Professional Inquiry Project

  1. Describe Your Inquiry

How might we use technology to consistently communicate effectively with families?

My professional inquiry project will focus on choosing an online portal that is the best fit for our school.  Our principal allowed us to choose which portal we preferred to use as a grade level this year with the expectation that we will all be using the same portal throughout the school next year.   As part of our Leadership Team, I volunteered to take on the responsibility of this task. As of right now we have teachers using Dojo, Remind, and Seesaw. My inquiry project focuses on how we will go about choosing a portal to use and the professional development and training needed to successfully launch the portal for the next school year

2. What course essential question are you investigating? Please include the question you are focusing on and describe the connection.

DHow might we use knowledge of andragogy and pedagogy to enhance our ability to leverage educational technology for teaching and learning

My inquiry project connects to this essential question because the home-school connection is so important for student success.  Building relationships and opening lines of communication with families is one of the most important things we can do as educators.  

3. What two course outcomes are you demonstrating proficiency with? For each please explain how you see your work as demonstrating mastery of the outcome.

2Demonstrate fluency with new educational tools, and articulate the affordances and constraints of such tools to support educational practice
3Plan for educational experience (of K-12 students or adults learners) that demonstrates the ability to use educational technology, sound educational philosophy, and plan for local context

Course Outcome 2: For this project I will explore the tools teachers are using now to see and examine the pros and cons of each.  I will conduct surveys so I have input from teachers and families.      

Course Outcome 3:  Once a tool is chosen, I will plan professional development and provide tutorials for staff and families. 

4. Find at least three scholarly articles from the library.  These sources should be studies of how your topic connected to improve outcomes or experiences.  For each sources

  1. Annotation in APA format
  2. Brief summary of the article and connection to your inquiry

Pynoo, B., Tondeur, J., van Braak, J., Duyck, W., Sijnave, B., Duyck, P. (2012).  Teachers’ acceptance and use of an educational portal.  Computers & Education.  58, 1308-1317.

     This article was written in 2011 but I thought most of the data collected would still be relevant today.  In this study the acceptance of an educational portal is assessed based on usage data and an online acceptance questionnaire.  Research indicates that a positive attitude toward using a portal and that the portal meets the expectations of its users is vital.  Teacher attitudes depended on two major factors: perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness. This research study found that most teachers use the basic aspects of an e-learning environment and only a minority of teachers utilize the more advanced functions.  The implications of the study are that it is very important for schools to provide training and resources to support teachers in the use of an educational portal. Also, it is essential that schools choose a portal that is easy to use and create an environment that supports and encourages use of the portal.

I chose this article because it is important to think about everyone who is going to be impacted by the decision we make. This article also gave me some ideas on what I am going to include in the teacher surveys.

Goodall, J.S.  (2016). Technology and school-home communication.  International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning.  11, 2, 118-131.  

This article focuses on how supporting learners requires communication between school and families.  Goodall examines home-school communication with an emphasis on how it can be supported by digital technologies.  Digital technologies include technology-based systems, websites, email, and social media. Communication is explained as the passing of information from one to another and the receiver has the capability of a response, although the receiver is not required to respond.  The article emphasizes that the value and importance of parental engagement has been studied and published over and over again with the same results. According to the sociocultural theory of learning, In order for it to be successful the school must work collaboratively and respectfully with families.  Positive parental attitudes have been connected to children’s development and achievement. In essence, children whose parents model positive attitudes towards school will eventually develop similar beliefs. These students will achieve higher grades, adapt better to school, have better attendance, develop positive peer relationships, and continue in education for longer.  One way to build a more positive relationship with parents is to explain ideas in terms they are likely to understand. When parents receive positive and useful communication they are likely to be more involved. 

Technology has changed the way people communicate because it not only allows you to relay a message, but to also send a picture or video.  Technology also allows schools and parents to share information quickly and easily and stores it all in one place. Studies found that a simple texting system made a significant impact on parental support of their child’s learning.  It is suggested that schools adopt a holistic approach that is led by senior leaders toward using technology to communicate. Some recommendations are that any decisions made should be based on parental needs and capabilities and no decision should be made without careful investigation and discussions with parents.  

