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2001-2002 SCASD-PSU Teacher Inquiry Conference
 Abstracts and Papers

April 2002

Coaches classroom: The gameplan for student involvement.
Aurant II, W.
Modern public education is stuck with the incredible task of not only ducating, but guiding the youth of America. Teachers in modern classroom are competing with MTV for the attention of their students, and the students within the classroom are competing with each other for the best grades and are seldom concerned about their own comprehension. This inquiry focuses on the essential questions, “How important is it for the teacher to be able to individually reach every student in their classroom, and how does the student/teacher relationship affect student achievement?” Techniques for establishing classroom community and teacher student relationships were explored to try and find exactly what the role of the teacher can be in developing today’s children.

Jumping boy: A study of impulsivity and its impact on the climate of our classroom. Azar, L.
Intense observation, data collection and research provide insight into one unique student’s learning and the ways in which his impulsivity affects the climate of the classroom. What causes these impulsivity problems? How do they affect the other students in the classroom? How does the structure of our school support impulsivity problems?

Developing differentiated instruction strategies and motivational strategies to meet the individual needs of a math learner.
Banko, S.
A professional development school intern looks are her own teaching styles to see where new strategies can be implemented as well as encouraged. Her project focuses on how an individual learner who was “slipping between the crack” before she understood the different teaching strategies that could be used to help him become a successful, motivated learner.

“Are Joey and Gabby visiting us today?”: Using puppety as a behavior management tool within the kindergarten classroom.
Borneman, K.
Puppets aren’t just for fun and games anymore! Discover a new method of behavior management that will foster growth, discussion, and reflection among your students.

Brady, C.
Explore the challenge of being a constructivist teacher, or, committing to a constructivist’s style of teaching and being aware of it everyday.

Four librarians ask, “What do they want to read?”
Bruce, A., Caldwell, B., Verity, L. and Welsh, C.
fter surveying students from five different elementary schools, we found out what 4th and 5th grade boys and girls really enjoy reading. Discover what our interesting survey conclusions showed about the favorite books, authors, series, periodicals, and subjects of fourth and fifth graders and about their reading habits.

Effective parent communication: What 
does it look like?
Bryan, C. and Reilley-Kaminiski, K.
Two elementary school teachers research effective parent communication tools that reflect the current needs within each classroom. Based on parent feedback, they implemented changes to their practices and compared the needs of the parents between first and third year students.

Reading workshop: An exploration with struggling readers.
Burgun, J.
An intern from a professional development school explores different methods, tactics, and ideas with her students in order to find what strategies work best for intermediate struggling readers in a Reading Workshop.

Let’s talk: Cooperative learning in the classroom.
Chianese, L.
This researcher’s students are so talkative! What can she do? How can she use their social skills to enhance their learning and her instruction at the same time? This presentation explores how the researcher implemented cooperative learning groups in her fourth grade classroom.

Encouraging lifelong learners: Intrinsic motivation in the classroom.
Cinquini, M.
How can we encourage students to become lifelong learners: This inquiry 
began with an assessment of students’ current motivational responses to completing school work. The researcher then used these responses to explore how an activity rooted in guiding and supporting intrinsic motivation affected the learners in this classroom.

Interaction Reaction.
Cirrinicione, A.
As an intern in an academically and socially diverse fourth grade classroom, I looked at how my interaction with an emotionally unstable student, outside of the classroom, in a casual setting, would influence his attitude towards school and his status through the eyes of the peers. By encouraging him to engage in various activities with me, and to demonstrate respect towards his peers, he soon gained the confidence to “go it alone” and involve himself. This, in turn, gained him the respect of his peers and allowed him to make his own friends, with no help from me, the teacher. Along with the progress made in the social setting, higher achievement has also been evident in a variety of academic areas as well.

Examining different types of assessment and evaluating which assessment students value the most.
Clouse, J.
There are numerous approaches to assessment, but it is crucial to choose the best type of assessment based on the assignment. Too often students believe that the only real way to measure their success is with a letter grade. In this study, the researcher explores various types of assessment to get a firmer grasp on which types of assessment are most supportive of a learning environment.

