2008-2009 SCASD-PSU Teacher Inquiry Conference Abstracts and Papers

April 2009

“Will you be my partner?” Helping Students Be Good Friends and Members of the Classroom Community
Nicole Albanese, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary, 3rd Grade
Throughout my year in third grade, I noticed many of my students were not interacting with each other in a positive way. There was an increase in the negative attitudes and interactions between many of my students. I wanted to find a way for them to think about their feelings, how their actions affect others and how they can be a better friend to each other. In order to help my students interact in a more positive way and improve their peer relationships, I implemented opportunities for them to share their experiences, to talk about their feelings and provide positive experiences for them as members of the classroom community

Technology: Gaining 21st Century Skills, or Just a Distraction?
Jordan Alderson, Intern, High School North, 12th Grade, English
Throughout the year, I have been structuring and implementing project-based instruction in my classroom. Through this instruction, I have used multiple forms of technology in order for students to become 21st century thinkers. Through this experience, I have encountered my biggest foe: video games, Youtube, Facebook, texting, and other “non-academic” sources. I will explore the students’ fascination with these items, and how using these items may actually help our students gain 21st century skills.

Meandering Through the Day – How to Put Some Pep Into Kindergarten Step: Making Transition Efficient
Lacy Ramiz, Intern, Gray’s Wood Elementary, Kindergarten
Ashley Allison, Intern, Gray’s Wood Elementary, Kindergarten

Kindergarten students participate in many beneficial activities each and everyday, but what about the time between those activities. The smoothness of transitions keeps Kindergarteners stepping throughout the day and determines the tone and organization of entire classroom environment. Join us in retracing our steps through our kindergarten transitions in order to find what transitioning strategies worked and didn’t work between two classroom-learning environments.

Kindergarten – Can Students Get Smart Through Art?
Megan Appleby, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, Kindergarten
D’Anne Garban. Intern, Radio Park Elementary, Kindergarten

Students begin their school experience at different developmental stages and academic readiness. Many of our students seem engaged when playing and creating but seem to struggle and lose focus when working on more academic activities. Our inquiry explores student engagement and productivity when combining creative and rhyming activities with word study.

Defusing the drama - Encouraging kindness and respect among students in our classrooms
Andrea Balarezo, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1st& 2nd Grade Multi-age
Megan Denlinger, Intern, Lemont Elementary, 2nd Grade

Upon entering our classrooms, we began observing something we didn’t expect to see in primary grades: DRAMA. Our classroom drama became a distraction to the girls creating it, the students around them, and the teachers. We decided to take action and incorporate more community building, community service, and various other strategies to encourage kindness and respect among our students.

Building a Classroom Community Through Student-Led Class Meetings
Alyson Bankos. Intern, Katelyn Kiss, Intern, Boalsburg Elementary, 5th Grade
Fifth grade is a time when social aspects and relationships in the classroom begin to change. Throughout the year, we noticed students in both of our classroom environments struggling with peer relationships. Through our inquiry, we wanted to see if having weekly meetings would affect our classroom community. We are both fifth grade teachers in classrooms who do not conduct classroom meetings. We decided to allow our students to work together to plan and execute the meetings each week. We wanted to find out if collaboration would allow students to create more positive relationships among each other and increase both social and communication skills.

Where did the R-E-S-P-E-C-T of my second graders go?

Jessica Barnett, Intern, Easterly Parkway, 2nd Grade
Throughout the first six weeks of school the students are learning about each other, the classroom, the school, the expectations, and how we can come together and learn how to build our classroom into a community. But after the first six weeks of school what happens? Do we stop this initial community building or do we need to continue it throughout the year? I am interested in how students act in the classroom and how their behaviors affect the classroom community after the first six weeks of school. Through literature, response journals, and discussions led by a classroom puppet; I believe that students can learn to work together to be more respectful in forming a classroom community long after the first six weeks of school.

Setting the Stage for Improved Student Behavior
Kristi Boehm, Intern, Radio Park Elementary School, 5th Grade
The students in our classroom behaved very differently in the different settings at the school. This inquiry focuses on the reasons behind the differences in student behavior, focusing on the students as individuals.

Can We Nip Blurting in the Bud? The effects of clear questioning

Monica Bojan, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades
Casey Cowher, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades

The students in our primary classrooms were not answering questions the way we expected. They were calling out answers when we were looking for hands and remaining silent when we wanted a group response. By using specific verbal phrases and non-verbal cues, we hoped to refine our questions and improve our classroom management. Our focus was to make our expectations clear to the students, anticipating that this would enable them to participate in a way that is comfortable and conducive to engaging communication.

