2005-2006 SCASD-PSU Teacher Inquiry Conference
 Abstracts and Papers

April 2006

Editing: Where Do I Begin? Home Run Editing!

Krystle Audey (Intern, Lemont Elementary School)

After students complete writing a piece of literature, what are they thinking when they are finished?  Do they read through their work to catch their mistakes or, do they want to turn in their work just so they can say they’re finished with it?  Do they try to make their papers sound the best that they can by polishing up their word choice?  Do they even know where to begin when they want to edit their papers?  To improve the quality of fiction and nonfiction writing, I introduced my second grade students to what I call “Home Run Editing.”  This editing strategy gives children a three-step process to edit their written work, and that of their peers.  The inquiry seeks to discover how this approach to editing instruction affects the quality of students’ writing.

The Classroom “Audience” and its Impact on Student Effort.
Nicole Babitski (Intern, SCASD South Building)

My inquiry has been an exploration of the effect 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.

The Eight Ways of Being Smart: How Differentiating Instruction can Build Confidence, Independence, Engagement, and Motivation about Learning in a Heterogeneous Group of Students.

Jenna Backer (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)

Planning effective instruction for twenty-two very diverse learners can be complex without assessing their interests and needs. This inquiry explores how to assess students’ interests in order to build a repertoire of instructional strategies that will accommodate all learners.  By implementing multiple ways of assessment and multiple intelligences into my classroom, I found that my students gained confidence, independence, motivation, and engagement during instruction.  After implementing differentiated instruction during my spelling lessons, I have learned multiple strategies for differentiating that I can utilize across the curriculum.

Struggling Interns.

Lynne Sanders (PDA Corl Street and Easterly Parkway)
Bernard Badiali (PDA Penn State University)


This inquiry began with a simple question: Why do some interns struggle for success in the PDS? By interviewing mentors, interns, and PDAs over the last two years, we came up with seven claims based on patterns of responses from all three groups. Interestingly, perceptions on struggles differ substantially among the three groups.

Hooked on Genres…A Different Approach to Reading Stations.

Abby Barto (4th Grade Teacher)
Laura Slubodki (5th Grade Teacher)

Corl Street Elementary School
Can we enhance guided reading stations in the intermediate and upper intermediate grade levels through the introduction of a literary genre study?  
Our inquiry focuses on the implementation of an independent reading station.  Students were asked to
explore different literary genres through the reading of multiple picture books and by completing related activities.  The purpose of our inquiry was to determine if such a station could be independent and educational while meeting individual student needs.  Join us for a glimpse of how this inquiry has progressed and how it could be adapted to suit the needs of your classroom!

Expression of Students’ Multiple Intelligences through Different Projects.

Katie Behr (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)

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.

Motivating Students to Write as an Unmotivated Writer.


Christopher Bodnar (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

How can an unmotivated, poor writer help children in first grade to become motivated writers who enjoy their writing and writing projects? Children learn to write at a very early age and can become unmotivated to write as a result of early experiences.  My inquiry was brought on by my lack of writing ability and motivation to write, as well as my desire to motivate my first graders by having them enjoy better experiences with writing.

Those Who Are the Hardest to Love Are the Ones Who Need it the Most.

Erica Boorshtein (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

Have you ever had a student who excelled academically, but was falling behind socially?  What do you do to help a student who has an impulsive need to say everything that is on his/her mind?  This inquiry focuses on a student in my classroom who exuded both of these qualities.  Come learn about the many interventions you could put in place for a student in a similar situation as well as what steps you could take if these interventions do not succeed

Clap Your Hands… Sing Along… It’s Time to Learn your Favorite Song! Two Interns Explore how to Teach Facts through Songs.

Jamie Stewart (Intern, Houserville Elementary School)
Steffani Bryan (Intern, Houserville Elementary School)


Can learning facts efficiently be made easier and more interesting for students? Will adding a musical component do the trick? This inquiry explores children’s ability to learn facts through music. Come join us to learn more about how music affects student learning.

Investing in Enthusiasm for Charity.

Kate Carpenter (Intern, Boalsburg Elementary School)

How does developing a community service project in the classroom change the way students interact with one another, the level of student enthusiasm, and class participation?   Being a teacher is not limited to the subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts. Teaching students how to be respectful, responsible, caring individuals is equally essential. Through the implementation of a class community service project, raising money for pediatric cancer, I studied changes in classroom dynamics, student enthusiasm, as well as participation.

