their students develop healthy, openminded views of all people.

Reading in Middle School: What are they thinking and how are they responding?

Shannon Christie, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Have you ever wondered what your students are really thinking and if your reading instruction is truly engaging? Over the course of the year, my students have been exposed to a wide variety of reading and discussion groups such as student directed groups, teacher directed groups, and online discussion forums. In addition, they have been required to do a number of different types of responses both written and in the form of discussion. In my inquiry, I aimed to find a way to create a reading plan that incorporated student interest and worked to gain higher-level responses from students.

Making the Most of Every Minute: A Look at Third Grade Students' Self-Directedness and Ability to Use Time Wisely During Independent Work Times
Sara Cohen, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 3rd Grade
Throughout the school year, the third grade students in my classroom have been granted two sustained periods during the day to complete independent work and unfinished assignments. Although I view the independent work periods in the morning and before lunch as privileges, many students do not use these times wisely. Join me as I explore the various factors that influence students' ability to be productive and successful during various independent work times throughout the school day.

"I just read, that's it!": Encouraging children to THINK while Reading
Becky Conner, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 3rd
Many third graders appear to be fluent readers but lack comprehension skills. After observing this trend in some of my students, I decided to take a deeper look. I quickly noticed that students were flying 2010 Teacher Inquiry Conference page 13 through books without ever attending to the deeper meanings behind the text. These students were often able to answer surface level questions, such as the name of the main character, but consistently struggled to answer questions that required inference. This inquiry studied how to encourage students to find meaning in the words they read.

I Now Pronounce You: Building A Successful Marriage Between Interns and Mentors
Cindy Cowan, SCASD, PDA/Co-facilitator
Kristen Dewitt, PSU, PDA/Co-facilitator
Susan Lunsford, PSU, PDA

"The professional development school is a place (and a concept) where the wisdom of practice is married to the wisdom of practitioners." (Teacher Leader, 2001) One vital component of the PDS experience is the partnership between an intern and mentor. Through collecting data from current and former interns and mentors for over a year, we've learned that these partnerships are much like a marriage – built on communication, support, and trust. Join us as we take a walk down the aisle to explore what it takes to build a successful marriage between interns and mentors.

An Inquiry into Children's Perceptions of "The Others"
Jade Cheng, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary Kindergarten
Monique d'Entremont, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st Grade

There is a fundamental shift during a childrens development when they begin to shed the rosecolored glasses of "sameness" and begin to view differences in a new light. When and why do some children develop stereotypes of their peers? Many are quick to blame the parents, but other variables may be causing students to make broader assumptions of their surroundings. We took a look into our students' perceptions of others to better understand what types of anti-biased curriculum may work within classrooms. Through our inquiry, we have begun to form an understanding of what teachers can do to help their students develop healthy, openminded views of all people.

Movin' and Groovin' in Second Grade
Kathleen Davis, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade
Seven and eight year olds are naturally active. Throughout the year, I noticed that sometimes this need for movement affected my students' ability to focus during lessons. Through my inquiry I wanted to see if implementing music and physical movement during the course of a typical school day would help the students increase their attention span.

"If we are to reach real peace in this world...we shall have to begin with the children." -Gandhi: Building a Strong Classroom Community in 3rd Grade
Erica DelMastro, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 3rd Grade
"They won't let me play with them at recess." "I have no friends." "She called me stupid." Throughout the year I noticed many of my students not treating each other with respect and kindness. After winter break there was an increase in this occurrence. In 3rd grade we have a busy schedule, so I wanted to implement classroom community building activities into our routine that would be both timely and beneficial. Through this inquiry I wanted to find ways to help my students respect each other. I started my inquiry with a survey and asked my students to think of ways we could improve our relationships with one another. I have found easy and effective ways to implement community building within the context of lessons, morning meeting, and during everyday routines.

I Now Pronounce You: Building A Successful Marriage Between Interns and Mentors
Cindy Cowan, SCASD, PDA/Co-facilitator
Kristen Dewitt, PSU, PDA/Co-facilitator
Susan Lunsford, PSU, PDA

"The professional development school is a place (and a concept) where the wisdom of practice is married to the wisdom of practitioners." (Teacher Leader, 2001) One vital component of the PDS experience is the partnership between an intern and mentor. Through collecting data from current and former interns and mentors for over a year, we've learned that these partnerships are much like a marriage – built on communication, support, and trust. Join us as we take a walk down the aisle to explore what it takes to build a successful marriage between interns and mentors.

What's Your Position on Transitions? Moving Students to the Carpet More Efficiently
Alexandra DiSanti, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 1st Grade
In my first grade classroom, students transition to the carpet for various activities throughout the day. As the 2009-2010 school year progressed, I began noticing that students were not transitioning as efficiently as they had previously demonstrated. To decrease transition time and increase instructional time, I began implementing strategies to help the students become more aware of their transition time. This inquiry journey explored which transition strategies worked best with my first grade class.

