Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to see if and how my fourth grade students used blogging to develop the higher order thinking skills of applying, analyzing, and evaluating when responding to poetry. The study provided me with insights into how blogging can be used as another avenue for discussing poetry, as opposed to the more conventional approaches of verbal discussion and handwritten responses.

A secondary purpose of this study was to provide other educators with insight into how blogging can develop students' use of higher order thinking skills when responding to poetry. I addressed the following research question through this study: how does blogging influence the higher order thinking skills of fourth graders when responding to poetry?

In this study, I investigated how my students' use of blogging influenced their higher order thinking skills. I conducted this qualitative action-research study in my fourth grade classroom in a suburban school district located in western New York, where I collected and analyzed data on my students to learn new strategies and best practices for teaching them how to use higher order thinking when responding to poetry.

I began the study by administering a pre-assessment and interview to determine my students' abilities and understanding about responding to poetry using higher order thinking. To help my students develop skills in how to comprehend poetry at the levels of applying, analyzing and evaluating, I used a balanced literacy approach, focusing on reading and writing in a five-week unit of study focusing on poetry as the genre of literature being studied. As part of the study, students responded to poetry through blogging. I analyzed their blogging responses to determine their use of higher order thinking skills. I also used a series of Quick Writes throughout the study to gather written feedback from students about their experiences. I administered a post-assessment at the end of the five-week unit to determine how blogging influenced the students' abilities to use higher order thinking skills when responding to poetry. Finally, I concluded the study by conducting student interviews to see how blogging was supportive in the areas of applying, analyzing, and evaluating.

I assessed all thirteen students in my class to determine their ability to use higher order thinking when responding to poetry. From the thirteen students who were assessed, I chose a purposeful sample of three students with limited higher order thinking skills who differed in gender, socio-economic status, and ethnicity to focus on for the case study portion of the action-research study.

I chose the three students as participants because I wanted to represent a wide range of learners and abilities, covering factors such as gender, race, and socioeconomic status to ensure the findings provide implications for a large population. The participants were members of my fourth grade classroom, which offered me many chances for direct observation during authentic learning opportunities as the investigation progressed. Based on the pre-assessment and interview I used to determine the students' understanding of higher order thinking, the activities I created during the poetry unit were designed to meet the needs of various learning styles to support each student's potential for mastering the unit's objectives. I analyzed the contents of the three students' blog responses to determine what higher order thinking the students used when responding to poetry, as well as administered a post-interview and a series of Quick Writes to get their insight into how blogging supported the use of higher order thinking.

As a result of this study, the students and I have found that learning to read and write can be fun and exciting as long as we are willing to use the tools and people around us to help develop as readers, writers, and thinkers. The students also realized that there are multiple ways of applying, analyzing, and evaluating text, specifically poetry.

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