Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflecting on the GAME Plan

Reflecting on the GAME Plan 
The game plan I developed and followed through this course helped me to solidify my Lego Mindstorm Robot Building and Programming unit for seventh graders.  Dr. Cennamo states that authentic instruction is based on active learning (Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P., 2009).  By following the game plan using building activities, blogging and social networking, I was able to provide a common thread of the robot experience with several technologies. Using this new instructional practice helped the students take ownership of the entire three part process. This was a real breakthrough for me because usually I go day by day with a variety of programs in computer applications class. However, by planning three units which included problem solving, blogging and social networking, my students were able to share their experiences with each other and with students in other classes. This sharing of information opened the borders of my classroom. It also initiated the use of Web 2.0 tools into my curriculum.
According to Dr. Cennamo, plans for self-directed learning include a goal, actions to achieve the goal, monitoring the actions and evaluating the results of your actions (Laureate Education Inc., Producer., 2010b). 
As I evaluated my results, I did notice that I need to revise my plan when students are absent too much. I noticed that partnering students has many benefits and it was essential in the building and programming portion of the problem solving. However, some problems with pairing students are bound to come up such as attendance and compatibility. When this occurs, a diplomatic adjustment among the students is the best solution, so I need to apply flexibility when the situation warrants change.
I have learned that problem solving lesson plans need three to four class periods. Rushing the students to meet a class bell schedule does not produce the best results. Comparing, critical thinking and discussion are integral parts when using technology in the content area.  Finally, I learned that planning to use technology in the classroom needs to center on core standards that students must master. Developing a unit GAME plan for integrating technology to master common core standards it a goal of our district, and this class has refined lesson plan building to satisfy these goals.   

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010b). Program 2: Promoting creative thinking with technology [DVD] Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Monitoring Progress with my GAME Plan

Two professional goals I have for implementing this GAME plan concern Iste.Nets standards. The first goal is Teacher 2. Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments whereby teachers design, develop and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge skills and attitudes identified in the NETS.S. (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE.t), 2008).The second goal is Student 3. Research and information fluency whereby students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE.S), 2007). 
A third professional goal for this plan is to incorporate Common Core Writing Standard 8 into my 7th grade curriculum. This standard states: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following standard format for citation (Ohio Dept. Education., 2012.)
Progress this week, toward these goals in my GAME plan came about mainly because I modified my approach in teaching the CHOMP method to avoid plagiarism. I noticed students were as frustrated as I over the lack of success we were experiencing. After assessing the second attempt students made at creating an original work from Internet data, I realized many of them were copying way too much information, pasting it on a document, then making only feeble attempts at chomping out the little words.
I used these too zealous of attempts to discover and copy Internet data as examples of what not to do. Then I showed them a paper with one substantial paragraph of data. I had a student volunteer eliminate the three letter or less words from the paragraph. This demonstration set the stage for our lesson plan that day. Students were instructed to find one paragraph of data online that stated the birthday and birth place of the famous person they were researching.
After finding the information, they copied and pasted the selected data on a document. I told them not to copy more data than they were willing to read. I think they were under the misconception that the more they copied the better they had completed the assignment. I apologized to the students for not recognizing this misconception sooner, and could they please try to find online, just the birth place and birthday of the famous person. The students did this, mostly with ease, and they actually chomped out the little words in the text. I had the students save this CHOMP attempt and had them drop the assignment in my dropbox. 
The next day, after assessing their paragraphs,  I instructed them how to verify the data they selected with two more websites. This too had a better result because the students understood the instructions and knew they were only having to confirm two facts; the birth place and the birth date of their famous person. As Dr. Peggy Ertmer states, successful teachers need to plan their work and then work their plan (Laureate Education, Inc.., Producer., 2010).
What I learned from this lesson plan experience was that the goals and the action of my plan were clear to me, but not to my students. As I monitored the student learning I noticed the resistance to the task and lack of success in completing the task I described in the lesson plan. As I evaluated the work samples, I realized that the students were overwhelming themselves with data, and to chomp through everything they pasted from the Internet was going to be a monumental task. I learned I needed to rephrase and repeat with clarity my goals for the avoid plagiarism unit. I also learned that re-approaching the students was not a bad idea at all. By accepting the blame of not defining my goal clearly, I removed negativity associated with their first two attempts at chomping. 
New questions I have regarding my GAME plan is how often will I need to revise it and how can I make it universal in design? Do the majority of my students understand my directions? I believe monitoring my actions and evaluating my next set of results from the students documents will guide my future actions. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Enriching content area learning with technology, part 1 [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (Nets.t). Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). National education standards for students (Nets.s). Retrieved from 

