Investigators of Practice

The Byram Hills School District developed a course 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 teachers and administrators participating in the course, now called, Investigators of Practice, select a focus 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 (2011).

While teaching has been traditionally viewed as an isolated profession, Investigators of Practice 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, 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 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, p21)



New for 2019:

Using Studio Habits of Mind for Assessment in the Art Classroom
Amy Menasche
Art, 9-12, 2019

Go Learn It!
Kristin Budden, Steven Borneman
Chemistry, 9-12, 2019

In what ways can we differentiate homework to increase student achievement, motivation, and integrity?
Barbara O'Connell
Mathematics, 9-12, 2019

Studio Lighting
Lila Horn, Jayne Karlin
Photography, 9-12, 2019

Choice-Based Art Education (CBAE) & Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB)
David McMichael
Art, 9-12, 2019

Teaching Inquiry in an Enrichment Class
Meg Johnston
Enrichment, 3-5, 2019

The Homework Experiment 
Ann-Marie Pasquale, Tim Kaltenecker
Mathematics, 6-8, 2019
(Also published in the journal, Curriculum MattersVolume 1.)


Previous Year's Summaries:

The Purpose of Homework and Student Success
John Clark, Julianne Rentz, Ruben Torres
Social Studies, grade 11, 2017

Co-Teaching Methods
Laura Borneman, Julie Calemmo, Nicole Cavelieri, Mary Beth Devery, Jaime Karp, Peggy McInerney, Heather Nimsger, Robin Zilli
Classroom & special education, K-12, 2016

Implementing a Standards-Based Grading Approach in the Film 1 Curriculum
Michael Chuney
Art, 9-12, 2016

Co-Taught Models of Success
Gina Cunningham, Deborah DeFrancesco, Dr. Evan Powderly
Co-teaching, grade 6, 2016

Critiques Using Media
Lila Horn, David McMichael
Art, 9-12, 2016

Creating and Implementing a Standards-Based Grading Current Events Elective
Joanna Lewick
Social Studies, 9-12, 2016

Incorporating Aspects of Standards-Based Grading into a Traditional Math Classroom
Barbara O'Connell
Mathematics, 9-12, 2016

The Effects of Computer vs. Journaling in a Sixth Grade Language Arts Class on Overall Quality and Quantity of Writing
Kim Smith, Mary Staudt
English, grade 6, 2016

Designing a Classroom to Meet the Needs of a Student in the 21st Century
Sheila St. Onge
Social Studies, grade 6, 2016

The Effect of Implementing Open-Ended and Open-Start Questions in the High School Mathematics Classroom
Rebecca Barnum, David Bruskewicz
Mathematics, 9-12, 2015

Co-Teaching within the Consultant Teacher Model
Laura Borneman, Julie Calemno, Nicole Cavalieri, Mary Beth Devery, Dr. Yvette Thompson, Peggy McInerney
Classroom & Special Education, K-2, 2015

Standards-Based Grading in the Art Classroom
Michael Chuney
Fine Arts, 9-12, 2015

Conceptual Thinking for AP Art Portfolios
Lila Horn, Jayne Karline, David McMichael
Fine Arts, 9-12, 2015

Exploring the Relationship between Student Engagement and High Quality Work in the Art Classroom
Amy Menasche
Fine Arts, 9-12, 2015

Using Standards-Based Grading in the Mathematics Classroom
Barbara O'Connell
Mathematics, 9-12, 2015

The Impact of on Students' Reading Development and Habits
Barbara Barthelmes
Library, 6-8, 2014

Exploring Co-Teaching Models in the Elementary Classroom
Laura Borneman, Nicole Cavalieri
Grade 2 and Special Education, 2014

Integrating Google in the Classroom to Enhance Student Collaboration
Judy Brewster
Enrichment, 3-5, 2014

Strategies to Approach more Complex Texts
Joanne Buckley, Karen Vetter
Language Arts, grade 6, 2014

Self-Directed Learning in the Art Classroom
Michael Chuney
Fine Arts, 9-12, 2014

The Elements of a Student Learning Community
Deborah DeFrancesco
Social Studies, grade 6, 2014

The Impact of Immediate Feedback on Student Achievement in the World Languages Classroom
Bob DiMartino, Ed Eagle
World Languages, 9-12, 2014

The Most Effective Feedback for Student Achievement
Luisa Graniero
World Languages, 9-12, 2014

Deconstructing the AP Scoring Process through the Use of Student Exemplars and Rubrics
Lila Horn, Jayne Karlin
AP Art, 9-12, 2014

Adapt and Persevere
Laura Jones
World Languages, 9-12, 2014

An Implementation Study: The Impact of a Wireless Network on Curriculum, Instruction, Student Learning, and Professional Development
Dr. Tim Kaltenecker
Technology, K-12, 2014

Mastering Basic Math Skills
Kim Karoglanian
Special Education, grade 7, 2014

Resilience in the AP Classroom
Joanna Lewick
Social Studies, 9-12, 2014

Effective Techniques to Support the Successful Integration of Google Apps for Education
Al Lovelace, Rekha Singh
Technology, K-5, 2014

