Investigators of Practice

Investigators of Practice

The Byram Hills School District developed a pilot course in 2009 for tenured teachers as an option for professional learning and growth, overseen by the District's Evaluation Committee, to train teachers in a structured approach to collaborative inquiry, or classroom action research. "The truly successful teachers are those who constantly and systematically reflect on their actions and the consequences of those actions. This constant reflection results in the acquisition of new knowledge as it pertains to the teaching and learning process" (Mertler, 2009, p. 21).

The teachers and administrators participating in the course, now called, Investigators of Practice, select a focus for inquiry based on their current professional needs. Participants survey the field of literature to provide background knowledge for their inquiry project. With the support of their colleagues and a trained facilitator, the teachers and administrators collect data, analyze and reflect upon the data, take action, and continue the process of data analysis and reflection. Throughout the process, teachers share their learning and discuss their participation in the inquiry process. You can read more details about our first year endeavor in consultant Diane Cunningham's article, Teachers as Investigators of Practice.

While teaching has been traditionally viewed as an isolated profession, Investigators of Practice seeks to develop a community of learners through team learning (Senge, 1990). To this end, we believe in sharing our learning with the greater community for others to review, analyze, contribute to, and build upon. "You should not underestimate the effect of your contribution, however modest....The published word is a declaration of membership in that community and also of a willingness to contribute something meaningful to it" (Gawande, 2007, pp. 255-256).

Enjoy the summaries of our investigations into our practice as educators. We hope you will find insights that stimulate your interest in becoming an investigator of your practice as well!

- Presentation to the Board of Education. December 9, 2014.
- Research study on the effectiveness of our action research course. August 2014.

"The single thing which makes any man happiest is the realization that he has worked up to the limits of his ability, his capacity ... It's all the better, of course, if this work has made a contribution to knowledge, or toward moving the human race a little farther forward."
-- Neil Armstrong


Co-Teaching Methods

Laura Borneman

Julie Calemmo
Nicole Cavelieri
Mary Beth Devery
Jaime Karp
Peggy McInerney
Heather Nimsger
Robin Zilli

Classroom & Special
Education / K-2


Implementing a Standards-Based
Grading Approach in the Film 1 Curriculum

Michael ChuneyArt / 9 - 12


Co-Taught Models of Success

Gina Cunningham

Deborah DeFrancesco
Dr. Evan Powderley

Co-teaching / 6





SUMMARIES FROM 2016 - Coming Soon

Critiques Using Google Social MediaLila Horn
David McMichael
Coming soon...Joanna LewickSocial Studies/9-122016
Coming soon...Barbara O'ConnellMathematics/9-122016
The Effects of Computer vs. Hand-Written Journaling in a Sixth Grade Language Arts Class on Overall Quality and Quantity of WritingKim Smith
Mary Staudt
Designing a Classroom to Meet the Needs of a Student in the 21st CenturySheila St. OngeSocial Studies/62016
The Effect of Implementing Open-Ended and Open-Start Questions in the High School Mathematics Classroom

Rebecca Barnum
David Bruskewicz

Co-Teaching Within the Consultant Teacher Model
Laura Borneman Julie Calemmo Nicole Cavalieri Mary Beth Devery Dr. Yvette Thompson Peggy McInerney
Classroom & Special Education/K-22015

Standards Based Grading in the Art Classroom
Michael ChuneyFine Arts/9-122015
Conceptual Thinking for AP Art Portfolios
Lila Horn Jayne Karlin David McMichael
Fine Arts/9-122015
Exploring the Relationship between Student Engagement and High Quality Work in the Art Classroom
Amy Menasche
Fine Arts/9-122015
Using Standards Based Grading in the Mathematics Classroom
Barbara O'Connell

The Impact of eReaders on Students’ Reading Development and Habits
Barbara BarthelmesLibrary/6-82014
Exploring Co-Teaching Models in the Elementary Classroom
Laura Borneman
Nicole Cavalieri
Grade 2 and Special Education2014
Integrating Google in the Classroom to Enhance Student Collaboration
Judy Brewster
Strategies to approach more complex text
Joanne Buckley
Karen Vetter
Language Arts/62014
Self-Directed Learning in the Art Classroom Mike ChuneyFine Arts/9-122014
The Elements of a Student Learning Community
Deborah DeFrancesco
Social Studies/62014

The Impact of Immediate Feedback on Student Achievement in the World Language Classroom
Bob DiMartino
Ed Eagle
World Languages/9-122014
The Most Effective Feedback for Student Achievement Luisa GranieroWorld Languages/9-122014
Deconstructing the AP scoring process through the use of student exemplars and rubrics Lila Horn
Jayne Karlin
AP Art/11-122014
Adapt and Persevere
Laura Jones
World Languages/9-122014
An implementation study: The impact of a wireless network on curriculum, instruction, student learning, and professional development
Dr. Tim Kaltenecker
Mastering Basic Math Skills
Kim Karoglanian
Special Education/72014