Ohio Department of Education., 2012., National Technology Standards., Department of Accountability., Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Carrying out your GAME Plan

This week in my 7th grade classes, I tried to introduce my GAME plan to reduce plagiarism in student's report writing by introducing the second attempt at CHOMP website information in order to produce original work.  After 3 days of instructing and encouraging and editing students work, plus answering the same question over and over, several items became very clear to me. First of all, the students expect miraculous results after putting in very little work, my students are not listening, a few students have developed a helplessness attitude, plus I need to remain calm and consistent throughout all the complaining. My reflection on my GAME plan to introduce The Website Data CHOMP Unit indicated to me that students need to understand what plagiarism 'looks' like before they can identify it; then avoid it. My reflection also revealed that students were doing better on this second assignment then they did on the first one. 
      I shared my GAME plan with my tech coordinator. She approved of this because Common Core Writing Standard 8 states "Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation (Ohio Department of Education., 2011). This standard is very relevant to 21st century learners and is packed with significance. I realize covering all the components in this standard will take time and need to be thoroughly organized. 
      Bothersome for me this week, was the resistance my students had to learning this method. They complained it was too hard, why should they do this, wasn't copy and pasting plagiarism anyway? One girl even said, "What does this have to do with computer?" I realized they don't like it because it does take effort, but it is the best avoid plagiarism method I have been introduce to, and it makes sense. The 21st century students need to learn Internet research methods because that is their choice when seeking information (Dana, N. & Yendol-Hoppey., 2009.) 
       The resources and information I will need to carry out my GAME plan are computers with Internet connection, document making software, projector and screen. I will need to supplement my lecturing, with videos from Common Craft by Lee Lefevore, and show samples of previous reports and reference pages. I need to have samples showing the proper formatting of a simple reference page. I realized I need to teach some remedial computer skills such as copy, paste as opposed to cut, paste. Students were not sure what double spacing a document meant, or looked like, much less how to select the text and then click the correct tool for double space. I will need a vast supply of patience because teaching the new techniques, and students learning the new techniques are too far apart in my class of 7th graders.  

Dana, N. F. & Yendol-Hoppey, D., The reflective educators guide to classroom research., (2009) Corwin Press., Thousand Oaks, CA.

Ohio Department of Education., 2012., National Technology Standards., Department of Accountability., Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game Plan to Integrate Technology

