The effect of language frames on communication skills in a sixth grade STEM classroom
Brandenburger, Patricia Rae
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Teaching 6th grade students in a collaborative environment can be challenging. This action research project focused on using language frames to guide students in communication interactions. The research was done in a pre-engineering classroom as part of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program at the middle school level. Two classes of students, a total of 57 students, participated in the study. Students were provided with sentence frames that could be filled in with their own words allowing them to express their ideas and reasoning. Some of the language frames also provided students with the ability to show they are listening to other students by restating what was heard. Written surveys and collaboration rubrics were analyzed to find a small increase in communication among collaborative groups. Students' self ratings on their listening and communication skills increased as well as the opinions towards working in groups. Video observations showed a more dramatic increase in students' time spent communicating from before the treatment time. Although there is not strong data to directly support the use of language frames, students communicated with each other more and the overall classroom environment improved from the teacher point of view. Completing the action research project also provided a more in depth practice of collecting and analyzing data as a teacher.