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.

Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society Course Reflection

     As I look back over the things I have learned in my Walden University EDUC 6710 course, I can honestly say that this has been the most enjoyable course that I have taken so far. All of my classes have been beneficial in improving how I teach, but the knowledge and skills I learned in this course were the easiest to implement immediately, and were thoroughly enjoyed by my students. This course forced me to truly examine how I used technology in my classroom, and make adjustments that reflected the skills that my students will need to possess in the 21st century job market. This course taught me how to create and edit blogs and wiki pages. I also created my first podcast in this course. All of these activities will be used in my classroom moving forward.

    This course has certainly allowed me to examine how technology can assist in the teaching and learning process. Students were always asked to think critically in my class. However, this course has shown me technology that can take my students to the next level. One of the most important insights I gained through this course was the use of collaboration to solve complex problems. Sometimes, it takes more than one person to identify a possible solution to a problem. In these instances, collaboration and communication, sometimes across a global audience, are key factors in reaching a solution. This is also a skill that my students will certainly need to be familiar with if they want to compete for high-paying jobs after graduation. 

    I had already begun to take a different approach to teaching due to my previous courses. I am moving away from the teacher-centered classroom approach, and moving towards a learner-centered approach. No longer am I the sole provider of information to my students. My job has shifted. I now ask students to find and vet their own sources of information. I am merely a facilitator of learning. My job is to lead my students in the right direction for the search of their answers, troubleshoot any problems they may be having, clarify any misinformation, and provide support for those students that may be having difficulty in completing the tasks. There are times when I do need to be the sole provider of information, or lecturer, but those instances have decreased dramatically during this school year.

    Although this course has come to an end, I will not stop with my pursuit to become an expert at implementing technology in my classroom. Through my Walden courses, I will continue to learn about best practices, and skills that are needed for the 21st century learner. I am also participating in a program through my district called “Teachers as Leaders” that focuses on how to lead change in your school as a teacher. In this program we discuss how the brain functions, which allows me to get a better understanding of the way my students learn, and what activities I should do more of, or do away with. The program also talks about technology, and requires me to reflect on my teaching habits, vision, and mission as an educator. Lastly, I will continue to attend professional development opportunities offered by my district, as well as national conferences on technology use in the classroom. I am tentatively planning on attending a conference this summer in Seattle, Washington about teaching with technology, which is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I plan to be a life-long learner, and will try to instill this philosophy in my students as well.

   After completing this course, there are a couple of I would like to accomplish in the not so distant future. My first goal is that I would like to implement the use of wikis and blogs as a requirement, in order to enhance student learning. I found that after using them in my class throughout this course, they are a great instructional tool. This will not be an easy goal to accomplish. In order to have teachers comply with this goal, those activities will have to written into the lesson plans. There is already a critical need for professional development on writing lesson plans at my school. Many teachers do not want to write them, and are not very good at writing them well when they do. Add the fact that many of my colleagues do not like using technology in the manner in which I do, and I am doubtful these activities will be written into the lessons unless I am involved in the process. Even after they are written into the lessons, I am sure that some teachers will still be hesitant to follow the lesson plans. It will take a lot of time and energy to reach this goal, but it is one that I am passionate about, and will hopefully see it reach fruition. The second goal I would like to accomplish is that each student has some type of electronic device in his or hands in my classroom at all times. Believe it or not, I think this goal is actually easier to reach than my goal of implementing blogs and wikis. Many of my students already have their own devices. Also, technology is becoming cheaper and more affordable; at least the technology I would need for classroom use. Another positive is that my principal has already budgeted money to purchase a large amount of tablets for the next school year. Hopefully, my classroom will be a pilot for implementing the use of these tablets. I am also prepared to write grants and participate in fundraisers if needed, to attain this technology for my students that do not have their own. It will not happen overnight, but I honestly believe that I will reach this goal by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

     Looking back at my “Practices to Support 21st Century Skills” checklist, I would have to say many of my answers have changed. There are no longer any categories that I would say I rarely do. Most of the activities are happening sometimes are often in my classroom. Comparing the differences in my checklist, where I was when the course began, until now, is truly an accurate measure on the importance and significance of this course. I am truly thankful for the guidance and feedback from my professor. I am also thankful for the dialogue and collaboration of my group members and colleagues. Lastly, I am proud of what I accomplished in this course. It certainly has had a positive effect on my teaching, and my students’ learning.

      

Student Podcast

Student Podcast

This is a podcast of some questions that I asked my students about how they use technology in their home setting, what types of programs do they use, what types of technology do they own, and  what are their thoughts on technology use in the classroom?
The students that I interviewed were mostly from my accelerated class. They ranged in demographics from a Pakistani Muslim girl, to a Hispanic Catholic boy. I was very familiar with the Audacity software, as I use it very often. I was able to edit over fifteen minutes worth of tape, down to less than seven minutes. I believe the students that I interviewed gave me a correct protrait on the amount of technology available to my students, how they use technology at home, and how they feel about technology use in the classroom.
One interesting aspect that cannot be learned from listening to the podcast, is the correlation to social networking, and class grades. After talking to many of my students, I noticed that my students that did not participate actively on social networking sites, had a higher grade point average than those that do. The students told me that they believe it is because they have less distractions, and can focus more on completing assignments. This may be true, and is something I will research with my students, and my colleagues’ students as well, to see if this holds true across the grade level?
Like blogging, and partcipating on a wiki page, I really enjoyed this assignment. It was really remarkable to interview my students and hear their responses. Some surprised me, and others did not. Please feel free to leave feedback. let me know what you thought was interesting or went well during the interviews, also let me know what did not go well, or what questions you would have liked me to ask the students?

