The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As part of my assigment this week, I was required to create a voicethread based on a need, problem or situation that I am faced with as a teacher.  My voice thread is about the problem of inappropriate and excessive use of cell phone and ipod use during class time.  I am also asking anyone to help in coming up with a way to involve students in the solution of how to cut down or eliminate this problem altogether.
click the link to view and listen to my voicethread....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

In our resources this week, Dr. Michael Orey describes "Social Learning or cooperative learning; as the act of being actively engaged in constructing artifacts, as well as conversations in order to enhance understanding and learning from others." (Laureate Inc., 2009) Beaumie Kim writes that "knowledge is derived from interactions between people and their environments." (Orey, 2001) Connectivist George Siemens states that social learning is using technology to collaborate and share knowledge between groups of people. (Laureate Inc., 2009b) The idea of social learning is the opportunity to interact with the people around you and learn from their experiences and points of view. We are all unique, learn differently and all have different perceptions to share. "Two people looking at something together never actually see the same thing in the same way." (Orey, 2001) This is where the learning comes into play.
Pitler et al. state in their book Using Technology with Classroom instruction that Works, that because we are living in a time when society is forced to keep pace with technology, students need "to be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively." (Pitler et. al., 2007, p139) There are a number of technology tools mentioned in chapter 7 to support social and cooperative learning. Creating videos using multimedia, employing multiuser games, completing web based inquiries, and applications such as Keypals for communications, all can be used to promote social learning by allowing students to collaborate and create with each other.

Dr. Orey talks about how important social learning is because students reach a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which he describes as "what the child is able to learn at a given time." (Laureate Inc., 2009a) He also says that by encouraging social learning, a child gets MKD and can then continue to learn. MKD is the acronym for "more knowledgeable others" which means "a child is unable to learn at this time without help from someone else." (Laureate Inc., 2009a) ZPD and MKD are good reasons to support social learning.

Social Learning is a way for students to learn from other people's perspectives, "bounce ideas off each other, confirm and validate their thoughts, a way to give each other encouragement, and achieve confidence from knowing that they may have the same trouble learning a particular thing as the next student, or that they have come up with the same answer as a result." (Laureate, Inc. 2009a)

I believe that to be able to succeed in society today; you need to be a well rounded individual, having the ability to produce in multiple ways, using both the virtual world and the non-virtual world, in essence being resourceful in the use of both technology and human talent.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Connectivism as Learning Theory. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009b). Social Learning Theories. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Section: Social Constructivism, Retrieved from

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Constructionism in Practice

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This week, in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, I read about an instructional strategy called "Generating and Testing Hypotheses." This strategy is a method by which students create projects (constructionism) to explain hypotheses when faced with disequilibration.

According to Dr. Michael Orey, equilibration (external reality fits to what we know) is one of the building blocks of the Constructionist learning theory, the other three are assimilation (reality is made to fit ones own belief and understanding), accommodation (current belief is altered to fit external reality), and schema (own understanding). (Laureate Inc., 2009) Dr. Orey also goes on to say that Constructionism is "simply using whatever tool you have at hand and actively engaging students to create and build stuff." (Laureate Inc., 2009)

"Technology can play a vital role in generating and testing hypotheses because new developments in probeware and interactive applets allow students to spend more time preparing the data rather than gathering the data." (Pitler et al., 2007, p.203) For example, with data collection tools such as spreadsheets and the internet, students are able to gather information much quicker, create artifacts to "analyze and synthesize" (Pitler et al., 2007, p.211) data, formulate hypotheses, and then "share and compare" (Pitler et al., 2007, p.211) data results by using collaborative internet tools. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski (2007) provide an example of a middle school science class who wanted to know how much acid rain they were getting in their community. Students collected a variety of water samples, tested the pH levels in the water and recorded the data in an excel spreadsheet and then generated a chart to demonstrate their results. (Pitler et al., 2007, p.210) Students were collecting data, building an artifact, and using critical thinking skills to arrive at a conclusion to their hypotheses about acid rain. This is a good example of how testing for hypotheses does correlate to constructionism, as students are engrossed in creating some sort of container or project that supports their results.

Furthermore, project based learning (constructionism) as defined by the Buck Institute of Education, is " a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks."


