Thank you
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:23 pm
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Thanks to everyone who commented and made their way through this messy blog. I realize things are confusing and I posted in comments and on pages. It was a learning process, one made easier by your interest and comments. Judy



Final Products
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:21 pm
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Inquiry Presentation  This PowerPoint is very complete (and long) and contains a lot of information I will need in March.

Executive report  this is really an Action Plan and I believe this will save me a ton of time down the road.

These two files are not really part of the final report. The one, Spruce up your home, is one I will skim before the walkthrough in March with the realtor. The other, the Excel file, proj1, has all the data on listings and pricing and may come in handy in March, so I want it accessible and easy to find.

Spruce Up Your Home

proj 1 productivity tool



Reflection
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:14 pm
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Reflection 

Topic exploration (watching and wondering)

I chose something I felt I had to do – find out how to go about selling the condo. It was not a fun topic, such as researching a dream vacation would have been. And that made it harder, but also more personally rewarding now that I have finished. The results are something I need, and something I will use. There is a lot to be said for using a systematic process to research a personal question – my results are comprehensive, and the continual revisiting of the inquiry problem has made me confident my information is accurate and nothing has been overlooked.

However, the topic also proved to be interesting, in that while exploring it, I uncovered some resistance within myself. Though I started absolutely sure I wanted to sell the condo, I found I had to “convince” myself by running the numbers and seeing how much I was losing each year. Even though I never wanted to be a landlord, there is something attractive about thinking someone is paying your mortgage for you. And I never see the bills – tax, association fees, mortgage, etc. – my husband does all that. So I had an unrealistic idea that things were ok and also it would be easier just to let things ride until the market picks up. I think if you choose a topic, not for fun, but out of need, this backsliding might be part of the process.

The topic I chose is perhaps not part of a traditional PK12 curriculum, but certainly should be! I found connections in Life Skills and a couple other areas – it is a wonderful use of math also. There are more math lessons that can be taught – for example, calculating the ratio of listings to sales for each realtor, examining the selling prices of condos over the last few years and plotting the trend, etc. It is this kind of real world connection that makes curriculum meaningful to students.

 One interesting aspect of the Pathways to Knowledge model (Pappas and Tepe) is the pre-research stage in which you think about what you already know on a topic. I think I could have spent more time on this. I see where it entered into my inquiry – in the Information Evaluation stages – but I think a deliberate reflection may have been of value. However, on the other hand, going in with few preconceptions helped too – I was more open to information. I did not think my prior experience in selling a house really applied as the market is down so far.

Research questions (wondering part 2)

These were modified several times before I honed them to the essentials. At first I thought I would also learn more about buying a house, but it turned out that just selling was plenty to bit off! I also realized that some of my original questions could not be answered until later – for example, I cannot predict what work may have to be done in the condo until I do a walk through in March over spring break. And there were only a few realtors listing condos at this time of year – I will want to see if there are more as it gets closer to spring. However, the basic research questions are answered, and more than that, I feel I have a handle on the whole process. Perhaps the most important thing – I am committed to selling and confident that the condo can be sold this year.

Focus (wondering part 3)

I am very clear about the focus. I want to find out how to successfully sell the condo this year. The most important part of this is choosing a good realtor, and I have learned what to look for in a realtor. Much of what happens next will be up to the realtor and following his or her advice.

Gather Information (webbing)

This was an interesting aspect – I am so used to academic articles, and using the library. It was a shock to realize the library could not really help – even the online reference desk never responded. I turned to web articles, discussion forums and searches on google to find the information I needed. This made evaluation much more of an issue than if I could use libraries.

I used keywords to search, and Delicious tags turned out to be a wonderful source. I was able to access many articles other people had found useful through Delicious, and these did turn out to be the best sources of information.

I had to continually modify my search – I used keywords that others used to tag articles, I clicked on links to other resources from articles I liked, etc. While I never felt frustrated, I did find this process time consuming and often found myself off-track. I had to keep returning to the research questions which helped me focus. Over and over I realized this inquiry was not a linear process.

Synthesis and Analyze (wiggling and weaving)

I quickly discovered that over half the information from any given source did not apply to me. For example, the decision of whether to get a realtor or not is moot as I live so far away from the condo. And I cannot do much to the outside of the condo – that is not allowed, so fix-ups on the exterior are also moot. What I ended up doing was sorting the main points of each article I read into Applicable and Non-applicable categories in a Word document. Finding the same information in several articles was one of the ways I evaluated information. And it became apparent that the authors were in agreement in much that they wrote –the same tips and points were made over and over in different sources.

