An important component of growing collective knowledge is to identify and examine relevant and reliable evidence bases. Increasingly teachers are expected to be able to identify and apply research to improve their instructional practice and better meet the diverse learning needs of all of the students they teach.
In a brief video, author and researcher Dr. Dave Edyburn talks about how teachers can make better use of educational research.
Identifying relevant research can be a time-consuming task and many participants, unless they are currently enrolled in a university graduate program, may not have access to specialized journals and publications. Reviewing research and compiling key articles can be one of the responsibilities of the facilitator. As the community develops, individual participants are often able to contribute additional research recommendations.
Look for opportunities throughout the year to involve participants in unpacking and reflecting on relevant research that will inform their practice in new and inspiring ways.
Post key research articles
Both Literacy for All and Numeracy for All websites identify key research articles that can inform practice related to the focus of their communities. If copyright allows, the websites include direct links to the entire article. When the article is not available for free on the web, a brief summary of key points is provided.
Begin with the evidence base
Since a key goal of communities of practice is to tap into credible evidence bases, consider incorporating research into webinar content. For example, introduce topics by summarizing key findings from current research. This will help participants can link theory and practice.
Look for ways to create opportunities for participants to respond to research during webinars.
Include information (and when possible, links) to the original source so participants can continue to investigate the research on their own, and also begin sharing it with others.
Consider collecting a number of key research articles to introduce at a face-to-face session. Organize the participants into small groups of three or four and assign them an article or a section of the article, depending on the length and complexity of the publication. Provide time for each group to read their article, record key points on chart paper, and prepare a three-minute summary to present to the whole group. At the end of the activity make print copies available of all articles.
Present a chapter
Invite participants to take one chapter of a resource the community is using, and prepare a summary to present to the group. Consider a structure such as a pecha kucha (20 slides /20 seconds each) to streamline presentations and ensure there is enough time for everyone to share their summaries.
In the examples below, participants from the Learning for All community of practice presented single chapters from More Language Arts, Math and Science for Students with Severe Disabilities by Diane M. Browder and Fred Spooner.
Some participants chose to present using a PowerPoint, while others chose to create a video.
Next… Reflect on practice