Educational Technology

It has been a long time since I’ve last posted my thoughts about educational technology.  What started as an assignment for graduate school turned into an opportunity to connect with educators around the world, allowing me to interact with other professionals and share what I had learned about the benefits and opportunities afforded with the use of educational technology.  It is now my hope to resurrect this page and create an online discussion board for educational professionals to share their ideas and resources for using educational technology.

This year, we were introduced to a site called My Big Campus.  This site allows teachers to interact with their students online through discussion boards, assessments, and collaboration for various assignments.  Teachers can also post assignments for their students to complete both inside and out of the classroom.  While we are very early in our implementation of this tool, the long-term outcome for this tool looks promising.

What tools have you used in your classrooms this year that you found to be beneficial or engaging (or both) for your students?  Please share your experiences below.  Every week, I will share a tool and/or experience that I have had using educational technology for others’ use as well.  Let’s keep the conversation going!

Keep yourself plugged in to the tools that can benefit your students in the 21st century. 🙂

Final Blog Post – GAME Plan Reflection (EDUC 6713)

As my most recent course at Walden University comes to a close, it is time to think back on the personal GAME plan I had developed during Week Two.  Since it has been a while since I last worked on this plan, I need to remind myself of my personal goals for becoming more proficient in incorporating technology into my classroom.  Those personal goals were:

1. to learn more about online collaboration tools that students can use in the classroom and select one tool to use in my classroom this year; and

2. to learn more about learner-centered strategies for use in social studies as well as the tools used to facilitate this type of learning.

As a result of my work on this GAME plan, my eyes have been opened to new tools and strategies that will broaden my students’ knowledge of both the content and their technology skills.  Through the course work I have completed on problem-based learning, online collaboration, and digital storytelling, I have realized that the ways and means of incorporating both online collaboration tools and learner-centered strategies can create a more engaging, enriching learning experience.  I once thought that many important aspects of history needed to be taught through more direct means of instruction.  However, through online collaboration and learner-centered instruction, the students can interact with the content material using strategies and a learning pace that they are comfortable with for themselves.  As a result of my work through the GAME plan, I see how valuable it is for learners, both students and adults, to create and accomplish their own personal learning goals.  It has helped me focus more of my attention on providing quality instruction using the skills the students already possess as a result of their use of technology.  I intend on working through both of my goals even more during the school year, hopefully achieving greater proficiency in using both online collaboration and learner-centered strategies as part of my teaching.  As Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer point out in their book Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach, “As a reflective learner, you will think about what has been effective in the past, but also continually monitor and evaluate what is effective for you now” (2009, p. 11).  I will use my experiences from this course to help me to plan and implement technology-rich lessons that will deepen my students’ understanding of the content while enhancing their technology skills.  Since the process has proved beneficial to me as an educator,  I would also like to have my students create their own GAME plan for themselves.  As part of her career readiness lessons, our  guidance counselor works with our eighth grade students on developing goals for themselves for their post-high school education or vocational track.  I would like to coordinate with her on having the students develop personal GAME plans for themselves in conjunction with those lessons.  We can monitor and evaluate their progress on their goals throughout the school year, modifying them as necessary to fit the needs of the students.  To give them an example of this process, I will share my experience with my own GAME plan through this blog as well as the course work I had completed as a result.  By providing an example for the students, I hope that they would see the value and worth of this process, much like I have seen for myself.

 

One of the immediate changes I will make in my classroom as a result of my work on this GAME plan is to create a class website that the students will be required to use consistently.  This site will be created through Collaborize Classroom.  By the end of every week, the students will be required to reflect on one to three essential questions from the week’s lessons.  They will also be required to respond to posts from their classmates, complete Warm Up or Exit Ticket assignments, and interact with their peers in scholarly discussions through this site.  While access to the Internet at home may not be possible for some students, I will offer time before or after school, as well as during lunch, for those students.  This site will become part of their assigned work during the week.  Through the use of an online collaborative learning tool, I hope to help the students “focus children’s learning activities on specific curricular tasks” (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 71).   They will also be able to learn how to best collaborate with their peers online, a skill that will be invaluable to them in the 21st century workplace.  I also intend to incorporate one learner-centered teaching strategy into my classroom at least once per week.  This could be in the form of historical investigations, video lessons, or problem-based learning assignments.  One source I have found that will be useful for this is the Reading Like a Historian program.  Students take on the role of a historian to answer an essential question, using primary sources and external links to help form their answers.  This will be a great way to have the students take on their own learning, making the experience more meaningful as well as the content more likely to be remembered.

