Setting the Foundation:
Based on a discussion with a panel of high school advanced placement (honors) students several years ago, during which one panel member expressed how important memorization of multiplication facts had been to her success in pre-advanced placement and advanced placement mathematics classes, I have wondered about the impact of that statement on math students in lower grades. With a decline in scores on the math TAKS test the last two years on my campus, my site-mentor and I agreed action research in the area of mathematics would be valuable. The combination of these two events has lead me to my action research inquiry (How can using online multiplication games help low-performing students improve knowledge of multiplication facts?).
I have already begun to look at information provided in the Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2008). I also plan to review fifth-grade math TAKS scores for our incoming 6th graders to determine which students are low-performing. At that point, levels of mastery in regard to multiplication facts will be determined by analyzing the results of a pre-test. Throughout the year regularly administered quizzes will be analyzed to establish whether the action research plan needs to be modified in any way.
Developing Deeper Understanding:
In addition to quantitative data, we plan to analyze the observations of the math teachers and math curriculum coach as they supervise the online multiplication game time. Along with these observations, we find it helpful to interview a sampling of students to gain a deeper understanding of their level of engagement both at school and possibly at home as these students realize these multiplication games are readily available to them on the Internet.
Engaging in Self-Reflection:
Until I begin collecting data after the school year begins, I don’t have much on which to reflect. However, I have begun to wonder where my research might take me if we don’t see any improvement in levels of mastery of multiplication facts by the end of the school year. This would bring about a whole new action research project that will require additional thought and literature research.
Exploring Programmatic Patterns:
An analysis of the data collected during this school year might be used to guide the administration on my campus in its decision-making about such things as the master schedule, use of the computer labs, possible grants to procure the technology necessary for widespread implementation of continued practice through online math games, and best use of personnel. If the data indicates this additional practice is not beneficial in increasing mastery levels of multiplication facts, more research will be needed.
I feel I have a very clear vision of how my action research plan will proceed once the school year begins. As a veteran math teacher, I feel confident the activities planned for measuring progress and the methods for collecting the data will be adequate for the purpose of my action research topic. Because my topic is based in mathematics, the quantitative data collected will be very helpful in determining whether student mastery levels improve. The observations of the math teachers will further assist us in evaluating the success (or lack of success) we experience. This evaluation will help us revise the plan as needed throughout the year.
Taking Action for School Improvement:
I have already created an action research plan in part 2 of this week’s assignment that I will modify and adjust as the year progresses based on data collected, input from the math teachers who will be assisting with the implementation of the project, and my site-mentor.
If the we determine the results of the action research are positive upon review of all the data collected throughout the school year, we will be sharing this information in a vertical alignment in order to help the elementary as well as grades seven and eight in our middle school. Typically we share effective practices with our sister schools in the district, so I anticipate this horizontal sharing of information as well.