Organizing the Archive for Research

Posted on June 13, 2017


I started out with a giant pile of disorganized documents: lesson hand-outs, student work on assignments, my own work on assignments, posters, record-keeping documents, notes…


And in an hour and fifteen minutes, I had the entire year’s worth of documents organized and ready for research.


Now I will print out my daily lesson plans, which are in three Google documents, one for each trimester, and I will begin to look at them, along with everything else I’ve gathered here, to find answers to my question, “What happens when I make Independent Reading a high priority in my classroom?”

I will analyze documents, using post-it notes and color-marking to identify themes and patterns that emerge in my students’ reading practices, such as selecting books, abandoning and finishing books, recommending books, exploring ideas across texts, exploring genres, authors, styles, and eras. By examining and analyzing these artifacts, I hope to identify strategies that were more successful and those that were less successful, so that my decisions about what to do next year are data-driven–because it’s what students do, say, and write every day–and over time–that shows a reader’s growth.

I saw a lot of growth in my students’ reading this year…but I’d like to see more next year. By excavating the learning represented by the artifacts in these files, I hope to get ideas on how to make that happen. Then, in addition to my own ideas, I’ll turn to some expert mentors, whether through books like Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild,  Jennifer Buehler’s Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives,  or Penny Kittle’s Book Love, or through conversations with my many knowledgeable colleagues at Eastern MI Writing Project–to allow my students to benefit from the wisdom and expertise of some of the best minds in the teaching profession.

Through this rich, multi-layered process of reflection, research, and collaboration, I’ll make myself a better teacher tomorrow than I am today.

This is the second post in a series on ELA9. The link to the first is posted below.

Growing Readers–Through READING!