Is Your Water Safe?

Lauren Carrano (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

What happens when a class of students discovers a source of pollution in a class aquarium? Will inquiry-based instruction help them to understand water contamination? This inquiry project investigates how the wonderings of a class of 2nd grade students guided their scientific journey towards becoming experts about water pollution. Come join me to discover how inquiry-based instruction can turn elementary aged children into scientists!

Independent Work Time: Why is this Such a Challenge for Some Students?

Kathryn Clark (Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School)

In my second grade classroom, literature groups are a time for group instruction and independent learning. During this independent learning, the same students tend to not complete their assignments. Why does it tend to be the same children who have trouble completing these assignments, if at all? Is there a behavioral issue present or are the students not being appropriately challenged? Join me on my inquiry into why these students continue to have trouble during this independent work time.

Implications of Altering Science Inquiry Instruction By Bringing in 5th Grade Book Buddies to 1st/2nd Multi-age Classroom Environment.
Monique Cottman (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

When preparing my three day lesson as a part of my SCIED 458 course last semester, I forgot to tell our 5th grade book buddies that we would not meet that Friday because we would be doing sink/float experiments. My mistake turned into a miracle as the 5th graders joined in our discussion and helped their primary buddies mold the stubborn clay into models that would float in a bucket of water.  As I watched a tape of the lesson, I noticed looks of awe and puzzlement on ALL of the students in the room, not just my own primary-aged children.  This led me to wonder about the other opportunities that were in store for me as I continued to plan science instruction.

Kindling the Kid Writing Soul:  Free Verse Poetry in the Kindergarten Classroom.


Jessica Cowan (Kindergarten Teacher, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)
Shari Dillon (Kindergarten Teacher, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)
Maggie Dwyer (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

A look at the influence of a free verse poetry unit on kindergarten students in three classrooms.  How will this non-conventional form of writing affect the journaling of pre-conventional, emerging, and developing writers?

Not In Front Of the Guys! How Preexisting Relationships Can Affect the Environment of the Classroom.

Elizabeth Czap (Intern, SCASD North Building)

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 ways to enhance these relationships in order to encourage more classroom discussion.

Meaningful Revision in Student Writing.
Jennifer Day (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)

Why do students resist and avoid the revision process?  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.

Writers’ Workshop: How Can I Make Students Feel Like Authors?

Andrea deCarle (Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary School)
What effects does incorporating the beliefs and practices of noted educator Lucy Calkins have on the writing performance of first grade students? Students in elementary schools are expected to write a significant amount daily.  I wanted to explore how I could lay a foundation in first grade, based on Lucy Calkins’ theories, which would positively affect how students write and how they view themselves as writers.

The Real Issues Behind Welcoming “ELLs” into Our School Communities.

Gianni DeGennarro (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

I know what the literature says about the issues involved when welcoming new ESL students.  What are the realities of these issues in my particular school community? This inquiry explores how ELL students feel about the different "welcoming" practices and procedures used within the school community. Do educators share the same views as the ELL students?

“I know! I know!”  Controlling Blurting in a Third Grade Classroom.

Katie Diffenderffer (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

The students in my third grade classroom are often excited to share what they know, resulting in calling out, or “blurting” as we call it.  This study focused on reasons why students blurt, how other students feel, and strategies to help students control blurting.  My goal was for students to remain excited about learning, but control their excitement.

“Want to Share? A Look at Students Sharing Their Writing.”
Krista Dolak (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)
Want to share? While some students may find sharing their writing in front of the class enjoyable, others prefer an alternative to this whole group environment. Such alternatives may include small group meetings, the use of props, or 1-on-1 conferences with a teacher or peer. Allowing for 1-on-1 student interactions provides the opportunity for the diverse needs of a class to be met.

Turn That Frown Upside-Down! How Students Learn to Resolve Their Own Conflicts.
Katie Dooner (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)

How do students deal with their own disagreements?  What can teachers do to help children build their own strategies by which to resolve conflicts?  This inquiry explores one classroom’s attempt at creating a welcoming, respectful classroom environment by finding ways to deal with conflicts that arise within the group.

Cool, Calm, and Cozy Conversations: Increasing Students' Comfort Level During Group Discussions.