I had a lot of information. It saved a lot of time just using copy and paste and not worrying about citing each source, but listing them all at the end. This may not be acceptable to a PK12 teacher, but it worked for me. I found the answers I needed, and was not overwhelmed by pages and pages of articles. I would say skimming and synthesizing turned out to be the most efficient skills for this inquiry project.

Presenting findings (wrapping and waving)

This seemed almost an afterthought. I had my answers – why did I need to present them to someone else? But this turned out to be extremely valuable. I re-organized the information and re-displayed it. I found a couple holes and found the info I needed to fill them. I came up with a comprehensive PowerPoint and also an Executive summary which will help me greatly when it is time to put the selling plan into action. I crystallized a plan – really all I had was information before. Without a plan I may have had to redo a lot of the work, or at least reread quite a bit. Now I have put dates and to-do’s in my planner and really feel on top of things.

This step turned out to be one of the most important, in terms of the success of the inquiry. Also, while I think my findings may not be of use to anyone but me, I suspect I could be wrong about that. Already classmates have indicated some interest – there are a lot of people in my situation who can benefit from the work I did. So realizing that was valuable also.

Reflecting (wishing)

It took time to get the topic down. Even though I chose it quickly and stuck with my first choice, there were surprising factors which delayed moving through the first few steps of the process.

Technical issues were a problem in the beginning but then cleared up. My personal learning style (jump in and learn as you go) was positive and negative. I find I have learned a lot about blogging, and my next one will be more organized. This one however, has pages and comments by me and others, and the comments seem to me to be over the place. There are duplications and several versions of the same file uploaded – in other words, it is messy.

And if there is one word I would use about inquiry, it is MESSY!  And messy is ok – the end result is very neat. I think this is something students and teachers have to accept – that the process does not flow in a smooth, linear fashion, and all students won’t be in the same place at the same time. This is perhaps harder for teachers to accept, as they are concerned that students stay on track. So teachers have to trust the process – that because students are genuinely interested in the inquiry, they will get there in the end. And certainly, if I may be so immodest, the end result is worth the mess!

What would I do differently? Nothing much. I regret getting off track a few times, but think that is part of the process. I think I chose the right topic and am very happy I did choose selling the condo. It is a huge relief to have made as much progress as I have. And I am very happy with the plan I came up with. So all in all I am happy right now with the process and results. It wasn’t always that way – once or twice I found having to follow a process burdensome, and a classmates post on my blog indicated he too felt that way. I just wanted to find the answers and be done. And some of the model was more valuable to me in this inquiry than other aspects, and some was redundant. But in the end it worked, and the model made me consider aspects of the inquiry I would not have thought of. Perhaps the best use was that by continually revisiting the model and thinking about the process as well as the results I was finding, I kept the overall picture – the goal – in mind. I think my final plan is very organized and specific, and owe this to the models insistence on waving.;-)

A different inquiry I would like to try would involve more academic sources. It is hard for me to use articles written by people who cannot clearly be categorized (by me) as experts. There just are not the same qualifications and experience required of academic writers as there are of real-world writers. Seems like anyone can write and publish an article in a field such as real estate. So I would like to see how a different topic, one that can be answered by information found in a library, differs in the process from the one I chose.

The 4-Step Research Model by Hughes has an interesting component – it asks one to self-evaluate and choose goals for future projects. I think my self-evaluation is positive – I did what I set out to do. I followed the process – the model – and learned by doing so. I also learned more about blogging and solved some technical issues. I answered my research questions and feel a strong sense of relief that a personal problem is under control.

Goals for future research? To discipline myself to use a model – the 8W’s is great. WHile at times it seems like extra work, it keeps one focused and saves time and energy in the end.



Wishing
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:14 pm
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If there is one word I would use about inquiry, it is MESSY!  And messy is ok – the end result is very neat. I think this is something students and teachers have to accept – that the process does not flow in a smooth, linear fashion, and all students won’t be in the same place at the same time. This is perhaps harder for teachers to accept, as they are concerned that students stay on track. So teachers have to trust the process – that because students are genuinely interested in the inquiry, they will get there in the end. And certainly, if I may be so immodest, the end result is worth the mess!

