Do e-learning tools impact on student motivation and engagement within writing?

 

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The focus question

Do e-learning tools impact on student motivation and engagement within writing?

A large majority of students at St Andrews Middle School are writing well below the National Standard for Writing. Student achievement and engagement are low in many areas of the curriculum, especially writing. Over the next year we would like to look at the impact of e-learning tools on student motivation and engagement and see if these tools can increase motivation and engagement hence improving students writing levels.
Participating Teachers
Glen McKay, Candy Hart
    

STEP 1 – collect baseline data
 
Student Achievement
Both of our rooms currently have 0% of students achieving at or above the national standard for writing.

Room 1 -  62% of Y7 males are at or below 2P
Room 1 -  50% of Y8 males are at or below 2A
Room 1 -  67% of Y7 females are at or below 2P
Room 1 -  75% of Y8 females are at or below 2A

Room 3 - 100% of Y7 males are at or below 2P
Room 3 - 100% of Y8 males are at or below 2A
Room 3 - 34% of Y7 females are at or below 2P
Room 3 - 43% of Y8 females are at or below 2A

All testing has been marked against e-asTTle levels and moderated between teachers.

Student Learning
These will be put into a google form and students from both Room 1 and 3 rate their responses one a 1-5 scale with 1 being disagree and 5 being agree. Once we have this information we will analyse it and see where we want to go with our research.

Motivation
It is very important to me to be good at writing.
I like hard, challenging writing exercises.
I do as much writing school work as possible.
I have favourite subjects that I like to write about.


Interest
I think writing is exciting and interesting.
I like to do lots of writing outside of school.
Writing is not boring.

 
Teacher Practice data
Grouping and Goals
All students have set individual goals after initial assessment around writing at the start of the year. Students are grouped according to needs/levels and each group has specific group goals.

Teaching Room 1
In Room 1 we have 4 sessions of writing per week, 3 taken by myself and Rachel takes the other one which focuses on descriptive language.  
Lessons are started with a class focus, this has been mainly on planning and structuring their work.  I have used current events and experiences at school for the context.  We have also looked at sentences and paragraphs.  
This  part of the session takes approximately 30 - 40 minutes and is taken on the IWB..  I then take one group for instruction and the other 2 groups work independently on either a web activity or a worksheet focused on the group goal. Web based activities range form digital learning objects to interactive games.


Teaching Room 3
In Room 3 we have 3 writing sessions a week. Sessions last for 80 minutes and start with a class focus. This is generally done on the IWB and students are working in their books. Some whole class lessons include youtube clips or photos to inspire creative writing if that is the focus. Class focus’s include vocab, sentence structure and punctuation/grammar. The class is split into two groups and work with me for around 25 minutes each during a lesson, once again using the IWB and books. When not with me students are generally using a worksheet to develop their skills in what we have been doing or working on a web activity supporting what we are learning. Generally the web activity will be offered once they have finished their prescribed work. These range from learning objectives to games focused specially to what students are learning.

Student Voice
These will be put into a google form and students from both Room 1 and 3 will answer. Once we have this information we will analyse it and see where we want to go with our research.

Questions
How are e-learning tools currently used in your class writing programme?
How does my teacher help me to write?
What motivates me to write?
What would make me write more?
Are their any tools we don’t use for writing that I would like to? What are they?


STEP 2
Topic is currently the greatest motivating factor for students wanting to write.  Some other motivators are: external rewards, getting good scores and students mood.  A number have no response to what motivates them to want to write. ICT at this time,  still does not impact on students motivation.

Google Docs, Student Writing & Feedback

The ICT Impact Report

How Does One Use ICT to Motivate Students?





Find professional readings around topic and add to VLN.


STEP 3
Our focus for Term 2 is Narrative writing. To increase motivation and engagement we will specifically plan to use several e-learning tools to deliver our programme. These tools are:
           

Room One

Room Three

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Both classes will also use IWB each lesson to model writing, provide shared learning experiences and how to use the different tools.

Writing fun is an interactive website which can be used for modelling and showing exemplars of good writing. Students can easily see what is required for different genres and see many examples and planning templates.
Google Docs will be used for drafting and collaboration with the teacher.
Story Jumper and Bookr are both presentation tools where students can create online e-books using a variety of images that are either supplied or imported from flikr.
You Tube is where students presented their final copies for others to see - creating that real life audience.

Room 1 Notes
Using Google Docs for drafting has allowed students to get feedback more readily.  I trialed a colour coding system that had previously been used by another teacher, to show students where they had met the writing criteria or where they needed to rethink a part of their text.  Students initially did not respond to this, so I also left specific notes for reflection

Room 3 Notes
Writingfun has been an excellent motivation and teaching tool. We created a class warm up based on one of the examples called a 6 sentence story. Just using that has motivated some students to write more in the 20 minute time frame then they normally would during an entire lesson.
Students have been really engaged with story jumper. Several students who do not like writing and do not normally write much have not been off the computer. One boy has written 3 stories during his own time using story jumper and was the first finished in class. We had a few problems getting them into our e-portfolios but worked around that. Students have also used their cell phones to record their voice.

Examples of student stories:

Room 1
http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/?id=28720
http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/?id=28721

Room 3
http://youtu.be/AbnAfJ95bm8
http://youtu.be/faXaAKN4ThU
http://youtu.be/tbAiPiSn4zE

At the beginning of term three we carried out our survey again. The responses were relatively the same. The main area of motivation is still topic. ICT has become a motivating factor for approximately 10% more students then when we first surveyed them. The largest shift however was with kids intrinsic motivation. Students know they are not achieving where they should be and are now articulating this and want to make shifts in their learning.

Student Achievement Data

Room 1 -  56% of Y7 males are at or below 2P
Room 1 -  50% of Y8 males are at or below 2A
Room 1 -  57% of Y7 females are at or below 2P
Room 1 -  75% of Y8 females are at or below 2A

Room 3 - 100% of Y7 males are at or below 2P
Room 3 - 71% of Y8 males are at or below 2A
Room 3 - 17% of Y7 females are at or below 2P
Room 3 - 50% of Y8 females are at or below 2A

There may not be a large increase in the number of students moving above 2P or 2A however there has been a noticeable shift. Year 7’s in Room 1 have shifted at least 1 sub level and 50% of Year 8’s have shifted at least 1 sub level. In Room 3 70% of Year 7’s have shifted at least 1 sub level and 83% of Year 8’s have shifted at least 1 sub level.

For term 3 we will be teaching instructional writing to start with.
As a result of our data we will work with the students on coming up with motivational and relevant topics to motivate them to write. We will also include e-learning tools however feel topic is more relevant now. For instructional writing we will be using two units which we feel will provide motivation for the students. The first is a PE unit called ‘Let the Games Begin’ and the second is a technology unit called ‘Making fermented drinks’. These topics are purposeful and authentic.  We will plan to use a variety of tools for drafting and publishing work. Room 1 will use PREZI to present their work and Room 3 will create their own websites using weebly. We will also incorporate the use of video and photos taken by the students and the teacher into their finished publications.
At the conclusion of the units we will reassess where students are at with their writing.

Examples of student websites:

Room 1


Room 3
http://yogiandbooboosfizzyodrinks.weebly.com/
http://rockinggingerdrinks.weebly.com/
http://tatreats.weebly.com/