Rebecca Dunlevy (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

What can I do, as a teacher, to make my students feel more comfortable during group discussions? This inquiry project explores the interventions I implemented to encourage active participation from my students.

From Teacher’s Chair to Author’s Chair, Assessing the Affects of Adding a Sharing Time.

Erin Edwards (Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School)

How will adding a sharing time, with mini lessons, affect the quality of student writing and student attitudes toward writing?  In this inquiry project, I analyze the effects of adding a daily, 10 minute period of time where students have the opportunity to share their Kid Writing with the class.  Join us as we discover whether giving the students the floor, or in this case the chair, for four minutes can affect their attitude and performance during our daily Kid Writing time.

Engaging Students for Success.

Alexandra Fahner-Vihtelic (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

Engagement is at the heart of every successful lesson. If the students are engaged, they are actively participating, listening, and involved in the lesson; therefore, more likely to understand the topic at hand. So, how does a teacher keep students engaged during a lesson? Using research, surveys, interviews, and notes, I developed some claims concerning specific teaching strategies that help to keep students engaged for an entire lesson.

Out of This World Technology- Integrating Technology in Kindergarten.
Lauren Foster (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

Welcome to the age of technology! Can technology be effectively integrated into a kindergarten science unit? Will it increase my student’s participation and engagement level? In this inquiry, I explore the effects that technology can have on the kindergarten space unit.

Journaling: An Outlet for Critical Thinking.
Victoria Gregory (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)

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?

Happy Talk! How Does “Positive Teacher Talk” Make a Difference?

Erin Hamilton (Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary School)
Can incorporating positive teacher talk into daily routines help modify the behavior of a challenging student?  This inquiry presents data that demonstrate the effects of teacher talk and related interventions, based on the principles of positive discipline.

Teachers Need Help Too: Providing Colleagues Technical Support.
Dorothy Hess (Intern, Corl Street Elementary School)
How can I, as an intern, help experienced teachers learn new technology? What kind of support does a veteran teacher require from an intern to learn and use technology? This inquiry seeks to find out whether teachers would be open to learning new technology from an intern. It also seeks to find out what type of support teachers prefer (one on one, group sessions, manual).  In my presentation, I will share teacher surveys and personal reflections as I discuss the effects of an intern teaching new technology to colleagues.

What’s a Podcast? Introducing Technology in an Elementary Classroom.
Curt Himmelberger (Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary School)

Fascinated with podcasting, I wanted to incorporate this new technology into my classroom, but I had wonderings.  Would the introduction and use of podcasts affect the motivation and/or performance of second-grade students during a unit on Mexico?  Are there benefits or drawbacks when podcasts are integrated into the curriculum?  Come hear the experiences of an intern as he talks about introducing podcasting to second-grade students.

"We Hate Math!": Motivating Fifth Grade Math Students.

Sue Hollinger (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary)
How can student motivation and time on task be improved when working with 5th grade math students? What types of strategies could be used to increase motivation and time on task? What types of strategies are the most effective? Throughout the year, students in my math class have displayed poor attitudes towards their math learning. This inquiry project was designed to help me learn how to engage unmotivated math learners. Different teaching strategies and reward systems have been implemented into the instructional time to help increase the fifth graders' math attitudes. Come see what I've found!

What a Teacher can do to Help a Special Needs Child in the Classroom that Receives Little or No Help Outside the Classroom.
Jacqueline Holtry (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

This study focuses on what a teacher can do to help learning support children that receive little or no support outside of the classroom.  Child engagement is essential to a classroom learning environment.  For some children it is hard to stay engaged in school throughout the day.  As a teacher, I find it important to accommodate these children to the best of my ability.

It’s Your Choice - Student Directed Curriculum Through Open Space Technology.
Sarah Hume (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

What happens when twenty-four six-year-olds are given the opportunity to choose what they study? This is exactly what I wanted to find out in my first-grade classroom. When students are given a larger role in their own education, are their attitudes and feelings towards school altered? What effect does this have on classroom climate and student-to-student relationships? Come and see just what it is students wish they were learning in school and how these topics can be incorporated into the school curriculum.

Morning Meetings:  Are They the Right Way to Start the Day?

