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  1. 1. “ Allowing and promoting choice and independence in students’ learning is seen as having a motivating influence [in gifted students].” Niki Phillips & Lindsay Geoff, Motivation in Gifted Students
  2. 2. <ul><li>Independent Projects: A gifted Child’s Motivator? </li></ul><ul><li>Mabel Rodriguez </li></ul><ul><li>March 24 th 2008 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Case Study Description <ul><li>Jacob*, a10 year-old Asian male </li></ul><ul><li>AIG student </li></ul><ul><li>Gets along well with other students </li></ul><ul><li>Has no behavioral issues </li></ul><ul><li>Highly motivated </li></ul><ul><li>Often participates </li></ul><ul><li>Helps his classmates grasp concepts they may be having difficulties with </li></ul><ul><li>90 th percentile math and reading EOG scores </li></ul><ul><li>Highest level, level IV, writing score </li></ul>*Pseudonym
  4. 4. <ul><li>Jacob shows mature reasoning as well: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>During one morning meeting session, students were asked to choose between having an incredible experience or having a possession they’ve always wanted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>22 of 26 students said they would choose the possession </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jacob said he would “hang glide off the empire state building.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When asked why he would choose the experience, Jacob replied, “because I would rather cherish the memory of it forever.” </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Work Samples <ul><li>This sample shows Jacob’s extension of his multiplication menu in math </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>This sample shows Jacob’s high writing level and helpful attitude towards others </li></ul>
  7. 7. So the problem is… <ul><li>Students like Jacob often finish their work before others </li></ul><ul><li>They sometimes already know the material being taught so it is often boring and old </li></ul><ul><li>How can full-inclusion teachers prevent highly motivated, gifted students from becoming bored with an unchallenging curriculum? </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at previous research might help us find effective ways to keep gifted students like Jacob motivated in school. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Previous Research: Motivation <ul><li>Niki Phillips & Lindsay Geoff conducted a study with 15 gifted students from five different secondary schools </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with students, parents, and teachers were conducted </li></ul><ul><li>Found that gifted students often motivated by a challenging curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Also motivated by choice and independence in their learning </li></ul><ul><li>Family and teacher encouragement and support also helped guide these students to internalized success </li></ul>
  9. 9. Underachievement <ul><li>Sylvia Rimm discusses underachievement and the role it plays within gifted children </li></ul><ul><li>States that because gifted students are not often challenged in the course of their everyday experiences, they begin to believe that being “smart” translates into easy success. </li></ul><ul><li>They do not attempt anything beyond the minimum because if it requires effort, then it is difficult, and they are no longer “smart” in their own eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Students that are never exposed to failure cannot handle it, and therefore do not build up the confidence it takes to try challenging feats </li></ul><ul><li>This results in many gifted children in fact achieving well below their potential </li></ul>
  10. 10. Independence <ul><li>George Betts describes three levels of learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Level I is teacher-directed. This type of learning includes lecture-style learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Level II is teacher-guided. This would include whole class work where the teacher is helping students reach a consensus. </li></ul><ul><li>Level III is student-directed. This type of learning is best for gifted students. Students can choose assignments and how they will be presented and assessed. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers help students with the essential skills needed to carry on as independent learners. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers also help students plan their work, and come up with ideas and products. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Product-Focused Learning <ul><li>Carol Ann Tomlinson describes learning that is product -focused </li></ul><ul><li>Once students have conducted their research and gathered their data, they should apply what they have learned. </li></ul><ul><li>This application will provide authentic learning opportunities that should motivate and challenge gifted students </li></ul><ul><li>Rimm also notes that having students present their products to some sort of audience is often the key to motivating them to achieve beyond the minimum </li></ul>
  12. 12. What does this mean for my research? <ul><li>In the beginning, research was geared towards differentiation </li></ul><ul><li>Action plan was going to be developing challenge questions within science lessons that would foster independent work and thinking beyond standards </li></ul><ul><li>However, spending more time in the science classroom made me realize a few things: </li></ul>