       I teach computer applications in a middle school and need to adhere to common core technology standards by school year 2113-2114. I have decided to begin implementing common core standards this year so I can be ready for the change. My tech coordinator has identified common core standards from reading, writing, speaking, listening and language for sixth and seventh grade students. In order for me to meet these standards I need a plan. In addition to a plan, I would like to strengthen my confidence in the following NETS-T indicators. 
  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
   Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
  1. Design and Develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.
    I desire to design, develop and evaluate authentic learning experinces and assessmnet incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS-S. (International Society for Technology in Education, (2008).
  Key components of a GAME plan are identifying goals, taking action to reach those goals, monitoring progress toward achieving goals and evaluating whether the goals were achieved and willingness to extend your learning to new situations” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009 ). For standard one, I will continue to have my students explore different cultures by researching countries from the website Instead of just collecting facts about the countries, I will ask for recipes, pop culture topics and a short video clip depicting their country to be included in the final presentation. By watchig a video of students from a school in India, my students will hear the language spoken, see the clothing worn by India teenagers, and see a foreign school. These real world artifacts about the countries will expand the facts from the CIA website. My goal is to expand my foreign country project to include virtual field trips, educational video clips, and video conferencing. When students engage in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments; I will be attaining Stanard 1. 
Ms. Laufenberg (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010) revised her teaching strategy on election day results to include cell phone interviews, short videos and photos taken at voting stations. This innovative idea enriched her students’ learning and enthusiasm for this unit. She even shared her results with schools from other states which made her students proud of their involvement. I am hoping to expand my foreign country project by mirroring components from her game plan. 
           I am hoping to meet the performance indicators of standard two, by using our MacBook laptop applications to allow students to either make a Keynote presentation, an iMovie or a traditional research paper when they summarize their foreign country research data. I have been instructing studnets in how to use the CHOMP method when taking verbatim data from websites in order to minimize the chances of plagiarism. Some of my students loved the CHOMP method right from the start. Other students still found it difficult to construct good sentences on their own, but they are learning. 
I want to encourage my students’ creativity, therefore, I have to be willing to let students use these applicaiotns on their own and teach things like movie editing to me. I need to be confident enough to relax control of the classroom and begin using the MacBook applications even if I am not totally in command of the applications myself.
As I begin to transform my computer lab, I am wondering if anyone has any advice for me about rules to employ when running a movie studio theme in a computer classroom. I am particularly interested in noise control, improving audio quality, and interesting scripts for 6th and 7th grade students.

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use; a standards-based approach (Laureate   Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

International Society for Technology in Education (2008). National education standards for teachers (nets-t). Retrieved 09/10/2012 from  

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Enriching content area learning experiences with technology- Part 2. Integrating technology across the content areas [DVD]. United States

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reflection on Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology

