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Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research

Reflections and Advice from the Field


Edited By Heather Lattimer and Stacey Caillier

Action research can be a transformative learning experience that strengthens educators’ practice and empowers our voices. For the novice action researcher, however, it can sometimes be frustrating, isolating, and overwhelming. Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research is an outstanding companion for educators embarking on the action research journey. The book shares the collected wisdom of more than thirty experienced teacher researchers. Designed to guide readers through the research process, the book is divided into five sections that reflect critical components of action research: developing a research question, designing a plan, engaging student voice, implementing the research process, analyzing data and sharing results. Relevant for both novice and seasoned action researchers, Surviving and Thriving is perfect for use in graduate education coursework, among professional learning communities, or by teachers embarking on action research independently. The text design, which includes introductory statements and guiding questions for each section, allows the book to stand alone as a guide for action research or it can serve as an outstanding complement to a more traditional, procedurally focused action research methods textbook.
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Chapter One: Fierce Wonderings: Finding Your Research Passion


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Fierce Wonderings

Finding Your Research Passion


I like the challenge of being with the 5th graders in our combo class but I wish we could do the science project like the other 4th graders. I miss having more friends from my own grade in my class. Sometimes it’s good to be different but sometimes I wish we could just be with everyone else our age.


The beginning of my action research process was also the beginning of a new student teaching placement. Enrolled in a combined master’s and credential program, my cohort colleagues and I began to take on our role as action researchers at about the same time that we were transitioning into a second semester of student teaching. For me, this placement was in a 4th/5th combination class. Everything was new—new school, new classroom, new grade level, new role.

When our AR instructor asked us to record our observations and begin to ask questions in the form of “fierce wonderings”—musings about our classrooms and pedagogy more generally—a list seemed easy to generate. I wondered how the strong focus on technology was impacting student learning and how I could maximize its effectiveness. I wondered how to help Vitor, a new student who had just moved from Brazil, develop his English language skills and adapt socially. I wondered about project-based learning,...

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