 

These technology tools will also support my incorporation of problem-based learning, online collaboration, and digital storytelling into my classroom.  All three of these teaching and learning strategies promote critical thinking skills and creativity for the students.  They also allow the students to interact with the content using tools and techniques that many students are familiar with from their own personal use.  Since many of my students use technology daily in some way, it only seems natural to incorporate learning strategies that support their technology skills.  As a result of my work with both my GAME plan as well as creating lessons using problem-based learning, online collaboration, and digital storytelling, I have realized that my role as a teacher is changing.  Technology is becoming more pervasive in our everyday lives.  I need to embrace the skills and techniques that my students are becoming more familiar with outside of school.  It makes me excited to think about the possibilities of changing the way that I present my content information to my students.  I want them to not only develop an appreciation for American history and the story of our country, but I also want them to see that learning can be fun, engaging, and relevant to their life today.

 

Reference:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.).Belmont,CA:Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

Monitoring the GAME Plan – EDUC 6713, Week 4

In this fourth week of the course, it is time to monitor my progress in achieving the goals I have set forth in my GAME plan.  As a reminder to myself, the two goals I have set for my own learning are:

1. to learn more about online collaboration tools that students can use in the classroom and select one tool to use in my classroom this year; and

2. to learn more about learner-centered strategies for use in social studies as well as the tools used to facilitate this type of learning.

As Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer state, “The ability to monitor and evaluate your personal and professional decisions is enhanced through reflection both ‘in action’ and ‘on action’” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 11).  When reflecting “in action”, the learner will think about and monitor their current behavior based on what they are thinking while working on their plan.  “On action” reflection occurs as an evaluation of your work to achieve success with the plan as well as how it will influence future experiences (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 11).  This post is more directed toward the “in action” monitoring and will be guided by four questions.

 

1. Are you finding the information and resources you need?

I have spent more of my time researching ideas for my second goal of identifying learner-centered strategies within the social studies classroom.  I have been able to find one scholarly article that I have begun to read as well as a couple of websites that support this type of strategy.  I have also reached out to an online community through Classroom 2.0 and asked for suggestions and/or ideas of how to implement these strategies in my classroom.  While I have not found all of the resources I need just yet to feel comfortable with this goal, I believe I am on the right track.

 

Through the work I have done so far for my first goal, I am more comfortable with the use and benefits of online collaboration within my classroom.  I would like to spend more time experimenting with Collaborize Classroom and learn more about the tools and applications for use in the classroom through this site.  I would also like to reach out to other educators who have used this tool in their classroom and get their feedback.

 

2. Do you need to modify your action plan?

I do not think that I need to make any major modifications to my action plan at this time.  I just need to set aside a little more time to work with the sites I have found in order to become more comfortable with my goals.

 

3. What have you learned so far?

So far, I have learned that both online collaboration and learner-centered strategies will require more of me being confident in using technology within the classroom and less on me delivering instruction in the “traditional” way.  It will require more time for me to develop and maintain these strategies than I had spent on lesson planning in the past.  I am not upset by this; in fact, I am actually excited to spend the time learning about new instructional tools and using them in the classroom.  It is time that I start embracing the many advantages of technology use by the students and create opportunities for my students to take charge of their own learning.

 

4. What new questions have arisen?

While I was conducting my research this week, I started to think about scenarios where I could use student-centered learning effectively in social studies.  I also asked myself if I was totally ready to give up some control within the classroom as far as student learning is concerned.  While I know that the students need to think on their own, I also know that there are certain facts and concepts that the students must understand in order to be successful not only in my class but in subsequent social studies classes in high school.  It is my hope that my confidence in using both online collaboration and student-centered learning strategies will help my students develop closer connections to the content as well as prepare them for their high school classes.

 

Reference:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.).Belmont,CA:Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

 

 

EDUC 6713 – Carrying Out the GAME Plan

For this week’s assignment, we have been asked to review our personal GAME plans and reflect on the resources, information, and/or skills we will need in order to carry them out.  My personal GAME plan has two essential goals:

1. to learn more about online collaboration tools that students can use in the classroom and select one tool to use in my classroom this year; and

2. to learn more about learner-centered strategies for use in social studies as well as the tools used to facilitate this type of learning.