First and foremost, I believe every student is capable of learning. The speed at which the learning process is accomplished varies for every child. Models of learning theory include behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism/constructivism and social constructionism. To think that my personal theory of learning guides everything I do in the classroom is very enlightening. My classroom actions and delivery style are intentional and guided  with a depth I did not previously realize. This concept, that my personal learning style is directing my behavior, offers me the opportunity to examine my actions. 
Brain research can facilitate a shift in focus from teaching to learning. (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011). Dr. Patricia Wolfe states the brain is sculpted from experience. (Laureate. 2011).   Since the brain in not a camcorder, it will reject nonsense and sift though what it learns for what is meaningful. (Laureate.) To easily teach a new concept, a wise teacher will hook the new information to prior knowledge  to create a meaningful pattern or logical connection.
Learning needs memory which is a process the brain goes through. Procedure memory, for example walking, is unconsciously  retrieved and performed.. Declarative memory is consciously remembering facts, like Christophe Columbus sailed to the new land in 1492. Students need memory to learn, and the more emotionally pleasing an experience is, the better it is remembered. 
Dr. Orey introduced instructional theory and learning theory. What a teacher does to engage student’s minds is instructional theory. How that instruction is perceived in the minds of their student’s is learning theory. When a teacher mindfully conducts their delivery of information to provide active learning, students are immersed and captivated with the lesson. Hands on experiments, group discussions, and collaboratively building a model are good examples of interactive learning.
     Understanding learning is the first step a teacher must take in planning effective learning. Learning theory tells us how learning might occur.  A teacher’s style is typically a function of one’s personal preferences. (Lever-Duffey, McDonald., 2008.) Therefore, after reviewing, reading and analyzing the different theories, I related best with the cognitivist and constructivist perspectives. I believe learning is a mental operation that takes place when information enters through the senses. Information undergoes mental manipulation, is stored, and is finally used. (Lever-Duffy, McDonald., 2008.) 
I also subscribe to the contructivist perspective wherein knowledge is a constructed element resulting from the learning process. Many computer programs used to introduce firmware  and codes reply on constructivist theory. Scratch, a MacBook application, allows students to animate a sprite, which is a figure they choose from a folder. The sprite can be coded to bounce, count, score points or interact with another sprite. The application is endless with possibilities. As students build their sprite’s code for movement, they are constructing the project. I do believe this type of instruction is shaping contemporary eduction.
As I reflect on the learning theories, instructional strategies and technology tools covered in this course, I believe I am better educated in behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and social constructivism theories. It was enlightening to read professional brain research and findings. Understanding how the brain works is important information when delivering teaching instruction. This course has deepened my knowledge and understanding of learning theory by defining the four theories with examples and expert findings. After reviewing the nine instructional strategies, I have adjusted my instructional practice by specifically choosing cooperative learning strategy. Our district specifically wants problem and project based learning instruction for sixth and seventh grade computer applications class. I have been asked to extend Robot C building and programming to include all sixth graders next year. This class has prepared me to concentrate on mastering cooperative learning strategy and I know I will be successful now that I have gained knowledge regarding the strategy.
A second adjustment I will make in my instructional practice is to increase my reinforcing of effort and provide more recognition to all my students. I do provide positive encouragement when I see students are following steps in our project successfully, however I now know that consistent and relevant recognition will increase  success by twenty-nine percent. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).
     Two technology tools I will  use with my students are concept maps and voice threads. These are tools I had not previously been introduced to. These  tools will enhance my students’ learning by having them be actively involved in creating their own project. My students readily opened accounts in Spiderscribe, watched the video tour and began making excellent maps. I realized I was holding the class back by not providing new meaningful ways to use technology. I realized my fear of making mistakes was mine alone. Students are eager to incorporate technology tools and they do not obsess over knowing every detail ahead of time. I am grateful that this class has  expanded my repertoire of instructional skills to include webquests, voicethreads, concept maps and wikispaces.
       One long term goal I would like to make to my instructional practice is to develop a 6th grade and a seventh grade class wikipage. By integrating a wiki, I will provide more cohesion among the classes. Students can communicate with each other in a one venue. Students can also collaborate with each other beyond our class period time. One strategy I will incorporate to increase class participation is to post homework and announcements on the wiki. Students will be required to post at least one comment a week to the wiki.
A second goal I would like to make in my instructional practice is to increase my use of venn diagrams to illustrate similarities and differences. Dr. Pickering states that this instructional strategy increases student learning by forty-five percent. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). I plan to use concept mapping to have students create a visual representation of similarities and differences from several novels they are required to read in language arts class. I have already begun discussing this plan with the sixth grade  language arts department.
Finally, I am better educated in understanding how the brain works. The four learning theories and the nine instructional strategies have been very well outlined in this course. I have more confidence now, knowing my underlying motivation as I deliver instruction based on students successfully building their own models and projects. I do believe that when children encounter new knowledge they accommodate it. This process of assimilation and accommodation continually modifies their cognitive structures, and thus knowledge is continually under construction. 


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program two: Brain research and learning [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory,instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program one: Understanding the brain [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eleven: Instructional strategies, Part one [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program twelve: Instructional strategies, Part two [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, Jean B., Theoretical Foundations,Laureate Education, Inc. taken  from Teaching and Learning with Technology, Third Edition, (2008), Allyn and Bacon., Boston, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bringing Theory, Instruction, and Technology Together