Cynthia Inman (Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School)
Every minute of the school day is valuable to both teachers and students. With such a short school day, some teachers find themselves wondering how they will meet the increasing needs of their students in such a short amount of time each day.  So what makes morning meetings worth the time spent on them every morning? 
The purpose of this inquiry is to explore this and other related questions regarding morning meetings.

SMART Start: Integrating the Theory of Multiple Intelligences into a Kindergarten Classroom.

Cheryl Isola (Kindergarten Teacher, Radio Park Elementary School)
Kara Yoder (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)
This inquiry project discusses the integration of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences in a Kindergarten classroom through the use of SMART centers, which incorporate the eight intelligences (Visual, Mathematical, Musical, Naturalistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, and Kinesthetic).  How can the multiple intelligences be incorporated into our daily instruction?  What effects will using this multi-modal approach have on student learning and engagement?  Will the knowledge of Multiple Intelligence Theory have any impact on our teaching?  What are some methods to differentiate instruction based on the numerous learning styles?  Come join us for an interesting session about the endless possibilities for learning through the multiple intelligences!

Friendly Faces:  Increasing Thoughtfulness in a Third Grade Classroom.
Carrie Johnson (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)
What kinds of strategies or activities can a teacher do to increase thoughtfulness and friendliness in a classroom of students who just cannot seem to get along?  This inquiry focuses on the effects of specific community and thoughtfulness building activities on students’ attitudes and relationships towards other peers in their classroom.

Be it! Take it!: What is Responsibility Anyway?


Pamela Karwoski (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)
What are some ways a teacher can promote responsibility in the classroom so that students gain an understanding of the importance of the life long skill?  This inquiry presentation will take you through how fourth grade students learned about responsibility, brainstormed about what it looked like in the school, and learned way to show others that they are responsible individuals.

The Truth About Rock Buddies from the Experts – The Teachers!
Nancy Kelly (Counselor, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

After four years, hundreds of students, scores of teachers, piles of surveys, and a whole lot of rocks; we revisit this classroom community-building program that requires all students to include, accept, and encourage each other every day.  Rock Buddy teachers share their experience and answer your questions about this successful, concrete approach to creating a more caring classroom.  This could be the strategy you’ve been looking for!

Kick the Cliques: Activities to Promote Positive Relationships Among Girls in the Classroom.

Abigail Kirk (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)
Why are girls constantly creating conflict among their friends throughout the school day, and what can be done to improve their feelings and behaviors towards one another?  After continually witnessing the negative effects of cliques among girls in the elementary school setting, I became increasingly interested in this issue.  Why do girls seem to form cliques more often than boys?  At what age do cliques start appearing?  Why are some girls more wrapped up in the drama than other girls?  This inquiry project takes a closer look at many of these questions and attempts to offer strategies for improving the relationships among girls within the classroom.

The Frustration of Motivating an Unmotivated Student: How Implementing Well-Known Motivation Strategies Impacted an Unmotivated Student and My Own Teaching Practices.

Kelly Knyrim (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

There are many classroom management strategies that teachers and experts advocate in managing and motivating an unmotivated student.  Motivation in the classroom has also been linked to teaching to the different multiple intelligences.  Is motivation linked to creating lessons that address particular multiple intelligences or to different classroom management strategies?  Motivating a particular student in my 4th grade classroom has often proven to be a difficult task.  This inquiry analyzes the different approaches I explored in order to motivate an unmotivated student, and what I have learned in the context of this particular classroom.

Wake Up! Creative Ways to Make the Morning Routine More Productive, Efficient, and Exciting.

Lauren Kriftner (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

Have you ever wondered what gets a child motivated to learn as he/she steps foot into your classroom? Have you ever thought of the impact the morning routine can have on that child’s day? This inquiry project will illustrate what I have observed and learned, as well as implemented to make the morning routine more efficient, effective and exciting.

Music Makes Sense: Incorporating Music into a 1st Grade Classroom.
Katie Kyle (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)
How does music affect student states of learning throughout the day?  Do students respond better to music incorporated into the school day to help change their emotions and attitudes?  How does using music affect transitions during the school day?  These are some of the key questions of my inquiry project that will be addressed in this presentation.

Get Connected: Motivating Students Through Technology.
Courtney Lamade (Intern, Boalsburg Elementary School)

Technology is all around us, and now it’s entering the classroom!  From computer software to the Internet, teachers and students are exploring everything that technology has to offer.  Come join us to discover how the use of technology can enhance student motivation within the classroom.

