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Caitlin Young

C&T 803

Action Research Plan

The subject for this unit is cells at the 6th grade level. I find that my students really struggle with

this unit because of the immense amount of vocabulary, and because cells are so small, it can be an

abstract unit for sixth graders to understand. The goal of this action research is to see if the use of online

learning can raise test scores of struggling learners. At our school, all of our intervention is focused on

math and reading. I am wanting to find intervention methods for science that are not overwhelming or

too time-consuming for teachers.

This particular unit is focused on Next Generation Science Standards MS-LS1-1: Conduct an

investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different

numbers and types of cells and MS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a

whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function. This unit is in our third quarter, so I should be

teaching it towards the beginning of February and this unit typically lasts about three weeks. This is our

districts second year in implementing NGSS. The standards are split so that sixth grade introduces a topic,

seventh grade goes more in depth with each topic, and eighth grade goes even more in depth with each

topic. My job is to make sure that students master a basic understanding of each topic, but they do not

necessarily need to understand specific details. Last year our school went one to one with technology, so

every student has a chromebook. I have all of the sixth grade students split between six different classes.

I will be using the technology intervention with three of my classes and using no technology intervention

with three of my classes.

I teach at a Title I middle school that is 95% free or reduced lunch. We are 51% Hispanic, 45%

African American, and the remaining 4% is spilt between Caucasian, Native American, and Pacific

Islanders. 35% of our students receive ELL services and 24% of our students receive special education

services. We have the highest suspension rate of all the middle schools in the district. The sixth grade

only has 21% of students on grade level for reading and 53% of sixth grade is on grade level for math. We

have 30 minutes of intervention time built into our day, but because of our scores, all students either

participate in reading or math intervention. The other subject levels do not have a built in intervention

time. I am trying to find ways to implement intervention in science that does not take out of class time

too much because in class is the only way I can implement intervention.

I will begin researching the literature on online learning and other intervention methods in

December. Two weeks before I teach this unit I will develop the pre and post assessments. This will be in

collaboration with other sixth grade teachers in the district and based on the performance expectations

written in the NGSS. After developing summative assessments, I will design the activities to be included in

the unit as well as formative assessments. The formative assessments will include exit tickets, interactive

notebooks, quick writes, and labs. Last year the final project before unit test was the Cell City project

where students had to compare each part of the cell to a part of the city (i.e. the nucleus is like city hall.)

However, I found that many of my students who did not understand the vocabulary struggled with the

project, and in turn, did not do well on the unit test. Using all of the formative assessments built in before

the project, I will determine which students are not understanding the material. Those students will work

on an online cell unit while the other students work on cell city. My control classes will have all students

work on cell city regardless of their formative scores. This will allow me to determine if online learning is

an effective intervention for students before they take the unit test. The pre and post assessments,

formative assessments, and unit plan will all be completed by the end of January. I will randomly pick

three of my classes to be the experimental group and the other three classes will be my control group.
The unit will be taught at the beginning of February with the recording of data and the journal of

observations during the first two weeks of the unit. I will use the data from the pretest and the formative

assessments to determine the students who will receive the intervention in my experimental classes. I will

keep data on all students in both control and experimental classes. The final week of the unit students

will work on cell city or receive the technology intervention. Students will receive formative assessments

during this time and I will hand out student satisfaction surveys for students who work on the cell city

project and the students using the online learning module. Students will then take the unit test and I will

analyze those scores to determine the effectiveness of technology intervention. All of this should be

finished by the end of February at which time I can begin to write my report. The report will include my

pre and posttest assessment scores, my journal observations, examples of exit tickets and interactive

notebooks, examples of students completing the cell city project and the technology intervention and the

data from the student satisfaction survey. I should have the entire report written by the first week of