I chose this article because as we prepare to roll out teacher portals I am anticipating some resistance and it is important to have research that supports the use of an online portal.

Edwards, T.  (2016). Communicating Connecting with parents.  Leadership.  2, 6, 8-10.

This article focuses on connecting with families and showing families that you care.  Edwards points out that anyone can communicate with someone, connecting takes more of an intentional effort.  Edwards points out that connecting is less about transferring information and more about building relationships and trust.  Parental engagement increases when parents feel respected and valued. The ultimate goal of a home-school connection is to create a trustworthy atmosphere where families feel like participants in the journey of their child’s education.  The end result is successful students who go on to make a difference in society.

I chose this article because in our school our primary use for a teacher portal is to communicate with parents. This article supports our philosophy that connecting with families is a key to student success.

5. How did your inquiry question support your professional growth?  How do you know that your work advanced your learning?

This inquiry project really forced me to sit back and think about how using technology to communicate with parents would impact everyone involved.  It brought up the following questions:

-How can we ensure that teachers and families have a voice in the decision making process?

-How will teachers be expected to use this tool?  

-How can we prioritize that teachers and families have support in using the new tool?

-Will this eliminate paper notices and newsletters?

-What about the families who do not have access to the internet?

This project also helped me think about rolling out change from a leadership perspective.  I am planning to take leadership courses soon and planning this project has shown me how much work goes into making just once decision.  

6. Report out on the effects, pros and cons of your small group (PLN) interactions using multimedia tools.  Reflect on your growth in terms of accessing and participating in your PLN.

Google Groups:  I had a hard time joining Google Groups and every time I wanted to ask my group a question I had to login and search for it.  I did not receive any email updates either. I tried connecting with my group a few times without success. I felt discouraged and eventually gave up.  I am making the assumption that we are all feeling a little over our heads this time of year and are investing a lot of time and energy into our own projects and don’t have the time to check our group messages and provide help to our group.      

8. Provide evidence of your work, this can be photos, screenshots, videos, certificates, links, badges earned, ect.

Wednesday, 11/13
90 minutes
Searching Fogler Library online to find scholarly articles that connected to my professional inquiry.  I bookmarked 11 articles on my phone to read at a later date.  
Thursday, 11/14
120 minutes
Reading the articles and narrowing down the ones that would be most useful in answering the essential question I chose.  
Sunday, 11/17
60 minutes
Connecting my professional inquiry to our course essential questions and outcomes.
Monday, 11/18
90 minutes
Reading/Highlighting scholarly articles and searching for online resources.
Friday, 11/22
90 minutes
Summarizing scholarly articles.
Saturday, 11/23
180 minutes
Putting it all together. Creating new blog (SeeSaw did not seem like a good fit for this project) and posting to it.

9. What are the best four resources you found in this work?  Please make sure these are hyperlinked. Explain briefly how each would be used (background, context, how-to, teacher-use, student-use).

 Not only did this resource affirm that we are using three apps in our school that to-picks, it also provides reviews on each app.

This is the resources I plan to use when creating the surveys for parents and teachers.  The results will be used by the leadership team to determine the portal that would be the best fit for our school.

This resource provides some background information on Seesaw as an educational tool and some tutorials on its features.  Teachers will explore this resource during staff meeting time.

This resource provides some background information on ClassDojo as an educational tool and some tutorials on its features.Teachers will explore this resource during staff meeting time.

This resource provides some background information on Remind as an educational tool and some tutorials on some of its features.  Teachers will explore this resource during staff meeting time.   

10. What are your next steps from this inquiry?

My next steps are to:

-Determine expectations around using an educational portal with our leadership team

-Create a survey for teachers and parents (user friendliness, cost, accessibility, star rating)

-Create an account for each of the portals we are considering and play around with them

-Make a tutorial for each one that includes affordances and constraints

-Design professional development and plan training for teachers

-Plan a family night

Published by courtneyrwilliamsmaineedu

Hello! I am a second grade teacher in Maine. I am currently taking a technology course in hopes to further my knowledge on integrating technology in the classroom!

One thought on “Professional Inquiry Project

  1. Great job. I think this would ba great to actually use. As a working parent,I could not always reach out and talk to my children’s teachers. You are doing a great job.


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