Class-Yes! Using Whole Brain Teaching in Kindergarten and Second Grade Classrooms to Increase Student Engagement and On-Task Behavior
Brittney Bart, Intern, Corl Street Elementary, 2nd Grade
Christina Donnelly, Intern, Corl Street Elementary, 2nd Grade
As beginning teachers, we face the challenge of delivering effective instruction while learning to handle off-task student behavior. After discussing our concerns with colleagues, we discovered Whole Brain Teaching, a classroom management system that focuses on techniques teachers can use to meet the needs of various learning styles of their students. Through careful implementation of these strategies in each of our classrooms, we were able to determine the effectiveness of Whole Brain Teaching practices in our classrooms. This inquiry helped us develop as teachers and explore various classroom management strategies.

Making Writing Right in the Elementary Classroom
Kelsey Rasmussen, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3rd Grade
Courtney Donovan, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 5th Grade

Are there specific strategies teachers can use to help motivate students to write in the classroom? Writing plays a large role across the curriculum and can often be difficult and daunting for students in any grade. Over the past several months, we have placed a focus on implementing various strategies in our classrooms to create a supportive environment for students to write. We have explored a multitude of techniques, including: music, student choice, read aloud, technology, and presentation mediums. Through our investigations, we have searched for ways to take writing and make it more exciting in our classrooms.

"When do I reflect? In the shower, in bed…seriously through, teaching is always on my mind." Park Forest Elementary School Teacher
Nick Downs, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 4th Grade
Many PDS interns and student teachers will soon graduate and begin to teach in their own classrooms during the coming year, including myself. One of the most critical elements for a new teacher is the art and practice of reflection. I was interested in seeing how both recent and seasoned teachers looked at the ideas of reflection. My inquiry examined the use of reflection by teachers in three schools and how they used it in their practice each day. I examine what it means to teachers in terms of when they reflect, how they reflect and what do they reflect upon. Is reflection just another tool in a teacher's bag of tricks is it so much more?

KinderYoga: Implementing calming and reflective practices through yoga in the Kindergarten classroom
Sarah Eshbaugh, Intern, Radio Park Elementary School, Kindergarten
In order to improve transition times in my classroom, I wanted to encourage and motivate students to try a new technique to provide quicker and effective transitions. After researching and surveying students about the benefits and use of yoga, I implemented a variety of strategies through poses, dance, and reflective circles to make our classroom a place where we are peaceful and reflective. The goal of the implemented strategies was to make transition time smoother and to facilitate more effective instruction when students were calm and focused. Within this inquiry, I have gained a better understanding of how a little thinking outside of the box can really bring peace into the classroom. Namaste!

Analyzing Self-Expression Through Art

Emily Fajt, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1/2 multi-age
In any primary classroom, students experience conflict. I wondered how teaching students new techniques to cope with their emotions and practice self-expression using visual arts, music, drama, and movement would impact our classroom atmosphere. I figured my students would enjoy artistic activities but was interested to see if our classroom disagreements would decrease.

"Will Boys be Boys?"- Sword Fighting and Student Interest in the Classroom
Renee Fledderman, Intern State College High School South, English 9 CTI
Why are there more boys than girls in lower level English classes? Research consistently finds that these classes are more often than not composed of primarily unmotivated male students. This session explores various strategies to spark engagement and motivation in this population. Oh, and there was sword fighting.

They're Silent, But Are They Reading? Exploring the Teacher's Role in Developing a Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) Program
Megan Fricker, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 3rd Grade
Teachers know that students need to practice reading in order to become better readers, but getting young students to read can be a challenge whether it's at school or at home. With such jammed packed schedules, it's rare that teachers are able to give their students time for uninterrupted, independent reading. In my third grade classroom, students are allotted time for Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) every afternoon. Over the course of the year, students began to dread this free reading time a little more each day. As a teacher, I could not understand why my students did not value what I deemed to be an important and relaxing afternoon activity. I soon began to wonder what I could do as a teacher to make SSR more engaging. Join me as I explore the various tools and strategies I have discovered that teachers can use to create an effective SSR program.

"I Don't Have to Raise My Hand, Someone Else Will." - What Motivates Students to Participate?
Danielle Gambe, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 3rd Grade
Every class has students that participate all of the time and students who never raise their hands. In my third grade classroom during calendar math, the level of participation changes constantly and can be very inconsistent. For this inquiry, I implemented four strategies during calendar math lessons to observe the effects on my students' participation. My strategies included: increasing wait time after questioning, implementing random participation rewards, fostering a sense of classroom community, and teaching calendar math in the afternoon instead of in the morning. From this inquiry, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of the effects of student participation in the classroom.