Buck Institute for Education. Project Based Learning, the online resource of PBL. Retrieved March 24, 2010 from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). 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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cognitive Learning Theory

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According to Dr. Orey, the Cognitive Learning Theory is a three phase learning process in which a person receives information that gets processed and stored into short term memory, and then eventually makes into long term memory. In order to get information from short term memory to long term memory when it actually becomes retainable, a person needs to be able to connect each idea to every other idea they are learning. As stated by Dr. Orey, this method of connecting with what you are learning is called elaboration. (Laureate, 2007a)

In the text, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski , present great ideas to help students achieve cognitive learning with the use of technology. One instructional strategy they recommend is cues, questions, and advance organizers. Advanced organizers are technology tools that “enhance the student's ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic." (Pitler et al., 2007, p.73) An example of an advance organizer is a tool called concept mapping. Basically concept mapping is "a tool that is given to students at the beginning of an assignment to help students "make sense of the content when the information is not well organized in its original format." (Pitler et al., 2007, p.73) It is similar to an outline, except you are using graphic bubbles to design it instead of text format, comparable to a flow chart. Students can use images to insert ideas or concepts and link it to another bubble holding an idea. In essence, concept mapping helps the student connect their thoughts using graphics. Therefore, concept mapping is a great tool to use to initiate cognitive learning. The authors also provide other technology tools such as word processing, spreadsheet applications, multimedia and brainstorming software to help students organize their thoughts and promote cognitive learning.

Other cognitive tools introduced by the authors in this week’s readings were Virtual Field Trips, and Note Taking. A Virtual Field Trip is a web based tool that "provides a student the opportunity to go where they physically cannot." (Laureate, 2007b) It is a method in which students can generate an experience within the classroom, called an ”episode or episodic memory,” (Laureate Inc., 2007b) enabling students “to tie constructivist activities to that experience, giving them a base to make rich connections for information retrieval." (Laureate, 2007b) Furthermore, Note Taking is another strategy that students can use to "organize information in order to process” (Pitler et al., 2007, p.120) it more efficiently and effectively, so that it can be stored into long term memory.

In future assignments, I plan on using concept mapping when introducing a lesson. This way, my students will have an idea ahead of time exactly what they will be learning and why, because the mapping will help them answer the lesson’s essential question. The mapping will allow students the ability to focus their learning and organize the information in a way that will make it easier for them to understand, and at the same time, as a teacher, I will be able to determine by the progress made on the concept map who needs additional help with the lesson, and who does not.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2007a). Cognitive Learning Theories. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2007b). Spotlight on Technology – Virtual Field Trips. [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 10, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

In my course reading this week, I read about two instructional strategies that relate to the behaviorist theory. The two strategies are called “Reinforcing Effort" and "Homework and Practice." Both these strategies integrate technology in the learning process, to give students more avenues to achieve learning and be motivate to excel.

"Reinforcing effort" is a method I already use in one of my classes. The class in which I apply this strategy in is Word processing. Students will complete various assignments and turn them in for a grade. IF a student wants to improve the grades received on their work, I allow them to redo the assignment for a better grade. I make it very clear to students that they will only receive the additional point if the rework is 100% correct the second time, and they can only earn half the points they lost the first time. (ie: receive an 84, redo the assignment correctly and receive a 92) by allowing them to do this, they are learning the concepts, getting a better grade, and it is still fair to those students who got everything right the first time around. In the text "Using Technology with classroom Instruction that Works" written by Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski,(2007) the authors state that "effort is the wisest choice for someone who intends to achieve success or maintain it, as it is within an individual's control, and is the most important factor in achievement." (2007, p155) By allowing students the opportunity to have a choice in the outcome of their success, gives them the incentive to do well. They put effort into fixing their errors, and get immediate results by getting a better grade. At the same time they are given a second opportunity to learn the skill correctly and form good working habits.

Orey states, (2001) all "behaviors can be unlearned and replaced by new behaviors." Therefore, by allowing students to take ownership in their achievement and success, this allows students to generate new positive behaviors and promote intrinsic motivation. It teaches them that when someone really does put forth genuine effort, it pays off. Additionally, I use this strategy as a data collection tool. It allows me to be able to pinpoint specific weaknesses students may have if they repeat the assignment for a better grade and still do not get it right. I then take measures to ensure that those students get the additional instruction they need to achieve that particular skill.

In regards to the “Homework and practice” strategy, my school district has formed a committee to review how much homework is given out to students, whether it is manageable, and if it should be reduced. I feel that some degree of homework is good. Homework allows students to "review and apply what they have learned" (Pitler et al., 2007, p.187) outside of class. In some cases when homework is given the night before, it allows students the opportunity to get acquainted with the material, so when they come to class the next day they have been exposed to the material and are less likely to be lost during class discussions and lecture. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski,(2007) provide a wealth of ideas using technology in chapter 10 of their book that can aide students in doing homework. The authors provide lists of websites, software applications such as word and excel, and multimedia that students can utilize to reinforce skills and concepts. Methods of technology such as these, facilitate and increases learning in a creative and engaging way.

The key point to the strategies mentioned above and how they relate to behaviorism is to create lessons, supported by technology, that students will find value in and will be motivated to complete. Technology offers educators the means to engage students, differentiate lessons, and track their learning. At the same time, technology provides students with a means to work on skills that best meets their individual needs by using a variety of activities and tools " (Pitler et al., 2007, p.196)

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

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