JourneyBooks: A Reflections Interactive Library

Emerge Faculty Fellows: Drs. Susan Densmore-James and Dana Boddy

The purpose of this project is to create professional communities that utilize high impact practices through the use of the JourneyBooks learning tool. One of the most important skills of a 21st Century Teacher is being able to adapt to a rapidly changing educational environment. The goal is to not only provide UWF students with researched-based instruction, but to include them in the research and development of JourneyBooks high impact practices for use in their studies, as well as in the K-12 environment. Students will research best practices in instruction, create engaging lesson plans in response to the research, utilize the high impact practices in their coursework at UWF, and implement these practices in partner schools. In addition, this preparation allows students to collaborate and reflect on not only the research, development, and implementation of high impact practices, but it allows for students to fully experience the process of effective response to an ever-increasing world of change.

Since the turn of the century, education has changed vastly. Already, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education beyond a high school diploma with technology, science, math, and engineering being at the forefront (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). In order to realize the potential of our school-aged students, education must be strong enough to prepare all students for college, careers, and the innovation-based economy in which they will make their living. This, in combination with an increase in high stakes testing and accountability, creates a real problem in our nation’s schools, as the instruction being provided is more focused on the student outcomes on standardized tests versus their capability to be productive in today’s global economy. Unfortunately, the U.S. has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world. Among students who do complete high school and go on to college, nearly half require remedial courses, and nearly half never graduate. In response to these issues, this project will focus on training our future teachers to use innovative methods to allow for them and their students to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and creators of innovative products. Additionally, it will instill in them the ability to continually reflect on practice, research possible options, and adjust instruction in response to the changes.

The original version of JourneyBooks was created in 2000 due to the rapidly changing populations Dr. James was working with at the time (ESE, ELL, and Gifted Education). To allow for individualized instruction, the journal was organized with mini-lessons using pages that were side by side. On the right side, the students were given the content knowledge needed in the form of explicit notes, which teaches the important literacy skills and strategies that are research-based best practices. The left hand side of the notebook is a place for students’ work and reflections. This side provides a space for students to use several types of writing and graphics to demonstrate students’ understanding of the strategies and skills taught. This allows for students to work both collaboratively and independently at the highest level of Blooms Taxonomy by creating new products to demonstrate their understanding, and then to reflect on how the strategy assisted them in comprehension (metacognition). Additionally, teachers will provide rich feedback on the left side using virtual post-it notes, in order to not disturb the students’ work. Focus is placed on feedback that will move students forward in their thinking (Turnstall & Gipps, 1996). Since many secondary teachers have approximately 160 students, this will allow for easy and authentic performance assessments and is a highly effective way to monitor their understanding and have conversations via post-it notes about what was being read. Although research is sparse regarding secondary literacy, it has been shown that 9 strategies have the scientific basis for being necessary to teach students (Block & Pressley, 2007; NRP, 2000), which are as follows: predicting, monitoring, questioning, visualizing, re-reading, inferring, main idea/summarizing/concluding, evaluating, and synthesizing. The nine strategies are supported by the NRP findings (2000) and the work of Block & Pressley (2007). These are the same skills that need to be taught and applied in all content areas of education. The strength of this tool is the content can be modified based on the content area taught, grade level, or individual needs of the students. There is a strong need for this type of tool since it gives teachers a common “literacy language” and includes all content area teachers in the teaching of literacy. Students are then able to see how all learning connects and can transport these skills across all courses creating a strong learning community (Ivey & Fisher, 2006).

Participants will be taught the research and methods used to create a JourneyBooks environment. Then they will take the project to the next level. Participants will research, identify, and create different methods of demonstrating understanding utilizing technology with a focus on the nine different strategies and their implementation in the JourneyBooks environment. The methods will be organized based on strategy to create a menu of choices for K-12 students to demonstrate understanding. Then the participants will implement the program in a local school to identify what works and what needs revision. New ideas and products are introduced to K-12 teachers every year. This project is designed to not only introduce a method of instruction backed by research, but to empower participants to take a researched-backed product and conduct their own research to improve and validate its use in their classroom.

The major goals of this pilot project are:

  1. To show UWF students that they can be the ones to change and improve the way children are taught.
  2. To bring UWF students, teachers in Santa Rosa County Public Schools (pilot school is Milton High School) and faculty together in developing additional activities that are academically engaging for the creation of a JourneyBooks App for iPads.

In addition, UWF students will be able to develop and provide feedback by using the JourneyBooks App in their RED 6060 coursework, as well as working with the students at Milton High School. UWF students will use the JourneyBooks app as part of their coursework supporting the reading strategies needed to be a successful student and creating exemplars to use with the Milton High School students and teachers. The collaboration with Milton will provide UWF students with a hands-on field experience in addition to the reading knowledge developed in the process.

High Impact Practices (HIPs) Utilized

  • Faculty/Student Research
  • Collaborative Assignment and Projects

For more information, please contact one of the Faculty Fellows:

Dr. Dana Boddy
(850) 474-2893

Dr. Susan Densmore-James
(850) 474-2613

Dana Boddy
Dr. Dana Boddy
Dr. Susan Densmore-James
Dr. Susan Densmore-James