“I don’t know what to write”: A journey to spark the writing interests of developing first grade writers
Amy Braksator, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary, 1st Grade
Since the beginning of the 2008- 2009 school year, I have been instructing first grade students at a writing station. Day after day I found that a number of students were unhappy with the writing activities. The “developing” writers in our class particularly struggled each day. I had to do something to find a way to make writing fun and to motivate my students, especially the developing writers. In my inquiry, I used a wide array of tools and strategies to allow students to find the joy and inspiration in writing.

Truth, Troth, and Authentic Learning
Amanda Bricker, Intern, High School South, 9th Grade, English
Learning is more than a search for truth; it is a passionate commitment to knowing, a betrothal to knowledge. We all have students that seem somewhat less than passionate in the classroom. How can we spark their passions to create real, relevant, and authentic learning?

Read Aloud at it’s Best How to increase participation & motivation
Kimberly Burns, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to engage every student during read aloud? Have you ever picked at your brain while thinking, “Why does this student not participate in read aloud discussions?” This inquiry focused on how you can make read aloud beneficial for every student, so that participation is measurable for the teacher. It also looks at the “why” when students do not participate. For this inquiry, students were grouped into two categories of participation: consistent and resistant. With each intervention, data were collected and analyzed to support my claims that read aloud can include every student.

Turning Learning Inside Outside: Professional Development in our PDS
Rebecca Burns, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Elementary School, K-5th Grades
Donnan Stoicovy, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Elementary School, K-5th Grades

In a survey of teachers, it was discovered that teachers believe that the outdoor environment is an important setting for learning; however few teachers actually use it. A school’s professional development plan was written to support the teachers using the environment as an integrating context for learning. Our goal was to take the current curriculum and integrate it with the school’s schoolyard to extend learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom to another alternative, inviting, and engaging environment. Come join us as we share some of our wonderings as we explore the benefits of individualized, self-directed professional development and how it has impacted teacher attitudes, student learning and our school’s culture.

How can we use video analysis to better serve our interns?
Rebecca Burns, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Middle School
Deana Washell, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Middle School

We wondered how utilizing an innovative video-analysis technology (Studiocode ™) would allow us to have more meaningful discussions regarding the problems of the practice. We videotaped classroom exchanges and then using this technology isolated particular examples of target behaviors to analyze in order to better understand and improve instruction. This session will demonstrate the technology and show examples of its actual use.

The Transitioning Dilemmas: Implementing Strategies for a Smoother Route of Classroom Transitions

Christina Caldwell, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3rd Grade
In order to improve transition times in my classroom, I wanted to encourage and motivate the students to shift from one activity to another quicker and more effectively. After researching and surveying other teachers, I implemented a variety of transitioning strategies to make transition time smoother and to facilitate more effective instructional learning time. Within this inquiry, I have gained a better understanding of my own classroom management style.

The Efficacy of Read Aloud in the Upper Elementary Classroom
Sarah Carnicella, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Read aloud can be a fun and mentally stimulating part of the day. Teachers across all grade levels can use read aloud as a vehicle to discuss or introduce topics for any subject in the curriculum. Because I have a passion for reading, I have been interested in finding out how I can foster such enthusiasm in my students, in part by encouraging them to use reading strategies and to make their thinking visible in read aloud notebooks.

Mingling The Arts and Young Minds; finding the benefits of implementing the arts in a kindergarten classroom
Christina Carr, Intern, Panorama Village, Kindergarten
This inquiry presents the journey that I, as a kindergarten intern, took towards finding the benefits of implementing the arts in a kindergarten classroom. Throughout the school year the children were continuously working on morning work during free time in the afternoon. I wondered if having classical music playing during seatwork would help the children stay on task and focus on their tasks. I implemented yoga and a quiet art table too, which I hoped would set the stage for the children to stay focused on their work. My hopes were to see if these implementations would help the children use good practices to finish their work so that free time was available for play and socializing.

