February Agenda

It’s February! We are half-way through the 2019-2020 school year! It’s time to celebrate! This month, as a teacher researcher, let’s celebrate all we have researched related to our choice topic. To do this, let’s be an artist!! Using a blank white sheet of paper and colorful flair markers, let’s sketch. You don’t feel like an artist? No worries. Try using the tips listed below and try adding images to your paper. Yes, you can use words but try adding words as labels for your visual representational sketches. The goal – sketch all you have done so far as a teacher researcher.

1. Reflecting– today instead of just writing or typing for 10 minutes….
take 15 minute and make a colorful visual representation of all you have done as a teacher researcher so far.

As you sketch, include the following:
the WHO, WHEN & WHERE your research is taking place
the WHAT you have tried – steps you have taken – your METHOD
the WHY you have tried this
what EXPERTS say on your topic – books/article/workshops you have read/attended
the DATA you have collected
any NEXT STEPS you are planning to take

2. SHARE using your visual as an aid and Critical Friends offer suggestions/comments.


  • Highlight as you reread all your reflections and your data.
  • Look for categories (important, surprising, interesting).
  • Look for patterns. Ask: What is data telling you?

Possible Ways to Reread:
1. Write and date new thoughts in the margins.
2. Pick a sentence and then write longer off that sentence
3. Reflect on: What surprises you? Is interesting? Feels important?
4. Reflect in writing what your next steps will be.

March 7 – Sat. at Busboys and Poets, 8-9:30am
March 10 – Tue., at Discovery, 4-5pm
March 11 – Wed, at Dorothy Hamm MS, 4-5:30pm
LOOKING AHEAD: final project involves documenting your year-long work
Here is a LINK to a template.

Here is a LINK to Sally’s 2009 Teacher Research Project.

Here is a LINK to Michelle’s 2014 Teacher Research Project

December Agenda

The air is colder and I am listening for a 4-letter word on the news. S-N-O-W! As a teacher researcher, I keep reflecting on my chosen topic. As the snowy image suggests, December is time to keep on the research path, knowing it may involve twists and turns. Be open and flexible as you reflect, share and listen during the December Teacher Research meeting.

1.  Journaling (ten minutes):
How’s it going?  What’s your question now?
What data did you bring?  What data might you gather?

2. Quick Share about Data: (five minutes) Go around the table once and name, in one sentence, a kind of data you have collected. It helps to say it in oder to give others ideas about what data is. Discuss more kinds of data you might collect or have collected so far.

3. LONG SHARE with 4-6 Critical Friends (10 – 15 min./ person) –  Where you are now in your research. SHARE what you have tried, what you are wondering. Critical Friends listen and offer suggestions.

4. Teacher Researcher Tip: Triangulation (Read/learn on your own time)
As a teacher researcher begins and continues to gather data related to their topic, the findings are more reliable when more than one data source is engaged.

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.11.40 AM

This figure lists one example of how to gather data from different points.
A good rule of thumb Sally follows: If only one or two say it, it could be an anomaly. However, if three different sources of data say the same thing, a pattern is occurring. Keeping this in mind. Keep asking: What other data needs to be collected?

5. Looking Ahead (homework on your own time)
As you go forward the rest of this month:
* Keep reflecting regularly.
* Keep documenting all that you try.
* Keep collecting data.
* Pick a date before the February meeting to do these 5 steps:
1. Go through all your data and highlight in 3 different colors, the parts that are important, surprising and  puzzling.
2. Look at all the highlightsand ASK: Are there patterns or recurrent themes?
What seems important, surprising, or puzzling?
3. Decide on any patterns/themes of this data and name it.
4. Ask: Does your research question needs to be revised?
5. What data is missing? What data do I need more of?
Bring this work to the February Meeting.

Next Meetings: (NOTE – No meeting in January)
Saturday, February 1 at 8-9:30am at Shirlington Busboys and Poets restaurant
Wed., February 5 at 4-5:30pm in Room 129 at DHMS (1st Wed due to 2/12 early release)
Tuesday, February 11 at 4-5pm in Art room at Discovery ES


November Agenda

Welcome to our 2nd meeting as a 2019-2020 Teacher Researcher! We are all on an exciting path. Going forward, know it will be a winding path. Know it will have forks in the road. Know it will be both envigorating and frustrating as we amble along. Know it will require lots of decision making. But the great part, as we travel this teacher research path, we are not alone. We have critical friends ready to help us stay on the path. At each monthly meeting, our friends are ready to help us figure out something about our topic.

Today, at the meeting, listen as teacher researchers share. Be a listener and offer your expertise. With our students in mind and with the goal of improving our practice to help are students, let’s reflect in writing (or typing), share aloud, listen well, and leave ready to keep trying.

November Meetings
Sat., November 2nd 8-9:30am at Shirlington Busboys and Poets
Tue., Nov. 12, 405pm at Discovery ES Art Room
Wed., Nov. 13th, 4:00-6:00pm at DHMS, Room 129
(You are welcome to come to the one that fits your schedule the best.)

Agenda/Topics Being Discussed:
1. Reflect

In writing, answer these questions: How is it going?
What do you think your question is today? What do others say about your topic?

Take turns sharing aloud about how it is going (about 5 min/person).
Start by stating your research question as it is at this moment, this month.

What do you think about what you are hearing?
What questions do you have about your colleague’s question?
Can you suggest kinds of data for your colleague to collect?
Can you suggest outside reading by experts related to your colleague’s topic?

