Constructivism in Practice

                                        Constructivism in Practice

In this week’s learning resources, we read about the idea of generating and testing hypotheses. These concepts fall directly in line with the constructivist and constructionist theories because they allow students to create artifacts, problem solve, analyze, and experiment. These concepts have been used by scientists for many years, and have a profound impact on student learning as well. It is vital that teachers design activities that touch upon these concepts in order to engage students, and prepare them for real world experiences. Furthermore, advances in technology have made these activities easier to complete, and allows for more communication and collaboration between students and educators.

     In this week’s video segment, the teacher had her students create a booklet using Microsoft Publisher. This task could have fallen into one or two categories, experimental inquiry or investigation. Her students had the opportunity to document what they learned or interpreted from the story, and they also had the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions that others may have had about the story. Ideally, this activity would align with the constructivist ideology because each student can “construct his or her own meaning (Laureate, 2011)” of what happened in the story. It would also align with the constructionist ideology because each student was creating an artifact. Also, the technology allowed the teacher to assign more complex tasks for her students.

    Another example of technology supporting these theories was the use of Inspiration to create a root cause analysis graphic organizer. Often, these types of activities are higher order thinking exercises, and ‘students often need some scaffolding at first to help them successfully attain higher levels of understanding (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012, p. 205)”. Advanced organizers are a great way to assist students in navigating difficult concepts. They also provide a visual aid for the end product on many occasions. Whether they are the end artifact, or a personal guide to produce an artifact, they are very beneficial to many students and educators; which support the theories of constructivism and constructionism.

                                                          

                                                     References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Constructionist and constructivist learning theories.

            Baltimore, MD: Orey.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction  

            that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

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Cognitivism in Practice (Re-Post)

                         Cognitivism in Practice

 

   The Cognitivist theory deals with how a person learns, or more specifically, how the brain stores and retains information. Recent studies have shown that the brain takes chunks of information and moves them into working memory, and eventually into long term memory. The chunks of information that reach long term memory are connected with other chunks of information, and can be pulled backed into working memory as needed. In fact, “All incoming information is organized and processed in the working memory by interaction with knowledge in long-term memory (Novak & Canas, 2006)”. The way a person learns and how the information is presented, heavily contributes to how these chunks of information enter the portion of the brain that controls long term memory. Many of today’s students are visual and auditory learners. Advanced organizers, summarizing and note taking, virtual field trips, and concept mapping are some tools that help them learn information.

     Advance organizers are a great way to organize information as the students move through a lesson or unit. These organizers can include pictures and symbols, vocabulary, and figures that show how the pieces of information on the organizer are linked and related. We often call these thinking maps. There are many different thinking maps that can be used as advanced organizers. One of the key pieces to creating an advanced organizer is to have the information presented linked back to an “essential question (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M., 2012, p. 95)”. This allows the students to understand why the information is important, from what point of view is the information being presented, and where did the information come from? I often use Mimio software and SmartBook software to create advanced organizers for my students. Many times they are only skeletons, and they students have to fill in all of the necessary information. There are other times when I do fill in some of the information, especially with difficult concepts, to help guide students through the organizer. I do this often with my collaborative class.

   According to Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M., “summarizing and note taking focuses on enhancing students’ ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form (p.147)”. There are many technologies available that can do so. One that I have used quite frequently is Wordle. This technology allows students to type in words or phrases, and creates a digital collage of these words and terms. Students like using this software because it makes each Wordle unique, regardless of whether or not some of them use the same information. Teachers can also quickly glance at a Wordle, and get a feel on whether or not the students’ have mastered a concept.  

    Virtual field trips are a powerful tool because it allows students to go where they physically cannot, and it creates “a rich experience (Laureate, 2011)” for the learner that can create episodes of learning. These field trips are usually free and easy to access, which removes two of the major barriers for many students and educators in today’s educational system. It also gives students a visual representation of the information being presented, which is a very powerful tool in the learning process. These field trips can be used as culminating activities, or as an opening activity that can be used to draw information and experiences from throughout the unit.

    Concept mapping is another tool that gives students a visual representation of information. They are tools that help organize information, and show links and relationships to different concepts. These maps usually highlight the most important information and concepts in a unit, which in itself is a summarizing mechanism for students. Concept maps also help students and teachers understand the learning objectives for units, and spotlight important vocabulary in the unit or chapter. Today, technology allows to summarizing in different ways. Blogs, wikis, Google Docs, and other programs allow people to summarize information, but are much more interactive. These programs not only support the cognitive theory, but also the constructivist and social constructivist theories of learning.