Don’t just talk to me! Exploring the impact of higher-level teacher questioning on student interaction in reading discussions
Allison Carrier, Ferguson Township Elementary School, 3rd Grade
Why won’t my students discuss the book with each other? In the beginning of January when I started to teach more reading, I found my students’ responses to my questions were very short and concise. The conversation followed the pattern of teacher asks a question, 1 or 2 students respond to teacher, teacher moves on to another question. There was rarely any student interaction. I could not figure out why they were not participating until I looked closer at my lesson plans. I realized that I was not preparing questions and activities that encouraged discussion. As a result, this inquiry focused on how asking more higher-level questions and planning discussion activities helps to promote more student interaction.

“Stop Biting Your Zipper.” Investigating Sensory Processing in a Primary Classroom
Lindsi Ciuffetelli, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades Multi-age
An obstacle to being an elementary teacher is keeping students focused as they work. They can be sitting at a desk, appearing to be on task, but really accomplishing no work at all. The smallest things can distract them, even a speck of paper on the ground. Often times, they do not realize when they have drifted off task. Many develop a need for constant sensory stimulation. This inquiry addresses the sensory needs of primary aged students and how they are affected by stimulations.


Can We Nip Blurting in the Bud? The effects of clear questioning

Monica Bojan, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades
Casey Cowher, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades

The students in our primary classrooms were not answering questions the way we expected. They were calling out answers when we were looking for hands and remaining silent when we wanted a group response. By using specific verbal phrases and non-verbal cues, we hoped to refine our questions and improve our classroom management. Our focus was to make our expectations clear to the students, anticipating that this would enable them to participate in a way that is comfortable and conducive to engaging communication.


Defusing the drama - Encouraging kindness and respect among students in our classrooms
Andrea Balarezo, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1st& 2nd Grade Multi-age
Megan Denlinger, Intern, Lemont Elementary, 2nd Grade

Upon entering our classrooms, we began observing something we didn’t expect to see in primary grades: DRAMA. Our classroom drama became a distraction to the girls creating it, the students around them, and the teachers. We decided to take action and incorporate more community building, community service, and various other strategies to encourage kindness and respect among our students.

The many wonders of community-building: How having morning meetings and giving compliments can affect a struggling classroom environment, while simultaneously welcoming new students to the classroom community
Jessica Devoti, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
After noticing that a new student was having a difficult time adjusting to the classroom community, I took a step back and realized that our classroom community was not exactly the most welcoming or positive environment. This inquiry explores my journey of using community-building strategies to create a more trusting dynamic in the classroom, while at the same time finding ways to use those strategies to familiarize and welcome new students to our classroom.

“Simon Says…?” A Closer Look at How a Sixth Grade Class Follows Directions
Sara Dubnoff, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
As this school year progressed, I noticed that my students spent a lot of time asking me to repeat the directions to a specific task, asking me questions about the directions, and simply not following these directions. After careful reflection, I noticed that this was taking a lot of time away from instruction in the classroom. This led me to wonder what was prohibiting my students from following directions. I then explored my own clarity as a teacher and my students’ perception of what following directions actually meant. Join me as I share with you the different ways I have tried to help my students follow directions and maximize their success in the classroom.

Going beyond the Words: A look at teaching strategies and their role in Reading Comprehension
Meagan Esh, Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary, 3rd Grade
Are there specific strategies that teachers can use to help improve the reading comprehension of those students who are struggling within their classroom? Throughout the past several months, I have implemented a focus of visualization techniques and making connections between the stories children read and their own lives into a reading group consisting of seven students within our third grade classroom. This study takes a deeper look into two of the many reading strategies tried by teachers across countless districts, and their potential effects on children’s comprehension.

Exploring Technology: Inside and Outside the Classroom

Kristen Evans. Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades
Christina Reifsnyder, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades

In an age of technology growth, we were interested in exploring how we could use technology effectively both inside and outside the classroom with our first and second grade students. This inquiry project examines the variety of ways to incorporate technology into the daily lives of students in order to supplement the curriculum and engage students in the learning process. Through the use of the classroom website, the students were able to visit unit-related games and activities in an effort to extend their learning beyond the classroom environment. By reflecting on the data collected during our project, we came to additional conclusions related to the effectiveness of technology use.

Making Read Alouds Meaningful
Ashley Franceschelli, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, Kindergarten
My passion for children’s literature was a driving force behind my inquiry. Through my inquiry, I explored ways to enhance our daily read alouds for my Kindergarten class. I looked at what books make a lasting impression on my students and at different ways to present a read aloud. I hope that by providing my students with a meaningful read aloud experience, I can cultivate a passion for books in my students.