3.Going forward
Search for experts on your topic and read.
Notice the bibliography of the article/books you read to see who your experts reference.
Ask “How might this review of literature guide me to act in the classroom?”
Make a plan. What will you try? Name it. Try it.
What data will you collect? Start collecting data.

4. What is data?
Data is many things. It is your regular reflective notes.
It is student work. It is student feedback.
It is anecdotal notes while doing student observations.
And don’t forget photos – it is photos – data you can “see”!
Start collecting data!!

5. Name your assumptions.
Reflect in writing those assumptions and biases you have.
By naming them, you can more clearly do this reflective work.
Suggested Activity from What Works? A Practical Guide for Teacher Research:
Regularly reflecting on these 3 questions as they relate to your topic can help to name your assumptions, positions and tensions.
1. What surprises you? 2. What intrigues you? 3. What disturbs you?

Suggested reading: HEALTHY SCEPTIC by Kate Roberts
Kate lists 6 ways to nurture the “healthy sceptic” in all of us:
1. Listen critically, especially to the people you agree with.
2. Name your biases.
3. Constantly ask: Do I agree with that? Do I agree with all of that?
4. Search for a wide range of teachers.
5. Name what you truly believe in vs. what feels debatable.
6. Find ways to enter into a dialogue.
While reading this blog post with a teacher researcher lens, I was reminded that we want to be doing the things on her list. So take a moment, read the article and reflect!

Looking Ahead:
Next meetings:
Sat., Dec. 7th,  8-9:30am at Shirlington Busboys and Poets
2nd Tuesday, Dec. 10th, 4-5pm at Discovery ES Art Room
3rd Wed., Dec. 18th, 4:00-6:00pm at DHMS, Room 129
(You are welcome to come to the one that fits your schedule the best.)

Regularly reflect to document what you are doing and to think about what you are doing in relation to your research question.
Plan to come to the December meeting with LOTS of data collected.
If you have a question / comment, use the APS Shared Folder called Teacher Researcher 2019-2020 OR add a comment on this blog or email Sally directly.

Have a great month…be sure to Reflect often, Then Act!!



October, 2019

This is my 16th year to pose a question at the beginnning of the school year and then see where it takes me as a Teacher Researcher. This year, I’m happy to report that I have three groups of critical friends I am guiding using the teacher research structure (a 1st Sat of the month group, a 2nd Tuesday of the month group and a 2nd Wed of the month group). Plus, I am the chair of the Teacher Research grant committee for the VA State Reading Association. It seems to me,  if you stick with something for many years, it becomes what you are about. It seem I am about Teacher Research! I am glad YOU are here too because critical friends are needed in this structure!

October Agenda (Sat., Oct. 5 / Tuesday, Oct. 8 / Wednesday, Oct. 9)
1. Welcome and Introductions
(in writing using a notebook or your laptop – be sure to date the entry!)

Possible guiding qustions to lead your reflection: 
* Why you are joining this group?
* What might you research? (HERE is a list of my past 15 questions.)
* Why research this topic?

Questions to answer which may help you discover your research topic:

  1. What are your thoughts and/or beliefs about how children learn?
  2. How do your beliefs shape the way you teach?
  3. What are you curious about in teaching?
  4. What are you curious about with regards to the learning of your students?
  5. What do you want to know more about?
  6. What do you want to fix, start, or change?
  7. What do you already do really well? (By researching this, you could systematically document a practice that is working. Your topic doesn’t have to be something to add or fix.)

Plan out a 5 minute or less share (so all get time to talk, keep it under 5 minutes). It should captures what you may focus on this year as a teacher research and why.

Write your topic as a question in the center of a plain white piece of paper:

  • What happens when…..?
  • What is….?
  • How…?

Pass the papers around (or walk around) so each critical friend can read it and offer feedback in writing. Feedback can be:
* questions about the question
* suggestions of kinds of data to collect
* suggestions of outside reading by experts related to the topic to read
* people related to the topic to talk to

Between now and the November meeting:
* registed in ERO – 20201438301
* set up a regular reflecting routine and do it!
* start to gather expert sources written about your topic
* tell your students your topic and ask them to ask you regularly “How’s it going?”
* be thinking of the topics of your critical friends and if you come across something, share it via email with them!

Reflect on this first meeting. Jot down what you think and the steps you plan to follow between now and the November meeting.

November meetings are:
Saturday, Nov. 2
Tuesday, Nov. 12
Wednesday, Nov. 13


TR Presentation – August 19th

I am presenting with three other amazing Teacher Researchers at the Arlington County Festival of the Minds on Monday, August 19th.

Here is the ppt presentation we are sharing.
2019Action Teacher Research

Our goal is to explain what Teacher Research is and share the research we did last year.

Then we will let our audience experience creating their own research question. First we will have the audience reflect in writing, a step to uncover an interesting topic to study. Then we will show them how to write a research question. Next, we will all take a “museum walk”, moving around the room, reading each written question and jotting down a comment or question that comes to our mind as we discover the topic each is interested in researching. These jots become the critical friend feedback for each researcher. We are looking forward to letting our audience get a feel for our monthly teacher research meetings where we talk about our topic and our critical friends offer feedback which in turn, helps to keep us on track with our research.

By presenting, we hope to encourage others to join us during the 2019-2020 school year as Teacher Researchers.