  13. 13. Cooperative Work as a Challenge in Itself <ul><li>1. Science investigations are very cooperative. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This means that students are working with other group members, often of differing ability levels. During this time, students are learning collaborative group work, as well as thinking that extends beyond their own mind frames. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If there is an obstacle in the experiment, the entire group struggles as one. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenge questions were included at the very end of investigation discussion sheets, but students were challenged in different ways during this time. </li></ul><ul><li>So what is a good way to challenge gifted students within the pre-existing framework of the science classroom? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Key Factors Affecting Gifted Students’ Motivation <ul><li>Independence </li></ul><ul><li>Choice </li></ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Product </li></ul><ul><li>Combining these gives us an action plan that allows students to complete an independent project of their choice that is to be presented to the whole group. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Inspiration <ul><li>Before the independent projects idea came into a play, a student in the class decided- completely on his own- to create a volcano out of cookie dough, vinegar, and baking soda. </li></ul><ul><li>This project was presented during morning meeting, and many students thought it was really interesting and fun to watch and learn about. </li></ul><ul><li>This led me to believe that students would enjoy creating their own projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Two students wrote about their classmate’s presentation in the samples above </li></ul>
  16. 16. Research Method Introduction <ul><li>During morning meeting, students were introduced to the independent project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Told that they would be creating a product about any topic related to landforms [which was their current science unit] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This product would be presented to the class during morning meeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students would have to fill out an Investigator Contract as well as a Student Log </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Student Log <ul><li>This is a sample of a student log. Every day students fill these out to show their plan and their progress for each day they work on their independent project. </li></ul>Day Description _________ Time I actually spent working: __________ What I did today: Problems I had: What I need to do tomorrow: _________ Time I actually spent working: __________ What I did today: Problems I had: What I need to do tomorrow: _________ Time I actually spent working: __________ What I did today: Problems I had: What I need to do tomorrow:
  18. 18. Landforms Investigator Contract <ul><li>Part 1 </li></ul><ul><li>I am interested in </li></ul><ul><li>__________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>because____________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>_______________________________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>Part 2 </li></ul><ul><li>While exploring this for the week, I want to learn and do these things: </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>Part 3 </li></ul><ul><li>I am going to share my work during morning meeting. This is what I am </li></ul><ul><li>going to make: </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>____________________________________________________________ </li></ul><ul><li>___________________________________________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>I understand that fulfilling this contract will take a lot of self-reliance </li></ul><ul><li>and responsibility. I agree to ask for help, talk to a teacher if I do not </li></ul><ul><li>know what to do next, or if I am not getting anything done. I will work </li></ul><ul><li>hard and use my time wisely. </li></ul><ul><li>Student Signature ____________________________ Date ____________ </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher Signature ____________________________ Date ____________ </li></ul><ul><li>This is a sample Landforms Investigator Contract </li></ul><ul><li>Students were told to fill these out BEFORE beginning their independent projects. Both the student and the teacher had to sign these in order for the project to be approved and presented. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Brainstorming <ul><li>As a class, students came up with topics they would be interested in researching. </li></ul><ul><li>These included (but were not limited to): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural Disasters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volcanoes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mountains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rocks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oceans etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students also brainstormed about products they could create: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maps </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Posters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Power point presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pamphlets etc. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Timeframe <ul><li>Students were given one week to choose a topic to investigate, have it approved, and complete their product. </li></ul><ul><li>Presentations would be taking place the following Monday, with students each having about 7-10 minutes to talk about and show their presentations during morning meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Students were told that the project was strictly optional, but asked to recall how fun it was to see their classmate’s presentation a week prior to the introduction of the independent projects </li></ul>