Kindergarten – Can Students Get Smart Through Art?
Megan Appleby, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, Kindergarten
D’Anne Garban. Intern, Radio Park Elementary, Kindergarten

Students begin their school experience at different developmental stages and academic readiness. Many of our students seem engaged when playing and creating but seem to struggle and lose focus when working on more academic activities. Our inquiry explores student engagement and productivity when combining creative and rhyming activities with word study.

SMARTboard: The Smart Way To Engage Students
Emily Goettler, Intern, Grays Woods Elementary, 2nd Grade
g students’ attention focused on the subject matter can sometimes become a struggle. Students’ time off task tends to increase as the year progresses. I began noticing that I had to make more of an effort than normal to keep students focused and engaged on the lesson being taught. I previously found that any time I used technology during a lesson, the students seemed to become more engaged. For my inquiry, I implemented the SMARTboard into different aspects of the curriculum in order to observe whether the SMARTboard enhanced my lessons and increased student engagement and involvement.

First Year in Muddle School: Increasing Sixth Graders' Organization Skills

Jaime Goldkrantz, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
Many sixth graders struggle while getting accustomed to a new environment as they enter middle school. New surroundings, lockers, different teachers, and a sixday cycle can be disorienting. I noticed organization was a major challenge for a large amount of my students, as they were forgetting their homework, losing pencils, coming to class unprepared, etc. In an attempt to help my students unclutter their minds, I implemented a variety of interventions to institute more structure. My inquiry explores the effectiveness of these strategies.

Reading Response Journals: Asking Better Questions and Getting Better Answers
Rosalyn Han. Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School, 2nd Grade
At the beginning of the second half of the school year, I began to share the responsibility of correcting the students’ completed work. I began to notice that many of the students’ written responses in their Reading Response Journals were of low quality. After making these observations, I examined the questions in the Reading Response Journals. I began to realize that the list of questions that the students had to choose from were of lower level cognitive demand and that the questions could be answered in a sentence or two. Through these observations, I began an investigation to see how these factors could determine the quality of the students’ written responses.

Power Teaching as Teacher Power! Using Classroom management strategies to engage students in a third and sixth grade classroom while maximizing learning time
Alexandra Klaus, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Erin Hanley. Intern eeh5017@psu.edu Grays Woods Elementary, 3rd Grade

Two enthusiastic interns fuel their curiosities about reformed classroom management strategies by integrating components of the Power Teaching movement. Power Teachers of America is a grass roots, education reform movement begun in 1999 by three Yucaipa, California teachers: Chris Biffle, Jay Vanderfin, and Chris Rekstad. In exploring their inquiry project, this pair of interns focused investigations on a main wondering: How can fun and enthusiasm influence student engagement in both a third and sixth grade classroom while maximizing learning time?

Not the Same Five Hands Again! Increasing Student Participation in Whole-group Discussions
Paige Harris, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 4th Grade
Participation is an essential part of the classroom. It allows the teacher to assess students’ understanding and reflects the engagement level of students during a given period of instruction. Student participation helps to build a community of active learners where everyone feels comfortable contributing thoughts, ideas, and questions. Unfortunately, the same few students in my fourth grade class continuously participate in large group settings while many others remain outwardly quiet. I became intrigued with this phenomenon, especially since my students are not hesitant to comment when they are in small group settings. In this inquiry, I explore ways to increase the overall participation rate during whole-group instructional time and activities so that a variety of students participate on a more regular basis.

"Power Teaching: How Powerful is it?"

Alexis Kelso. Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 5th Grade
This inquiry focuses on the strategies of Power Teaching to enhance student engagement and learning in a fifth grade classroom. As I began to take on more of a role in the classroom, I noticed that a great deal of instructional time was being used for transitions and repeating directions. I decided to introduce the classroom strategies of Power Teaching in order to analyze the effectiveness of these strategies during my lessons. In an effort to improve students' reading skills and develop a motivation for reading, The Crazy Professor Reading Game was implemented during my reading groups. This inquiry helped me explore different techniques to incorporate into my classroom.

“Are We Using Positive Work Habits?’” Students Developing Positive Work Habits and Gaining Confidence in their own Writing
Catherine Kennerknecht, Intern, Radio Park Elementary School, 2nd Grade
This inquiry project is primarily focused on increasing student confidence in writing in a second grade classroom. I have worked with students to give them the confidence to start writing and to keep writing to get their thoughts out. We started with the writing they enjoyed most and then began working on other types of writing. I have also worked with students to recognize and repeat positive work habits that increase their writing!

