Constructivist in Practice

It is important to understand the different theories of learning and how the brain processes information.  When we put those learning theories to work in the classroom, we must also provide an opportunity for students to have an authentic and meaningful learning experience while integrating a technology tool that will help facilitate that experience.  This week we are looking at Constructivism and Constructionism.  Within a problem based and/or project based learning environment, it is important to have both theories at work.  Add in technology and students will have helped to create a lesson that they not only feel a sense of “ownership” for, but also, we will have provided students with technology resources and skills that they will use in the future.

Constructivism is basically one’s own unique philosophy and understanding of knowledge.  I believe that in order for one to learn and have a connection to the content presented, a person would have to be able to reconcile what they see, hear, and do on their own terms.  Of course, in the classroom, teachers guide students along the way in order to make sure that overall understanding of the information is apparent.  Rubrics help with this by stating the standards and expectations for the lesson from the beginning. 

Constructionist theory calls for the student to start from scratch and build a project from the ground up.  When an individual, or a group, begin to work in this way to create an artifact, they are also building the steps to learning process within their mind.  Students get a greater understanding of how the final project will come together when they understand the steps to getting there.

A strategy we read about this was generating and testing hypotheses.  As I delved into the chapter, I gained a clearer understanding of how the six tasks mentioned in the text can guide students toward generating and testing hypotheses to get to core learning.  Specifically, problem solving and invention lend themselves to the theories mentioned above.  From the constructivist point of view a student would use their own ideas and experiences to look at options to solve a problem and then to decide the path to take creating a solution.  The steps involved in making those decisions and putting those steps into action, allow the student to begin to build their test and think about what the outcome may be.  Using technology such as spreadsheet software, data collection tools, and additional website resources would enhance learning by creating an experience that is authentic because it can be used in a number of scenarios.  Also, the experience would be meaningful due to the fact that the student had input and that input led to the creation of the final artifact that can now be shared with others for their own learning.  I would use this type of technology to plan a budget for the first year of an infant’s life, planning a schedule for calorie intake and exercise, or to compare information when shopping for goods and services.  Students would be able to input information found on the internet and then analyze the results quickly.

Technology helps our students to grow skills and learn in tremendous ways.  Students will use the technology resources and skills they have acquired in class to create projects, solve problems, and analyze information in a way that relates to them.  By using the strategies discussed here, teachers and students will be able to provide and build a more authentic learning experience and knowledge that is more likely to be retained and recalled readily.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E.R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. (p. 203). Denver, CO: McRELInternational Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). (2011, January).





Cognitivism in Practice

Taking a closer look at the way students learn has given me a different perspective on how I teach and the strategies I use to engage my students.  Understanding that cognitive learning theories has to do with the way we collect and process information, makes a difference in the way we go about presenting that information.   Using a variety of graphic organizers is one way to introduce a lesson and then using cues and guided questions, have students fill in prior knowledge, suggestions, or actual facts that they know to get the students engaged.  Students become a part of their own learning and are also helping to teach others.  Peers start to collaborate on what information is relevant to a heading, what information doesn’t fit, and what is being left out.  Summarizing the information in this manner further facilitates the student’s ability to focus on central themes.  Now we have students learning cooperatively and creating connections that they can relate to, while incorporating a technology tool and practicing its use at the same time.  As the lesson progresses, students are immersed in the experience and actively sorting through what is essential to the goal of the lesson.

I think the graphic organizer is an interesting way for students to pull information together in a manner that makes learning more comfortable.  However, creating an organizer that meets the need and fulfills the objective of the task may be a challenge.  Fortunately, there are many options on the internet for students to choose from and to create on their own.   Now we have taught students how to use technology to organize their thoughts in a manageable and meaningful way that supports memory and retention of memory at the same time.


Behaviorism and Learning Strategies

Behaviorism has two elements that we, as teachers, parents, and employers, etc. often use in our daily lives to manage and guide desired behaviors:  Reinforcement and punishment.  Rewards and consequences have been a part of our lives since we were small children.  If you wanted to gain favor or earn a prize, certain rules were to be upheld.  If these rules were not abided by, then the consequences would be negative and not desirable to the offender.  The punishment was used to reduce the interest in the negative behavior and guide that person to a more positive outcome and experience.

In the classroom we use a grading scale to teach students that the higher the number the better their grade.  The lower scores reflect the worst grades.  But how we teach and knowing how our students learn will ultimately determine whether a student earns a higher reward or a lower punishment for their efforts.

Taking into account the instructional and learning theories we have covered so far in this course, I find a collation between the two and how technology can be integrated in the classroom and used as a reinforcement tool.  Technology has definitely changed the way we teach.  I believe technology has helped me to engage my students to a higher level thus providing for active and hands on learning.  The use of technology through computers, SMART boards, iPads and other devices has changed the environment in a way that helps to facilitate the learning in keeping with the evolution of technology.

Under the Behavior Learning Theory, it is theorized that students learn passively and their reactions are according to stimuli from their environment often referred to as operant learning.  Obviously, technology has changed the environment but the reaction our students are having is not at all passive.  Our students want to be engaged and learn new skills.  Active learning, repetition, reinforcement as a motivator, and clearly defined goals are now the key principles that guide the Behaviorist theory today.  I believe that if we concentrate on those elements, negative and undesirable behaviors will disseminate and a greater focus on learning will emerge for our students and for teaching.