Interns to the rescue! A Principal Works with PDS Interns to Improve Reading Fluency of At-Risk Students
Doris Grove, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
Brian Peters, Principal, Easterly Parkway Elementary
William Benson, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
PDS interns from PSU in partnership with Easterly Parkway Elementary School in State College, PA worked with the school's principal to identify, assess, intervene, and monitor students who demonstrated a need for improvement in fluency. The students identified for this intervention were students who did not qualify for any other levels of support (Title One, Special Education, etc.). Interventions took place from late October through early March. This session will describe the processes and the measures used to track student progress. The session will relate the impact this project had on student achievement and the school community. Since this project has a dual impact, the presentation will provide evidence from the teacher interns as to how it has impacted them in their journeys into the teaching profession.

Can We Increase Appropriate Participation in Whole-Group Instruction?
Theresa Hladish, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 2nd Grade
Kayla Manahan, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st Grade
Appropriate participation is an essential part of large group instruction. During whole-group instruction, student participation allows a teacher to assess students' understanding of the content matter. Fortunately, we do not have an issue with students wanting to participate. However, we have noticed that calling out and other inappropriate behaviors were preventing the other students to think on their own. In this inquiry, we explored a variety of strategies to increase appropriate student participation during whole-group instruction with a focus on calendar math in first grade and read aloud in second grade. All voices can be heard when calling out is eliminated.

Give me 5! A look into 6th grade inquiry science and incorporating science notebooks
Stephanie Horton, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
During my year as an intern, I have been very intrigued by inquiry science. As I began teaching science, I was presented with a brand new science unit that the teachers had not taught yet, so I was given the opportunity to put my own spin on it. I saw this as the perfect opportunity for inquiry because teaching science has become my niche. As I began transforming lessons to make them more inquiryoriented, I decided that I wanted to try incorporating science notebooks as well. The notebooks have allowed for deeper-level thinking and complemented the inquiry-based lessons. This inquiry addresses the endless possibilities of science notebooks and how making lessons inquiry-oriented can allow students to develop their own ideas.

Reduce, Reuse, Reeducate: Sustainability through Learning
Megan Kirkpatrick, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
In an age of deforestation, pollution, and fossil fuel dependency, how can classroom teachers help students become aware of environmental issues and feel motivated to make significant changes in our community? This question occurred to me while observing my students' enthusiastic responses to my personal environmental efforts. By asking the question, "How can I generate sustainability literacy and activism among my students?" my inquiry aims to uncover the various avenues open to educators hoping to incorporate sustainability education into the classroom.

1-2-3, Come Sing With Me! An intern explores how to effectively use music in the classroom
Kristen Johnson, Intern, Park Forest Elementary 1st/2nd multi age, 5th Grade
How can integrating music into the classroom affect students' learning and classroom management? My inquiry explores the different ways music can be used in the classroom in both a primary and upper intermediate classroom. I used music to help with transitions, memorization, and engagement. During this process, this inquiry will show how a teacher can effectively use music in the classroom.

Making Sense of Writing Centers
Andrea Koch, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary, 2nd Grade
Due to curiosity on how to increase second graders quality and attitude towards writing I developed and implemented self-selected writing centers. Student work and opinions have been analyzed and compared during two environments: Lucy Calkin mini-lessons and writing centers. Tools were also added to our writing process to determine if they had any effect on writers. I invite you to come find out if the center of writing really lies in centers.

Coaching the Young Author
Jaime Komlenic, Teacher, Easterly Parkway, 3rd Grade
I am a second-year teacher at Easterly Parkway Elementary. Last year I attended several trainings centered on writing. In my trainings, it was suggested to have short informal conferences with many students during a single workshop. I found myself getting wrapped up in conferences with my students, and it often took me several days to conference with everyone. This year I want to conference with as many students as I can in each writer's workshop. I am interested in how increased conferencing time will affect my class.

Computers: Engaging or Just for Entertainment
Sarah Krepps, Intern, State College High School South10th Grade English
Today's students live in a digital world, but does technology engage students in the classroom? This session will share how assignments using computers and the Internet fostered online and classroom community, how some assignments failed to engage students, and how, in the latter case, traditional assignments using paper and a pencil were more successful.

One Center Does Not Fit All: Incorporating Student Choice and Multiple Intelligences into Literacy Centers
Sarah Lauder, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade
Andrea de Carle, Mentor, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade
Courtney Beers, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 2nd Grade

As primary teachers, we strive for our students to receive instruction at their personal instructional levels. However, we felt that our traditional literacy centers did not always reflect our teaching philosophy. Therefore, this year we restructured what our students are doing when they are not receiving direct instruction. We reflected on student work, Pennsylvania state standards, SCASD curriculum, students' multiple intelligences, and observed student engagement to design our independent choice centers. Our inquiry explores to what degree we were able to incorporate differentiated instruction through independent language arts centers.

