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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Draft Action Research Project Progress Report

Draft Action Research Project Progress Report

      a.       Title – How Do We Increase Student Attendance?

b.    Needs Assessment – The Site Based Decision Making Committee met in the fall of 2011 and student attendance was one area that the committee mentioned they would like to see improvement.  When speaking with my site supervisor, student attendance was the first thing she brought up.  Dee Arterburn, our campus principal and my site supervisor, showed me current attendance data and pointed out the economically disadvantaged subgroup which had a noticeable difference from other subgroups.  This data supported the need for improvement in this area. 

     c.    Objectives and Vision of the action research project. (ELCC 1.1)- An incentive and reward system will be put into place on our campus during the spring 2012 semester.  Each grade level will compete for the best attendance and the grade level with the highest attendance at the end of each six weeks will be rewarded with a party. 

d.    Review of the Literature and Action Research Strategy  (LCC 2.3) – I am still in the process of researching my chosen topic of study, however, I have been able to gather valuable information from several sources. 

- Ken Reid. (1999). Truancy and schools. London: Routledge.
- Eric Blyth , & judith Milner, (1999). Improving school attendance. London: Routledge.
- Douglas B. Reeves. (2008, May). Improving student attendance. Educational Leadership, 65(8), 90-91.

e.       Articulate the Vision (ELCC 1.2) – As I created a vision of what a successful attendance reward program would look like, I began to put it together in a way that I hoped would attract students as well as teachers.  Most teachers I met personally with to discuss the improvement plan. We discussed how great it would be to have our kids in the classroom, instead of missing valuable instructional time.  All teachers I spoke with were all for the plan, but some were skeptical that it would work.  Following the personal contact with the teachers and staff, teachers received a memo in their box as well as a friendly, positive e-mail from me stating that our campus would be implementing an Attendance Race in hopes of increasing student attendance and asking them to encourage the students and spread the word.  Students were informed through our daily campus televised announcements.  With the help of one of our amazing tech savy teachers, I created an ad that was televised weekly.  Our campus art teacher also helped me create a Guitar Hero monitor that was placed in the front entry of our school building so students could easily see what grade level had the best attendance each week.  The grade level with the highest percentage of attendance would be rewarded with a party.

f.       Manage the organization (ELCC 3.1) – Organizing implementation of the project took lots of work, and help from many faculty members.  Rhonda White, our art teacher, helped me design and create a very large Guitar Hero monitor that was strategically placed on the wall at the front entry of the school.  This way all students could easily see which grade level had the best attendance each week .  With the help of Ann Witherspoon, I was able to develop and create a commercial on the Attendance Race that we played during our televised student announcements.  By adding fun music and several popular movie clips, we were able to catch students’ attention.  Deborah Blansit was responsible for keeping accurate attendance and sending it to me weekly. In addition, she also sent me an official copy of our campus attendance from central office every six weeks.  Diana Bales, our campus secretary, is amazing and was responsible for all of the finances, including purchasing food and drink for the reward parties, and preparing the six week attendance gift cards for the students.  Our librarian, Becky Schuffield, was a huge help during the 5th six weeks Movie Party, helping me set up the projector and video, as well as assisting with the student attendance survey at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.  Mrs. Leslie Kyle, our technology teacher, was responsible for running the Attendance Race commercial so that students had a weekly reminder. During the entire research project I had to stay very organized and learned just how important effective communication really is.  Another factor that was very critical during this research project was time.  This action research project took more time than I anticipated.  There was weekly data to calculate, and so many people involved, that I had to make sure that I was on top of my game.  I found myself doing all kinds of random jobs, that I would not normally do, including bagging popcorn for one of our reward parties.  I am grateful that I have made so many strong relationships on my campus, because without them I would have had a much more difficult time.  Materials that were used included art supplies, video ad, movie, karaoke machine, ice-cream, snacks, and monetary rewards.  During this entire process the students came first above all else.  An example of this took place during the 6th six weeks Attendance Reward Party when seventh grade students were free to move from gymnasium to the cafeteria, playing ball, hanging with friends, and singing karaoke.  I was the acting administrator, and had many teachers helping me supervise the event.  However, several students were anxious to get on the bus, and while some teachers were playing ball with the students, others were busy socializing with each other.  At one point I noticed two or three students attempting to sneak off towards the bus line.  I had to act quickly, but was able to stop them before they got too far.  I then had to ask a couple of teachers to manage that area of the cafeteria in order to avoid a similar incident.  Above all else, students’ safety comes first. 