This course has introduced important concepts effective teachers need to be aware of. The nine research-based instructional strategies and the four learning theories are presented after Dr. Patricia Wolfe initiates us into how the brain works. Dr. Wolfe explains that the brain is sculpted from experience. The main function of the  brain is to survive and it seeks meaningful patterns in order to do so. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  Dr.Wolfe continues teaching by explaining procedural memory and declarative memory. She states brain research can facilitate a shift in focus from teaching to learning. (Laureate, 2011.)
         Dr. Michael Orey explains how the brain receptors view and store experiences in memory. The more connections a good lesson plan induces for a student, the more easily the topic is learned and remembered. Therefore, the lesson needs to be relevant for the student, it needs to follow prior knowledge of the student, and it needs to deliver subsequent knowledge and information. Dr. Orey then expounds on the four learning theories behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism/constructivism and social learning.
After reviewing the previous weeks information,  I have decided to focus on technology tools because I believe using 21st century skills bridges the gap between learning and instruction for this generation. The first instructional strategy I will use incorporates cooperative learning. I will use this strategy of cooperative learning by introducing a Voicethread with sixth graders. Previously I taught the Character Counts unit using the application Keynote which is similar to PowerPoint. This was a constructionist activity, but it was individual and repetitive. Instead of having students produce these individual keynote presentations, I will prepare a Voicethread detailing the six pillars of character and posing a question for the students to solve. The question will be, “How can our students practicing respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness and citizenship to help a new student at Sailorway adapt to their new school?” I will introduce the virtual student as a reserved fifth grade boy with younger siblings, none of which are middle school age. The student will be assign an ambassador for the first week of school. (The ambassador is a student council member trained to help transition a new student.) How will the day go for the new student and the ambassador? What helpful advice  can you give that revolves around the six pillars of character?
This Voicethread will require at least two comments from each student in the class. Students can comment on the original slides, or they can comment on each others comments. In addition, in order to balance the comments among the six character traits, I will assign small groups of four or five students to comment on one slide in particular. with their second comment connected to any slide. This instructional strategy aligns with constructionist learning theory and dabbles into social constructivist theory. Dr. Orey states interactions with others to build some artifact and become actively involved in conversations promotes social constructivism. (Laureate Education Inc., 2011) Also, to be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workspace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively. (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007.)
The second instructional strategy I will practice is identifying similarities and differences.  Dr. Debra Pickering states that research has proven students’ retention of information increases forty-five percent when this strategy is correctly used. (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011) The technology tool I will incorporate to practice this theory is Concept Mapping. The website provided an excellent, easy to use format to develop a map. 
The learning theory this lesson will encompass is cognitivism and constructivism. Fifth graders read the novel, Through a Door in the Floor, by Joan Stiver. The novel is about an underground railroad adventure. The concept map will be created using three cross-links coming from the question, “What is life like for ten year old Lizzie Coffin and for 10 year old Effie Mae Blue?  One link will represent Lizzie Coffin , a white homesteader in Indiana. One link will represent Effie Mae Blue an escaped slave. The middle link will represent any  similarities in life the girls share. 
This concept mapping will graphically illustrate the similarities and differences in the girl’s lives. It will also touch on summarizing and note taking since the map will ultimately probe many of the novels details. Incidentally, fifth grade students are usually ten years old during some part of their fifth grade year, so the novel is age appropriate. Students will be encouraged to identify topics from the novel, and will also be able to relate their lives now, to the situation of a ten year old in 1850 when The Fugitive Slave Act was  enforced.
As different details arise from student discussion, different cross-links may appear in relation to the first three cross-links. We will keep the general concepts at the top of the map and more specific concepts arranged below the main topics. 
One question that has evolved for me is, “Do the learning strategies  blend?” It seems my concept map will lead from cooperatively building similarities and differences, to a note taking and summarization of the novel. Is this ok? Is this correct? 
Laureate Education, Inc., Producer. (2011). Program one: Understanding the brain [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Laureate Education, Inc., Producer. (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from 
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M. & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, Va.; Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Robot C is a Challenge

     Robot C is a Lego Mindstorm educational kit. Our sixth graders build them using  an NXT brick. The brick can either be charged overnight, or it runs on 4 double A batteries. Students build a variety of different models and I have developed a voicethread to show you our  progress.

<object width="480" height="360"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="480" height="360"></embed></object>

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Connectivist Theory, Social Learning & Networking in the 21st Century

