This week has been super busy, but I was able to gather some good information for my research question. I have decided to use previous data on the students in the 4th through 6th grade, which in Chugach School District’s level system is at level 4 for the most part. For the sake of time I have decided to use their standing vocabulary level as a base. Since I already know that technology has not been used to instruct vocabulary in the past, introducing it for this research project will be a first for these students.
So far I have used Visual Thesaurus, Wordle, and VisuWord in the classroom during reading/word study. What I have done is ask the students while they are reading to circle words they come across that they don’t know or are curious about. At the end of reading time I had them write down their words and then circle the ones that were really hard for them. As a class we would compile the list of words in Wordle with the circled words being entered in multiple times. They would print this out and we have begun a really cool word wall with each day’s Wordle printout. To really make things interesting students worked in pairs with each group using a computer. Each group uses Visual Thesaurus, or VisuWord to enter in the words from the Wordle Wall anyway they like and see what comes up. So far we have had the best time and although I have not directly quantified their vocabulary learning to date, I have noticed an increased awareness and use of some of the words we have studied through this method.
Observation has been my main method thus far of collecting data. Searle (1993) points out “One way of conducting action research is to engage in participant observation.” I have directly observed an increased excitement with reading and writing. These students are having so much fun with the technology that they are motivated to read more! Not only that, but in free writing they delight in using words from previous days to impress each other. Also, they will skip breaks to plug words into VisuWord just to see what will come up. They are actively constructing their own vocabulary learning! Considering this is the first week of this experiment I am pleased that they latched on to the digital tools introduced to them and so far I have observed positive feedback. In three more weeks I will administer a survey utilizing a Likert-type scale questionnaire (Robertson, 2012) to solidly quantify reaction to the use of digital tools to teach vocabulary.
Robertson, J. (2012). Likert-type Scales, Statistical Methods, and Effect Sizes. Communications of the ACM, 55(5), 6-7. doi:10.1145/2160718.2160721
Searle, J. (1993). Participant Observation: A Way of Conducting Research. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED359259 on 30 September, 2013