I Now Pronounce You: Building A Successful Marriage Between Interns and Mentors

Cindy Cowan, SCASD, PDA/Co-facilitator
Kristen Dewitt, PSU, PDA/Co-facilitator
Susan Lunsford, PSU, PDA

"The professional development school is a place (and a concept) where the wisdom of practice is married to the wisdom of practitioners." (Teacher Leader, 2001) One vital component of the PDS experience is the partnership between an intern and mentor. Through collecting data from current and former interns and mentors for over a year, we've learned that these partnerships are much like a marriage – built on communication, support, and trust. Join us as we take a walk down the aisle to explore what it takes to build a successful marriage between interns and mentors.

Where to Begin?

Jessica Lehmann, Intern, State College High School South, 9th and 10th Grades
You've got all your resources, lesson plans, materials, games, and books ready for your upcoming unit… but where do you begin? According to students, the unit introduction can influence their comprehension and engagement in the entire unit. This inquiry will share how different unit introductions can influence subsequent students' comprehension and engagement.

Effective Grouping Strategies for Academic Success in Math
Beth MacDonald, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1st Grade
This inquiry was conducted in an effort to research the most effective grouping strategies for math. These groups were primarily created by ability level, student choice or at random. By grouping students in these and a variety of other ways, I was able to observe different developments in mathematical thinking as well as varying levels of on-task behavior.

How can we use Studiocode, a video analysis tool, to improve our practice?

Rebecca Burns, PDA
Christine MacDonald, PDA
Deana Washell, PDA

We wondered how utilizing an innovative video-analysis technology (Studiocode ™) would allow us to have more meaningful discussions regarding the problems of the practice. This session will demonstrate the technology and show examples of its actual use. Examples include ways to help novices deepen their reflective practices, enhance supervisory conferences, and make teachers' tacit knowledge transparent.

Can We Increase Appropriate Participation in Whole-Group Instruction?
Theresa Hladish, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 2nd Grade
Kayla Manahan, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st Grade
Appropriate participation is an essential part of large group instruction. During whole-group instruction, student participation allows a teacher to assess students' understanding of the content matter. Fortunately, we do not have an issue with students wanting to participate. However, we have noticed that calling out and other inappropriate behaviors were preventing the other students to think on their own. In this inquiry, we explored a variety of strategies to increase appropriate student participation during whole-group instruction with a focus on calendar math in first grade and read aloud in second grade. All voices can be heard when calling out is eliminated.

We Can Change Cathy Klein, Teacher
Cheryl McCarty, Teacher, Gray's Woods, Intermediate
This inquiry looks at a school-wide bottle caprecycling program. What motivates students to participate? Join us to take a look at the small steps we take to make a big difference for our earth.

Real Science: How an Authentic Context for Learning Connects Students, Teachers, and Researchers in Inquiry-based Science
Lori McGarry, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 5th Grade
With the emphasis on inquiry-based science in the National Science Education Standards, classroom teachers increasingly seek to engage students in the exploration, questioning, and evidence-based argumentation that characterize research science. One way to strengthen connections between classroom learning and "real-world" science is through a formal partnership among educators and scientists. My inquiry uses the case of "Fossil Finders," a pilot curriculum based on an authentic geological investigation, to explore how a science education partnership can impact student engagement, learning, and understanding of the nature of science, as well as teacher comfort with inquiry in the classroom.

At a Crossroads…Teaching Intermediate Students 'Habits' for Lifelong Success
Anna McLendon, Intern, Easterly Parkway, 4th Grade
Is it beneficial to teach character values in school to supplement the character education students are receiving at home? What values are necessary in life to be successful? This inquiry focuses on the practices and characteristics that aren't usually taught in a curriculum. I taught my class Costa's 16 Habits of Mind to see the effect it had on their academic and social learning as well as their classroom community.

"Class, Class...Are you listening?" "Yes, Yes!!"
Maria Szott, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3rd and 4th Grade Multi-age
Megan Molitoris, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade

This inquiry focuses on how using various management strategies of Whole Brain Teaching (formally Power Teaching) affects our students' behavior, attitudes, and students' view of our teacher presence. As we were taking on a larger role in the classroom, we noticed that without a well-managed classroom, it is impossible to effectively teach students any type of content. Would the effects of using these various Whole Brain Teaching management strategies be the answer to our question? "How can we improve our students' behavior and strengthen our teacher presence in the classroom?"

Increasing Participation of Students Who Are Reluctant to Share Ideas in Whole Group Settings
Margaret Morton, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1/2 multiage
Throughout my experiences in the classroom, I have noticed that there are students who excel during individual work but allow others to do their thinking and speaking for them during group work. Through my research and interventions, I have been trying to understand why it is that these students do not voice their answers or actively participate in group settings and how my findings will impact my teaching.

