Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

In today’s society, many people use technology to communicate with each other through social networking for both business and for pleasure. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski (2007) suggest that in order for students “to be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively”. During school, when students work together in cooperative groups, they will able to increase their learning (Pitler et al., 2007). Cooperative groups provide students with opportunities to practice their communication skills and expand their knowledge on how to collaborate and work together as a team to build meaningful artifacts that benefit everyone involved in the group. Furthermore, students can transfer what they’ve learned from working in cooperative groups to interacting in social networks business purposes once they have moved on to their workplace environment. Cooperative learning helps students successfully contextualize knowledge learned in school to real world situations and minimizes the idea of situated cognition in which students have inert knowledge (Orey, 2009).

In my second grade classroom, I try to use cooperative learning as much as possible. Students are placed in formal, informal and base groups depending on the type of activity and its purpose. Pitler et al. (2007) recommend various types of cooperative learning groups by giving students multimedia projects and web resources to use in order to create an artifact together as a group. Although some of the types of projects and web resources provided may be a little too advance for my students to work on, I do like the idea of using technological resources to help facilitate student learning, especially while working in cooperative groups. I have found first hand that when students are placed together in groups their learning increases and they are great at trying to help each other reach the same level of understanding as they have about a particular topic.

During cooperative learning, especially when technology is incorporated, I enjoy hearing students communicate with one another in a way that is very simplistic and childlike so that their peers can relate and gain a better understanding. Cooperative learning provides both high and low achievers a chance to grow and develop as learners because they both have opportunities to take the role of teacher and supporter (Orey, 2009). Therefore all learners, regardless of their level of understanding, can benefit from each other in significant ways when social learning is supported through cooperative grouping.

Orey, M. (Presenter). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Constructionism in Practice

As teachers, we should want to ignite a spark in our students that inspires them to want to learn at their highest level. When students are actively engaged in their learning and create artifacts that reflect their learning, then they are truly exemplifying the spark that is igniting within them. Although it may be difficult to keep students continuously inspired and engaged within the classroom, I believe technology helps provides students with resources to create meaningful learning experiences. In addition, when students create or build artifacts to reflect their learning, then they have modeled the constructionist theory.

According to Dr. Orey (2009), teachers should take on the constructionist approach with their students because it supports the idea of students learning best when they are able to construct or build things in order to deepen their understanding of various concepts and skills. For example, Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski (2007) suggest that technology resources such as spreadsheet software, data collection tools, and Web resources help enhance students’ learning experiences because it allows them the opportunity to create and interact with data in a very quick and efficient manner. In addition, technology resources such as interactive spreadsheets, helps develop students’ critical thinking skills and promotes the use of educated decision making (Pitler et al., 2007).

Although my second grade students may be too young to generate and test hypothesis with interactive spreadsheet software, I do believe students can work in small groups to create interesting project-based activities in which they learn how to work together and collaborate on a common theme or idea. Through project-based activities, technology can prove to be a wonderful and resourceful tool for students. These learning experiences also promote an excellent constructionist approach to learning within the classroom.

Orey, M. (Presenter). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cognitivism in Practice

In today's time, there are so many opportunities for students to enhance their learning in the classroom through the integration of instructional strategies and technological tools. No longer are students confined to simply taking notes with pencil and paper while listening to their teacher lecture, but with the support of technology, students now have a world of knowledge and cognitive strategies presented to them in very meaningful and engaging way. In today’s classroom, teachers can provide more comprehensive lessons for students as they take notes with advanced graphic organizers that help them summarize their thoughts about new and complex concepts (Lever-Duffy and McDonald, 2008). Through the use of word processing applications, teachers can present their notes to the class on the projector and provide students with spreadsheets, charts or tables to help further organize their thoughts about the lesson or concept being taught (Lever-Duffy and McDonald, 2008). What is even more fascinating is that if students have the opportunity to take notes on their computers during a lesson, then they can share their thinking with their classmates on their class webpage. This will help to provide additional support for students and provoke meaningful discussions about various concepts and skills being taught in class. With the support of technology, these cognitive instructional tools help make learning more powerful and more interactive than ever before.

When I think about my own experience as a young student, I immediately remember being in my American history class and feeling completely bored and disconnected with learning. My teacher would always sit on the corner of his desk and read us his lesson to us in a very monotone voice. We would try to swiftly record everything he said to us so that we could memorize it for the next exam. I remember thinking this was the most uninteresting class I have ever had and it took everything within me not to fall asleep during the lesson. Just imagine how much American history would have come alive if our teacher added just one simple component and that was technology through cognitive learning. Envision our teacher taking his students on a virtual field trip to an historical place. The virtual field trip would have created episodic memories for us that would provide wonderful, solid learning experiences to enhance our short and long term memories (Orey, 2009). These visual experiences would help provide the tools needed not only to do well on our exams, but to also help instill a love of learning for the remainder of our lives. No longer would I have approached his class with hesitation and boredom, but through the use of technology-based cognitive learning, I would have come with much more excitement and eagerness to learn at my highest level.


Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc.,
custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Orey, M. (Presenter). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD:

Laureate Education, Inc.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Behaviorism in Today's Classroom

According to Lever-Duffy and McDonald (2008), behaviorists believe learners gain knowledge and skills as a result of receiving rewards and punishments. Lever-Duffy and McDonald (2008) also suggest that behaviorists, such as Ivan Pavlov, John Watson and B.F. Skinner, believe rewards provide positive reinforcements for learning and it will result in students repeating the desired behaviors in hopes of gaining more positive reinforcements. With that in mind, behaviorist learning can correlate well with instructional strategies used in the classroom as long as the instructional strategies used provide plenty of positive reinforcements for students achieving the desired responses or behaviors. For instance, Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski (2007) provide instructional strategies for reinforcing student efforts in order to promote higher student achievements and increase positive student attitudes about learning. More specifically, Pitler et al. (2007) suggest that teachers produce an electronic spreadsheet that shows students what effort looks like and how their effort can relate to their test scores in school. Hopefully, students will feel positive reinforcements for putting forth great effort and producing excellent grades. Subsequently, students should feel negative reinforcement for not putting for great effort and therefore making inadequate grades and low achievement in school.

When I think about my own students and the types of instructional strategies I use to provide positive reinforcement to promote student achievement, I immediately think about the table rewards students receive for paying attention in class and contributing in a positive, thoughtful way during our class discussions. When students answer challenging questions correctly or show great efforts with their thinking, even if they’re answers turn out to be incorrect, I reward the students with school coins or dollars for their tables. At the end of the week, the table of students to reach a certain amount or highest amount of money win a special treat from our treasure box. In this sense, I have demonstrated behaviorist learning because the students receive rewards for their attentiveness and great efforts shown in class. Although I do not give out rewards every time students exhibit desired behaviors or responses because I still want to promote their intrinsic motivation, I am sure that it is very self-satisfying and reassuring for students to receive acknowledgement for their hard work and efforts shown in class.


Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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