Methodology for Conducting Inquiry

This topic was so full of possibilities for both study and application that I decided to step back and really figure out what I could accomplish in the allotted time and how I could structure my inquiry to continue beyond this course. My method of approaching this inquiry was to brainstorm the necessary steps that I would need to take. As I read and process the literature on my topic, I will refine these steps as needed. I work best by having an outline, which I can then expand as I make new connections between what I know and what I'm learning; I process information in a non-linear way, linking off to different areas as needed, much like the internet. As I conduct my literature review, I will begin to synthesize what has been written on my topic and after an analysis of my current practices, I will develop my own ideas for curriculum planning and assessment. I have also posted a message to some of my internet communities, including ones geared towards art teachers, asking other teachers for their experiences in using blogs, wikis, etc. and especially for opinions on assessment when using these tools.

In addition to conducting a literature review, I will register for a variety of Web 2.0 tools in order to determine their usability, particularly with special needs students. Using evidence from my Teacher’s Book and student work, I will analyze my current practice to determine which areas could benefit from differentiation and enrichment. Guided by curriculum expectations, I will then plan programs that will enable students to acquire and apply art knowledge through a variety of methods. Assessment will also be designed to suit the programs.

My intention is to structure the inquiry so that I can keep going in the future, especially since the Web 2.0 tools are in a constant state of change. As I read within the article "What Counts as Evidence in Self-Studies of Teacher Education Practices? (Whitehead), the more that people engage in their inquiry, the more they understand and the more new knowledge emerges. So even if I can't address all the areas within the time frame of this course, I will certainly benefit from continuing my research afterwards.

I plan to post my inquiry research and my lesson plan ideas on the internet to allow for sharing and collaboration between other teachers. The article talks about using web-technology to present evidence, and I am a strong believer in sharing my ideas. I hope, as part of an extended plan, to open the inquiry to collaboration between other teachers, both in the sharing of ideas and implementation of Web 2.0 tools.

List of Materials

Literature Review and Colleague Dialogue

I will use research on the collaborative tools of the Web 2.0 in general, and on the efficacy and implementation of using these tools in an educational setting and where possible, specifically within an art classroom. Material will be collected from books, journals, web-sites and collaborative education communities on the internet. This material will provide information on what has been written about the theory behind the use of Web 2.0 tools, how they are being used in educational settings in the most beneficial and creative ways, as well as limitations to their use.

Teacher Materials

Teacher’s Curriculum Book – the curriculum will be analyzed for assignments that can be made richer through wikis, blogs and other collaborative tools. Observation records and anecdotal notes will be used to gauge students’ interest and successes in different activities. When assignments are typically late or ill-performed, consideration must be given to the efficacy of the assignment and its assessment.

Student Marks – marks will be examined for areas of difficulty
Testing Materials – assignment and tests will be reviewed

Student Materials

Art Work
Sketch Books

How Information will be Gathered
Information will be collected through libraries, including York University’s on-line access, through purchased books, periodicals, and newspaper articles. Information will also be collected from on-line sources including sites specializing in teacher professional development and collaboration and sites specializing in the uses of technology in education, for mainstream students as well as students with learning differences. Other material will be gathered through discussions with colleagues, both person-to-person and over the Internet.

Material will also be collected from my own records, including my Curriculum Book, which includes student marks, anecdotal notes and my curriculum and assessments. I will also refer to student work, both artwork and written assignments, for which I have retained photocopies and digital images.

How Information Will Inform Inquiry

The information that I collect will outline various internet tools that are currently available to educators to provide enrichment and differentiation in class. Beginning with an exploration of my own tools and student materials, I will examine the achievement of my students and efficacy of classroom strategies. These materials will assist me in determining which areas of my curriculum and assessment strategies could benefit from an alternative approach. I will also take into account the different needs of my students, as they range from having learning disabilities to being gifted/ADHD. My records will remind me of the different range of abilities that I need to take into account and help me plan accordingly.
An examination of the tools of Web 2.0 would allow me to determine which might be a successful way to for students to approach their learning. As there are many educators currently experimenting and using these tools, I will be able to learn from their opinions and advice and judge for myself the efficacy of the tools and in what situations they might be applicable. Examples of existing web-sites that use Web 2.0 will provide me with ideas on using them within my own classroom.
Literature review and colleague dialogue will help confirm whether these tools have proven successful, detail strengths and weaknesses, and provide further ideas for their use in my classroom.

Cautions in Conducting Inquiry

There are several factors that I will need to consider in making my inquiry, due to the nature of the internet.
My major concern is for student safety, as the internet is populated by sites containing inappropriate content. Any application is also subject to misuse, for example, students posting personal information or responding to strangers. Education into the safe and ethical use of the internet should also be a key component of its use in the classroom. I would also inform parents of what students are using, so they can supervise students at home and ensure the safety of their children.
In terms of equitable considerations, I can ensure that all students have access to computers at school, but I cannot expect all students to have access at home, due to financial and/or religious reasons. As well, no site or tool will require any kind of subscription fee or require personal information. As well, no tool should be so complicated that it will inhibit students with learning differences from participating in its use.

Time Frame

The inquiry takes place over the course of one month as an assignment for a course in Special Education, although the intent is to create the basis of an ongoing study that will adapt and expand with the release of new tools and the discovery of new ways to use them. Upon completion of the inquiry project, information will be posted on a web-site as a starting point for collaboration with other teachers.

Gathering Information Information and data gather will be ongoing until the last week of the project when it will be necessary to synthesize the material.
Analysis Analysis will take place over the course of the second week, completed in time to submit the draft. Analysis may be revised while completing the final copy, due July 24th.
Literature Review Literature review will take place in the second week of the course. Readings will impact on analysis, so the review will be concurrent with analysis.
Writing up Paper Writing up of the Inquiry takes place from the first week of class until the due date, as ideas are recorded, expanded and edited.
Annotated Bibliography Writing of the Annotated Bibliography will take place at the same time as the Literature Review. Additional items from the Internet.



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