Monday, November 16, 2009

Time for acknowledgments

November 16

Being a participant of the Master in English Language Teaching – Autonomous Learning Environments has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my professional life. During these two years, I actually learned how to carry out a research project and how to be a better language teacher. For this reason I want to show my gratitude to my action Research professors Luz Dary Arias, Liubava Sichko, Valeriya Lytvychenko, to my fellow students and to the participants of this study without their support and guidance it may not be possible to finish this research work. Moreover, having a tutor like Liliana Cuesta, a great friend, person and professional who contributed directly in making this research project a reality. Finally, thanks to the Sabana University for giving me the possibility to continue growing personal and professionally.

Sharing the project and final reflection

November 15

Sharing the action research project done during the last two years with our peers and tutors of the Master program was stressful but a very rewarding experience since it let me be aware of the importance of becoming a researcher in the classroom. I know that there are many aspects I have to continue polishing in order to carry out other studies in the future. I know that they will very useful not just for me but also for my students, other language students, and other language teachers and researchers to improve the teaching and learning processes of English as a second language here in Colombia and why not, all around the world.

Teaching and learning are alive processes in which there are many aspects that must be improved, and many innovations that can be done in order to make a better job in the classrooms. We have to take in mind that our students belong to a new generation "Net geners" so technology is part of their lives. The use of computers requires a complete change of teacher’s and school’s philosophy. As Piccardo (2009) notes, the use of technology is very important in foreign language classes but the misuse of technological devices could cause that they follow the same path as the first language laboratories. Students cannot be supposed to learn the language just by being exposed to the computers and the Internet. The new technologies are multi-purpose and offer a variety of resources to be exploited by creative teachers with a clear instructional perspective.


November, 2009

Based on the main findings of this study I can conclude that students showed a progressive improvement in their short story writing process evidenced in the evaluation done to each one of the instruments filed in their e-portfolios.

1. It is interesting to highlight that not all of the students participated in the same way within their groups.The role dominance of a student in each group was clearly evidenced due to the fact that the teacher-researcher did not assign specific roles to each student.

2. Students’ role transcends to a more active learning dimension. They evolved from a passive to a self-directed role which enabled them to become planners, builders and reviewers of their own short story writing process. These roles helped them to reflect upon their own learning process and become better decision makers and critical thinkers.

3.In spite of the problems caused by the lack of technological resources in the school, the three roles above mentioned were evidenced during the improvement of their short story writing process throughout the different writing stages, and throughout the use of the E-portfolio dossier. This tool allowed them to be aware of their progress over a period of time.

4.The two assessed instruments involved lots of planning and effort. The use of rubrics and the correction symbol chart was functional because students could find support to review their drafts, reflect upon their mistakes and self-correct them before writing the final version of their stories.

5.It was evidenced that the Langauge resource Center has to be optimized in order to develop better teaching and learning processes in the English class.The school needs a place where students can develop their learning process in a self-directed form and can take advantage of the technological advances.

Further research

OCtober, 2009

Further research studies need to investigate the effect of collaborative work in the writing process in order to provide students with the cooperative learning fundaments. It will enable that all the integrants of a group achieve the goals at the same extent and help them to become successful learners. Moreover, students’ different learning styles must be taken into account when developing similar studies. Learning strategies and technology training need to be leveled according to each individual case in order to meet the outcomes traced in the study/course.


September, 2009

Unfortunately, the school was closed by sanitary problems for three days so two sessions were not developed in the scheduled days. Additionally, not all face to face (F2F) tutorial sessions could be carried out since the computers room was not available in some of the opportunities required it. For these reasons, students had to work by themselves at home following instructions and tutorials sent via e-mail. Moreover, students took more time than the estimated for creating, editing and proofreading their drafts. Nevertheless all the elements of the approach selected were applied in the way they are described in this document. Finally, the process was not accomplished by all the students (100%) as it was expected.

My findings

September, 2009

1. While I was going through the data analysis stage, I discovered that a new stage(in-writing) in the writing process( different from pre, while, and post writing stages) was born. This stage let students see the writing process as a whole entity, in which apart from creating individual drafts, students do understand that the final product implies a systematic process of writing development and enables them to conceive the importance of following specific steps to achieve the creation of a effective product. I decided to name this stage as in-writing stage. This stage was mainly studied through the e-portfolio creation taking into account the following aspects: organization, students’overall effort, creativity and usefulness.

2. My theory of action spent nearly half of class time (45%) on while-writing stage.It means a higher time that the one I had anticipated in the production and correction of students’ short stories. Less than a fifth (13%) of class time was spent on pre-writing stage and on tutorials about how to create and optimize the use of the e-portfolio. The time intended for socialization was not used in the actual time since there were some external issues which affected the normal development of the project such as state school strikes, facilities’problems, etc.

3. During the seven weeks there was a series of activities that learners had to perform in groups as a strategy to support each other’s work , but in fact, the role dominance of a student in each one of the groups was clearly evidenced.

4. Another recurrent pattern was the compromise and interest shown by most of the participants for implementing the use of the e-portfolio dossier as a learning tool. Despite the fact that the students did not have enough access to computers and the Internet service in the school, they developed most of the activities successfuly and participated actively in the improvement of their short story writing process by doing the online and digital work at home or in a café internet .

5. I also found that students moved from a pasive role in class to a more active status in which they become student-writers. It means, they were planners, builders, reviewers of their own short story writing process.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Action Research : identifying common problematic situation in the classroom, and taking actions to solve them.

April 8, 2009

Everyday in our work as teachers, we face different teaching and learning problems which demand us to think about new strategies for helping our students to improve their learning process and look for innovations to do better classes. Although, it implies to consult some professional literature and establish some parameters to follow on, it can not be considered a research. A research involves problem-posing not just problem-solving; it is motivated by a quest to improve and it is concerned with changing situations, not jut interpreting them. Moreover, it must be a systematic process which involves collecting evidence to be analyzed.

For the reasons before mentioned and taking into account the definition offered by Sagor (2000) that indicates that an action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by a person or people empowered to take an action, and that the primary reason for engaging in action research is improving refining their future actions, I consider myself as an action researcher who is in the process of examining my own educational practice, using techniques to identify problems, developing research question bases on my curiosity about teaching and learning in the classroom, and systematically collecting data from and with my students to be analyzed and finally shared the findings with students, colleagues, and members of the educational community.

After a period of observation, analysis of students' works and direct conversation with my students I decided studying an aspect related to the writing process. For this reason, I am interested on knowing if the short story writing in EFL classes can be improved by using an e-portfolio dossier through the implementation of the process and genre approaches in students of eleventh grade of a public school in Bogota. This research study is going to be carried out to analyze the reason why the students of the INEM Santiago Perez, do not take pride in their written work and do not care about the way their written works are developed and presented.

I am aware that students are not concerned about how to write and what aspects must be taken into account to present them appropriately. They do not know that writing is a process which needs a period of training, and requires the use of different strategies to develop competence. According to Tribble (1996), they have to understand that writing is a social activity in which a writer and a reader are involved. They must be aware about the fact that if the reader does not understand the purpose of a text, communication will not be successful and the process will not be accomplished.

Moreover, students have to learn how to take advantage of technology on writing, what resources are available on line to practice and improve learning skills, and why the e-portfolio dossier can be a very important tool for the assessment and improvement of their writing ability.