Teachers’ action research…

I sent this email to the teachers at my school…

Hi All

In the past we have had successful voluntary learning groups in areas such as visible thinking, differentiated learning, global education and integrating technology.

Teachers often feel that there are so many ‘things’, it is difficult to integrate everything. Some of us have talked before about ways to ‘connect the dots’. I think our learning principles can help pull things together.

I’d like to start a new voluntary group, based on the Inquiry Circle I saw in New York during the holidays… in our own style.

My vision of it looks like this:

(Open, of course, to ideas, suggestions, modifications, negotiations!)

Meet fortnightly for an hour before school and…

  • Revisit and unpack our learning principles.
  • Each teacher choose an area for their own ‘action research‘ based on one (or more) of the learning principles.
  • Create an ‘action research question’. This question usually develops and changes as the exploration unfolds.
  • Decide on a course of action and/or specific approaches you plan to try.
  • Feed back to the group and reflect individually and collaboratively on what you’ve tried and how you might proceed.
  • Possible readings to enhance and support learning.
  • Possible Skype ins from educators in other places exploring similar issues.
  • Group discussions to help ‘connect the dots’.
  • Optional shared reporting and reflection in an online space.

Example questions for action research…

#1 Question: How might we best arrange furniture and set up the classroom to promote learning?

Area of interest: Learning space

Learning principles:

  • Learning is active and social and is enhanced by collaboration and interaction.
  • We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, learning styles, preferences and interests.

#2 Question:

How can technology support differentiated learning opportunities?

Area of interest: Integrating technology

Learning principles:

  • We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, learning styles, preferences and interests.
  • Learning needs to be challenging, meaningful, purposeful and engaging.

Simple Action Research model:

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 9.45.43 PM
Stephen Kemmis

Let me know if you’re interested in joining such an Inquiry Circle and we can take it from there…


I re-read the email before I sent it and had second thoughts… 

  • Maybe I don’t know enough about action research. In a recent Twitter chat, I got the impression it HAS to be done a certain way. (Who says?)
  • Maybe everyone’s busy and no-one will respond. (So what?)
  • Maybe an hour won’t be long enough? (Oh well.)

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Post Script:

Six people are in!

MY action research:

Question: How can we create new models of professional learning in our school that help build our learning community, while embedding our learning principles in our practice?

Area of interest: Teacher professional learning.

Learning principles: All!

  • We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, learning styles, preferences and interests.
  • Learning takes place through inquiry: questioning, exploring, experimenting and problem solving.
  • Learning occurs by acquiring skills and knowledge, constructing meaning and transfer to other contexts.
  • Learning is active and social and best takes place through collaboration and interaction.
  • Learning takes place when we feel secure, valued and are able to take risks.
  • Learning needs to be challenging, meaningful, purposeful and engaging.
  • Learning includes meta-cognition and reflection, and requires learners to take ownership of their learning.

Suggestions, tips and ideas invited!

10 thoughts on “Teachers’ action research…

  1. Of course there is not just one model for action research! The very nature of action research is messy and conflicted. What happens when partway through you want to change the plan? Do you stick to the plan and preserve the rigor of the research or do you change the plan and support the learning in a better way? How do you deal with problems and glitches? The work with students must go on. The moment may be lost. How can that moment then be applied to your research. I love action research and count myself lucky to be in a school that supports my efforts. But how much would I love to have a WHOLE GROUP to share my work with on a regular basis. Good on you! This is a great initiative.


      1. I have just started a group to study and implement Daily 5 in G1-G4, so in a manner of speaking that will be a kind of action research – as we will be reading and planning, implementing and the reviewing how things are going. We are in the process of soliciting support from the adminstration for our initiative. I like your idea for collaborating and comparing action research, however. I’m going to think about what could be possible…


  2. Love it!
    One suggestion: Have people share their (possible) questions ahead of time and develop cohorts or groups interested in the same or similar questions, and then provide them with a f2f opportunity to build relationships around interests that they can then foster online.


    1. Thanks, Dave.
      This is a small group at our 4th-6th grade campus, so it’ll be intimate and people can decide right there whether to work together or individually. But I’ll take your idea for another context, thanks! Our next PD day is going to be an open one.. teachers choose how they want to spend the day (post coming soon). We are a 3 campus school, so it will be worthwhile gathering people’s interests beforehand and creating cross campus groups that can work together on the day to be continued online if they like.


  3. Hi Edna, I just had a workshop on the action research and I found your blogs article about it. I am inquiring into an action research now, having some research questions and would love to learn more from each other about how it can be applied in our classroom.


  4. Edna,

    I love this model of action research. Why overcomplicate it with strict rules and structures?

    I did a fair amount of action research for my Master’s degree. While I found it informative, I found the rigidity of the structure actually limited my experimentation and my

    You are modeling inquiry for your teachers while asking them to facilitate inquiry in the classroom. To me, this is a necessary pairing to help teachers become better at facilitating inquiry.


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