Resilience in the AP Classroom
Joanna LewickSocial Studies/9-122014

Effective techniques to support the successful integration of Google Apps for Education
Al Lovelace
Rekha Singh
Using the NYS ELA Modules on Evidence-Based Claims and Greek Mythology to Enhance Students’ Mastery of the Common Core Standards Kim Smith
Mary Staudt
Language Arts/62014

Gender-based strategies to improve classroom environment
Judy Brewster
Meg Johnston
Developing quality kindergarten math assessmentsLinda Cantatore
Lisa Jacobsen
Leisa Palmer
Danielle Wall

Scaffolding math learners’ paths to success
Pui Cheung
Jennifer Toland

Quality feedback for visual arts students
Michael ChuneyVisual Arts/9-22013
Quality student feedback for kindergarten studentsMary Beth Devery
Linda Haracz
Mardi Morrow
Jean White
Cathy Wilkens

Improving pronunciation in target language
Robert DiMartino
Edward Eagle
World Languages/9-12


Attending to your attention?

Laurie Fleishman
Trisha Haase
Kimberly Karoglanian

Special Education/62013
What is quality feedback?Leslie Goldfarb
Kirstin Russell
Susan Tyrrell
Grade 1/Math Specialist2013

Characteristics of successful feedback methods in the visual arts
Lila Horn
Jayne Karlin

How the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory informs classroom practice
Laura JonesWorld Languages/9-122013

Can higher quality feedback lead to more growth in student writing?
Joanna LewickSocial Studies/9-122013

Facilitating stations for feedback: A work in progress
Catherine McCarthyWorld Languages/9-112013

An inquiry into assessment: The relationship between self-grading and student performance
Duane SmithEnglish/122013

Providing individualized feedback to world languages students
Melissa StahlWorld Languages/9-122013

Improving student learning by imbedding the Common Core standards for reading into the grade 6 social studies content area
Deborah DeFrancescoSocial Studies/62012

How can assessments inform my daily teaching?
Leslie GoldfarbMath/K-22012
Active listening: A key to understanding

Trisha Haase
Douglas Maier
Michelle Smith


Exploring unlike denominators with persistence
Meg JohnstonEnrichment/3-52012

Building basic math skills for students with special needs
Kim KaroglanianSpecial Education/6-82012

The keys to successful intervention: Assessment for learning, high quality instruction, meaningful discourse
Anne OlivieriMath/3-52012

What do you want to know? Exploring the role of curiosity in the classroom
Dawn Selnes-RosenEnrichment/6-82012

What does it mean to be advanced in elementary math?
Jennifer TolandMath/3-52012
Assessing the effectiveness of the social problem-solving training within the Second Steps Social Skills program

Karen Kushnir
Gina Cunningham
Dr. Ellen Medd
Dr. Yvette Thompson


Engaging the reluctant student in the physical education classroom
Denise BarnardPhysical Education/6-82011

Exploring the elements of good questioning techniques in the classroom

Deborah DeFrancescoSocial Studies/62011

Target language and vocabulary use for advanced level Spanish
Edward EagleWorld Languages/11-122011

Interviewing our youngest math students
Leslie GoldfarbMath/K-22011

Student interviews and how they can be used to determine RTI interventions in Language Arts
Maria KeilyLanguage Arts/3-52011
Developing effective student collaboration

Douglas Maier
Michelle Smith


Applied action research summary of Learn to Inspire
Gary McCarthyCounseling/9-122011

The student interview: A qualitative glance at student learning
Peggy McInerneyMath/3-52011

Evaluating the impact of the TI-Nspire for differentiation in the math classroom
Barbara O'ConnellMath/9-122011

Student interview as a diagnostic and formative assessment tool inside the RTI process
Anne OlivieriMath/3-52011

Student math interview to aid student learning and the RTI process
Jennifer TolandMath/3-52011

The effectiveness of classroom action research as a professional development tool

Dr. Tim Kaltenecker
Carol Fisher



  • Any names of students mentioned in the summaries have been changed and specific details that might lead one to identify an individual have been altered.
  • All summaries are the property of the Byram Hills School District.
  • Feel free to contact the authors should you have any questions or comments.
Conducted between 2010-2015 by the Byram Hills High School Guidance Department.
For more information, contact Dr. Michael McGrath at
Title (Year)Authors of Study
Why do students struggle at Byram Hills? A retrospective, analysis, and strategic plan (2014)Christopher Borsari
Michael McGrath
An examination of student motivation at Byram Hills High School (2012)Michael McGrath
Susan Buchman
Duane Smith
Melissa Stahl
Student anxiety and stress at Byram Hills High School (2011)Kristina Wilson
Matt Allen
Tom Andriello
Joanna Lewick
Anne Kaplan
Susan Buchman
Larry Nadell
Maria Montalbano
Steve Borneman
Transition to Byram Hills High School (2011) Gary McCarthy
Megan Salomone
Robert Sammon
Cynthia Sullivan
Cathy Friedensohn
Laura Jones
An examination of student transformation at Byram Hills High SchoolMichael McGrath
Gary McCarthy
Kristina Wilson
Emotional presence:an analysis of interactions between students, teachers, counselors, and school leadersMichael McGrath
Gary McCarthy