What resources will I need to carry out my plan (media segments, reading, experts or colleagues, etc.)?

I will need to conduct independent research online to find and learn about both online collaboration tools and learner-centered strategies.  I am hoping that there are online tutorials through TeacherTube that can help shed light on these topics as well.  Once I find the tools I feel would best serve my students, I will need to try them out for myself in order to gain deeper insight into how they can best be used.  Finally, I will ask for feedback from my colleagues as well as through both by blog and Classroom 2.0 to gain knowledge from  my peers.  Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer state in the textbook Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach, “Sharing what you have discovered with your colleagues is a critical step in improving your instructional effectiveness” (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 115).  It is my hope that online collaboration will help guide me in the right direction as to the resources and strategies to use to fulfill these goals.

What additional information do I need?

I believe that I will need to access assessment data on my students to help find the best  technology tools that would meet their needs.  I do not want to find great teaching and learning tools and strategies that will be too difficult for my students to use.  I would like to access information on their performance on the state test (MSA) as well as quarterly benchmarks in their social studies classes.  These assessments, known as summative assessments, “should be considered valuable for the data they provide” (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 111)  This information would give me an idea of the learning capabilities of my students, allowing me to select the appropriate technology tools and strategies that would best meet their needs.  While in my classroom, I would have them complete formative assessments using these tools in order to “take steps to adjust your instruction, if necessary, based on your students’ needs” (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 111)  If I feel that students have mastered the skills necessary to move onto another technology tool, I do not want to hold them back from doing so.

What steps have I been able to take so far?

I have begun to research online collaboration tools and have found a site called Collaborize Classroom.  This online tool allows teachers to create and maintain a collaborative learning environment that students can access from home.  While I have only begun learning about this site, I am excited about its possibilities.  I plan on logging into Classroom 2.0 in the near future and reach out to teachers through this site about potential learner-centered strategies for social studies.  If anyone out there has any suggestions of sites I can check out, or other resources I can use for this topic, I would love to hear them from you.

 

Reference:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.).Belmont,CA:Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

EDUC 6713 Week 2 Post

EDUC 6713 Week 2

Personal GAME Plan: Deepening an Understanding and Implementation of ISTE Standards

Children today live in constantly changing period of time.  Just when they begin to get used to a particular cell phone or video game console, another model is introduced that is “new and improved” compared to the “old” one.  However, students today are able to learn how to use these technologies quickly and apply their new knowledge in using them effectively.  In light of this, teachers in the 21st century need to be able and willing to learn about new technologies and their potential uses in the classroom.  To accomplish this, many teachers will take on the role of a self-directed learner.  This type of learner increases their knowledge, skill, or personal development through their own choosing and “brings about by his or her own efforts using any method in any circumstance in any time”  (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 2).  The best strategy a self-directed learner can take in order to facilitate their own learning is by developing a GAME plan.  This consists of personal goals set by the individual; taking action to meet those goals; monitoring your progress; and evaluating the effectiveness of your learning  (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 30).

 

When I looked at the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T, 2008), I found that I was confident in my application and implementation of many of the indicators listed.  However, there were two indicators that I was not as confident with that I decided I needed to focus on strengthening.  In order to become more confident in applying these indicators in my classroom , I will develop a GAME plan for each of the indicators.  It is my hope that I can develop a more engaging, enriched learning environment as a result.

NETS-T 1.c. – promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, ,and creative processes

My ultimate goal in for this indicator is to learn more about online collaboration tools that students can use in the classroom and select one tool to use in my classroom this year.  In order to achieve this goal, I will conduct an Internet search to locate at least three online collaboration tools for use with students.  For each tool I find, I will interact with the site by trying out the applications within the site and collaborating online with other teachers through these sites.  I will also search for teachers who are already proficient in this indicator through professional collaboration sites and reach out to them for information and/or advice.  To monitor my learning, I will check in with these Internet connections I make daily and post to those sites at the same frequency.  I will also take the advice of my colleagues and practice the skills and strategies they suggest.  Finally, in order to evaluate what I have learned, I will select one of the online collaboration tools that brought the most success in learning and create a lesson that uses this collaboration tool within the classroom.  Once the students use it themselves, I will assess their use of the site and measure this based on my own experiences and how I was able to use them to teach my students how to use the site.