g.      Manage Operations (ELCC 3.2) – During this project I was fortunate to have a principal that was very willing to listen to my ideas and quick to let me take charge.  After deciding together what our campus needs were, I was unltimately responsible for everything.  I made my own set of priorities, and was responsible for recruiting help, delegating jobs, and communicating with the staff.  It was a true test of my ability to lead.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity.

h.    Respond to Community Interest and Needs (ELCC 4.2) – I feel that my action research project with serve all students, due to the fact that students need to be in the classroom in order to avoid missing valuable instructional time.  Specifically, I feel that my research project will help those students that are economically disadvantaged.  I feel that if we can just get those students to class, it will make a world of difference for them.  In addition, an Attendance Reward Party may be so very special to them.  Something as simple as popcorn and a movie, might be extra special. 

Time for an Update!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Time for an Update!

Where has the time gone? I have been so busy this summer, and wrapped up in school, my blog was put to the side for a little while. Here's an update on the remainder of the action research project. The sixth six weeks attendance race was much more talked about than the fifth six weeks. Students approached me often wondering where their grade level stood in the race, and even teachers were more curious about it. Keeping up with the data was a bit time consuming, but in the end the kids were thrilled to win the race. The 7th grade won the 6th six weeks Attendance Race and were released from their fifth period class to attend an "Open Gym" Party. Our seventh grade students were thrilled! Our school principal allowed us to purchase ice-cream cones, popsicles, and ice-cream sandwiches for the reward party. In addition, students were allowed to move from either of the gymnasiums to play volleyball, basketball, and just sit on the bleachers with their friends. Students were also allowed to use their electronic devices to listen to music and take pictures if they wanted to. We also barrowed a a karaoke machine, and students were allowed to sing songs with their friends. The party was a huge success and all grade levels were talking about it.

During my summer break I have continued my graduate studies and am awaiting the attendance data for the last six weeks of the 2011-2012 school year. As I am working on gathering my data and research, I will post further results in the near future.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

5th Six Weeks Attendance Party

It's been a whirl wind, but the fifth six weeks reward party has come and gone.  The 6th graders were thrilled to win the reward party the fifth six weeks and were happy to enjoy a "Movie Party" in our Cub Cafe.  Sixth grade teachers handed out refreshments of popcorn and bottled water, while students got comfortable and enjoyed the movie, Night at the Museum.  It was nice to see students enjoying themselves.  Many of them thanked me as I handed them popcorn.  Their appreciation was apparent and I look forward to the next reward party. 

Currently our seventh graders are in the lead for the next reward party, which will be held May 24th.  The sixth six weeks reward party will be an "Open Gym Party" where students will be allowed to play volleyball, basketball, or just hang out with their friends in the bleachers.  We will also have a karaoke machine for students that would like to take a shot at it.  Ice-cream will be provided for each student and I am hoping that next year students will realize that attending school on a "regular" basis will be most beneficial to them. 

Here's to hoping!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

School Community Support- Looking Back

I have just completed my School Community Relations course and am now starting to rethink my action research project.  The course emphasized the importance of involving family and the community in education and how it can impact student achievement, including student attendance.  Until now I hadn't really considered that as a factor.

