Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

The learning strategy in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works that we studied this week was cooperation and that goes hand and hand with Connectivism and Social Learning Theory. In our DVD presentation, Dr. Orey (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) maintains that the social learning theory is the idea that “students actively engage in constructing artifacts and conversing with others.” By completing group projects (cooperation) students are practicing the social learning theory. Through technology and web 2.0 tools students can experience collaboration and group skills at a distance. Wikis, Google Docs, WebQuests, blogs, and many other technological means are beginning to revolutionize collaborative education. “Technology can plan a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members to communicate even if they are not working face to face.” (Pitler, et. al., 2007, p. 140). This is awesome for both teachers and students. This can eliminate the “strong willed” student who takes over a group project with their influence. Conversely, a quiet/shy student may be more aggressive or participate more because they are not face to face with other group members.

Another collaboration tool I explored was some of the web resources in our text. Pitler, et al. discussed web collaboration, keypals, web-enabled multiplayer simulation games, and communication software, such as blogs and wikis. The great part about these sources is that they all allow for group learning and facilitate collaboration. Collaboration is not limited to groups in one classroom, technology allows for cooperative learning from anywhere on Earth there is computers and the Internet. Students from Reedsville, WI where I teach can learn from students in Japan or England. I could have my students working on a wiki about the novel Number the Stars and students from throughout the world could make changes and learn from my students. It would be great to hear from some Jewish students, students from Germany or Denmark. The technology makes studying novels more engaging and the ability to converse with students from throughout the world makes wikis a great educational tool that correlates with the social learning theory. Some of the simulation games such as Revolution and Civilization III allow students to interact with players throughout the world. Students learn by participating in actual historic events. The ability to learn while playing a game with authentic historical events while interacting with historical figures is an awesome way to learn about history and a way I wish I could have experienced in school.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 8. Social Learning Theory. [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 24, 2010

Constructivism in Practice

Constructionism suggests that learners are particularly likely to create new ideas when they are actively engaged in making external artifacts that they can reflect upon and share with others, for example, helping them create their own video games, robots, and simulations (Thurmond, 1999). My students simply enjoy using technology to learn, they prefer wikis, podcasts, PowerPoints over textbooks, worksheets, and rote learning. I recently surveyed my sixth grade students about incorporating technology in our classroom and found that over 90% would rather create a podcast or an iMovie instead of a research paper. This data suggested that I should change my curriculum to accommodate my student’s desire to learn using technology.

Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski stated in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works in Chapter 11 (Generating and Testing Hypothesis) that when students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content. I love the idea of using game software and simulations to teach content. My students would jump at the idea of playing an online simulation such as the Calm and the Storm, a World War II simulation where students take on the role of leaders of several different countries. They make economic, diplomatic, and military decisions to achieve their country’s goals.
High School history teacher Dave McDivitt used the game to teach World War II and also taught it the traditional way. After testing both groups, he found that the students using the simulation software scored significantly higher than those who learned the material the traditional way (Pitler, et. al., 2007, pp. 214). This is significant because using simulation software (learning in a way that my students love) will be more effective than the normal, boring school lessons that I experienced when I attended school. By implementing technology, my students will be engaged, apply new content that is introduced in the simulation, and enhance their understanding.


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

Thurmond, A. (1999). Seymour Papert & Constructionism. March 24, 2009 from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Using Cognitive Tools to Enhance Learning

In our text this week, we learned how using cognitive tools can enhance the learning experience. As a teacher, I want to use technology along with strategies to enhance learning. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski stated in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works in Chapter 4 (Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers) that cues, questions, and advanced organizers help students’ ability to retrieve, use and organize information about a topic. An example they use that I want to use with my students is advanced organizers. Advanced Organizers are easy to use, are free, can include clipart and multimedia, and help students organize information and access prior knowledge. In the video section of the course resources this week, Dr. Orey talked about Pavio’s dual coding hypothesis from the video (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009). The power of advanced organizers is that if students can associate a picture with a meaning and information is stored as images and text, the understanding will improve their ability to recall the information. Ideally, I would create organizers for my social studies units that include clipart from the countries we are studying and the students would absorb the information.

In Chapter 6 (Summarizing and Note taking) Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski state that note taking and summarizing strategies should focus on the students’ ability to synthesize information and distill it into a new form. The strategy that I found useful was using a word processor to take notes. Our text suggested using the graphic representation of an upside-down T (Pitler et al., 2007, p.121). On the top left of the T students would record notes, on the top right side of the T students would draw illustrations, and underneath the T students would create a two sentence summary. This would be an ideal way to introduce new concepts in social studies and character descriptions in language arts. For example for South America, they would list the countries on the left, copy and paste a map on the right, and write a two sentence description under the line.

The new technological strategies I learned I want to incorporate into future lessons because they help students make connections and organize information in ways that they can easily understand. By making connections to prior knowledge and concepts they are familiar with, students will achieve more.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2007). Program 5. Cognitive 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 10, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

In Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works I explored many strategies that embed technology and relate to the behaviorist learning theory. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski (2007) gave the example of using www.survey to collect data that you could use to encourage students to try harder. The objective of the survey was to connect effort with achievement (p.162). With some inspiration from our text, I used to create a survey similar to Figures 8.6 and 8.7 (p.163) on place a link on my wiki. I discussed with my students both before and after the survey that they are responsible for their learning. I wanted my students to think about taking more responsibility and after reviewing the data of the survey, clearly they do not feel this way. The almost immediate feedback from this survey gave me some ideas on helping students become more responsible students. At the beginning of each quarter of the school year, I will set goals with my students in every class I teach (change my student’s behavior). I need to spend more time teaching my students study skills, testing taking skills, and constantly practice to acquire skills.

Another example of a strategy that uses technology and relates to the behaviorist learning theory is web resources. The text list many sites that give students the opportunity to learn through repetition. I played “Wizards and Pigs” and found out that this game neatly teaches students alliteration, rhyming, and free verse (p.197). I played this game and found behaviorism throughout the course of this game. The more skills you master the more you are rewarded with keys and potions. The game features some animation and great speech synthesis. The ability to learn some difficult concepts and have fun is the best part of this site. I will definitely use this as part of my poetry unit next year.

In our text both chapter eight, “Reinforcing Effort” and in chapter ten, “Homework and Practice” the authors give some great strategies that show behaviorism in practice with technology. I learned that free survey tools can really help me help my students improve their ability to improve themselves as students. I also found some new ways to give my students activities that help reinforce their skills with the reward of having fun while learning. Behaviorism may be described as the “red headed step-child” of the learning theories by Dr. Orey (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) but it is alive and well thanks to technology being integrated in to education.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 4. Behaviorist learning theory. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Welcome Walden Classmates!

Welcome to all my EDUC-6711I-6 Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology classmates!

I am looking forward to learning many new ways to incorporate technology in my classroom from this class and my classmates. I am extremely eager to learn more about Google Docs.