     I believe people construct meaning primarily through their interactions with others and their environment because homo sapiens are pack oriented, not solitary animals. A scientific description of homo sapiens, which means ‘wise man’ in the dictionary, includes preference to living in groups. By nature, humans thrive on social support systems. I will argue though, that social learning is not the ONLY way in which people learn.
Babies learn from the individuals who care for them. Babies in particular are unable to manipulate the circumstances into which they are thrust, so they learn through experience. Behaviorism plays a large role in a baby’s or toddler’s life. Their action will produce a reaction. If the reaction is a positive, he/she will repeat their antic hoping for the same positive result. Around the age of two to three, a toddler develops enough self image to realize they are separate from their parents.  That is where the term ‘terrible twos’ came from. 
Children ages three to five, might attend a pre-school for a few hours each week. The primary reason parents desire pre-school is for socialization skills, and exposure to learning. The pre-school experience may be the first network of society a child experiences outside of their own family. 
Does this mean they only learn through social interaction? Does society now provide the only route to learning? Of course not. Social learning plays a large part in every students’ life, but Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligence. This multiple intelligence theory is widely accepted and it expounds eight distinct learning preferences. As children reach pre-teen and teenage years, their network of friends becomes more and more important to them. Teenagers rely heavily on the approval rating of their friends. These growing up years are a right of passage. Social interactions are a huge part of every high school. As we age, society’s reaction becomes the measuring stick we apply to our success.
In our school district, social networking is evident in our school website. In addition to the district website, teachers have their own websites to promote classroom success stories and to post assignments. We encourage parents to visit our websites to see what their children are doing in school. Our district uses Progress Book as a management system whereby parents can log in to see their child’s grades, assignments and missing work. E-mail is accessible right from Progress Book and we are encouraged to communicate with the parents and students whenever necessary.  
Connectivist George Siemans further conceptualizes the theory of social learning as a network of humans developing and sharing knowledge and using technology to facilitate and connect these networks. (Laureate Education, Inc., Producer., 2011.) The question was posed, “How does online learning differ from classroom learning?” Each of us is currently involved in master’s degree procurement, working very hard and connected through Walden University. Our network provides the online community which ultimately delivers our success. The blogs, wikispaces, email and podcasts link us in ways only technology can provide. It is very effective.
Finally,I agree that people construct meaning primarily through the interactions with others and their environment. By integrating technology tools we expand our influence further then the classroom walls. Social networking tools like Facebook, websites and email are becoming commonplace. People rely on these networks to stay informed. Using social networking tools to establish and maintain learning partnerships with families and the community are necessary. I would miss not viewing VON, Vermilion Online News, to see what is happening in my town. When our school website is down, our school secretaries complain they can’t get a thing done because they have to answer the old telephone. As a society, we have come to rely on technological networking, and we really miss it when it is not available.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program five: Social learning theories[Video webcast].
Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theories