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

This week I was asked to evaluate to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, and give an analysis of my findings. Overall, I was impressed with the sight. I thought the site offered many resources, and did an excellent job of stating and explaining the mission and purpose of their organization.

   I was particularly impressed with the frameworks. One reason is that my beliefs are aligned with their beliefs. I also believe that most of the knowledge and skills that students are being  taught, do not match the knowledge and skills they will need in the workplace as they enter their adult lives. I also like that this framework focuses on globalization, and the need for students to understand environmental issues. With the Earth’s population expected to reach 7 billion in the near future, examining environmental issues, and solutions to them, will be critical in order to preserve human life. 

   One aspect of the frameworks that I did not necessarily agree with, was the initiative to develop leaders. I certainly understand the need to have strong leaders in our society and the workplace. However, I think most people in these positions are natural leaders. Sure, they need development of these leadership skills, but most of these people have an innate ability to lead. Furthermore, there will always be some people that will never be leaders. I would not throw out this part of the framework, rather make this an extension of the frameworks for those students that are interested in leadership roles.

   Moving forward, I will use this site as a valuable resource to provide these skills to my students. As I viewed the P21 map, I noticed that the state of Georgia has not adapted the frameworks, or has yet to prove it is has done enough to qualify as a P21 state. My state has adapted the Common Core Standards. However, as I reviewed the 21st Century Skills Social Studies Map, many of the standards are closely aligned. I was impressed with the collaboration aspect of the standards, and will be using many of the activities with my students such as wikis and blogs. This will allow to teach the material set forth by my state, as well as teach the skills that will definitely be needed in the 21st century world and job market.  

You can visit the site here: http://www.p21.org/index.php

Blogging in the Classroom

   I have been asked to post an idea as to how I can use blogs with my students in my classroom? I teach 7th grade Social Studies and our curriculum covers the eastern world. This includes SW Asia, SE Asia, and Africa. After some consideration, I believe blogging can be an excellent extension activity for my students, in order to find deeper understanding of the subject matter.

  Initially, I would like for my blog to be a place where students can share their insights on certain concepts we cover in class. I plan on making my discussion topics open-ended questions to which there is no definitive right or wrong answer. I believe this will make for better dialogue among the students. My goal is for my students to give their position on certain matters, and then be able to defend their position using facts from materials and resources we covered in class. After becoming comfortable with this process, I would like for my students to continue doing so, but using multiple sources of outside information to argue their position. These sources need to be credible.

   Ultimately, I would like for my blog to be a place where my students can connect to a global community, and continue to take a position on a topic, and defend it. This is especially important for my students because many of the people in the global community will certainly have a different point of view than my students. For instance, a sample question could read as follows: “Do you believe it was necessary for the United States to drop atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring an end to World War II?” This will certainly get mixed responses, especially depending on the responder’s point of view. This is what I envision my blog becoming. A place to enquire a deeper understanding of the concepts I teach, not necessarily a place for graded work. Although, it can be used for grades if needed?

  Does my vision for my blog seem realistic? What potential problems could I face in implementing my blog into my classroom? What recommendations do you have for me in bringing this blog to fruition? All fedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

 

Educational Apps

There are thousands of educational apps that can be incorporated into the classroom, or used by parents at home to facilitate learning. Today, I will focus solely on apps for the iPad. However, I will continue to search and provide resources for smartphones, and other tablets. It is critical that we provide students with a medium of learning that peak their interest, and relates to how 21st century students learn. Here are a few of latest educational apps for the iPad or iPhone by content. I would to get some feedback on these apps. Were they useful? Were they user friendly? Also, let me know of some other great educational apps for personal devices. Thanks!

*Note–All of these apps can be found at the App Store on iTunes. Some apps have to be purchased, and are not free.*

Language Arts/Writing:

iThoughtsHD

A Novel Idea

Pearltrees

SpellBoard

Sparklefish

GrammarPrep by Pearson

Word Dynamo

WordFlex Touch

Math:

Math Bingo

Sushi Monster

iCross

Geom-e-Tree

Dragonbox+

Math Ref

Solve Pro

Statsmate

Mathmateer

Meteor Math

Super 7

Science:

Molecules

D. Bones

Fotopedia Wild Friends

Leafsnap

Butterfly Farm

Earthlapse

SkySafari 3

eWeatherHD

Earth Stories

Osmos

Galaxy on Fire 2

History/Geography:

National Park Maps

ArcGIS

Barefoot World Atlas

Geo Walk HD-3D

Today in History

Smithsonian Channel

iAfrica

Infinity of Nations

2013 World FactBook

Current World Leaders

The Economist World in Figures