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, grade 6, 2014

Gender-Based Strategies to Improve Classroom Environment
Judy Brewster, Meg Johnston
Enrichment, 3-5, 2013

Developing Quality Kindergarten Math Assessments
Linda Cantatore, Lisa Jacobsen, Leisa Palmer, Danielle Wall
Mathematics, K, 2013

Scaffolding Math Learners' Paths to Success
Pui Cheung, Jennifer Toland
Mathematics, 3-5, 2013

Quality Feedback for Visual Arts Students
Michael Chuney
Visual Arts, 9-12, 2013

Quality Student Feedback for Kindergarten Students
Mary Beth Devery, Linda Haracz, Mardi Marrow, Jean White, Cathy Wilkens
Kindergarten, 2013

Improving Pronunciation in Target Language
Robert DiMartino, Edward Eagle
World Languages, 9-12, 2013

Attending to Your Attention?
Laurie Fleishman, Trisha Haase, Kimberley Karoglanian
Special Education, grade 6, 2013

What is Quality Feedback?
Leslie Goldfarb, Kirstin Russell, Susan Tyrrell
Mathematics, Grade 1, 2013

Characteristics of Successful Feedback Methods in the Visual Arts
Lila Horn, Jayne Karlin
Art, 9-12, 2013

How the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory Informs Classroom Practice
Laura Jones
World Languages, 9-12, 2013

Can Higher Quality Feedback Lead to More Growth in Student Writing?
Joanna Lewick
Social Studies, 9-12, 2013

Facilitating Stations for Feedback: A Work in Progress
Catherine McCarthy
World Languages, 9-12, 2013

An Inquiry into Assessments: The Relationship between Self-Grading and Student Performance
Duane Smith
English, grade 12, 2013

Providing Individualized Feedback to World Languages Students
Melissa Stahl
World Languages, 9-12, 2013

Improving Student Learning by Imbedding the Common Core Standards for Reading into the Grade 6 Social Studies Content Area
Deborah DeFrancesco
Social Studies, grade 6, 2012

How Can Assessments Inform My Daily Teaching?
Leslie Goldfarb
Mathematics, K-2, 2012

Active Listening: A Key to Understanding
Trisha Haase, Douglas Maier, Michelle Smith
Science, grade 6, 2012

Exploring Unlike Denominators with Persistence
Meg Johnston
Enrichment, 3-5, 2012

Building Basic Math Skills for Students with Special Needs
Kim Karoglanian
Special Education, 6-8, 2012

The Keys to Successful Intervention: Assessment for Learning, High Quality Instruction, Meaningful Discourse
Anne Olivieri
Mathematics, 3-5, 2012

What Do You Want to Know? Exploring the Role of Curiosity in the Classroom
Dawn Selnes
Enrichment, 6-8, 2012

What Does it Mean to be Advanced in Elementary Math?
Jennifer Toland
Mathematics, 3-5, 2012

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
Psychology, K-8, 2011

Engaging the Reluctant Student in the Physical Education Classroom
Denise Barnard
Physical Education, 6-8, 2011

Exploring the Elements of Good Questioning Techniques in the Classroom
Deborah DeFrancesco
Social Studies, grade 6, 2011

Target Language and Vocabulary Use for Advanced Level Spanish
Edward Eagle
World Languages, 11-12, 2011

Interviewing Our Youngest Math Students
Leslie Goldfarb
Mathematics, K-2, 2011

Student Interviews and How They Can Be Used to Determine RTI Interventions in Language Arts
Maria Keily
Language Arts, 3-5, 2011

Developing Effective Student Collaboration
Douglas Maier, Michelle Smith
Science, grade 6, 2011

Applied Action Research Summary of 'Learn to Inspire'
Gary McCarthy
Counseling, 9-12, 2011

The Student Interview: A Qualitative Glance at Student Learning
Peggy McInerney

Mathematics, 3-5, 2011

Evaluating the Impact of the TI-Nspire for Differentiation in the Math Classroom
Barbara O'Connell
Mathematics, 9-12, 2011

Student Interview as a Diagnostic and Formative Assessment Tool Inside the RTI Process
Anne Olivieri
Mathematics, 3-5, 2011

Student Math Interview to Aid Student Learning and the RTI Process
Jennifer Toland
Mathematics, 3-5, 2011

The Effectiveness of Classroom Action Research as a Professional Development Tool
Dr. Tim Kaltenecker, Carol Fisher
Administration, K-12, 2010


Conducted between 2010-2015 by the Byram Hills High School Guidance Department.
For more information, contact Dr. Michael McGrath at


Why do students struggle at Byram Hills? A retrospective, analysis, and strategic plan (2014)
Christopher Borsari, Dr. Michael McGrath

An examination of student motivation at Byram Hills High School (2012)
Dr. Michael McGrath, Susan Buchman, Duane Smith, Melissa Stahl

Student anxiety and stress at Byram Hills High School (2011)
Kristina Wilson, Matt Allen, Thomas 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 School (2010)
Dr. Michael McGrath, Gary McCarthy, Kristina Wilson

Emotional analysis of interactions between students, teachers, counselors, and school leaders (2009)
Dr. Michael McGrath.


  • 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.

For additional information, contact Dr. Tim Kaltenecker, Deputy Superintendent.