Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reflection Post

In week one of this course I thought about my own beliefs on learning theories. Here is what I stated:

There are four main learning theories, behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism, and social constructionism (Laureate Education, Inc 2009). In terms of my personal theory on learning I would have to say I pull ideas from all of the different theories. All theories believe that the learner must be active in the learning process as Dr. Orey stated (2009) and above all aspects of learning theories I feel that the most important aspect of any learning theory is the aspect of student involvement and engagement. For learning to have a powerful effect on the students they must be involved and active in the process. This active learning can take the form of a rewards and consequences system such as a behaviorism idea, a scaffold approach to learning as suggested by the cognitivism theory, or a more hands-on approach to learning as stated by both constructionism theories.

I have to say that I feel the same way now as I did in the beginning of the course. I think that it is important for teachers to structure lessons around all learning theories because there are many types of learners within a single class. By supporting and planning lessons around one learning theory there maybe a group of students who do not gain as much knowledge as they could have. It is crucial that teachers create a well-balanced classroom with instruction and activities that support all learners.

Within my current classroom I use technology on daily basis for instructional and learning purposes. I must say that I have used technology to assist in instruction more than as a learning tool. For the remainder of the school year, I am going to continue to use technology as an instructional tool but include more ways that students can use technology as a learning tool. Two tools that I would like to integrate into my classroom is the use of pod casting to record oral readings and improve fluency. Another tool that I would like to implement would be the use of voicethreads. It is an easy way for students to synthesize and share their learning and understanding.

In terms of next steps to further my professional career I can pinpoint two goals for improvement. First I would like to use technology as an assessment tool. It is hard to show exactly how my students have grown in fluency from September to June. At the end of each month next year, I am going to give my students a leveled text that they are successful in reading to record their voices. I will grade these pod casts on a fluency rubric. This way, students, parents and administrators will be able to hear the difference from month to month. Secondly, I am interested in using technology as a homework option. Given that I teach second grade I am not sure how much typing I would have my students do. I feel that through the use of a blog with links to educational website, postings of classroom activities, photographs of classroom activities and interactive games I could give extra support to the students. It would not be a requirement but more of an enrichment opportunity for them to further explore and understand classroom topics.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 3. Instructional Theory vs. Learning Theory. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

OOPS... Forgot to post this!

Sorry for the mixup. Here is my VoiceThread!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Social Learning Theory

The social learning theory is based around the idea that students learn best when they are creating an artifact of learning while working in cooperative groups. Through the social interaction students are able to share ideas, work through their understandings through discussion and hands on activities and come away with a greater understanding of new knowledge and the task at hand. It is imperative for educators to structure learning around the idea of collaboration due to the ever changing and fast paced world we are living in (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).

There are countless learning opportunities that follow the framework of the social learning theory. Technology broadens the amount of activities that are possible. Personally I enjoy the idea of making movies. This type of activity with the proper planning and understanding leads right into collaboration. Given a breakdown of responsibilities, a rubric and content to cover (as well as the technology) students will be able to work in small groups. Some tasks require a individual to complete while other times the whole group in necessary.

In my classroom we make movies using the imovie program. Over the past few month we have been turning our writing workshop pieces into movies. In the beginning I walked each student through the process with the help of my classroom paras. This month I am planning on having my students work in small groups of two to complete the projects. Each student has already written their story. Their partner will then have to read through the story and make suggestions for changes either to the pictures or the story. Then they will work together to photograph the pictures and upload them to the computer. They will have to work collaboratively to record the telling of the story, to add in the background music, frame the shots, etc. to create a finished product. I feel that with the individual work we have done throughout the year and the help that the partners will provide, the students will successfully create their movies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Constructionism Learning Theory

The constructionism Learning Theory states that students learn best when they are engaged in learning and creating evidence of their learning. People are able to acquire knowledge and understanding when they build something new from prior knowledge or schema (Laureate Education, 2009). By providing students with web tools and technologies they are able to synthesize information into a product that demonstrates their understanding of the content at hand and the technologies used to produce the product.