Do Fourth Graders Simply Judge Books by their Cover?

Ed Newell, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School, 4th Grade
What motivates my students to choose the books that they do? In an effort to find out, my teacher inquiry lead me to the root of my wondering: my students. Because my boys love military books and girls love horse books, general content appeared to be a big factor, but what was it about a particular book that draws the student to it? Are students using summaries from the back cover, choosing a favorite author, reading a series, or having books recommended by friends? Does our classroom social hierarchy play a role in which books circulate through the class? In addition to these possible influences, does their academic reading level play a role in what they choose to read?

Ready for 3rd Grade? Building Independence in a Primary Classroom
Lauren O'Shea, Intern, Lemont Elementary School, 2nd Grade
From picking out a lunch choice, putting names on the tops of written work, and lining up quietly, second graders certainly have lots of responsibilities each day! My inquiry centered on how to make these simple tasks more efficient and effective by increasing student responsibility and independence. Through a positive reinforcement program, put-ups, and visual aids around the classroom, I explored the process of helping my students gain independence and self-confidence.

Increasing Students' Level of Engagement while Meeting Daily Curriculum Requirements
Devon Parks, Intern, Houserville Elementary, 5th Grade
Katelyn Arnold, Intern, Houserville Elementary, 4th Grade

Our inquiry focuses increasing students' level of engagement while meeting curriculum requirements throughout the school day. Our inquiry focuses increasing students' level of engagement while meeting curriculum requirements throughout the school day.

Why Don't You Want to be in My Group?

Alyssa Patti, Intern, State College Area High School South 9th and 10th Grade English
Some ninth grade students are more willing to work in groups and work successfully, while others create a hostile environment where success cannot be achieved. This inquiry will examine, through a series of classroom observations and student feedback, how group work is successfully achieved through genuine student interest and positive collaboration.

Classroom Communities: Yellow Fridays, Supergroups, and Control
Tim Pawloski, Intern, State College Area High School North 12th Grade English
Students and teachers must cooperate to share control and responsibility in the classroom. This session will share strategies to create classroom community and demonstrate how community forms the basis for effective instruction.

"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" Implementing Student Self-Assessment and Reflection in the Classroom
Allie Peters, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary, 4th Grade
In fourth grade, students are beginning to take on a new ownership for the work that they turn in. By having the students self-reflect on assignments I was able to explore the changes in the quality of work and accountability towards my students' own learning. By implementing this reflection technique in my classroom, I was able to see how my students viewed themselves in their efforts towards their own work and most importantly--how the students perceived themselves as learners.

Interns to the rescue! A Principal Works with PDS Interns to Improve Reading Fluency of At-Risk Students
Doris Grove, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
Brian Peters, Principal, Easterly Parkway Elementary
William Benson, PDA, Easterly Parkway Elementary
PDS interns from PSU in partnership with Easterly Parkway Elementary School in State College, PA worked with the school's principal to identify, assess, intervene, and monitor students who demonstrated a need for improvement in fluency. The students identified for this intervention were students who did not qualify for any other levels of support (Title One, Special Education, etc.). Interventions took place from late October through early March. This session will describe the processes and the measures used to track student progress. The session will relate the impact this project had on student achievement and the school community. Since this project has a dual impact, the presentation will provide evidence from the teacher interns as to how it has impacted them in their journeys into the teaching profession.

Making Writing Right in the Elementary Classroom
Kelsey Rasmussen, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3rd Grade
Courtney Donovan, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 5th Grade

Are there specific strategies teachers can use to help motivate students to write in the classroom? Writing plays a large role across the curriculum and can often be difficult and daunting for students in any grade. Over the past several months, we have placed a focus on implementing various strategies in our classrooms to create a supportive environment for students to write. We have explored a multitude of techniques, including: music, student choice, read aloud, technology, and presentation mediums. Through our investigations, we have searched for ways to take writing and make it more exciting in our classrooms.

Breaking News! : Parent Teacher Communication is Better with a Bi-Monthly Newsletter
Amelia Rieth, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 3rd Grade
Allison Washam, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 3rd Grade
As educators, we know the importance of communication between home and school, but how can we create consistent interaction? In order to avoid contacting parents solely on a need-to-know basis, we decided to try bi-monthly newsletters to create open lines of communication, as well as spark discussion between students and parents at home. After surveying parents about information they would like to know about what's going on in our classrooms, we began sending home newsletters every other week discussing points on which parents had expressed interest. We also surveyed teachers, students, and the principal of our school for further insight into school to home communication. Newsletters paired with increased interaction with the classroom website, have helped create more consistent contact with many parents, who have responded with great enthusiasm.