Student inquiry in the classroom.
Colwell, A.
This presentation will examine the different components of inquiry and focus on examples that have been done in the classroom. Also, it will explore the different ways to approach inquiry in a high school English class while trying to examine its flexibility and role in student learning.

Between a rock and a hard place: The search to find a meaningful and practical way to assess student writing.
Ehmke, S.
This inquiry involves the struggle a professional development school intern faced as a teacher when it came to evaluating student writing. The experience of writing, which seemed an inherently subjective one, is more often than not assigned a point or grade value as an indicator of achievement. In the process of regulating writing to a quantitative variable, the researcher wondered whether such a forced attempt at objectivity does in fact not only hinder students as writers, but also devalue what we as teachers hope to promote in terms of the act of writing itself.

Taking a look at inquiry through inquiry.
Elliot, L., and Roberts, R.
Sometimes teaching science through inquiry is a lot easier said than done. 
Unfortunately, every unit that we teach doesn’t always conveniently lend itself to inquiry. By studying our questioning techniques and the effects that they had on the children, however, we came to the realization that inquiry can be found at some degree within any unit. The secret to our success was figuring out which kinds of questions to use in order to actively engage our students’ inquiring minds.

Incorporating art prints into social studies.
Fink, M., and Shirk, J.
Art is an exciting subject for children to study and experience in school. This inquiry project explores and examines some famous artists who lived during various time periods in American history and incorporates information about their lives and work in an exciting study of geography and the arts.

Phonemic awareness: A key to kindergarten.
Hampton, D. and Schickel, B.
A veteran teacher and intern look at the learning and teaching of phonemic awareness. As teachers in a kindergarten classroom we noticed that students’ sense of phonemic awareness varied a great deal. As a result of this, we wanted to see the effects of supplemental phonemic awareness activities with students who are struggling.

And what do we do with that? Integrating technology into a busy classroom.
Hartman, B., and Peters, B.
Two intermediate teachers share ways to integrate computers/technology usage into an already busy schedule.

Getting smart with the smart board: A team project.
Heitzmann, M., Kur, J., Robert, M., and Rotz, L.
Using new technologies in the classroom can be intimidating and frustrating. We were excited to try our new “smart board,” but were hesitant to take the risk. With support from our colleagues we worked through problems and encouraged each other to develop skills and lessons using the “smart board.” Our project focuses on how we collaborated to overcome the hurdles of using this new technology.

Primary children learning about air and weather.
Hendrickson, L.
The Air and Weather unit is part of the primary curriculum in State College. I wanted to find ways that the children could be more involved in their exploration of air and weather. I also wanted to find a variety of ways to assess their learning.

Reluctant readers and their journey toward student-centered literature discussion groups.
Hillard, S.
This researcher explores how she can enhance the confidence of her reluctant readers and encourage them to participate in guided literature discussion, while maintaining high expectations for students of all ability levels within the group? After exploring a variety of instructional techniques, she inadvertently encountered a strategy, which helped to align her teaching goals with her beliefs about successful, confident readers. Growth was observed in the group dynamic and individual participation, and thoughtful student-directed discussions became the norm.

The puzzle of two children: How to motivate two new and challenging students in my classroom.
Hollanda, K.
In an attempt to discover how to best serve the students in my second rade class, this researcher looked for ways to help motivate two boys who were experience difficulties as learners in her classroom.

Making sense of math: Organization, preparation, and compilation.
Humphrey, C. , and Patrick, D.
Over the years, we have been introduced to many, many resources to compliment our existing math program, as outlined in the EMAT. Learn about the ways we utilized examples from a math class we took last summer and organized our concepts, lessons, and resources into a manageable system.

Mathematical rubrics-Meeting the standards.
Khayat, B.
The researcher’s goal was to improve the written side of problem solving for fifth graders. The belief is that students can problem solve, but the challenge is for them to show it in their written explanations.

“Guided Reading: Addressing the different needs of stuggling readers.”
Kilker, M.
In a closer look at the guided reading strategies used with five struggling second grade readers, this researcher contemplated the importance of homogenous grouping. As she reflected on her interactions with these students and the structure of guided reading, she discovered and defined new philosophies in her teaching.