                                                              

 

 

                                                              References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips. .

Novak, J. D., & Canas, A. J. (2006-01 Rev 01-2008). The theory underlying concept maps and  

          how to construct them, Technical Report IHMC Cmap Tools. Retrieved from  

          http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.pdf

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that  

           works (2nd  ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

 

Cognitivism in Practice

                                                   Cognitivism in Practice

 

   The Cognitivist theory deals with how a person learns, or more specifically, how the brain stores and retains information. Recent studies have shown that the brain takes chunks of information and moves them into working memory, and eventually into long term memory. The chunks of information that reach long term memory are connected with other chunks of information, and can be pulled backed into working memory as needed. In fact, “All incoming information is organized and processed in the working memory by interaction with knowledge in long-term memory (Novak & Canas, 2006)”. The way a person learns and how the information is presented, heavily contributes to how these chunks of information enter the portion of the brain that controls long term memory. Many of today’s students are visual and auditory learners. Virtual field trips and concept mapping are two tools to help them learn information.

    Virtual field trips are a powerful tool because it allows students to go where they physically cannot, and it creates “a rich experience (Laureate, 2011)” for the learner that can create episodes of learning. These field trips are usually free and easy to access, which removes two of the major barriers for many students and educators in today’s educational system. It also gives students a visual representation of the information being presented, which is a very powerful tool in the learning process. These field trips can be used as culminating activities, or as an opening activity that can be used to draw information and experiences from throughout the unit.

    Concept mapping is another tool that gives students a visual representation of information. They are tools that help organize information, and show links and relationships to different concepts. These maps usually highlight the most important information and concepts in a unit, which in itself is a summarizing mechanism for students. Concept maps also help students and teachers understand the learning objectives for units, and spotlight important vocabulary in the unit or chapter. Today, technology allows to summarizing in different ways. Blogs, wikis, Google Docs, and other programs allow people to summarize information, but are much more interactive. These programs not only support the cognitive theory, but also the constructivist and social constructivist theories of learning.

                                                                References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips. .

Novak, J. D., & Canas, A. J. (2006-01 Rev 01-2008). The theory underlying concept maps and  

          how to construct them, Technical Report IHMC Cmap Tools. Retrieved from  

          http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.pdf

 

Behaviorism in Practice Re-Post

                                                       Behaviorism in Practice

 

    The behaviorist theory is based on the premise that behavior can shape the effort that a student puts forth in class, which in turn affects the level of achievement that a student attains. This week’s resources also provided many technology based applications and strategies that supported the behaviorist theory. There are three that I use often that I believe reinforce the principles of the behaviorist theory. They address homework, student effort, and student behavior.

     The first technology component deals with how I assign and assess homework. I try to instill in my students from the first time that they walk into my classroom that homework is a critical aspect of the curriculum. I often talk about examples of students that have completed their homework in prior years, as compared to students that did not, and the results. This is all part of trying to change their attitudes and behavior towards homework. I also let them know that when I assign homework I will provide feedback to every student; or that the technology that they use will, and we will discuss those findings. Two pieces of technology that I use are Remind101 and USA TestPrep. Remind 101is an application that I use to send texts to my students and parents to remind them of their homework assignments on a needed basis. Almost all of my students have cell phones, so this is a great way of reaching them outside of school. I begin using this program in mid-January, and have seen an increase in the quantity of completed assignments, and the quality of work. USA TestPrep is a site that prepares students for the CRCT, which is used for promotion in my state, for the grade that I teach. This site allows kids to watch videos, play games, take practice tests, and complete benchmarks on anything that we discuss or cover in class. This site also sends me and update immediately when students complete assignments, which allows me to send the immediate feedback through a message, or when I see them the next morning. The thing I like best about the site is that it allows me to assign individual assignments. I can use this feature to tailor my assignments to my students’ learning styles and abilities. I can assign videos to my audio-visual learners, games to my students that are tactile learners, and simple tests and practice to my high achievers. I can also change the degree of difficulty of the assignments. For my at-risk students I can assign them some level-one questions to boost their confidence. I can also assign only level three and four questions to my students that may need enrichment activities. Bottom line, the site is an educational technology that “is a support for teaching and learning that both teacher and student can call on to help ensure the opportunity for optimum performance (Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J., 2008, p.28)”. I have been using this site for two years, and my students’ standardized test scores have soared.