"Following Directions Is A Game We Like To Play!" A sneak peak of strategies used in a sixth grade classroom to encourage students while maximizing their independence and ability to follow
directions.
Ashley Rogers, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade

Several weeks into the school year, I began to notice that directions were being repeated constantly. This led me to wonder how students view directions and why it is difficult for them to follow directions the first time they are given. I wondered how I could set students up for success when it comes to following a variety of types of directions and also enhance their independence in the classroom. Come listen carefully to the strategies I have discovered that enhance direction following skills for independent learners in the classroom.

"Can I play with you today?" Fostering and Building Student Relationships Within a Kindergarten Classroom Community
Ashley Rohm, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School, Kindergarten
Throughout the year in my kindergarten classroom, I noticed that many of my students were interacting with the same friends every day and that some children were being left out. Since I am passionate about creating a strong classroom community, I wanted to help integrate everyone into the community. I wanted all of my students to feel a sense of belonging and to always have a friend. I implemented various positive opportunities for my students to interact with a range of students that enabled them to play together, share in compromise, and learn more about each other.

Wait, learning can be fun? Active Activities in the Classroom
Leanne Rohrbaugh, Intern, State College High School South, 10th Grade English
When you face that challenging preconception of high school students that they don't like school and learning can't be fun, what can you do? Role playing, group work/discussions, artistic activities actively engage students by getting them up and moving so they are literally involved in the material.

Gene Bob Junior on the Map: Exploring Geography in a First Grade Classroom
Alix Rose, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary School, 1st Grade
My interest in geography encouraged me to take a closer look at whether or not there is a place for geography in a first grade curriculum. Through the implementation of hands on activities, technology based instruction, dynamic mini lessons, and the use of a traveling mascot; I have explored the five themes of geography with my students. Traveling around the world with first graders has provided great insight into building geography skills in young learners.

"Is This Really Working?" How Self-Monitoring Can Effect Individual Student's Work Habits
Thomas Rowader, Intern, Lemont Elementary School, 2nd Grade
Since the start of the school year, unfinished work has stacked up in the "work-on" bin and on my desk. In today's jam-packed classroom schedule I had trouble finding time for my students to finish their incomplete work. This proved to be especially difficult when a student required my individual attention to complete an assignment. I began to wonder why certain students consistently got less work done than their peers and if there was a way to increase the quality and quantity of work done in the originally allotted time. This inquiry explores how self-monitoring can help students become aware of their individual work habits with the aim of increasing productivity.

Differentiating Writing Instruction Using Children's Literature to Exemplify Good Writing

Kristen Sadaly, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary, 5th grade
In order to meet state writing standards, fifth grade students are expected to apply the following writing traits: language, style, organization, and focus in their own writing. By differentiating instruction, my students were able to concentrate on improving one particular writing trait. In order to make progress, students were introduced to numerous examples of children's literature. After analyzing how expert authors, such as Chris Van Allsburg and Patricia Polacco, used strong language, style, organization, and focus within beloved stories, students were able to strengthen these traits in their own writing.

"Come on guys, listen to me": How to promote cooperative and collaborative learning among sixth grade students
Laura Salvatore, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
Sixth grade is a pivotal year for students as they transition from an elementary atmosphere into a middle school environment. Social aspects and peer relationships are dramatically changing. I noticed in the beginning of the year how many of my students lacked skills on how to communicate and work together effectively when collaborating with peers. I reflected on the times I told my students that they would be working together in a group for a project or assignment, but I never actually taught my students how to work cooperatively in groups – an assumption I believe to be true for many teachers across grade levels. I wondered: how can I teach my students how to work cooperatively and collaboratively in small and large group settings?

What's So Smart About Smart Seats?: How Student Seating Impacts On-Task Behavior

Lauren Schmitt, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School, 1st Grade
When two new students joined us this year, our classroom carpet had already exhausted its supply of personal squares. Because of our growing class, two students began sitting in chairs in place of the carpet during whole-group instruction. These students' newfound attentiveness during whole-group instruction made me question the value of "carpet time" and wonder how students' physical placement in the room affects their on-task behavior. Throughout my inquiry, I compared a variety of seating options to determine which arrangements optimize on-task behavior.

"I can't do anything right! ": Inside the Minds of Third Grade Students and What They Say to Themselves
Ashley Serafim, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School, 3rd Grade
What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? What do you say to yourself when someone is not nice to you? Self-talk is when our mouth is closed but our brain is talking. Negative self-talk, such as "I can't do anything right", can lead to negative thoughts and feelings about oneself. Through this inquiry I wanted to get a better insight into the minds of third grade students and how positive self-talk affects them during the school day. While focusing on five students, I explored how replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk can affect students academically, socially, and emotionally.

"You Might be a Redneck if…"
Lydia Shellenberger, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 7-8 Team English
Right now you are smiling, because about 10 different punch lines are zipping through your mind. But have you considered how "redneck" stereotypes could negatively affect a child with a rural background? One such student in my 8th grade English class prompted me to ask: How can a teacher cultivate a sense of cultural pride within rural kids, while maintaining a cohesive classroom community?

