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


  1. Craig,

    Your explanation of the inverted T chart sounds like it will work really well in your classroom. This strategy also seems like it could be easily adapted to different age groups and subjects. Young students could draw and write vocabulary words, while secondary students could create the document on the computer and incorporate multimedia, photographs, and sources from the web to flesh out their notes.


  2. Craig,

    You seem to be interested about using advanced organizers, as am I. Dr. Orey made some good points about using these organizers and including visuals and pictures, so that students can trigger memory because they recall a visual.

    I for one do not utilize visuals enough. I use many videos, but few pictures/charts/graphs to go along with my lectures and lessons. Perhaps incorporating advanced organizers is our way of tapping in to this useful strategy.


  3. Once again, I think all these ideas would work great at almost any school. However, the limited availability of computers hinders the progress.


  4. Hey Craig,

    Your post made me reflect back upon my undergraduate studies. The professors drilled that we must use anticipatory sets, or bell ringers to tap into the students prior knowledge. The concept map helps to build the connections needed for learning. The anticipatory sets also tend to get the student excited and engaged to learn. This is a sign of a valuable teacher. I can think back to my favorite high school teachers. Some had the ability to get their students excited about watching paint dry. This comes with experiences and constant teacher reflection of what works; verses what does not work.

  5. Hi Craig:

    Video games that are learning tools are definitely in our future. Students who are involved in this kind of learning remind me of myself when I got so involved in a book, I couldn't put it down. Many books like "Anne Frank's Diary" helped me to get into history and allowed me to visualize it in a way I never could have from a textbook.

    The pictures I was able to generate in my mind are like those non visual students can get on the web. It makes connections and recall so much better. Allowing students to find those visuals are certainly in their best interest as they can not only benefit from the visual connection, they also have a tactile connection through the keyboard.