How can I successfully implement choice reading into an already established reading program?
Klingelhoefer, L.
Student choice is a crucial aspect to curriculum. A method of introducing choice reading while maintaining accountability was explored and tested. Find out what worked and what needed to be changed.

Responding to conflict in a first grade classroom.
Marshall, M.
An intern explores the conflicts in her first grade classroom. What is causing her classroom, especially one group of girls, to have so much conflict? How can this researcher better respond to these conflicts to encourage students to be independent problem solvers?

How do I teach reading?
McCarthy, E.
In this inquiry, the researcher looked into ways to make herself a better teacher, especially with the guided reading groups in her second grade classroom.

Peer coaching in an elementary classroom.
McCarty, C., and Poehner, P.
A team of teachers use expert and collegial coaching to discuss new strategies to enhance literature discussion groups and large group math instruction.

Creative student projects as positive assessment instruments for measuring deep thought – Why they work compared to the alternative.
Miller, G.

Earlier this year this researcher had his classes illustrate their understanding of symbolism in the ‘Lord of the Flies’ with creative, contextualized representations of symbols, along with paragraphs explaining those representations. This researcher will show some examples of these, and discuss why such projects are successful assessment instruments.

Building confidence in reading.
Mintmier, J.
Through research and exploring two students’ beliefs and thinking about reading, this researcher tried to find ways that would help to increase the students’ confidence and help them develop a positive self-image of themselves as readers.

The balance of structure in the creative classroom.
Morris, A.
This inquiry explores the effects of structured requirements project-based literacy. This researcher is exploring how she may provide the students with a balance between requirements and creativity within project-based literacy.

Beyond facts and flashcards.
Moyer, A.
How can parents’ beliefs about how their primary level children should be taught mathematics be altered in a positive way? Through the use of surveys and weekly informational newsletters, my focus was to help parents see that there is much more to learning mathematics than simply memorizing facts and performing computations.

Spurring success: Improving elementary student motivation.
Osele, J.
This inquiry project focused on two questions: (1) Why are some elementary students more motivated to perform well in school than other students?, and (2) How can classroom teachers increase motivation in their students?

Inequality, or different perceptions?
Rito, S.
This researcher discusses the differences between teacher’s and student’s perceptions and the problems that can arise out of those differences, focusing mostly on assessment and evaluating quality in writing and discussion skills. The researcher will present her observations based on interactions with her own students.

Once upon a writer’s workshop: Using children’s literature to inspire dazzling, complete stories.
Russell, J.
This researcher wanted to examine the impact of isolating the elements of a story and studying theme once at a time. She focused on the connection between reading and responding to quality literature and the students’ growth as writers. During these writer’s workshops, the researcher and her students also explored setting and meeting appropriate expectations, ownership, and collaboration.

Beyond the blank piece of paper: Helping students to write, complete, and create a story.
Schermerhorn, B.
This researcher embarked on a journey to learn more about young children’s writing and ways to facilitate creative embellished stories. Utilizing researcher on the teaching of writing, she experimented with various components in her work at the writing station and whole group instruction including children illustrations prior to writing, “chunking,” and modeling.

Enhancing the educational experience of children by using technology.
Steele, N.
This inquiry project evolved through the researcher’s apprehensions of using technology in the classroom. Through this inquiry project, the researcher explored ways in which technology can enhance the educational experiences of all children. By conducting technology enhance lessons the researcher looked at three factors: (1) Are students more motivated to learn when using technology?; (2) Are the students more engaged when using technology?; and (3) Do students enjoy learning more when using technology?

Effective use of opening routine.
Tilles, S.E.
A professional development school intern examines the use of various strategies during opening activities. How can all subject areas be integrated and reinforced during this time? How can students be motivated to participate?

Experience language experience.
Warner, K.
This researcher investigated how she could help a student with severe learning needs advance his reading skills. His particular needs led her to use a language experience approach. This project centered around this approach and helped the researcher see the results she made in his reading.

How to activate your students with active reading.
Wegman, K.
Do our students need to be activated? Utilizing an “Active Reading” strategy in the classroom, teachers will improve the engagement of students in participation with text. This innovation strategy approaches reading through a three-step process that guides students in their appreciation, comprehension, and interest of reading.