How effective is story writing using Kidwriting strategies?

Kristin Kirkpatrick, Intern, Fermanagh-Mifflintown, Kindergarten
What strategies can improve student motivation while increasing letter sound recognition and phonemic awareness in Kindergarten? I worked with a group of five Kindergarten students to see what effect writing a story together using Kidwriting strategies would have on student learning and writing.

Power Teaching as Teacher Power! Using Classroom management strategies to engage students in a third and sixth grade classroom while maximizing learning time

Alexandra Klaus, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Erin Hanley. Intern eeh5017@psu.edu Grays Woods Elementary, 3rd Grade

Two enthusiastic interns fuel their curiosities about reformed classroom management strategies by integrating components of the Power Teaching movement. Power Teachers of America is a grass roots, education reform movement begun in 1999 by three Yucaipa, California teachers: Chris Biffle, Jay Vanderfin, and Chris Rekstad. In exploring their inquiry project, this pair of interns focused investigations on a main wondering: How can fun and enthusiasm influence student engagement in both a third and sixth grade classroom while maximizing learning time?

“What do I do next?” Building Independence through Responsibility

Melissa Kroll, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 1st Grade
Throughout language arts centers, it is important for my students to work independently at times and to concentrate on their work. Assignments were listed on the board, but students did not understand which items they must complete themselves. How could I help my students take more responsibility for completing their work? My inquiry focused on promoting independence in first graders by increasing student responsibility in the classroom.

“I didn’t read, but I think…”

Danielle Kubrak, Intern, State College High South, 10th Grade, English
Although students do not complete reading assignments, they still enjoy expressing their opinions during discussion. How do the benefits from a discussion create value that is comparable to a close analysis of the text?

Breaking Out of the Basics: Using Multiple Intelligences to Make Learning Fun
Anthony Macario, Intern, State College Area High School South, 9th and 10th Grade, English
Facebook, Comic Life, Garageband, iMovie, and acting exercises are all Language Arts activities that draw upon multiple intelligences, thus making the English classroom an enjoyable experience for all students.

“I want them to WANT to do it”: How to foster intrinsic motivation for more responsible first graders
Alison Mannello, Intern, Lemont Elementary School, 1st Grade
I noticed many of the students in my classroom wanting to help the teacher in any way they could. I decided to try and turn this eager energy into productive working energy. My inquiry examined the process of motivating first grade students to be more responsible workers by providing tangible tools to help them such as post-it reminders, checklists, and job charts.

Book Clubs: Can Students in First Grade Talk About Books?

Colleen McCracken, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st Grade
At the beginning of the year, I was impressed with how well my first grade students could read. They exceeded my expectations. I started to wonder, if my students could read so well, could they talk about what they were reading in a manner similar to an adult book club? I created a book club with a small group of students to see what they could discuss together.

Attention Getting Strategies: If You Can Hear My Voice, Clap Once!

Ann McCormick, Intern, Boalsburg Elementary, 4th Grade
Getting students attention has been an issue in the classroom. I implemented a series of three different attention-getting strategies during group instruction and transitional times in a fourth grade classroom. Surveying students and holding group discussions about these strategies both before and after implementation helped to see how students felt about their effectiveness in our classroom. As a result, students were able to recognize what they could improve throughout our lessons and transitions.

Writing Stations: How Can Students Be Motivated To Write?

Jessica McGlinn, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary School. 1st Grade
In this inquiry, I worked with my first graders during a fifteen-minute station rotation of writing. The students engaged in activities with journals, creative pencils, and pen pals with magical characters. Students' motivation was measured using writing prompts and interviews.

Why Reflect? And Where the Heck is My Grade!
Kristina McKenna, Intern, State College High North, 11th Grade, English
“Prospective education implies that students should be capable of approaching problems that do not yet exist” (Kozulin 1998). In the realm of composition, there are three basic problems through which our writing progresses: Planning, Execution, and Evaluation. Using the Vygotskian construct of the Zone of Proximal Development as a framework, teachers can establish instructional and evaluative procedures that help students to internalize the evaluation of their compositions so that they can begin to self-regulate— to make full reflective use of the powerful psychological tool of language.