In retrospect I feel that our school campus could benefit greatly from a strong school-family-community partnership.  We currently have very little ties to family and/or the community.  I am still have high hopes that the initiative that I have made on my campus will prove to be a worthy one and make a difference in our overall student attendance, but I will be speaking with the committee that is responsible for the Campus Improvement Plan on our campus regarding efforts to enhance school-family-community relations.

There are still eight more weeks of school left, and that means lots more data to collect.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Attendance Race Update

The race is still on!  The fifth six weeks is almost over and the kids are starting to talk about the reward party.  The attendance percentages have been really close, but so far 6th grade is still in the lead.  The attendance rates are as follows, 6th grade with 92.9 %, 7th grade with 92.4%, and 8th grade with 92%.

As I am still enrolled in School Community Relations, it has occurred to me that if our campus had more parent involvement that perhaps our attendance rates would be stronger.  This course has really made it apparent that parent involvement can make a significant impact on student achievement, student attendance, and many other aspects of student education. I hope that I can continue to gain knowledge in this area and make a positive difference on my campus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

School Community Relations - Attendance

I'm currently enrolled in School Community Relations and it is only now that I realize the importance of school/parent/community partnerships.  I have always believed that the role parents play in their child's education is so important and can make a world of difference in a student's education.  However, I am now beginning to understand that having the support of both parents and the community can be so very beneficial. 

My action research project has focused on increasing student attendance.  It hadn't occurred to me that having more parental support and perhaps a community program on our campus could help improve this issue.  If this reward program that I have put together does not prove to improve student attendance, I will have to approach my site supervisor with an alternative.   Currently our campus has a PTA, but no other community support.  More than anything I want my research project to prove successful, but regardless, I know that students on our campus can benefit greatly from sucha  program.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Perfect Attendance Bingo!

It was a success!  On Friday March 2nd, all 201 students that had perfect attendance during the fourth six weeks were released during 5th period to participate in Perfect Attendance Bingo.  A hand full of students won cash prizes.  Many others won gift cards to various local restaurants.  Everyone had fun! 

Our campus has been promoting the 5th six weeks Attendance Race.  Weekly announcements are made reminding our students and updating them on what grade level is leading the race.  Currently our sixth grade class is winning the race with 92.8% of students in attendance, followed closely by seventh grade. 

After asking my site supervisor whether or not our budget would allow us to serve popcorn and bottled water to our students that will be attending the movie party, I have been informed that it can be done!  I am very pleased with this news.  I have given a list of popular PG movies to our librarian to review.  Together we will be choosing one that we believe our students will enjoy.  So far our students are pretty pumped about the upcoming parties.  I hope to see continued improvement in student attendance. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

4th Six Weeks Attendance

The 4th six weeks has come to an end and we are now preparing for the "Perfect Attendance Bingo Party" that will be held next Friday, March 3rd.  We had a total of 201 students with perfect attendance that will be attending the bingo party.  The bingo party will be held in the Cub Cafe (cafeteria) and will be hosted by our three principals.  Students will have the chance to win gift cards as well as cash prizes!

The 5th six weeks began February 20th and will end April 13th.  We are now ensuing the "Attendance Race" where each grade level will compete to have the best attendance.  The grade level with the highest percentage of attendance will win a movie party at the end of the 5th six weeks.  The Guitar Hero Monitor has been placed at the front of the school by the library where students will see it as they are walking to class.  I will place each grade's placement on the monitor weekly.  Announcements will be made weekly as well on Cub News updating studetnts on the grade level that is winning the attendance race.  The movie party is tentatively on our campus calendar for May 3rd.  We chose to have the party after STAAR testing so we wouldn't chance losing our students' focus. 

I have inquired about serving our students popcorn during the movie party. The party will be held after lunch, around 2:30 p.m., so it shouldn't be a problem, but I am still awaiting a response from my administrator.  The librarian and I are working on finding a fun yet appropriate movie for the kids to watch.  This is going to be a bit tough I'm afraid.  We are working with middle school kids so it may be hard to please them.  In addition, we are only permitted to show movies that are PG. We will just have to see what we can find.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Calendar Issue

The fourth six weeks "Perfect Attendance Bingo" party is just around the corner and looks like everything is ready to go. 

