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EIU: Research in Action

Volume II: 2013a


Katie Lancaster

An Examination of Using Graphic Organizers to Teach Writing: A Case Study

The purpose of this action research study was to determine whether or not using graphic organizers to teach writing would have an impact on first grade students’ attitudes toward writing and proficiency in the areas of word choice and organization. This six-week study was guided by two primary research questions: 1) Does using graphic organizers impact students’ attitudes towards writing? And 2) How does using graphic organizers impact students’ ability to use word choice and organization in writing? Throughout the entirety of this study, two main sources were used to collect information. The sources that were used were: a survey about students’ attitudes towards writing and independent student writing samples completed three times throughout the study. At the conclusion of the research study, results showed that graphic organizers are an effective teaching technique in writing. Students showed improved attitudes toward writing and their usage of word choice and organization improved.

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More about Katie

Katie Lancaster

"My name is Katie Lancaster. I have been teaching first grade in Charleston, Illinois for five years. I completed my bachelor degree at Eastern Illinois University in 2007. I was hired at Carl Sandburg Elementary School, months after graduating, as a Title I interventionist. I was then hired for the following school year as a first grade teacher. I am finishing my fifth year as a first grade teacher at Carl Sandburg Elementary.



Marsha Steele

Developing Automaticity with Multiplication Facts in a Fourth Grade Classroom

This action research study was conducted to investigate the effect math centers might have on students’ ability to memorize single digit multiplication facts. Participants in the study included three female and two male students (n=5). Students practiced single digit multiplication facts 0 through 9 using various activities in math centers. The activities included computer games, card and dice games, worksheets, flash cards, and timed tests. Students’ progress was monitored through a pre/post test, daily one-minute timed test, and weekly two-minute timed tests. Findings indicated that implementing multiplication fact review through the use of math centers did slightly increase fact fluency among the five participants.

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More about Marsha

Marsha Steele

Educational Background: Graduated from Eastern Illinois University in May of 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. In May 2013, will receive a Master’s Degree in Education from Eastern Illinois University.

Teaching Background: I am currently teaching fourth grade at William’s Elementary School in Mattoon and am in my sixth year of teaching.

Action Research Project Title: Developing Automaticity with Multiplication Facts in a Fourth Grade Classroom

Purpose of Action Research: The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect math centers might have on students’ ability to memorize single digit multiplication facts. In order to do this, I conducted math centers for five weeks in my classroom. The math centers consisted of activities that allowed students to practice and enhance the learning of basic multiplication facts; they also completed a daily one- minute timed test, and a weekly two-minute timed test. The research question that guided this study was: What are the effects of implementing math centers in a fourth grade classroom to facilitate the memorization of multiplication facts?

Impact of Master’s Program: The Master’s program at Eastern provided me with an opportunity to further my education while allowing time to reflect on my teaching practices. I continue to grow as an educator because of the amazing educational experiences I received during the graduate courses. I met several amazing educators and professors and was given the opportunity to collaborate on many amazing projects with them.



Kristlyn Dalton

The Effects of Implementing a Reader’s Theatre Intervention in a First Grade Classroom

The purpose of the study is to examine if using repeated readings of reader’s theatre scripts will have an impact on first grade students’ fluency ability. The study hypothesizes that using repeated readings of reader’s theatre scripts will improve students reading rate (words per minute) and their ability to read fluently. A sample of six students was purposefully selected by the researcher from a first grade classroom in a central Illinois elementary school. The study lasted for four weeks. The student was measured using Rasinski’s 3-Minute Reading Assessment, including the fluency and comprehension scale, and reading fluency assessments from Reading A to Z. The data revealed that a reader’s theatre intervention can successfully improve first grade students reading rate and fluency when the text is at their reading level.

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More about Kristlyn

Kristlyn Dalton graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in December of 2011. She is currently earning her master’s degree in Elementary Education along with a reading certificate. Kristlyn is from Bolingbrook, IL originally and is currently a graduate assistant for Eastern Illinois University.



Brittney Homann

Impact of Student-Centered Goal Setting and Progress Monitoring on Oral Reading Fluency Scores in Fourth and Fifth Grade Students

This action research study conducted by a student researcher as part of the coursework required for a graduate capstone course looked at the extent to which student-centered progress monitoring affected reading fluency scores among a sample fourth and fifth grade students. Four students from the fifth grade (1 male, 3 female) and four students from the fourth grade (3 male, 1 female) were selected to participate (n=8). Student participants were selected based on reading fluency scores provided by their teachers. This study examined the effects of student-centered goals and progress monitoring on the participants’ reading fluency scores over a four week period. Data collection tools used in this study include pre- and post-tests of participants’ reading fluency using commercially available programs and weekly assessments using grade-level curriculum based passages. Challenges of this study include a small sample size, the short chronological length of the study, and the potential imprecision of using non-standardized curriculum based passages. Results of this study indicate gains in reading fluency in seven of the eight participants; these gains were present in both the accuracy and prosody aspects of reading fluency.

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