  21. 21. Data Who was interested in the project? <ul><li>15 students took the contract and logs when the project was introduced </li></ul><ul><li>Only four students actually completed the project and presented it </li></ul><ul><li>Case study subject was not one of the four, even though he was personally asked if he would like to complete the project </li></ul><ul><li>However, one student who participated was academically very similar to the case study subject. </li></ul><ul><li>She was very excited about the project, and was the first to discuss her ideas with me in detail. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Comparable Subject Work Samples <ul><li>Work samples from the AIG student who created a project’s science journal are comparable to the case study subject’s with respect to ability level </li></ul>
  23. 23. What did the students create? <ul><li>Two projects were model volcanoes. </li></ul><ul><li>Both were made of clay, vinegar, and baking soda. </li></ul><ul><li>One had an accompanying 4-slide power point presentation that was presented to the class after the student had his demonstration eruption. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Another student created a layered model mountain with accompanying topographic map poster. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>The final student poured Mentos candy into a 2-Liter Diet Coke bottle to model the effects of air pressure and gas on a volcanic eruption </li></ul>
  26. 26. Results: Student Reflections <ul><li>Although the case study subject did not participate in the intervention, there were effects on the students who did participate. </li></ul><ul><li>Two of the participants’ portfolio reflections show that students enjoyed the experience, as well as cemented the learning that was taking place in the science classroom. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Survey <ul><li>After the projects were presented, students were asked to rate their experiences on a Likert scale of 1-5. </li></ul><ul><li>1= Strongly Disagree </li></ul><ul><li>2= Disagree </li></ul><ul><li>3= Neither Agree nor Disagree </li></ul><ul><li>4= Agree </li></ul><ul><li>5= Strongly Agree </li></ul><ul><li>Surveys were briefly summarized, and students were asked to be completely honest. </li></ul><ul><li>There was space on the bottom of the sheet for suggestions. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Survey <ul><li>1. I enjoyed working on my independent project. </li></ul><ul><li>1 2 3 4 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree </li></ul><ul><li>2. I liked presenting my independent project to the class. </li></ul><ul><li> 1 2 3 4 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree </li></ul><ul><li>3. My independent project helped with my learning in science class. </li></ul><ul><li> 1 2 3 4 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree </li></ul><ul><li>4. I would like to do another independent project. </li></ul><ul><li> 1 2 3 4 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree </li></ul>
  29. 29. Average Ratings <ul><li>Here is a graph of the average rating for each of the statements [all of which were positive statements </li></ul><ul><li>Averages were fairly high. </li></ul><ul><li>1= 4.25, 2= 4.25, 3= 3.75, 4= 3.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Because of the small sample size, results could easily vary greatly from one classroom to the next </li></ul>
  30. 30. Conclusions <ul><li>Although the study did not affect my case study subject because he did not participate in it, it did seem to have some benefits for the classroom environment as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Students learned to listen to and enjoy their peers’ work and research. </li></ul><ul><li>Students also gained factual knowledge about the subject area they chose to further study. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Recommendations <ul><li>Because the study was optional and very open ended, most participants did not even fill out the contract and turn it in. </li></ul><ul><li>None of the participants filled in student logs </li></ul><ul><li>For required independent projects, or ones that would count for extra credit points, it is recommended that stricter guidelines be put into place. </li></ul><ul><li>Students should have ideas approved beforehand, and progress should be checked regularly. </li></ul><ul><li>One benefit of independent studies is the development of autonomous learning. Students need to be held accountable for their independent work. Having explicit due dates and guidelines helps students learn this skill. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Future Research <ul><li>Future research could focus on the effect of independent projects on students that are performing below grade level. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do independent projects help motivate them too? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students seemed to benefit not only from creating independent projects, but also from seeing them presented. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What affect do these presentations have on the rest of the class? </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Final Thoughts <ul><li>Although the study was constantly changing, that is exactly what action research is all about. </li></ul><ul><li>Student needs should guide the research and action plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Because classrooms are dynamic, student needs constantly change, so interventions often change with them. </li></ul><ul><li>Implementing an action research plan affects not only the intended subjects, but the classroom as a whole, as well as the teacher implementing it. </li></ul>