Involving students in their learning: A closer look at classroom participation
Caitlin Mease, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 6th Grade
Are the same few hands always waving in the air saying, “Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!” Have you every wondered why some students are so willing to participate, while others are very resistant? What types of things can a teacher do to get all the students involved? This inquiry explores multiple strategies that were implemented in the classroom to increase student participation.

Gaining Independence in the Classroom

Sarah Melzer, Intern, Boalsburg Elementary School, 5th Grade
Starting with the first day of school, students in my classroom have been made aware of our expectations and their responsibilities. One distinct change for students from previous years is the increased amount of student independence. This includes note taking, recording homework, organization, and pacing of longterm projects. Many students took hold of these new expectations of independence and excelled; however, some students struggled. My inquiry focused on those students.

“Why does this even matter anyway?”: Using literature to create a purposeful classroom
Rachel Miller, Intern, High School North, CP 11 English
The problem arose during my first unit on The Great Gatsby where I found myself teaching from the academically outdated New Critical approach in an effort to make sure my students understood the “right stuff”—the standard, agreed upon analyses of Fitzgerald’s classic. I was met with boredom, disengagement and an obsession with grades from my students. Through my reflections I imagined and began to build a new classroom where literature discussion and analysis have a meaningful and authentic purpose, and where students are able to participate in a community of knowledge construction.

One reason I might not participate is because… “I am ready for recess”: Increasing Motivation to Participate in the Classroom
Tiffany Mittereder, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 3rd Grade
Throughout the school year I have been observing participation occurring in my classroom. I was interested to discover why some students participate more than others and was intrigued by what engages and motivates students to participate. My inquiry explores certain aspects of participation mainly focusing on whole group instruction and the many variables that affect it.

How To Promote The Achievement Of The Disruptive Male Adolescent Student
Michelle Morganoff, Intern, Mt. Nittany Middle School, 7th Grade, English
During the adolescent period, individuals undergo several changes both physically and cognitively. Through anecdotes, personal classroom management approaches, and research, I have uncovered many questions about why male students interact in such ways when in the classroom environment.

“Do I Have To?”- Understanding the Motivation of Middle Level Learners
Stevie Jean Nast, Intern, Park Forest Middle School, 7th/8th grade, English
What is it about school that engages some learners, while completely disengaging others? Why do some students have a thirst for knowledge, while others drift apathetically through their days in school? Using examples from my own experience and students’ first hand accounts, we will look at effective ways to encourage all students to learn!

21st Century Literacy—“How should I respond to this text (message)?”
Meghan Noecker, Intern, High School South, 9th & 10th Grade, English
Have you heard of Twitter? How about Google Reader? Maybe not yet, but I am sure you will soon. That’s the thing with 21st century literacy; there are multiple platforms and applications that you may not know, but will eventually come across. As these technologies expand and evolve, so do the expectations for 21st century readers and writers. Join me as I give possible options for how teachers can utilize these changing technologies as more than a means of initial engagement but in ways that create higher-level thinking.

What’s cooking in the classroom? – A look at integrating culinary arts into classroom instruction
Gregg Pivec, Intern, Radio Park Elementary School, 3rd Grade
Does cooking in the classroom motivate students? Does it help build a classroom community? As I moved into the teaching career, I began wondering how I could incorporate my interest in culinary arts into the classroom. Working with my mentor, cooking has become an integral part of my third grade classroom this year. While all the dishes the students created were connected to lessons taught in class, I continued wondering about what effects these culinary activities were having on the students.

It’s hard because we were not drawing ourselves.

Brian Plumbo, Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School, 4th Grade
This inquiry project focuses on children’s personal identities within my fourth grade classroom. I have explored how our students feel about their differences, and whether they even grasp the idea of diversity outside of their own differences. In conjunction with these wonderings, I have explored my students’ perceptions of stereotypes, and how to approach the topic of stereotypes with them.

Meandering Through the Day – How to Put Some Pep Into Kindergarten Step: Making Transition Efficient

Lacy Ramiz, Intern, Gray’s Wood Elementary, Kindergarten
Ashley Allison, Intern, Gray’s Wood Elementary, Kindergarten

Kindergarten students participate in many beneficial activities each and everyday, but what about the time between those activities. The smoothness of transitions keeps Kindergarteners stepping throughout the day and determines the tone and organization of entire classroom environment. Join us in retracing our steps through our kindergarten transitions in order to find what transitioning strategies worked and didn’t work between two classroom-learning environments.