"Tasting our Way Through Geography": Incorporating Cooking in the Classroom to Enhance Geography Knowledge
Lauren Shutika, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 4th Grade
"Where is Haiti?" one student eagerly asked during morning meeting. I was surprised that in fourth grade, my students knew very little about the globe. Throughout the school year, I had noticed that many students were unaware of the location of many places on the map. I began to wonder how I could incorporate my own passion for cooking into the classroom in order to help students learn about the world, To do this, I incorporated mini-geography lessons and cooking sessions into the classroom for specific regions on the map. This inquiry shares my globetrotting journey with food and fourth graders.

"Spicing Up" Social Studies: Teaching Social Studies through Simulations in a Sixth Grade Classroom
Kristin Sterns, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
After observing the success of simulations in my classroom, I wondered how I could use simulations to enrich the sixth grade social studies curriculum while still meeting standards and objectives. In order to or cater to my students' unique talents and interests, we set out to create our own Cooking TV Show. Students took on roles of Chef, Host, Technology Expert, Cultural Expert, and Director to study the impact geography, culture, and climate has on a country's cuisine. Students worked together to write, produce, and film a TV Show sharing information and recipes. As students worked, I explored the effects simulations have on motivation, engagement and learning. Come learn about our cooking adventures and my findings!

"Thumbs-Up if You Understand…" Investigating Strategies to Help Students Become Better Direction Followers
Elizabeth Stoddard, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 2nd Grade
As I began to take over the daily spelling, I became alarmed at how many students were not following the directions given to them. What was even more frustrating was when I would return papers to students, asking them to correct their errors, and many would return the work without making a single correction! I began to ask myself, "Is there something that I should be doing differently? Or, are the students just being careless?" This inquiry focuses on setting second grade students up for success when it comes to following directions.

No Learner Left Behind: The Impact of Differentiated Professional Development of Students, Interns, Teachers and Culture
Rebecca Burns, PDA, Park Forest Elementary School
Donnan Stoicovy, Principal, Park Forest Elementary School

Professional development for current educators typically consists of a universal approach that fails to meet individual needs. As a result of the unique partnership between a university and a school district, a PDS offers a context where differentiated professional development and professional learning are not only a reality but are an embedded part of the school culture. Current educators tend to be the focus of such experiences, but such powerful learning opportunities do not happen in isolation; in fact, they impact all parties involved. Teacher candidates learn alongside their mentor counterparts, and students become the beneficiaries of such powerful professional learning engagements. This session will present the findings of an inquiry into how engaging in meaningful, jobembedded professional development impacts not only current educators but more importantly, teacher candidates and elementary students.

Time to Sign! -- Using Sign Language in Kindergarten During Transition Times
Kristin Szklinski, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary School, Kindergarten
Our day to day routine at school is filled with transition times -- busy times where kindergarten students switch from one activity to another and can easily lose track of what they are being asked to do. During these times, its important for teachers to give quick, but detailed explanations of expectations and procedures to ensure well-organized and successful movement throughout the classroom. It is also vital for maintaining a controlled atmosphere in a sometimes-crazy environment! Because of my interest in the use of sign language and because I have used it in my classroom during other activities throughout our day, I was interested in exploring how using sign language could help students be more efficient and effective during these tricky times. My inquiry project investigates the benefits of using sign language to get students motivated and prepared to complete one part of our day, and get ready to begin another.

"Class, Class...Are you listening?" "Yes, Yes!!"

Maria Szott, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3rd and 4th Grade Multi-age
Megan Molitoris, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade

This inquiry focuses on how using various management strategies of Whole Brain Teaching (formally Power Teaching) affects our students' behavior, attitudes, and students' view of our teacher presence. As we were taking on a larger role in the classroom, we noticed that without a well-managed classroom, it is impossible to effectively teach students any type of content. Would the effects of using these various Whole Brain Teaching management strategies be the answer to our question? "How can we improve our students' behavior and strengthen our teacher presence in the classroom?"

"Making Sense Differently" Using Differentiated Instruction to Strengthen Students' Number Sense
Rachel Tom, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School, 1st Grade

As the school year progressed, I began noticing many of my first grade students struggling in math. Careful observation led me to believe that often, their lack of number sense hindered their successfulness in mathematical tasks. Their number sense included understanding the size of numbers, the ability to develop multiple ways of thinking about and representing numbers, the ability to use numbers as referents, and perceptions about the effects of operations on numbers. I examined my students' areas of strength and understanding to inform the decisions I made about differentiating my instruction. As a result, I was able to plan and implement a series of small-group interventions. Through these short, differentiated activities, I explored the effect of teaching to and through students' strengths to improve their number sense.