 

4.b. – address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies and providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources  (National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers, 2008)

My goal for this indicator is to learn more about learner-centered strategies for use in social studies as well as the tools used to facilitate this type of learning.  I will conduct Internet research on learner-centered strategies to gain a deeper understanding of the concept.  I will also join an online collaboration forum, such as Classroom 2.0, to interact with other teachers who are already confident in their application of this indicator in their own classroom.  To monitor my progress, I will take the information I have found and compare it to the language in the indicator.  If it fits and is applicable, I will move on to evaluating my learning.  If I have not found what I am looking for, I will revise my search to gain the desired results.  Finally, to evaluate what I have learned, I will develop a lesson plan using one of the strategies I found through my research.  I will then apply this strategy to myself first to make sure it is worthwhile and will work.  Then, I will use this in my classroom sometime during the year.

 

I am curious to know your thoughts on these GAME plans.  Can anyone suggest other ways to evaluate learning through this type of learning tool?  Are there any suggestions for resources I can start with in my research?

 

References:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.).Belmont,CA:Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx

Prensky, M. (2008). Turning on the lights. Educational Leadership, 65(6), 40–45.
Retrieved July 2, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/detail?sid=5e6f7f64-eaff-497b-bb79-b5d524366a79%40sessionmgr10&vid=1&hid=9&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h&AN=31926035.

 

 

 

EDUC 6711 Final Reflection

When this course began eight weeks ago, our first Application assignment was to describe our personal theory about learning.  In this assignment, I made my personal learning theory clear: I believe that students learn best when exposed to the content in a variety of ways; assessed on that content both formally and informally; given opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers; and being able to connect their understanding of the material to real-world scenarios.  This personal belief has been strongly reinforced with the support of the many teaching and learning strategies and tools discussed within this course.  By studying the various learning theories, I have become more knowledgeable in the benefits to my students when applying those teaching strategies.  In addition, I have been able to find new and more updated technology tools I am able to use with my students that can strengthen the application of my learning theory within my classroom.  Dr. Michael Orey and his many beliefs on teaching with technology have truly helped me make more of a connection between the strategies I use and the benefits to the students as a result.  For example, in the past, I
have seen that many of my lower-level students seemed to struggle with vocabulary.  I was constantly trying to find new ways to expose my students to the terms they needed to know without boring them or confusing them.  But, when Dr. Orey discussed his findings on research based on cognitive learning theories, it helped me think more clearly about why those students struggled and how I can best meet their needs, using certain technology tools as my guide.

 

As a result of this course, I will make it a personal goal to integrate technology in a more student-centered manner at least three times per week.  I plan on accomplishing this goal by using many of the technology tools described in this course.  Two tools in particular that I am planning on using within my classroom are Spider Scribe and Voice Thread.  I would like to use Spider Scribe to help my students break down more complex topics within the curriculum and help them make connections to prior knowledge.  Our students seem to struggle every year with summarizing different pieces of writing.  By using this program, I believe I will be able to help students with this task, giving them a more interactive and user-friendly application to work with in the classroom.  Since users are able to convert their graphic organizers to Word documents, the students will be able to save their work to their desktop and view it anytime, regardless of whether or not they have access to the Internet.  Students will also be able to use this tool to break down significant moments in history and draw connections to previous events to see the impact past actions have on present events.  This is one of the main components of my personal learning theory.  I want my students to see that history has an impact on the present – that it is not just a story told in a textbook.

 

Voice Thread is also going to be a beneficial technology tool in my classroom.  Many of my students like to connect to their peers using some type of social media.  They also like to collaborate with one another on various projects – sometimes digitally rather than face-to-face.  Voice Thread will allow students to share their thoughts or information about a particular topic, then comment on each other’s responses digitally.  This will not only allow the students to collaborate within the classroom, but also reinforce the proper steps that a responsible Internet user should take when collaborating digitally with other users.  This program will also allow those students who may be shy getting up in front of the classroom for a presentation share their information in a way that is not intimidating but more welcoming.  I know that many of my students struggle with putting their thoughts into words, missing many opportunities to share their thoughts with their peers.  By using Voice Thread, the students can use a digital platform to share their thoughts and opinions using images, sounds, or a recording of their own voice.