However, I have run into a bit of a snag.  After speaking with our administrators, it was brought to my attention that the fifth six weeks Attendance Party cannot occur prior to the state assessment, STAAR.  They were concerned about it affecting our students, therefore we have decided to have the party to May 3rd instead of April 19th.  I am a bit worried that our students will not see an immediate reward and lose interest in the Attendance Race, but it is our only choice. 

The 6th six weeks Attendance Party will take place May 24th, a week before school is out, so that should be interesting as well.  I hope that all goes smoothly and that we see some good results. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

4th Six Weeks Attendance

There are twenty more days left until the end of the fourth six weeks, and I am dreading the day they send the data over from central office.  It appears that what I had heard was correct.  Attendance is low in the fourth six weeks!  Everyone said it, but I didn't want to believe it.  The number of absences we have in the sixth grade alone is insane.  I have talked to many of my students about why they miss so much school and the reasons are usually the same, "I was sick."  I do have a few that have been out for personal reasons, or in some cases their mom/dad was sick and couldn't get them to school.  It's been frusterating for the teachers on our campus.  It feels like every other day we have multiple parents requesting their child's school work, because their child is out sick and needs to take home their work.  Then we have to take the time to try and get the student all caught up when they return.  Never mind that they missed an entire unit on Plate Tectonics and that they have a major project due next week.  You get the point.  Students that are absent from school frequently make it difficult for themselves and their teachers.

The Perfect Attendance Bingo party that we have scheduled for the end of the fourth six weeks is quickly approaching.  Only students that have had absolutely perfect attendance will be permitted to attend.  This means that they have been present from bell to bell and haven't received even one tardy the entire six weeks.  I'm curious to see how many of our students are eligible to attend.   

Lastly, I have been informed that I need to set dates for the 5th six weeks party and the 6th six weeks party.  I have been waiting for some direction from the two administrators concerning the parties, but it appears that it was my job to set dates and have them put on the calendar.  I am slightly worried that there may not be any dates left on our campus calendar.  I'm crossing my fingers that it all works out.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Moving Along

The Attendance Race is known by all now on our campus.  Memos have gone out, teachers have made announcements, and televised announcments and videos are in full swing.  The students seem to be interested, although I am still seeing my "regular" students absent as usual.  I use the word "regular" because these are the students that are absent on a regular basis.  These students are gone for reasons such as:  dentist appointments, stomach aches, surgery, overslept, car broke down, twisted ankle, you get the point.  I am hoping that as the end of the fourth six weeks and as the fifth six weeks rolls around, that students will be excited about the attendance competition and that daily attendance will jump up!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Beginning

This week was a short one.  Teachers returned Wednesday and the kids came back to school on Thursday.  It's a new year, and so it begins.  I met with Anne Witherspoon on the advertisement/video we are creating to have played on Cub News, our campus's televised school announcements.  I also spoke with one of our 7th grade Cub News reporters about what the "Attendance Race" is all about and what I want him to say on next week's announcements.    I met with Rhonda White, the art teacher, who is working with some 8th graders on making a huge "Guitar Hero" monitor.  We will be using this monitor during the 5th and 6th six weeks to show our students which grade level is in the lead and who is closer to winning the attendance race, and winning the party. Deborah Blansit, our attendance clerk has given me both our district and campus data for the first two six week periods.  We are still waiting for the data from the third six weeks to be sent to us from central office.  I tried to get in touch with Natalie Dennington, the AP at our campus that is responsible for student attendance, but wasn't able to meet up with her.  I am going to have to speak with Natalie on Monday.  The goal is to have the teacher's make the announcement to all of the students this Wednesday.  In addition, Cub News will report about the attendance race and the parties students can win, as well as air the attendance race commercial on Friday of next week.  That's all for now.  I'll keep you posted.