21st Century Learning Environment

In this week’s reading it discussed four strategies for helping students retain information.  These strategies are: make it sticky, draw from the past, repeat, repeat, repeat, and give positive feedback.  I use these strategies in my teaching by relating new concepts to the real world (make it sticky).  I like to connect concepts to real life in order to provide a reason for students to learn the material.  I also build upon what has already been taught (draw from the past).  This may be something I have already taught the students or something they have learned in the past which means I must collaborate with past teachers or teachers of other content areas to ensure I am building upon what has already been taught.  Providing various types of activities is important for making sure all learning types are being met.  I like to incorporate a variety of activities to include group work and independent work as well as activities that are visual, hands on, and have good discussions.  This provides ample opportunities for students to learn the material.  Lastly, I provide feedback often to my students.  During discussions I give feedback or other students give feedback after every comment.  When students are working in groups I visit each group to give feedback.  I also give ample feedback on any written assignments.  This includes monitoring students while working on the assignment to make sure they are on task and understanding.

The revisions to Bloom’s taxonomy have changed the way I look at each level.  Changing the wording from nouns to verbs has put more of an emphasis on what the students need to do rather than what the teacher should do/provide.  This makes each level much more clear to me.  It also makes it easier to see how the levels vary from lower to higher order thinking skills.  As a teacher it is important to include both types of thinking skills.  By identifying where the lesson’s activities fit in Bloom’s taxonomy teachers can develop better lessons.  

Two educational apps I like are Virtual Manipulatives (Link) and Duolingo (Link).  Virtual Manipulatives helps provide a hands on experience to math problems without having to buy a lot of materials.  By using manipulatives students are able to test hypothesis for ways to solve math problems.  This falls in the evaluating level of Bloom’s.  Duolingo is an app used to learn a new language.  Language is acquired by answering questions.  Some questions have visuals while others do not.  This app has you analyze and apply patterns to learn grammar and sentence structure.

EDUC6711 Reflection

In the beginning of this class, my personal theory of learning consisted of combining Gardner’s multiple intelligences with the social learning theory.  Although I still believe these two pieces to be important, I have expanded my personal theory of learning to include a little bit of all the learning theories.  Each learning theory we discussed had at least one piece that fits in the classroom setting.  Some of the learning theories had more pieces than others but all had at least one.  For example, the behaviorist theory explains how operant conditioning can help reinforce desired behaviors (Laureate Education, n.d.b).  This can help with classroom management but is not the sole answer to all behavioral problems.  Social constructivism, however, explains the benefit of using cooperative learning groups since they promote critical thinking skills and engage students in real world problem solving (Orey, 2001).  This makes it more prominent in the classroom.

As a result of this course, I have learned about several different technology tools which can enhance a lesson.  Many of these tools support ideas I had.  For example, VoiceThreads are a great way to facilitate a discussion.  I have been hesitate about using technology in the classroom for discussions due to the frustration associated with typing equations.  VoiceThreads allow for many modes of communication including voice, picture, video, and text.  This means students do not have to type out equations to write an explanation or to participate in a discussion.  Due to this freedom, I am going to immediately start teaching my students about these tools in order to use them for projects in class.  I will incorporate these tools into our lessons, making sure to model the appropriate use before having students use the tools.

Two technology tools I plan on incorporating more into my lessons are concept maps and VoiceThreads.  Concept maps mimics the the network model of the brain for memory (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  This makes it a very useful tool for helping students remember information.  Concept maps show students how concepts are related by connecting them with a line and using linking words to form meaningful connections (Novak & Canas, 2008).  I will use these maps to not only show connections in one topic but to show how all the units throughout the year connect together.  VoiceThreads will be used to facilitate discussions.  I will start by modeling the use of a VoiceThread in class.  Then I will create a one for a homework assignment where students are expected to answer an open ended question by commenting on the VoiceThread.  This will allow the students to experiment with the different forms of communication available.  Once students are a little more comfortable with how to use the program, I will have them create their own VoiceThread and comment to each other to facilitate discussions inside and outside of the classroom.

