Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Constructivism in Practice

This week's articles and videos examined the constructivist theories and their relationship to technology in the classroom. Within the chapter, Generating and Testing Hypotheses, Data Collection, and Web Resources were discussed and explained. When Generating and Testing Hypotheses was explored, I thought the example given of fifth graders who used Microsoft Excel to learn about compounding interest and saving money can lead to strong earnings over time was pretty powerful. The goal was not to learn about math or graphing; however, they were hidden in the use of this technology tool.

As far as data collection tools, I have never heard of a USB connectable data probe before so this was new for me. This activity for higher grades does indeed show many instructional strategies. It definitely adheres to the constructivist theory of allowing students to create their own meaning through experience.

Web Resources was the part of the chapter I like the most. I love linking to the various websites to find what parts I can utilize the best. I really liked the Plimoth Plantation's You Are the Historian website. It allowed the students to learn via a virtual fieldtrip about life back in colonial times. My son who is six has been ‘inventing’ for years therefore By Kids for Kids: How to Invent was a personal favorite to explore with him. Although he invents with legos, we still enjoyed it.

I believe that as I stop and think about my classroom theories that I do use the constructivist theory at times, but I feel I align more with the constructionist point of view.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Concept Mapping

Discovering Tennessee using concept mapping

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cognitivism in Practice

This week's readings, Orey presented four roles of cognitive tools and gave examples of each. These include information seeking, information presentation, knowledge organization and knowledge integration. Two instructional strategies that relate to the cognitive learning theories are cues, questions and advance organizers and summarizing and note taking.

"Presenting information involves the organization, format, and verbalization of knowledge conveyed through cognitive tools" (Orey, 2001). Examples include graphic organizers and concept maps. Using concept maps allows students to start at the top with the main thought and work their way down to the less general concepts. Concept maps are used frequently in elementary schools to prepare for writing paragraphs. I can now see where they would fit into other areas to strengthen the students' learning.

Summarizing and note taking strategies focus on "enhancing students' ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form" (Pitler, 2007, p.119). These strategies force the students to weed out what is not important and what is. I still use this strategy to jot down key words and cues and also to summarize in my own words, therefore, I will be more likely to remember the information being presented.

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

Behaviorist theorists believe all behaviors can be unlearned and the key element to this theory is reward response. I wish that held true with all students, but I don’t believe that it does. I do use many methods that go along with the behaviorist theory such as contracts, consequences, reinforcement, extinction and behavior modification, and therefore, I believe it does have a place in education and educational technology today.
According to Standridge, “simple contracts can be effective in helping children focus on behavior change” (Laureate ) I have seen this work when dealing with children that need minor behavior changes. However, I have had students who were dealing with lots of issues, and contracts did not work. Honestly, I felt it was more of an imposition on my part to constantly monitor behavior every thirty minutes as some contracts are done. Usually these contracts were set up by our guidance counselor but left up to me to maintain. I do use both positive and negative consequences. I use a ticket system all during the day when I catch students doing the right thing. On Friday, they cash in five tickets for a piece of candy. I also use treasure box. Just as Dr. Orey stated in the video about his own son and his classes, most teachers use clip pulling for punishment, but before a student moves their clip, they must tell me what rule is broken. The point is for students to take ownership in the rule they broke so that hopefully, it won’t happen again.
There are times when behaviorist technology applications are appropriate and effective. Currently, our system is using istation as a means of testing, drilling and practicing for reading intervention. This is the fourth year we have used it. Even if a child does poorly on the initial testing, the program is designed to raise self- esteem as well as academics. The commentator will say, “Keep working hard and try your best.” The students love it. There are other programs out there that praise students for their hard work. It motivates the students to work harder.

I do think online educational programs need to be evaluated constantly by the classroom teacher. There needs to be a purpose in the program not just a usage of time in the classroom. “Researchers find that reading for understanding online requires the same skills as offline reading, including using prior knowledge and make predictions, plus a asset of additional critical-thinking skills that reflect the open-ended, continually changing online context” (David, 2009, p. 84).

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page
David, J. (March, 2009). Teaching Media Literacy.