     USA TestPrep also gives students badges and awards when they achieve certain levels of success on the website. This has helped with intrinsic motivation for many of my students. It also helps to “better track the effects of effort and provide immediate feedback to students (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M., 2012, p. 58)”. I never mention the badges. The students that always complete their homework talk with their peers about their accomplishments, and in turn it becomes a competition of who can achieve the most badges. There is no incentive or reward, other than occasional verbal praise, yet the competitive nature of my students drive them to try to attain certain levels of success on the website. This was something that I happen to stumble upon, but it has been a positive factor in my classroom. This reinforces the behaviorist theory that as students attain small increments of success, it can change their attitudes and feelings toward a particular event or concept. This is what I believe is happening with my students, and their view on homework.

     Lastly, I use the PBIS website to print off rubrics for students’ behavior in my class and the school. We spend much of the first week of school discussing and editing the rubrics as needed. We also periodically spend time reviewing the rubrics as needed throughout the year. This gives my students a concrete outline of expected behavior, as well as the consequences they will receive for not following the rubric or matrix. The site also allows me to create behavior charts that can track student behavior. I have not had to use these charts often, but when they were used, they were successful at reducing unwanted behaviors. Technology has not changed the principles behind the behaviorist theory, but it has made the process of implementing this theory much easier, and less time consuming.

 

                                                                References:

 

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc.,  

           custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that  

           works (2nd  ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Behaviorism in Practice

                                                    Behaviorism in Practice

 

    The behaviorist theory is based on the premise that behavior can shape the effort that a student puts forth in class, which in turn affects the level of achievement that a student attains. This week’s resources also provided many technology based applications and strategies that supported the behaviorist theory. There are three that I use often that I believe reinforce the principles of the behaviorist theory. They addresses homework, student effort, and student behavior.

     The first technology component deals with how I assign and assess homework. I try to instill in my students from the first time that they walk into my classroom that homework is a critical aspect of the curriculum. I often talk about examples of students have completed their homework in prior years, as compared to students that did not, and the results. This is all part of trying to change their attitudes and behavior towards homework. I also let them know that when I assign homework I will provide feedback to every student; or that the technology that they use will, and we will discuss those findings. Two pieces of technology that I use are Remind101 and USA TestPrep. Remind 101is an application that I use to send texts to my students and parents to remind them of their homework assignments on a needed basis. Almost all of my students have cell phones, so this is a great way of reaching them outside of school. I begin using this program in mid-January, and have seen an increase in the quantity of completed assignments, and the quality of work. USA TestPrep is a site that prepares students for the CRCT, which is used for promotion in my state, for the grade that I teach. This site allows kids to watch videos, play games, take practice tests, and complete benchmarks on anything that we discuss or cover in class. This site also sends me and update immediately when students complete assignments, which allows me to send the immediate feedback through a message, or when I see them the next morning. I have been using this site for two years, and my students’ standardized test score have soared.

     USA TestPrep also gives students badges and awards when they achieve certain levels of success on the website. This has help with intrinsic motivation for many of my students. I never mention the badges. The students that always complete their homework talk with their peers about their accomplishments, and in turn it becomes a competition of who can achieve the most badges. There is no incentive or reward, other than occasional verbal praise, yet the competitive nature of my students drive them to try to attain certain levels of success on the website. This was something that I happen to stumble upon, but it has been a positive factor in my classroom. This reinforces the behaviorist theory that as students attain small increments of success, it can change their attitudes and feelings toward a particular event or concept. This is what I believe is happening with my students, and their view on homework.

     Lastly, I use the PBIS website to print off rubrics for students’ behavior in my class and the school. We spend much of the first week of school discussing and editing the rubrics as needed. We also periodically spend time reviewing the rubrics as needed throughout the year. This gives my students a concrete outline of expected behavior, as well as the consequences they will receive for not following the rubric or matrix. The site also allows me to create behavior charts that can track student behavior. I have not had to use these charts often, but when they were used, they were successful at reducing unwanted behaviors.Technology has not changed the principles behind the behaviorist theory, but it has made the process of implementing this theory much easier, and less time consuming.