In order to improve my instructional practices I have set two goals for integrating technology into my classroom.  The first goal is to use more technology for homework assignments over the next year.  In order to do this, I will introduce new online resources to my students during the year.  This list of new resources will be compiled as a list on my website for students to access at home.  By January next year, I will use these resources at least once a week as the homework assignment.  Homework is important for students to do because it helps deepen their understanding of the concepts they are learning (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  By incorporating technology into the homework assignments it will help motivate the students to complete the assignment.

The second goal I have is to incorporate more advance organizers into my lessons.  I will use at least two organizers per unit during the next school year.  Advance organizers will help my students by organizing information in a way to show connections between concepts and to prior knowledge (Pitler et al, 2012).  In order to make sure I am using advance organizers effectively, I will spend time this summer learning more about different types of organizers and when they are most effective.  This will help me identify which organizers I should use during each unit.  



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Cognitive learning theory [Video file]. Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). Behaviorist learning theory [Video file]. Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them (Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01, Rev 01-2008). 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       
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Social Learning in the Classroom

This week I read about “Cooperative Learning” in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works.  Cooperative learning uses well structured social interactions to maximize learning (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  The activities in cooperative learning are designed to have students interact with each other in a way where they will work together for a common goal and learn from each other in the process.  This makes cooperative learning fall unders social learning theories in which it is believed that knowledge is constructed when the learner is in the zone of proximal development and interacting with a more knowledgeable other (Laureate Education, n.d.).  The more knowledgeable other could be an adult, peer, or computer.

In the “Cooperative Learning” chapter, it discusses the use of multimedia and communication and collaboration software in cooperative learning.  Students work together to create a multimedia artifact, like creating a website, to demonstrate their knowledge.  For this type of project, the teacher needs to introduce the project, provide a rubric for the assignment, and clearly set student roles and responsibilities (Pitler et al, 2012).  In a project like this, students need to “communicate, share and negotiate to create the final project” (Orey, 2001).  Each student contributes to the assignment but also learns from the other members of the group.  With designated roles, the assignment cannot be completed without everyone contributing to the final project.

Communication and collaboration software can help students collaborate on a project even when they are not in the same location or have the same schedule (Pitler et al, 2012).  It can be difficult for groups to find time to meet outside of school but, thanks to technology, this is no longer necessary.  There are many resources available to allow students to either meet online or to collaboratively work on a project on their own time.  Websites like GoogleDrive allow the user to share a document and have multiple people contribute to it.  This opens up for communication but also allows each student to contribute to an assignment on their own time.

My favorite resources that promote collaboration:

GoogleDrive- https://sites.google.com

FaceTime- www.apple.com/mac/facetime

Google Calendar- www.google.com/calendar

Delicious- www.delicious.com

Todoist- https://todoist.com

VoiceThread- www.voicethread.com



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). Social learning theories [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.    

Constructivism in the Classroom

This week, in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, I read about “Generating and Testing Hypotheses”.  This strategy is closely connected to the constructivist/constructionist learning theories.  Constructivists believe that knowledge is actively constructed by the learner while constructionists expand on that to say learning happens when students are actively engaged in building an artifact (Laureate Education, n.d.).  When generating and testing hypotheses the students are actively engaged in their learning and are constructing an artifact to represent their findings.

The constructionist learning theory is made up of two forms– Learning by Design (LBD) and Project-Based Learning (PBL) (Orey, 2001).  PBL challenges students to problem solve and research to order to resolve real world problems (Orey, 2001).  Once presented with the problem students are able to analyze information presented to create a hypothesis.  Then students research, collect data, and synthesize the information in order to come to a conclusion or solution.  This shows the clear use of generating and testing hypotheses in a constructionism based lesson.

To learn more about constructionism and constructivism read these articles:

Piaget’s Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the difference?