What would I do differently? Nothing much. I regret getting off track a few times, but think that is part of the process. I think I chose the right topic and am very happy I did choose selling the condo. It is a huge relief to have made as much progress as I have. And I am very happy with the plan I came up with. So all in all I am happy right now with the process and results. It wasn’t always that way – once or twice I found having to follow a process burdensome, and a classmates post on my blog indicated he too felt that way. I just wanted to find the answers and be done. And some of the model was more valuable to me in this inquiry than other aspects, and some was redundant. But in the end it worked, and the model made me consider aspects of the inquiry I would not have thought of. Perhaps the best use was that by continually revisiting the model and thinking about the process as well as the results I was finding, I kept the overall picture – the goal – in mind. I think my final plan is very organized and specific, and owe this to the models insistence on waving.;-)

A different inquiry I would like to try would involve more academic sources. It is hard for me to use articles written by people who cannot clearly be categorized (by me) as experts. There just are not the same qualifications and experience required of academic writers as there are of real-world writers. Seems like anyone can write and publish an article in a field such as real estate. So I would like to see how a different topic, one that can be answered by information found in a library, differs in the process from the one I chose.



Differences than children & YA
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:13 pm
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How are your personal inquiry experiences like and unlike those of the children and young adults who might come into your classroom, lab, or media center?

If there is one word I would use about inquiry, it is MESSY!  And messy is ok – the end result is very neat. I think this is something students and teachers have to accept – that the process does not flow in a smooth, linear fashion, and all students won’t be in the same place at the same time. This is perhaps harder for teachers to accept, as they are concerned that students stay on track. So teachers have to trust the process – that because students are genuinely interested in the inquiry, they will get there in the end. And certainly, if I may be so immodest, the end result is worth the mess! Callison would call this a free inquiry and while messy, it is a great learning experience.

I think my experience is like the ones students will have. I think students will need more encouragement and may feel more frustrated than I did. I think teachers and library media specialists will need lots of conversations with students – one-on-one, to help them stay on track, stay motivated, and see that they are making progress. Because even though the process is circular at times, one does make progress if the end goal is kept in mind.

AS Don Tapscott points out in Growing up Digital and also Marc Prensky and other writers, todays students research using the web – so that is a similarity. They need to be encouraged and taught to use libraries, more so that I, who found it strange not to find my information in a library, but rather the web to be my best resource. I think with students, evaluation is key. I did not define a definitive way to evaluate the sources I used, but was able to use life experience and much practice evaluating information sources to guide me – students will not have my background, and must be taught evaluation skills.

The Pew report is fascinating as it shows the difference between generations. It is really we adults who have to adjust – the students are fine with the way they do things.;-)

Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. The digital disconnect: The widening gap between internet-savvy students and their schools. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life. August 14, 2002. Available: http://www.pewinternet.org



Personal connection
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:09 pm
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My personal approach to inquiry was jump in, get the answer, get out. This has changed a great deal. For one thing, I realize that the more clear I am about just what the purpose of the inquiry is, the less time I waste, and the better my end results. I also have an appreciation for Waving – organizing and presenting the material in a useable form. In the past, I have had to redo work that I will not have to redo this time, because I have transformed the inquiry into an Action Plan. So taking things the one step further – not just finding an answer, but putting the information into a more permanent form, has been the aspect of the inquiry process that for me has changed the most.



Curriculum Connection
Sunday February 07th 2010, 3:09 pm
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Curriculum Connection

“Standards guide teachers in identifying and focusing instruction on the essential knowledge and skills students should learn in each grade level” (San Jose Unified School District, 1999). This qoute, from the Intime website, presents an ideal of standards. Something like an inquiry based project is not so easy to categorize. Many grade levels and subject area standards are involved in an inquiry project. And not just curriculum standards, but technology and library media standards as well. While standards are a good think overall, I think teachers and media specialists have to realize that an authentic inquiry is far too complex and rich to fit in the standards box. That said, here are some linkages to curriculum standards at the elementary and (more applicable perhaps) high school level.

 

 

For elementary students, a simplified version of this inquiry would work very well. There are a lot of math lessons which could tie in and meet curricular standards. Finding listings of house they want to buy on the web or in the newspapers improves literacy skills.

Michigan K-8 Math standards: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MathGLCE_140486_7.pdf

General strands:

 Techniques and formulas for measurement (TE)

Problem solving involving measurement (PS)

Data interpretation and analysis (AN)

 

Specific standards (grade 6) that could be met by this inquiry and accompanying lessons”

 

Find equivalent ratios

N.ME.06.11 Find equivalent ratios by scaling up or scaling down.