 

In the long run, I plan on making my classroom more student-centered.  I want students to become historians and take more of an initiative in their own learning.  When it comes to my role in the classroom, I want to be seen as more of a facilitator rather than the main source of knowledge.  I plan on doing this my incorporating more student-centered activities in my classroom from the beginning of the school year.  Over this summer, I plan on researching technology tools and projects that I can use for this purpose and develop them into working tools specifically for my classroom.  When my new students come to me in August, I will share this plan with them up front and have them begin using these tools from the start of the course.  They will also be encouraged to research tools we are able to use in the classroom as well and develop student-led workshops for their peers.  I believe that this will benefit them in the long run and fit in nicely with the standards in the upcoming Core Curriculum adopted by the state of Maryland.  Another long-term goal I have for my classroom is to open it up to students outside of Maryland.  I want my students to be digital learners, not only from each other, but from students across the country and, potentially, around the world as well.  I will partner myself with teachers in other states (possibly from this very program) and develop activities for them to complete along with my own students.  They will share their thoughts using technology in a variety of ways and learn from each other during the process.  It has become very clear to me that teaching with technology is not only confined to using programs within one’s own classroom.  Students across the
country are learning similar concepts and ideas from educators that use a myriad of strategies.  Why not allow my students (and others) the opportunity to learn from each other in ways that they all can benefit from in the long run?

 

In conclusion, this course has made me more aware of the tools and strategies that can be used to help students thrive in a digital society.  Education should not be confined to textbooks, worksheets, and assessments.  Students need to be expected to think critically and make connections to other subjects in order to be successful in the 21st century.  By incorporating all of the ideas and strategies I have discussed above, I believe I am doing my best to fulfill my personal learning theory and helping students become the best learners they can be.

Social Learning Theory and Cooperative Learning

The 21st century world is becoming more connected through technology.  I am able to keep in touch with my family members in Pennsylvania while teaching and living in Maryland.  We text, send messages through Facebook, and email each other pretty frequently.  These connections help keep me informed of what is going on as well as allowing my family to keep up with my hectic life.  All of this is done without spending money on gas or sitting in a car for four hours.

 

This week’s instructional strategy, cooperative learning, applies a similar focus to learning and social interaction.  The main focus of cooperative learning is to allow students to “interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning.”  (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007, p. 139)  Students are able to talk to one another about their thoughts and understandings of the content, which allows them to develop or enhance their own individual understanding of the material.  Today’s students will need these types of skills in order to be successful in the 21st century workplace.  They will need to think critically, make decisions, and develop understandings based on collaborations with their peers.  This is the foundation for social learning theory as well.  According to Dr. Michael Orey, social learning theory is based on students actively engaging with one another in carrying on educational conversations and constructing artifacts.  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010)

 

There are many technology tools that can be used to engage students in cooperative learning.  One way is to have students create a multimedia presentation.  Students are
able to work within small groups with specifically assigned roles in order to create a Power Point or wiki that teaches their classmates about a particular topic.  While they are completing their individual portions of the group project, they are also encouraged to talk to one another about what they have learned as well as some further questions they
may have about their topic.  They can then work together as a group to put their information together and pose those same questions to their classmates as they are presenting.  Through this process, students are learning from each other rather than the teacher presenting information, leading to a greater understanding of the content.

 

Many web resources are also available for students to use for cooperative learning.  WebQuests are a great way for students to explore a particular topic without ever leaving the classroom.  In a WebQuest, students are able to create a solution to a particular problem through exploring various resources online.  By having the students complete different parts of a WebQuest within a class, each student can then become knowledgeable in a certain area and use their knowledge to educate their classmates.  They can then develop a solution as a class, allowing them to use each other’s thoughts and insights to enhance their learning.  Students can also use collaborative organizing tools such as Google Calendar or del.icio.us to share events or resources with their classmates.  This information can be used within projects, individual lessons, or for enrichment with struggling students.  Overall, the students are building their knowledge by sharing their resources with their peers.

 

With the shift to the Common Core Curriculum fast approaching, it is a good idea to get kids in the habit of collaborating to solve problems and think critically now.  I have always believed in the old saying, “Two heads are better than one.”  Through many different strategies in cooperative learning, students can see that they are not alone in the learning process and enhance their knowledge by working together.