Constructivist Learning Theory


Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Cognitivism in the Classroom

This week I read about “Cues, Questions, and Advanced Organizers” and “Summarizing and Note Taking” strategies in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works.  These two strategies connect with the cognitive learning theories.  The cognitive learning theories include short-term memory, elaboration, effective use of images, and episodic experiences (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  Together these ideas show the usefulness of the two strategies mentioned earlier.  Short-term memory can only processes about seven pieces of information at one time (Laureate Education, n.d.).  This is important for teachers to understand because if a teacher presents too much information at one time, it would not be possible for the students to retain all of it.  Elaboration, effective use of images, and episodic experiences make up what students need to do or see in order to learn new information (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  

Cues, questions, and advance organizers help students organize and retrieve information (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  Although short term memory can only process about seven pieces of information at a time, this can be increased by organizing the information to make connections among the different pieces.  Higher-order questions can also deepen student’s knowledge by requiring the use of critical thinking which connections to the elaboration part of cognitive learning theories (Pitler et al, 2012).  A great use of this strategy can be seen when going on a Virtual Field Trip.  Teachers can “take” their students anywhere in the world by using a virtual field trip.  As the students experience this trip, the teacher should ask questions and cue students to engage in critical thinking (Laureate Education, n.d.b).  This creates an episodic experience for a more memorable experience.

Summarizing and note taking is a great strategy to help students identify important information from irrelevant information and organize that information (Pitler et al, 2012).  Technology can be used to engage students in the content while using this strategy.  There are many different types of note taking formats which can mimic the way memories are networked together (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  By using a visual that mimic this network, it can help retain the new information.

Concept maps fall under both of these strategies.  They are advanced organizers and a way to take notes and summarize information learned.  Concept maps seek to answer a focus question and identify relationships between concepts (Novak & Canas, 2008).  The process of completing a concept map connects with the cognitive theories of elaboration and effective use of images.  When completing a concept map, students explore into different concepts in order to answer the focus question.  These concepts are linked together with cross-links in the map.  When creating a concept map with technology, students are able to enhance the map by adding pictures and links.

Concept Map Resources:

Spider Scribe https://www.spiderscribe.net/

Bubbl.us https://bubbl.us/

Mind Meister https://www.mindmeister.com/


Virtual Field Trip Resources:

NASA: Virtual Skies http://virtualskies.arc.nasa.gov/online_resources.html

Discovery Education http://www.discoveryeducation.com//Events/virtual-field-trips/explore/by-subject/math.cfm

Education Dive http://www.educationdive.com/news/virtual-field-trips-schools/50198/

The Teacher’s Guide http://www.theteachersguide.com/virtualtours.html



Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Cognitive learning theories [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author

Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2008).The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them (Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01, Rev 01-2008). Retrieved from http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.pdf

Behaviorism in the Classroom

In this week’s readings, from Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works, I read about two teaching strategies: “reinforcing effort and providing recognition” and “assigning homework and providing practice”.  Both of these strategies embed technology and relate to the behaviorism learning theory.  The behaviorist learning theory focuses on “observable and measurable aspects of human behavior” (Orey, 2001) and believes that behavior is a result of a stimulus (Orey, 2001).  

Reinforcing effort and providing recognition has deep roots in the behaviorist theory.  This strategy involves teaching students about effort and achievement by giving guidance, collecting data, and analyzing the data (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  The students are rewarded by seeing how their effort affects their achievement.  This strategy has roots in behaviorism because the core of the strategy is to reinforce desired behaviors by using stimulus-response, however, it takes this method and puts a twist on it.  Instead of just praising the student for doing a good job, this strategy is working to build the child’s intrinsic motivation.  By teaching the student the relationship between effort and achievement, the student still feels great for what they have accomplished, but not because someone gave them a reward for doing it.

Assigning homework and providing practice incorporates aspects of behaviorist theory but does not fully encompass it.  Homework and practice can be given using instructional interactives which can help support, but not replace, instruction and feedback from a teacher.  The computer programs can quiz students to engage them in active recall which is a more productive method of practice than reviewing or rereading (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  Instructional interactives uses consequences in order to reinforce learning (Orey, 2001).  When a student gets an answer correct they are rewarded with a positive reinforcement, like points in a game or a congratulatory comment.  When the student answers a question incorrectly, is a punishment associated with it, like losing points.  There are also homework and practice assignments which do not follow the behaviorist theory.  For example, word processing applications have tools which can be very beneficial when typing papers.  These tools include highlighting a word to find the definition or synonyms.  By using these tools, students are able to find information to support their writing without having to search the web (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).  As useful as this is, it does not connect to the stimulus-response system set up by the behaviorist theory.

To learn more about the behaviorist learning theory, check out the following websites.






Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.