Exploring Technology: Inside and Outside the Classroom
Kristen Evans. Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades
Christina Reifsnyder, Intern, Easterly Parkway Elementary, 1st & 2nd Grades

In an age of technology growth, we were interested in exploring how we could use technology effectively both inside and outside the classroom with our first and second grade students. This inquiry project examines the variety of ways to incorporate technology into the daily lives of students in order to supplement the curriculum and engage students in the learning process. Through the use of the classroom website, the students were able to visit unit-related games and activities in an effort to extend their learning beyond the classroom environment. By reflecting on the data collected during our project, we came to additional conclusions related to the effectiveness of technology use.

Specific Feedback: How does it impact student writing in a 6th grade classroom?

Carly Roe, Intern, Mount Nittany Middle School, 6th Grade
This year, I was interested in how my 6th graders felt about themselves as writers and how the comments I had been noting on their papers were affecting these feelings. This inquiry explores how specific feedback on my students’ writing impacted their skill development, attitudes, and abilities throughout the course of the school year.

Teacher Talk: What You Say and What They Do
Katherine Rountree, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School 1st & 2nd Grades Multiage
Teacher-student communication is a key factor in helping students to reach their academic potential. This inquiry investigates how different forms of teacher language affect student behavior. It also seeks to explain whether individual students react differently to the same forms of teacher language.

"No, David!" Helping Kindergarteners Manage Their Behavior for Academic and Social Success
Kimberly Scully, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, Kindergarten
In Kindergarten, we say that "everyday is a new day," but is that always the case? In this inquiry I explore managing the behavior of a specific strong spirited student. What causes him to act out? What is it about him that other students in the class are drawn to? As educators, it is our responsibility to do all that is in our power to see that our students live up to their full potential. This becomes difficult when a student is over active and defiant. David is a kind and intelligent child. This inquiry was intended to help him control his own behavior and channel his energy.

Why cant we just do this on the laptops?” From podcasts to Power Point, How can a fifth grade intern integrate technology to enhance student engagement?
Douglas Sherman, Intern, Houserville Elementary, 5th Grade
For this inquiry I have been studying the effects of integrating technology into all aspects of the self-contained fifth grade classroom. Technology was used in all subject areas. Technology was not only used for classroom instruction, but also helped with classroom management and building a classroom community conducive to learning.

The Fear of Interpreting a Text From Outside Their Own Cultural Perspective

Casey Staib, Intern, State College High School North Building, AP 12th Grade, English
Can students get to a point where they are not afraid to interpret a different culture from outside of their own cultural perspective? Join me on an inquiry into the issues surrounding students’ ability to step outside of themselves and their own personal experiences in order to evaluate, analyze, and write about a text.

“How long does this have to be?”: Exploring Ways to Increase Student Motivation and Enthusiasm for Writing

Courtney Stayer, Intern, Lemont Elementary, 2nd Grade
How can a teacher increase student motivation and enthusiasm to write in a primary classroom? I set out to answer this question after regularly hearing from my students “how long does this have to be?” This inquiry focuses on implementations put into place in my classroom and how they affected student enthusiasm for writing.

Meeting Struggling First Grade Writers Needs

Emily Stephens, Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary, 1st Grade
First grade students’ writing skills vary and progress at different rates. Writer’s Workshop gave me a great opportunity to differentiate writing instruction to meet student’s needs. I chose a select group of students who could benefit from small group writing instruction and conferenced with them about their writing. Students created and worked towards meeting their own writing goals, which increased writing skill and motivation.

Turning Learning Inside Outside: Professional Development in our PDS

Rebecca Burns, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Elementary School, K-5th Grades
Donnan Stoicovy, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Elementary School, K-5th Grades

In a survey of teachers, it was discovered that teachers believe that the outdoor environment is an important setting for learning; however few teachers actually use it. A school’s professional development plan was written to support the teachers using the environment as an integrating context for learning. Our goal was to take the current curriculum and integrate it with the school’s schoolyard to extend learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom to another alternative, inviting, and engaging environment. Come join us as we share some of our wonderings as we explore the benefits of individualized, self-directed professional development and how it has impacted teacher attitudes, student learning and our school’s culture.

Student Agency: The power to Explore, Question, Create, and Declare, “NO!”
Rebecca Struble, Intern, High School North, 11th & 12th Grade, English
What does agency mean to my colleagues, my classes, my individual students, and me? How do these competing definitions play out in the classroom experience, and what might these tensions mean for teachers and students?