Week 7 Reflection-Evolving Role of the Teacher

This course has been the most challenging and most rewarding class of have taken thus far.  I have managed to create a blog, participate and help set up a wiki, and create and edit a podcast!  I would never have had the confidence to attempt any of these tasks without the support of my classmates and instructor.  Since exploring the technology resources and researching the changes technology has set in motion, I have a greater understanding of how important it is that we as teachers make a change to our method of teaching in order to incorporate technology into our classrooms on a regular and permanent basis.

Now I can converse with my students about how they are using technology in their lives whether for academics or for socializing or both.  I believe I can discuss what I have learned, find out what they know, and then together we can find a resource that suits our classroom.  Our students appreciate that their teachers are open to finding new and innovated ways to teach rather than pass out worksheets or assign vocabulary from a textbook.

In my teaching practice, I have adjusted somewhat over the last several weeks.  For example, I am working on two projects in two different classes where we are using new technology to make the lesson more meaningful and engaging.  Creating a blog and experimenting with planning tools found on line, have peaked the interests of my students and they are excited to be trying something new.  This is exciting for me, as well.  Not only are my students using technology in the classroom but due to the way I have set up the projects, they will hone many important 21st century skills such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking, and creativity.  The peer-to-peer interaction also helps to develop planning and leadership skills that may not have surfaced without this opportunity.

As a teacher leader, I find that my answers are about the same as seven weeks ago.  However, this will not always be the case.  I have spoken to two other professional teachers to get their input and expertise in using technology to enhance my classroom.  Also, I have signed up for staff development classes this summer that I hope will expose me to various technology resources and how to use these resources for my classroom.

Regarding long-term goals for my classroom environment, I want to have an on-going blog for a class that will cover specific topics throughout the year.  Students will work together to create the blog and set up the initial postings.  Then individuals will evaluate and comment on each other’s blog in a professional manner that expresses an opinion, shows support for the discussion, and/or makes a suggestion.  My intent is that the weblog flow in a manner similar to our weekly discussions during the course.  Another goal would be to have a co-collaboration lesson monthly with another teacher (her specialty is technology) so that my students could pair up with her students to create a project using resources from her class with a topic from mine.  I believe this would benefit not only the students but improve my technology skills as well.

I will continue to promote a learner-centered environment in my classroom.  I am thrilled to be able to use technology in my classroom that will lend itself to that end.  I realize that there are some obstacles that must be overcome, i.e. “access denied” websites and budgets, but with some creativity my students will be able to have the skills they need to help them keep up with the evolving world of technology.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The site is very interesting. I focused in on the resources, of course, as I want to make sure I am integrating technology and 21st Century skills together in my classroom. The information I read helped to get me thinking about how I can expand on how I am teaching 21st Century skills currently and how I can make my lessons even better.
Under Exemplars, check out the Route 21 link. Take a tour and view the resources they have in different categories as they relate to educators, professional development, etc.
I agree with the mission statement and feel that 21st Century skills are not being discussed or emphasized enough in education therefore leading to the gap between those skills and core content.
Another great item on this site is the Above and Beyond video. Watch to see how even though we may be given all the same tools, how we intepret their use and how they are used can open up a whole other world for each person. Plus there is a poster you can download to share in your classroom. It may inspire discussion in the classroom regarding the 4C’s: Communication, Collaboration, Critcal Thinking, and Creativity.
I enjoyed this sight very much. I even signed up for the newsletter.

Blogging in the classroom. Is it useful?

Still new to blogging but trying to figure out how to use it to enhance my lessons.  Most of my students have told me about their blogs and that they enjoy “talking” about all kinds of things in this manner.  If this is a preferred method of communication among high school age kids (the age group I teach) why not try to integrate a topic of discussion into my classroom?  So here is my idea:  Have students blog about nutrition levels for expecting mothers and how does that change for the child and the mother after the birth of the baby?  Students would “go global” and find out about nutrition in other states, countries, and time zones.  Other factors to consider would be age, race, geographical location, economic status, and cultural.  Students could research areas where nutrition is a problem and perhaps start there.  With the information they would gather through blogging, students could create a chart of information and pinpoint specific cause and effect relating to nutrition for expecting mothers and their babies.  What do you think?

Technology changing the way we educate

Over the last few years, we have witnessed the acceleration of technology being used in our personal lives.  Depending on your area and funds available, this technology is making its way into the classrooms thus requiring teachers to refresh their lesson plans by using technology instead of textbooks and whiteboards to engage students.  Until recently, I was not sure how I could keep up with the evolution of technology and integrate that information into the classroom in a manner that would meet education goals without being overshadowed by the “bells and whistles” usually associated with new and better ways of doing things.  That being said, I am open to searching and researching ways to help my students learn in the way that technology is already showing them they should be learning.

I teach Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics back in my day) and most of my lessons are hands-on project and problem based learning opportunities.  The subjects I cover related to early childhood education, nutrition, and interior design.  I would love to find interactive opportunities to share information with my students and also, projects that would allow them to use technology, that I understand as well, when they complete and submit their assignments. Obviously, I need tutorials so if anyone would like to provide me with a few topics, websites, or resources to check out, I would welcome your input.  Thanks!