Writer’s Workshop:  Learning to Write and Loving It!
Ann Lauer (Intern, Lemont Elementary School)

Can first grade students be motivated to write more and with fewer careless mistakes, especially if those students are high-achieving students? This inquiry describes how one teacher implements different writing activities and topics while changing the structure of how the lessons are presented to observe the effects, if any, on the writing of a small group of students.

Celebrating Success.
Patrick Lewis (Intern, SCASD High School South Building)

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.

Rock Buddies: Getting to Know You.


Jill MacDonald (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)

How will implementing Rock Buddies into my classroom affect the relationships among my students (particularly relationships between Rock Buddies)?  After noticing an increase in tension among students in my fourth grade classroom, I wondered what might lessen (or even eliminate) this troublesome distraction.  This inquiry examines the impact of having an assigned Rock Buddy on the relationships of students in my class.

Generating Self-motivation.
Christina Manbeck (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)
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.

Journal Writing in a Kindergarten Classroom: Promoting Literacy at an Early Age.
Lauren Marino (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)

How does the use of journals in a kindergarten classroom promote the development of students’ reading and writing abilities?  I was intrigued by the immediate introduction of journals in my kindergarten classroom.  My students began drawing pictures in their journals in September.  These pictures developed into much more intricate illustrations, then words, and finally sentences!  The growth in my kindergartners’ reading and writing abilities throughout the year has been amazing.  Come join me as I present the connection between the use of journals and this remarkable growth!

Podcasting: Viewing Research through a Technological Lens.
Kristen Mascitelli (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)
How can technology help students look at assignments in a different way?  In my fifth grade classroom, we explored the possibility of incorporating podcasting into the students’ science unit, Animal Kingdom.  We put a new twist on a research paper assignment.  This inquiry explores the technological challenges of podcasting and the implications for instruction.  It also touches upon how to overcome possible obstacles while implementing this new technology in the classroom and how to use this resource in future elementary classes.

Behavior: A Setback to Success.
Katie Mayo (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

How does behavior affect the overall success of a struggling first grade student?  How do these behaviors affect this student's academic progress and social well being?  How does a change in environment influence these behaviors? Through a series of interviews, surveys, and observations in my first grade classroom, this inquiry explores these questions and more.

Get Your Wiggles Out! Implementing Physical Activity Before Lessons to Increase On-task Behavior.

Crystal McCardell (Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School)
How will a short burst of physical activity affect the behavior of a few students who seem to have an abundance of energy? This inquiry compares on-task behavior between times when there are short bursts of physical activity to when there is no physical activity before lessons.

What’s New? Making Current Events Meaningful.

Cheryl McCarty (3rd grade teacher, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)
Amanda Unger (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)
What should children know about the world around them? This inquiry focuses on integrating local, national, and world news into the intermediate curriculum.  Will current events effectively motivate students to make connections to their peers, their community, and the world? Can current events be an exciting vehicle for teaching Pennsylvania state standards? Will current events become a thoughtful medium through which interaction between teachers, students, and parents increases? Come see what our inquiry led us to discover about teaching with the news.

"This is Really Bothering Me!... But I Can’t Tell You That": How Communication Can be Improved Between Mentor and Intern.

Mardi McDonough (PDA PDS Co-Facilitator)

When communication between mentors and interns is strained, difficulties may arise.  This inquiry examines how mentors and interns look at their own communication styles as well as their thoughts on the impact of communication, both positive and negative.  The inquiry attempts to find ways to improve communication throughout the entire school year through the use of a weekly, structured conversation.

Putting the Arts into Teaching: Using the Arts to Stimulate Student Interest and Foster Concept Development in a First Grade Classroom.
Tommie Murray (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

This inquiry investigates the effects of incorporating the arts in a diverse first grade classroom. Using student concept interviews, student work samples and discussions, participation checklists, photographs, and observations, I explored the question, "What are the implications of using the arts to enhance an inquiry-based American Album unit?" More specifically, this inquiry focuses on the correlation between art mediums and the following:  participation, concept development and retention, and student choice.

Do the Numbers Add up?  A Look at Class Size and its Effects on Curriculum, Discussion, and Classroom Climate.

Andrew Neely (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)

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.

When Sharing isn't Caring: A Journey to Understand and Develop an Educational Purpose for Share Time.