A great technology based resources that could help students use their schema to develop further understanding and build upon what they know would be the use of excel. The idea of project-based learning goes hand in hand with constructionism. There is a general problem that is posed and students are required to come up with a plan and create a final product to show what they have learned. When given a problem students are first required to draw on their own schema, what do they already know. From this schema they will then develop a hypothesis or a general idea about what the new data show. Then students are required to collect the data to either prove or disprove their original theory (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K., p.210). In my classroom I might ask the question "What type of pet do most 2nd graders like?" We would then have to record our hypothesis such as second graders mostly like dogs. Then students would be required to collect the data from different classes and put the information into a spreadsheet on excel. From this spreadsheet students would be able to turn the data into a bar graph to better understand the data that was collected. Students have now created an artifact from the collected data and will be able to visually see what they now know.

In simple terms, constructionism believe that by actively doing and building students will acquire knowledge by using their schema as a starting block and stepping stool to further understanding. Through the use of many technology based programs project-based assignments can help teachers and students build on past experiences and create new ones.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 6. Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Week 3 : Cognitive Learning Theory

In sort, the cognitive learning theory basically states that the brain receives informations through sensory input. The information is then transfered to the short term memory and eventually some of the information is then stored in the long term memory. The key to successful learning is providing a multisensory approach to experiencing the new information as well as transfering the information from the short term memory to the long term memory.

When you think of the brain to can think of it like a computer. There are sections where different information is stored. Like a computer, when we have to recall a memory and find the right path to retreive the correct information. Tools like concept maps help students organize the information into like topics to help with the understanding and storing of the information. Technology based programs like Kidspiration or Inspiration are mind mapping or concept mapping tools. Information can be organized acording to the topic at hand. Students can also incorporate photographs or pictures as well as text into the concept maps. This provided a dual coding system that increases the likelyhood that information will be remembered. Through the use of concept maps students are able to focus on essential questions and find supportive information in subtopics to help answer questions and view the bigger picture. Concept maps can be used in all subject areas to guide and support student learning and understanding. Some areas where they could be helpful are to support independent reading (in content area and reading), help develop an outline for a writing assignment, guide notes for class participation, as well as expectations for field trips.

Students are given information through lessons in a variety of fashions: lecture, videos, pictures, discoveries, hands-on-activities, sound bites and the list goes on. From these experiences students are then required to recall the information. Online communication programs like wikis would be a great resource for students to transform and synthsize their classnotes into products that can be shared, modified and corrected. This would be a collaborative task that all students would be responsible for adding to, imporving, and organizing in a logical mannor. Students would also be able to link other helpful sites and import images once again creating a duel coding system.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The behaviorist learning theory is based on the principles that desired behaviors are rewarded and undesired behaviors face consequences. The student is encouraged to repeat successful behaviors to seek further rewards. The students also will learn from consequences and change undesirable behaviors. Technology and the behaviorist learning theory work hand-in-hand in motivating and engaging students in the learning process.

Many students have a preset notion about certain subjects. For one reason or another they will come up with reasons why they will be unsuccessful. Due to this attitude students may not put forth the effort needed in order to succeed. Through the use of spreadsheet software and an effort rubric teachers are able to help students see the difference in success when students put forth effort by taking class notes, paying attention, participating, doing homework and studying. “The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning” (Pitler, 2007, p. 155). By tracking and graphing the results students are able to clearly see that the level of their participation in the classroom activities will significantly affect their overall achievement. Students that are not attaining the desired results are able to task analyze what area they can work on to better their chances at success.

Homework can be the bane of existence for any classroom teacher. Assigning meaningful, clear and helpful homework is the first battle but then comes the tricky problem. Making sure that every assignment that is handed in is reviewed, commented on and returned in a timely fashion can be over whelming. Not to mention the effort involved in motivating reluctant students to even consider completing the given assignments. Within the chapter on homework and practice, Pitler mentions the use of multimedia and web resources to engage students in increasing their conceptual understanding of skills and concepts (Pitler, 2007, p. 188-198). One idea that was not mentioned in the reading was the use of a classroom blog. I have used this resource in the past with great success. Every week I would post different questions, videos, pictures or scenarios about topics that we had discussed in class. Students would respond to the posts with examples, further discussion, pictures and questions. It was a great resource to have students interacting together and building off what their peers had stated. The duties and dread of homework was somewhat relieved. Students were motivated to participate and would check back several times a week.

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