Solve decimal, percentage and rational number problems

N.FL.06.12 Calculate part of a number given the percentage and the number.

N.MR.06.13 Solve contextual problems involving percentages such as sales taxes and tips.*

N.FL.06.14 For applied situations, estimate the answers to calculations involving operations

with rational numbers.

N.FL.06.15 Solve applied problems that use the four operations with appropriate

decimal numbers.

Understand rational numbers and their location on the number line

N.ME.06.17 Locate negative rational numbers (including integers) on the number line;

know that numbers and their negatives add to 0, and are on opposite sides and at equal

distance from 0 on a number line.

N.ME.06.19 Understand that 0 is an integer that is neither negative nor positive.

ALGEBRA

Understand the coordinate plane

A.RP.06.02 Plot ordered pairs of integers and use ordered pairs of integers to identify points

in all four quadrants of the coordinate plane.

Use variables, write expressions and equations,

and combine like terms

A.FO.06.03 Use letters, with units, to represent quantities in a variety of contexts,

e.g., y lbs., k minutes, x cookies.

A.FO.06.04 Distinguish between an algebraic expression and an equation.

A.FO.06.05 Use standard conventions for writing algebraic expressions, e.g., 2x + 1 means

“two times x, plus 1” and 2(x + 1) means “two times the quantity (x + 1).”

A.FO.06.06 Represent information given in words using algebraic expressions and equations.

A.FO.06.07 Simplify expressions of the first degree by combining like terms, and evaluate

using specific values.

Represent linear functions using tables, equations, and graphs

A.RP.06.08 Understand that relationships between quantities can be suggested by graphs

and tables.

A.PA.06.09 Solve problems involving linear functions whose input values are integers; write the

equation; graph the resulting ordered pairs of integers, e.g., given c chairs, the “leg function” is 4c;

if you have 5 chairs, how many legs?; if you have 12 legs, how many chairs?*

A.RP.06.10 Represent simple relationships between quantities using verbal descriptions,

formulas or equations, tables, and graphs, e.g., perimeter-side relationship for a square,

distance-time graphs, and conversions such as feet to inches.

Solve equations

A.FO.06.11 Relate simple linear equations with integer coefficients, e.g., 3x = 8 or

x + 5 = 10, to particular contexts and solve.*

A.FO.06.12 Understand that adding or subtracting the same number to both sides of an

equation creates a new equation that has the same solution.

A.FO.06.13 Understand that multiplying or dividing both sides of an equation by the same

non-zero number creates a new equation that has the same solutions.

A.FO.06.14 Solve equations of the form ax + b = c, e.g., 3x + 8 = 15 by hand for positive

integer coefficients less than 20, use calculators otherwise, and interpret the results.

Examples:  the overall inquiry of buying a house lends itself to many math lessons. Students need to look at down payments, prices, mortgage rates and closing costs. They need to construct a formula to make comparisons and calculate the total costs (A.FO.06.11-14 and N.FL.06.12-15).

High school Standards

Certainly high school students can complete a similar project just as it is – although the focus might be better changed to buying a house or condo, as they are unlikely to need to sell one;-))  Buying any large ticket item would follow the same inquiry process- how do you know what to buy? How can you locate and evaluate advisors for knowledge and trustworthiness? These are life skills students need.

There are two areas of Michigan standards for which this inquiry project is an excellent fit. These include the Career and Technical Standards and the Michigan Career and Employability Skills.  The standards  in each set of standards which are particularly applicable to this inquiry project are listed below:

Career and Technical Standards

The additional standards within each CTE program include the High School Content Expectations (where they are naturally embedded in the curriculum), the Michigan Career and Employability Skills, the Michigan Technology Education Standards, and Technical Skills Standards specific to each CTE program. The result is a comprehensive package of skills expectations that are common among instructional areas. The standards give uniformity throughout programs, supply consistent expectations for teaching and learning, and provide a foundation from which to select assessment options over the next few years.