Katherine O’Hearn (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

This inquiry project revolved around the wondering, "Why don't I feel that the students are attaining any educational benefit from sharing time during afternoon meeting?" Sharing is a time where my second grade students are supposed to be working on their listening and speaking skills. I wondered if there were other educational goal that could be successfully included. After student, parent and veteran teacher input, our class began working to make our time during sharing at afternoon meeting more meaningful. This project analyzes sharing and the impact of varied formats on student learning and engagement. I am looking to find what the implications are for these students in this particular classroom.

Collaboration through Consensus, Community, and Possibility.
Katherine Pezanowski (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)
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.

Bullying in School.

Katherine Placke (Intern, Houserville Elementary School)

Although it is not always obvious, students are bullied in school as early as elementary school.  This bullying includes situations in school as well as those related to school but outside of it such as after school programs, the school bus, and neighborhoods.  This inquiry project focuses on the occurrence of bullying in my third grade classroom as well as ways to help students cope with the incidents of bullying including class meetings, a compliment jar, and a worry jar.

To Publish or not to Publish... What Role Does Publishing Play in 3rd graders’ Writing Ability, Motivation and Confidence?
Christina Preis (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)

This inquiry focuses on whether or not publishing students’ writing in a 3rd grade classroom can affect their motivation, confidence and ability as writers.   It looks at how various factors play out in the students’ minds and how these factors influence the students’ attitudes towards publishing. Students were given the choice of several different publishing methods and were surveyed (pre and post) concerning their writing attitudes and their interest in writing.

Implementing Podcast Technology as a Method for Sparking Student Motivation to Learn and Write.

Todd Roth (Intern, Panorama Village Elementary School)

All teachers face the inevitable dip in student motivation at certain points throughout the school year. Podcasting is a part of a growing wave in educational technology that enables creative approaches to teaching and learning through new student experiences and engagements. This inquiry examines the value, effects, and outcomes of incorporating this technology into a science unit as a means of enhancing motivation to learn about science and the desire to express understanding through effective and successful writing.

Breaking Boundaries into the Classroom Frontier: A Returning Adult Student’s Journey Back Into the Classroom. 

David Rutter (Intern, Park Forest Middle School)

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.

Applying Alternative Methods of Assessment to a Traditional Classroom.

Meghann Ryan (Intern, SCASD South Building)

High school students often have 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.

Hands to the Skies and Eyes off the Prize: Intrinsically Motivating Students to Participate.

Christopher Salerno (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School)

What are the factors that lead students to not participate in class?  Many students fail to participate simply because they do not know the answer to a given question.  This inquiry examines how we, as teachers, can make students feel comfortable and confident enough in the classroom to take risks and share their thoughts rather than their answers.

Struggling Interns.
Lynne Sanders (PDA Corl Street and Easterly Parkway), Bernard Badiali (PDA Penn State University)
This inquiry began with a simple question: Why do some interns struggle for success in the PDS? By interviewing mentors, interns, and PDAs over the last two years, we came up with seven claims based on patterns of responses from all three groups. Interestingly, perceptions on struggles differ substantially among the three groups.

It’s Your Choice!  Motivating a Challenging Student Through the Use of Clearly Defined Choice.

Megan Schmidt (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

My inquiry focuses on a challenging student who often refuses to do work or participate in our classroom activities.   I will be sharing strategies that I have implemented that have been positive motivators (and in some situations have worked to self-motivate) for this student.

Beyond the Bubble:  An Exploration of Alternative Assessment in the English Classroom.
Jennifer Schroeder (Intern, SCASD North Building)
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?

The Benefits of Effective Transitions.

Jacquelyn Scott (Intern, Boalsburg Elementary School)

This inquiry presentation is based on the following question: “Which transition techniques are most effective, and how can these positively benefit student learning?”  I have attempted a number of transition techniques in my classroom.  I have closely monitored the results of these techniques, and have attempted to identify the ones that have been found to be most effective.  I have also monitored the impact these transitions have had on student learning.
 

“I Can’t Think of Anything to Write!” Two Interns Explore Ways to Affect Students’ Attitudes and Motivation Towards Writing During Language Arts.