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc.  (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories.  [Video webcast].  Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology.  Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6289937&Survey=1&47=8834938&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

Constructionism and Technology

Constructionism and Technology

According to Dr. Michael Orey, constructionism is a “theory of learning that states people learn best when they build an external artifact or something they can share with others.”  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011)  In other words, students learn best with hands-on activities and creating a product that is meant to show their
understanding of the content material.  Students should have a first-hand experience with the material in order for learning to be meaningful, engaging, and relevant.  With this strategy, learners create ideas rather than get them from someone or somewhere else.  (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001, p. 5)  Constructionist strategies work well with
generating and testing hypotheses with students.  This can create a classroom where students are fully immersed with the content and becoming active learners, leading to
greater success both in and out of the classroom in the future.

 

There are a wide variety of technology tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to support constructionist styles of learning and teaching.  One of these tools is spreadsheet software.  Students can use a spreadsheet made by their teacher ahead of time to learn the content through an analysis of changes made over time.  I think this will be a great tool to use with my Government students when we begin playing the Stock Market Game in the second half of the third quarter.  Students will be able to learn the importance of investing money and the advantage of buying and selling stocks by tracking their success week by week within a spreadsheet.  By inputting their data into the sheet based on their transactions, students will hopefully see a trend in their data, leading to either a change in their decisions to buy or sell stock, or they will see the success they are having and continue employing those same strategies to earn money.  They can then turn their spreadsheets into graphs that will be shared with the class along with their analysis of how the stock market works and the pros and cons of investing money.

Another great technology tool to use are various web resources.  Students can use gaming software to develop a hypothesis and test it through the playing of the game.  This will allow the students to reflect on their own learning throughout the game as well as after the game has been played.  When my eighth grade students were learning about the settlement at Jamestown, they played an interactive game online that had them make similar decisions about creating their own settlement much like the English did when they came to North America in 1607.  Some of the decisions students had to make related to where they would settle, how they would use the land, how they would interact with Native Americans, and what types of jobs the people would work while at Jamestown.  In the end, the students received a progress report as to the outcome of their decisions.  They then had to reflect on their experience and its relationship to the actual events of the settlement of Jamestown.  Through this activity, the students were highly motivated to make the “best” decisions in order for their settlement to be a success.  They were engaged with their learning and came to understand how Jamestown
succeeded.

 

In thinking about my own teaching, I realized that I use constructionist strategies frequently.  I have always thought that learning should be relevant and interactive so that the students would be able to grasp the information better.  Now that technology is prevalent in our schools and in our daily lives more than ever before, there are many more opportunities for teachers to use these strategies with their students to prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

 

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc.  (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories.  [Video webcast].  Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology.  Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn CourseID=6289937&Survey=1&47=8834938&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1

 

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved January 25, 2012 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Constructionism,_Learning_by_Design,_and_Project_Based_Learning.

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

 

Instructional Strategies and Cognitive Learning Theory

This week’s focus is on cognitive learning theory.  According to Dr. Michael Orey, cognitive learning theories “revolve around information processing.”  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010)  Information that is learned goes into a person’s short-term memory first.  Then, if the information has been used repetitively or meaningfully, it will then be stored into long-term memory.  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010)  There are a variety of learning theories that teachers can use with their students to help guide content information to be stored into long-term memory.  Teachers can use a dual-coding hypothesis method, where they use both images and text to store information in their memory.  They can also use an elaboration method where students associate content terms or ideas with everyday topics.  For example, if you want students to remember that General Lee was the commander of the Confederate Army during the Civil War, you may have students associate the name Lee with Lee jeans or a famous person named Lee.  By using these types of associations, students are able to build numerous connections to the information, leading to a greater chance of storing information into long-term memory.  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010)

 

There are a variety of technology tools that can help build long-term memory of content-based concepts that\ follow cognitive learning theory.  One
strategy is to use cues, questions, and advance organizers to help build memory.  These tools take chunks of content information and build a network for organization so that it can be recalled and used later.  Students can use word processing applications to create expository, narrative, or graphic organizers to help organize information.  (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 75)  For example, you may have students use a graphic organizer to take notes in class that incorporates an upside-down T-chart: factual information is listed on the left-hand side; student questions, notes, or drawings illustrate the concepts on the right-hand side; finally, students summarize the information that has been presented underneath the chart.  By using this method, students are able to make many connections within the text and organize their thoughts to help build lasting connections to the material.  Another tool for use is a concept map.  This tool requires students to make connections to a central “node” or concept based on their own understanding or the facts themselves.  Students are able to see the connections among and between concepts themselves and draw conclusions based on the concept map.

