My project has had its set of huge challenges, actually project changing setbacks. My first project draft involved going into schools and testing if kinesthetic and aesthetic programs such as Brain Pop positively affects student achievement in the classroom. The ultimate goal was to support the fact that the direction that school districts are going into, taking away recess and play time and making students sit in chairs all day, is actually doing the opposite of what they want, to increase student achievement. Because I student teach kindergarten at Spruce Street Elementary, we thought entering a second grade may be easy because I already had a connection. The teachers seemed on-board when it was mentioned in person but then we were directed to get permission from the principal first, which seemed logical and easy. This proved to be a challenge because, with her busy schedule, countless emails, phone calls, and secretary visits proved fruitless. After a month and a half of countless energy spent trying to contact her from both my faculty member and I, the principal finally gave us the ok. We returned to the teachers very excitedly but once details and proceedings of the study were fully divulged and things were becoming more serious, the teachers turned their backs on the study. They sent us a very strong email saying that they had no extra time in their packed schedule as well as many students who have diverse and high needs with parents who are not flexible.
After many re-designs of the study, we concluded that getting into New York school’s is a multi-year process, if entrance is granted at all, because of tough standards and pressure on schools and teachers to produce high scores on standardized tests and to move through material quickly. Although ideally, hands-on educational research in the classroom is what we wanted, we began to re-plan our experiment as research barriers and obstacles happen. We thought about recess time, teacher education, and many other ideas but came across something very interesting that is a pretty relevant topic in education, especially in New York. In 2017, New York adopted the Greater Schools survey that allows parents to rate their child’s school using a rubric in six categories: rigorous instruction, supportive environment, collaborative teachings, effective school leadership, family/community ties, and trust out of four points. This study compares 2017 and 2018 surveys to assess if parenteral input through the use of digital rubrics changes the school in these categories. We have chosen to assess school primary school in district 2 which gives a wide range of socio-economic background and culture. We are out to show the importance of rubrics because the shift from, qualitative to quantitative data helps parents display their input in order to make reform happen.
Trials and tribulations are the current status of the project. We have been working with teachers from Spruce Street, that were originally on board, but then dropped out before we began, just when things got serious. Our first rode block was the principal because although she ended up being ok with it, had a very rough time responding and getting back to us. This long and arduous road of tons of emails and in-person visits, seemed to be a success when the principals said yes but when that tedious process was repeated with the teachers, they changed their answers and declined. At this point, we changed our perspective to do any grade K-3 teachers from Spruce Street when it was originally designed for 2ndgrade. Since the principal has not been answering, we reached out to her secretary and are in limbo with that.
In the meantime, we are coming up with an alternate plan to maybe just play this as a case study that turns into a qualitative more than a quantitative study because we will ask teachers a series of questions based on a pre-designed study about their feelings and results towards kinesthetic interventions. We considered doing a meta-analysis but it seems there is a lack of time for that. We are either heading in the direction of a Tribeca school my faculty leader may have contacts with or a qualitative study to start this project in a packed manner starting winter break. My faculty leader and I are a great team! We communicate exceptionally well in a timely manner and we are defiantly problem-solving collectively and fully discussing ideas from both sides.
The title of my research project is The Impact of Aesthetic and Kinesthetic Strategies on Academic and Attitudinal Improvement: Engaging Young Students for Pedagogical Success. If aesthetic and kinesthetic strategies are implemented as transitions in the first-grade classrooms before standard work, these activities will increase task-based behavior, focus, attitude and academic achievement.
The participants will be two classes of first-grade students from Spruce Street Elementary School in Downtown Manhattan. One class will be a control group in which they will receive additional kinesthetic and aesthetic interventions. The other class will be the independent group who not will receive the kinesthetic and aesthetic interventions multiple times a week. The interventions that will be used will be commercially available songs with videos ex., Brain Pop or Go Noodle. Using a pre-post research design based upon the Leuven Involvement Scale for Young Children developed by Prof. Ferre Laevers at Leuvan, Brussels, the students will be initially pre-assessed by the researchers who will observe the students’ participating in their “brain breaks” and then observe them as they are seated to complete assigned text-based tasks. Researchers will rate the participants and assess their engagement/involvement on a one-five scale using on the text-based assigned task and use video recordings to re-evaluate. At the completion of the multi-month intervention period, the students will be observed and reassessed based on their completion of a similarly assigned text-based task. All students will have signed permission slips from their parents or guardians.
Because I am going to school to become a teacher, this research is in hopes of direct application. I am hoping to find that these breaks really do help emotionally and academically and if they do it is something that I will implement student teaching and when I become a teacher. I am also hoping that this research can help teachers and administrators realize that taking away physical activity in order to have more learning time is not beneficial and is actually detrimental to student’s academic success.