Literacy, More Universal than Healthcare?
Nicholas Ward, Intern, State College High School North 11th & 12th grade
English Literacy, other than of the written word, is easy to ignore in an English classroom. Some teachers can't or won't justify exploring media literacy. But other forms of literacy are just as relevant to becoming a wellrounded individual and community member.

Breaking News! : Parent Teacher Communication is Better with a Bi-Monthly Newsletter
Amelia Rieth, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 3rd Grade
Allison Washam, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 3rd Grade
As educators, we know the importance of communication between home and school, but how can we create consistent interaction? In order to avoid contacting parents solely on a need-to-know basis, we decided to try bi-monthly newsletters to create open lines of communication, as well as spark discussion between students and parents at home. After surveying parents about information they would like to know about what's going on in our classrooms, we began sending home newsletters every other week discussing points on which parents had expressed interest. We also surveyed teachers, students, and the principal of our school for further insight into school to home communication. Newsletters paired with increased interaction with the classroom website, have helped create more consistent contact with many parents, who have responded with great enthusiasm.

How can we use Studiocode, a video analysis tool, to improve our practice?
Rebecca Burns, PDA
Christine MacDonald, PDA
Deana Washell, PDA

We wondered how utilizing an innovative video-analysis technology (Studiocode ™) would allow us to have more meaningful discussions regarding the problems of the practice. This session will demonstrate the technology and show examples of its actual use. Examples include ways to help novices deepen their reflective practices, enhance supervisory conferences, and make teachers' tacit knowledge transparent.

Technology and 21st Century Learners: Why Reading Just Ain't Fun Anymore
Larry Weaver, Intern, State College High School South, 10th grade English
This inquiry attempts to examine technology's affect on the willingness and ability of students to engage with classroom texts. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate this interest shift among young learner's, as well as provide ways that teachers can take advantage of this shift to provide more engaging activities.

Rhythm As An RTI Intervention
Marion Wheland, Teacher, Park Forest Elementary, Kindergarten
Patti Begg, Teacher, Park Forest Elementary, 1st Grade

Is there a relationship between hearing a steady beat and learning the names and sounds of the alphabet? Is there a relationship between rhythm and learning to read? Can practice with rhythm and listening transfer to improved scores on benchmark assessments? Come and listen to what we have found.

Captivating Kindergartners at Computers
Maria White, Intern, Gray's Woods Elementary School, Kindergarten
I was delighted to see the excitement that a visit to the computer lab generated in my kindergarten students. They were engaged and pleaded for a return visit. This experience caused me to wonder how I could integrate the two computers, which sat idle most of the time in the back of our classroom, into our daily routine. I also wondered if attentiveness to tasks at the independent workstation along with the quality of their work would improve if computers were used. My inquiry explores the impact of using computers during language art stations and its affects on student engagement.

Handwriting Helps

Sarah Williamson, Teacher, Panorama Village Elementary, 1st Grade
Despite the young age of my young students, the expectations on their writing ability rises each year. With more time spent on writing content, I have spent less time teaching handwriting. More students struggled to read their stories. Capitals and punctuation ran ramped in student work. Many students pencil grip is astonishing. During my inquiry process, I looked into the value of having handwriting instruction as a priority in my classroom. Through student observation, adult interviews, and comparison of student work, the value in penmanship became clear. Handwriting helps kids become writers.

Lids Down, Heads Up "Students Learn Strategies to Self-Monitor Focus While Immersed in 21st Century Technology"
Alyssa Wilson, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
Have you ever sat down to work on your computer and found yourself answering your cell phone, checking out social networking sites, or instant messaging friends? With the increase of technology comes an increase in technology related distractions. This change, as evident in my sixth grade classroom, has impacted my classroom management. I found myself asking students to close their lids, change their fonts after proofreading, or get back onto a word processing document they should have been working on. I wanted to find a way to encourage the students to become more aware of their own distraction with technology and find strategies that would help them to refocus. This study takes a closer look at sixth graders' multi-tasking and strategies to help maintain focus.

Books Build Character: Using Literature to Develop Morality in a Secondary English Classroom
Stefen Wisniewski, Intern, State College High School South, 10th Grade English
Developing the character of students is both a worthwhile and achievable goal in an English classroom. 2010 Teacher Inquiry Conference page 16 A unit using the books Monster and Whirligig that was centered on character education showed important results in tenth grade students' moral critical thinking.

Student Response to Teacher Feedback: What do students get out of those comments in the margins and why do we write them in the first place?
Michelle Wrambel, Intern, State College High School North 11th and 12th Grade English
Why do we offer feedback on written work in the form of comments in the margins? This inquiry seeks to explore what significance students obtain from these remarks, which often make up the bulk of our revisions. These comments are frequently ignored, so what do students find meaningful when it comes to revision?