Architecture and Construction Career Cluster www.careerclusters.org/resources/pos_ks/

FoundationKSCharts/2008/AC-132-KSCHART.pdf

Business Management and Administration Career Cluster www.careerclusters.org/

resources/pos_ks/FoundationKSCharts/2008/BA-120-KSCHART.pdf

Finance Career Cluster www.careerclusters.orGovernment and Public Administration Career Cluster www.careerclusters.org/

resources/pos_ks/FoundationKSCharts/2008/GV-147-KSCHART.pdf

Marketing Career Cluster www.careerclusters.org/resources/pos_ks/

FoundationKSCharts/2008/MKT-195-KSCHART.pdf

Michigan Career and Employability Skills

APPLIED ACADEMIC SKILLS

1. All students will apply basic communication skills (e.g., reading, writing, speaking,

and listening), apply scientific and social studies concepts, perform mathematical

processes, and apply technology in work-related situations.

DEVELOPING AND PRESENTING INFORMATION

3. All students will demonstrate the ability to combine ideas or information in new ways,

make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, and organize and present

information in formats such as symbols, pictures, schematics, charts, and graphs.

PROBLEM SOLVING 4. All students will make decisions and solve problems by specifying goals, identifying

resources and constraints, generating alternatives, considering impacts, choosing

appropriate alternatives, implementing plans of action, and evaluating results.

www.michigan.gov/mde/0,1607,7-140-28753—,00.html

Examples: High school students can choose a house or another large ticket item they want to buy. They also can compare building a house to buying an existing one. They can research condos vs. houses based on constrains such as income, location, down payments, and more (PROBLEM SOLVING 4). They can present their findings in many forms such as charts and graphs, as well as web based tools (DEVELOPING AND PRESENTING INFORMATION). The curricular connections are nearly endless, and the interest of students should be very high – who doesn’t like shopping?



Technology requirements
Sunday February 07th 2010, 1:27 pm
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Technology Requirements

1. Concept Map. http://www.mywebspiration.com/publish.php?i=310199ac54

2. Pathfinder, Social Bookmarks, or Bibliography. Delicious     http://delicious.com/jkdonova

3. Electronic Communication Tool. I emailed the IUPUI online reference desk and ask-an-expert, and also asked management company for realtor reference

4. Productivity Tool. Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel

5. web links   http://www.grar.com/  and http://mlive.com



Waving and reflection on waving
Sunday February 07th 2010, 1:10 pm
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Executive report   

I decided I needed a shorter summary of the plan to sell the condo, so I created an Executive Report. This will help me when I put the plan into action, as I may not remember what I have to do and where all the information is. Waving was interesting because I did not know, until I began to organize the information, what form the presentations would take. I like the way it turned out – a comprehensive PowerPoint with everything in one place, an Excel spreadsheet, and then this summary with just the essential information such as realtors website links, phone numbers, etc. I should waste very little time gearing up in March.

It includes a timeline  and these two links are important:

http://www.grar.com/  and http://mlive.com

Important Dates

March 1 – research listings, add new realtor possibilities to list,  research, narrow  choices, set up interviews for mid-March. Realtors not given option to renew lease April 1. NOTE: see Word doc called Spruce up your home at http://jkdonov.edublogs.org for suggestions of what repairs and upgrades are suggested. Read this before touring condo.

Mid-March – meet with realtors, choose one, tour condo, arrange for upgrades, painting, etc. Choose price, marketing plan.

April 1 – list condo. Renters can stay month by month but there will be open houses, etc.

As I think about my first post on Waving, I did not see the benefit at all. My inquiry seemed so personal, so specific to my circumstances, that I did not see why I should share it – what anyone could gain from it. I think differently now. The plan was a great idea.  The organization of information is a strong point – these are things that would help anyone. As Jamie McKenzie writes about the Research Cycle, reporting comes after cycling through the process more than once. And the reporting, for me, made me cycle back – step back – and take a broader view of the process.

It could be Waving will turn out to be the most valuable step in the process for me.



Waving
Sunday February 07th 2010, 12:54 am
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I am not communicating my ideas to others so much as organizing them for myself. It would be great if someone can benefit from my work, but it is a pretty specific inquiry – selling a condo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

There are some general things of use to anyone trying to sell, however. I have accumulated the wisdom of many authors who wrote articles such as “Selling in a down market”. I have dscribed how to find a good real estate agent and listed questions to ask at the interview of a potential agent.

I would like feedback from classmate about the PowerPoint which presents my findings (see previous post).  It is not complete, as there is more to add, but feedback would be valuable.

Waving (Communicating) is communicating ideas to others through presenting, publishing, and sharing. Students share their ideas, try out new approaches, and ask for feedback.