Chelsee Shirk (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)
Jackie Watson (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)
“I can’t think of anything to write!”  The frustration of students with the writing aspect of language arts led us to explore different ways we could increase students’ motivation to write and affect their attitudes toward writing.  Come join us to discover how student choice, making writing relevant to students, and connecting writing to other aspects of the curriculum changed the writing during language arts and how we plan to continue our inquiry for the rest of the school year.

Exploring Teacher Language and the Implications for Student Responsibility.
Katie Sior (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)

This study analyzes a student teacher’s language choices when speaking directly to students.  Is the teacher using direct requests or language that requires students to problem solve and think critically?  How does a new teacher learn to use a less directive approach which will then transfer the responsibility for thinking and acting to the students?

“Can I Focus on my Work When I'm Sitting Next to you?”: An Analysis of Seating Arrangements in a Third Grade Classroom.
Braden Smith (Intern, Radio Park Elementary School)
School is a very social place, especially with the many group activities and collaboration between students.  However, there has to be a balance between socializing and work in school.  This inquiry analyzes the effects three different seating arrangements had on friendships and on/off task behavior of students to try and discover the characteristics of each arrangement.

Success in the Making: An Intern and Her Students Journey Together Through an Inquiry-Based Science Unit on Magnets.

Megan Stevens (Intern, Corl Street Elementary School)

Teaching science through hands-on experiences is exciting. What happens, however, when you turn the control of the unit over to the students?  This inquiry delves into what a teacher experiences as she leads and facilitates a unit on magnets that is built around student wonderings, yet must ensure that the district’s outcomes are met.

Clap Your Hands… Sing Along… It’s Time to Learn your Favorite Song! Two Interns Explore how to Teach Facts through Songs.
Jamie Stewart (Intern, Houserville Elementary School), Steffani Bryan (Intern, Houserville Elementary School)
Can learning facts efficiently be made easier and more interesting for students? Will adding a musical component do the trick? This inquiry explores children’s ability to learn facts through music. Come join us to learn more about how music affects student learning.

New School!...Let’s Go Outside!

Donnan Stoicovy (Principal, Park Forest Elementary School)

Our PFE Schoolyard Project is a means for our students to meet multiple state standards while providing hands-on inquiry based-learning experiences. For the past seven months, all students at Park Forest Elementary School have been observing, collecting data, journaling and sharing information about four schoolyard sites.

Kid Writing: How Does Peer Teaching Affect a Kindergarteners’ Writing Skills and Motivation to Write?

Jennifer Tomashunis (Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary)

Does social interaction between kindergarten students hinder or enhance their writing interest, motivation, and skill level. This inquiry explores what effect peer teaching occurring in groups may have on a student's motivation to write. Learning to write in kindergarten is a very complex process. This inquiry may give teachers some insight into how to approach grouping students to encourage peer teaching.

Places Everyone: Using Reader’s Theater to Enhance Student Fluency and Confidence While Reading Aloud.
Molly Van Balen (Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School)

Have you ever wondered how to make reading more fun for students who despise the concept of even picking up a book; ever tried to think of a way to integrate a 
child’s creativity into every lesson; ever pondered why you can not reach a particular child? Each student is a unique individual with interesting strengths, interests and weaknesses.  Creating reading lessons that fit each student’s individual style can be both challenging and frustrating as a teacher.  This inquiry focuses on how reader’s theater and improvisational instruction can make an impact across three different reading levels and how it affects a student’s fluency and confidence when reading aloud.  Different strategies, such as concentrating on a student’s creative/dramatic side, will also be presented.

A Visit from Flap Jack: Advantages of Puppets in the Classroom.

Mavis Yap (Intern, Park Forest Elementary School)
Teaching in the State College Area School District has gotten me used to having other adults in the room to assist me with classroom management and keeping students on task.  I felt overwhelmed at the possibility of teaching by myself once I stepped out into the "real world."  So I started introducing two puppets to the class to have another voice to support me.  The inquiry project had helped me discover the advantages of using a puppet in managing behavior, motivation, and even discussing difficult topics.

Technology Belongs in the English Classroom

Nicole Yeastadt (Intern, SCASD High School North Building)

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.

It’s a test!  What Happens when Students are Presented with Alternative Assessments?

Christy Yurko (Intern, Boalsburg Elementary School)

Is the same old stuff still working? Is it possible to assess student knowledge without the stress and drudgery of paper and pencil examinations? This inquiry focuses on student reactions to alternative assessments, such as creative writing assignments, research projects, and group presentations.