 

Summarizing and note taking is another strategy that can be used by teachers to help students make connections within the content.  One technology tool
that can be used to support this strategy is organizing and brainstorming software, such as Inspirations.  Within the center of the organizer lies a central idea or concept the students need to learn.  As they reflect on that central concept, they are able to use the tools within the program to make connections
to the center of the organizer, allowing them to visualize their thoughts branching off of the main idea.  It also allows them to organize information about the main idea by creating supporting “nodes” with details or examples to support their thoughts about the main idea.  Wikis are another great tool to use for summarizing and note-taking.  Students can collaborate on a wiki and incorporate their own thoughts or notes within the main wiki page to share with their classmates.  As other students read the information and develop their own thoughts and ideas, they can incorporate them into the wiki as well.  This allows students to break down the overall content into smaller parts and pull out the main ideas, allowing them to make relatable connections to their own understandings of the material.

 

Overall, students have many technology tools that allow them to take content material and summarize or “chunk” it into smaller, more meaningful parts.  These tools help students make connections to the content in a variety of ways using a mixture of collaboration, self-reflection, and real-world scenarios.  These strategies can help students create networks of memories that will help their learning of new ideas and concepts ahead in the future.

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc.  (Producer). (2010). Program five: Cognitive learning theories.  [Video webcast].  Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6289937&Survey=1&47=8834938&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1.

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

 

 

 

Does Behaviorism Belong in the 21st Century Classroom?

 It seems like every couple of years, there is a new wave of innovative thought on how students should be learning within the classroom.  Much emphasis has been placed on test scores and technology-rich learning opportunities for students since they have been growing up in a world infused with technology.  However, it is important not to forget the theory of behaviorism and its importance within education.  Dr. Michael Orey states behaviorism is based on two actions to promote positive behavior: reinforcement of desirable behaviors, and punishment of undesirable behaviors.  (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011)  Educators tend to use behaviorist practices everyday for classroom management purposes to help both the students and the teacher maintain an education environment that is conducive to learning.  If educators want to see a positive change in their students’ behaviors, they should reinforce positive behaviors rather than punish undesirable behaviors.  If students see that there is a “reward” for positive behaviors, they are more likely to exhibit those behaviors to gain the reward themselves.

 

Educators can use a variety of technology tools to reinforce positive behavior within the classroom.  One way to use technology for this is to reinforce effort put forth by the students. This strategy “enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning.”  (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 155)  Students can track their own effort using an evaluation rubric and make correlations between the effort and work ethic put forth in their work and the grades they receive on tests and other assessments.  By allowing the students to see for themselves what it takes to earn good grades and positive praise, they should become more motivated to work hard and do well in school.  This information can also be used as a tool in showing students in lower grade levels the skills and habits necessary to be successful later on in high school and even through college so that they can develop good study and work habits early on in their educational careers.  This will hopefully translate to more job satisfaction in their careers and into adulthood.

 

Another way technology can help with behaviorist practices is through homework and practice.  It has been seen that the more times a person is exposed to information, the more likely they are to remember it and use that information in some way.  Homework and practice activities allow students to deepen their knowledge of a given topic and have them apply their knowledge of the content in a variety of ways, making a lasting impression on their memories about the content.  There are many ways that students can use technology for homework and practice to reinforce behaviorist practices.  Various word processing applications allow students to expand both their vocabulary and knowledge on a topic while building their writing skills through the use of research and writing improvement.  Online collaboration sites allow students to take the learned content and interact with one another through the Internet, showing them that learning is not confined to the classroom and that collaborating with others can yield positive results.  Students can even create Power Point games as
review for both themselves and their classmates, posting their games to a class website or school server for others to use. All of these technology tools can show students that a strong work ethic, as well as a positive interaction with both the content and technology, can improve student learning and achievement.

 

While today’s classroom is moving further away from the “teacher-centered” model and closer to the “student-centered” model, it is important for teachers to be aware of behaviorist theories and learning strategies to help students achieve success within the classroom.  As it become clear to them that positive behaviors and practices pay off, students can become more willing to exhibit those behaviors in order to reach their own personal goals.

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc.  (Producer). (2011). Program four: Behaviorist learning theory.  [Video webcast].  Retrieved from  http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6289937&Survey=1&47=8834938&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1.

 

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.