23 for Lunch and Reading… Please: How Book Clubs and Book Choice Affect a Student’s Reading.

Stephanie Stunz, Intern, Panorama Village Elementary, 2nd Grade
Did you ever stop and wonder, why is he spinning that eraser instead of reading? Or, did you ever think to yourself, why did she just sigh so loudly when I asked her to take out a book for a few moments? In this Inquiry, I explore these common wonderings and much more in hopes of sparking student interest in independent reading, book choice, and book clubs for all.

Giving Geography the Edge: Exploring the Effects of Dynamic Geography Lessons on Students’ Learning and Interest
Kevin Swartz, Intern, Park Forest Elementary School, 1st & 2nd Grade multiage
My inquiry is focused on increasing the students' interest and proficiency in geography through the use of dynamic geography lessons, which included hands on activities, technology based instruction, and the use of music. Through this inquiry, I sought to discover how to enhance the students' interest and understanding of geography through the implementation of dynamic lessons.

“I am NOT friends with him”: Helping students overcome antisocial behaviors and build friendships.”

Helene Tack, Intern, Radio Park Elementary, 3rd Grade
When a student who fidgets, makes noises and chews on things becomes the target of verbal and written teasing, I begin to wonder how his behavior affects his relationships with his peers. I implemented and studied self-monitoring strategies to help the student control his socially unacceptable behavior to see if it changes the student’s relationship with his peers and in turn improve our classroom dynamic.

Can You Teach Without Answers?
Michelle Thiry, Intern, High School North 11th Grade, English
“And don’t just tell me that you hate Tom and that Daisy is dumb.” Students are often positioned to seek and give the right answers. How can you use raw emotional reactions, open-ended questions, and personal experiences to teach students how to think rather than what to think thus cultivating an ownership of learning?

“Did you put your name on your paper?” Increasing Student Independence In Completing Routine Tasks

Vanessa Tomasko, Intern, Park Forest Elementary, 3/4 Grades Multi-age
As we entered the second half of the school year, I observed that many of my students continued to need reminders while completing routine tasks. Through my inquiry, I explored the effects of several interventions on increasing students’ independence during these everyday activities.

Resurrecting Curiosity: The Development of a Creativity-Based Pedagogy
Ali Veneziano, Intern, High School South, 10th Grade, English
How did we kill the curiosity to learn? A sea of jaded faces urged me to use experiential and theatrical pedagogy to develop my own creativity-based learning community by implementing three types of activities: communal/dramatic, relevant/interpersonal, and aesthetic/intrapersonal. Classroom phenomena and feedback demonstrate how “creation“ activities have high potential to revitalize student engagement, autonomy, and identity.

“But, I don’t know what to write!” How will the use of letters and writing prompts affect student motivation to write?
Amanda Walsh, Intern, Gray’s Woods Elementary School, 1st Grade
After observing the frustrations present during student writing time, I wondered if there were any techniques that I could implement to improve the negative attitudes towards the writing process. I inquired how the use of letters and writing prompts would affect my 1st grade students’ attitudes towards writing. Through the creative use of a mail carrying puppet and interest-related letter prompts, this inquiry explores many of the useful techniques used in the attempt to motivate the students’ writing experiences.

How can we use video analysis to better serve our interns?

Rebecca Burns, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Middle School
Deana Washell, Professional Development Associate, Park Forest Middle School

We wondered how utilizing an innovative video-analysis technology (Studiocode ™) would allow us to have more meaningful discussions regarding the problems of the practice. We videotaped classroom exchanges and then using this technology isolated particular examples of target behaviors to analyze in order to better understand and improve instruction. This session will demonstrate the technology and show examples of its actual use.

“Ugh, not another group project:” Exploring the effects of student groupings

Amanda Wieder, Intern, Ferguson Township Elementary, 4th Grade
Do you sometimes dread group activities because you have to assign groups? Have students ever expressed concern about grades because their group lacks teamwork? Through this inquiry, I developed different grouping practices to explore their effects on my students’ achievement, social skills and motivation.

c u l8er: Finding Value in Incorporating Text Speak in the Classroom
Jessica Wysocki, Intern, State College High South, 10th Grade, English
It is no secret that younger generations have found a new voice in today’s technologically driven society. Since this discourse has trickled down into their everyday speaking, should students be allowed to talk this way in the classroom, and can value be generated in using this discourse?