restatement of Purpose of Cycle 1:
The purpose of my first Action Research cycle 1 is to establish a baseline level of participation that can be used as a comparison point for all future cycles. I am interested in learning how students are interacting with one another, what is motivating them to post and how many times they post in general.
restatement of Research question for cycle 1:
What types of conversation are happening in a community of practice constituted predominantly of digital natives in a fourth grade virtual classroom?
Collected artifacts
For this action cycle I collected the following artifacts:
total posts

constructive posts

conversation starters




Examples of posts
Below is a gallery of just some of the posts that I collected during cycle one. As you can see, the content ranges from highly constructive to not very construction at all.
Exhibit 1 is an example of what the students affectionately call the "hi chain". It is where one student posts hi and the rest of the class races to see how many times they can reply to the post.
Exhibit 2 is an example of a constructive post.
Exhibit 3 is an example of someone who wanted to start a new conversation.
Exhibit 1 is an example of what the students affectionately call the "hi chain". It is where one student posts hi and the rest of the class races to see how many times they can reply to the post.
Exhibit 2 is an example of a constructive post.
Exhibit 3 is an example of someone who wanted to start a new conversation.
Findings:
In cycle 1 I am interested in defining a matrix that can be used to differentiate between students who hold active leadership in the virtual classroom and students who assume more or a peripheral level of participation. After thinking through a couple of options, I decided to see if there is a correlation between constructive posts and conversation started by students. Her is what I found:
student Constructive posts compared to Conversations started
I compared students constructive posts and conversation started using the Pearson ProductMoment Correlation Coefficient. I found a coefficient (r) of .712 when using the formula. Using he degrees of freedom (df), an alpa level of .05 and chart provided in Cycle 1, I determined the critical value needed to prove statistical correlation is 361.
As you can see, .712 > .361 deeming that a statistical correlation between constructive posts and conversations started by students exists. 
statistical findings
Although there is an existing correlation between constructive posts starters and conversations started, only 18.7% of all Edmodo posting in Cycle 1 was deemed constructive. That means that 81.3 of all posting for a fourweek period in Edmodo were unrelated to classroom conversation.
Perception of in class participation against virtual participation
The final element of Cycle 1 was for the teacher of the classroom to provide a little insight into who he thinks the virtual participation leaders would be online based off of classroom participation. I asked the teacher to predict the top 8 participators, the bottom 8 participators and the middle 12 participators. The teacher was able to correctly place 14 out of 30 participants.
reflections from Cycle 1
I absolutely loved being a fly on the wall for my first cycle of action research. It was fascinating to see what 4th graders find interesting and how their personalities are strongly developed. It is almost as if students completely let down their guard when interacting online and let everything hang out.
The transparency of their conversation is authentic and innocent.
There are a couple of elements of their dialogue that I would like to reflect on in order to illuminate different trends happening online: the infamous "hichain", the low percentage of constructive posts, and next steps.
The transparency of their conversation is authentic and innocent.
There are a couple of elements of their dialogue that I would like to reflect on in order to illuminate different trends happening online: the infamous "hichain", the low percentage of constructive posts, and next steps.
The infamous "hichain"
I noticed a hilarious trend when compiling my data from Edmodo. Every student would lurk on the edge of participation waiting for someone to simply comment "hi". Once the first hi was said every single student online would replay to the comment with a response of "hi". They love it! They are participants in a game that they themselves call a "hichain". Just to give you perspective, this was an every night occurrence that would sometime reach heights of 3060 "hi"s in a row. Crazy!
I thought about this a lot about the hichain phenomenon and realized that all of this conversation was an attempt by the students to develop a sense of pride in their mastery of Edmodo. They had no idea what to post, but by golly they were going to post anyways!
This development of their sense of pride relates directly their them being in the Industry Vs. Inferiority social stage of development as described by Erickson.
Every "hi chain" that I saw fits into place within Erickson's theory of Industry vs. Inferiority. By posting to Edmodo, students are demonstrating their industry of knowing the game and being a proficient contributor to the classroom. The praise received during this stage of development is crucial to their long term selfconfidence and students. I will use this moving forward and hopefully find ways of shifting their participation to be a little more productive then where it is now.
I thought about this a lot about the hichain phenomenon and realized that all of this conversation was an attempt by the students to develop a sense of pride in their mastery of Edmodo. They had no idea what to post, but by golly they were going to post anyways!
This development of their sense of pride relates directly their them being in the Industry Vs. Inferiority social stage of development as described by Erickson.
Every "hi chain" that I saw fits into place within Erickson's theory of Industry vs. Inferiority. By posting to Edmodo, students are demonstrating their industry of knowing the game and being a proficient contributor to the classroom. The praise received during this stage of development is crucial to their long term selfconfidence and students. I will use this moving forward and hopefully find ways of shifting their participation to be a little more productive then where it is now.
Low percentage of constructive posts
I was baffled when I did the numbers and found that only 18.7% of conversation occurring online on Edmodo is constructive. This is the single variable that I would like to increase moving forward. I feel like I will have made a difference if I can elevate the percentage of classroom constructive dialogue that is happening online. an increase in total posting is great, but the hichains are killing me!
Next Steps
Moving forward I would like to seek ways of increase the ratio of constructive posts to total posts by breathing a purpose to the conversation occurring online. We just read Pink. Maybe I'll give his theories a try!