     The reading selection Generating and Testing Hypothesis, from Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that works states when students generate and test hypothesis, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content. (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007., p. 202)
Until this year, I did not use generating and testing hypothesis in any of my computer application curriculum or assessments. With the inclusion of Robot C and Sim City 4 Deluxe into the our middle school computer curriculum, I am now exposed to project based learning and ultimately, to the interesting projects students have produced. 
This new curriculum for the sixth and seventh grade students is different from my former instruction style. Instead of teacher driven lecture and directions, I introduce the idea and model of Robot C, and then facilitate and manage the classroom as the students build their own version of Robot C. Not all robots look alike, and that is correct. At first I thought the variations were a result of misconceptions the students had as I was introducing the project. In fact, variations were desirable and expected.  When students programmed their robot to go through the maze, there were many failures before the correct codes were discovered. This trial and error in programming the robot with different codes tested students hypothesis regarding robot control. There are six tasks teachers can use to help students generate and test hypothesis. The tasks are systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry and decision making. (Pitler, etal., 2007., Page 203.) I believe the students ending up drawing conclusions from all six of the tasks as they worked and worked to discover the successful series of code.
How this strategy relates to constructivist/constructionist learning is evident when the project students have built is assessed. After building a model, does it work as designed? In our classroom, does Robot C travel through the maze accident free? Students need to go back to the drawing board many times in order to program and download correct firmware. The students are excited when they figure out the speed, degrees and turns the code requires.
In regards to this week’s  PBL episodes, I thought the spreadsheet exercise in estimating percentage change in population for the fifty states was fascinating. The teacher did a thorough job of setting up a project based learning exercise for her students. The formula she helped them create produced satisfying results.  With imagination, Web 2.0 tools can be utilized for student collaboration in project based learning assignments. According to Dr. Orey, constructionism can be as simple as having students construct a PowerPoint presentation. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011) I believe PowerPoint and Keynote were the fore runners of project based learning. New, exciting curriculum is exploding with constructivist learning as the basis for project driven learning. 
Students remember their learning experiences when they are challenged to build, and then assess a project that is different and innovative. Helping students remember their learning experiences is desirable for student advancement.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cognitive Learning NeedsTechnology 
Most students today are referred  to as digital natives. Our society provides them with cell phones, iPads, MP3 players, Kindles, laptop computers, and numerous other digital devices. The stimulus these devices provide for students is provocative. Educators have discovered that including these technologies in the curriculum results in higher interest levels from the students. Therefore, as I reviewed the coursework for this week, I was thrilled at the many uses of different computer applications used to facilitate note taking, organizing and summarizing information.  
Cues, questions and advanced organizers focuses on enhancing students’ ability to retrieve, use and organize information about a topic. (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) In addition, cues should be explicit and provide students with a preview of what they are about to learn. Essential questions are necessary to direct students to use background knowledge when answering. When you do incorporate specific cues and essential questions,students have a clearer sense of what they are going to learn. Advanced organizers such as Inspiration help outline main ideas and themes in a web of bubbles and brackets These outlines in graphic form are attractive and provide a visual rendition of the topic being learned.  
The strategy of note taking and summarizing focuses on helping students synthesize information into a new form. Students need to separate the many facts from their reading and concentrate on those; not the extraneous data. Students need to analyze information at a fairly deep level in order to know what to keep and what to delete. Therefore, students need strategies to summarize efficiently. Technology such as word processing can be essential to build, scaffold and organize the main facts students have gleaned from their assignment. Note taking can be a combination of words and pictures and drawings. Combination notes are easier to develop when using a word processor and google images. The advantage of the word processor is that the notes will be legible and have the same format. This is important later when studying the notes and applying what has been learned. 
Templates specifically used for note taking help everyone organize key concepts, facts and questions. By teaching students how to access the many templates in programs, we teach them to build a network of strategies they can rely on.The use of a Wiki page for classroom management relies on note posting and summarization of data to organize the project. The Wiki page becomes the vehicle all students turn to for a concise rendition of the topic. Google documents can be created, stored and shared by teachers and students alike. Google Docs are very popular with technology driven districts because sharing what has been developed by one teacher, benefits any teacher who downloads and uses that particular template.
As Dr. Orey mentions in "Cognitive Learning Theories” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011), Paivio’s dual coding hypothesis shows how information is stored as images and text. Therefore, is a text definition is combined with a picture of the vocabulary word, a network between the two stimuli is made in the brain. Retrieval of the knowledge later in the lesson will rely on the cognitive learning and the brain’s ability to store the knowledge. We want our students to remember facts, so it is to our advantage to provide various strategic cues, questions and organizers to boost our success at this critical memory illumination. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M. & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development., Alexandria, VA., 2007.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Technology driven Behaviorism in the Classroom

The discussion of learning theory, instruction and technology has opened a platform to introduce how our students think, how they learn, and how to engage them in the 21st-century learning environment.
Behaviorist learning theory has a long history according to Dr. Orey. (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011.) When positive behavior is reinforced a positive element of praise or acceptance induces more positive behavior from the student.  Negative or off-task behavior results in punishment, which as a negative response is just as powerful as praise, but results in a destructive force. The behaviorist learning theory recognizes the emotional implications of each of these reinforcement styles. I believe all teachers rely on behaviorist theory if only to control and management their classroom.
For instance, of the 3000 decisions we are said to make every day, how many answers are rote? “No, you can not change seats.” “Yes, if you bring your agenda book you can go to the bathroom.” “Stop running in the classroom this instant or you will be writing sentences during recess.” These are all behaviorist remedies to classroom management.
Reflecting on these strategies and how they relate to behaviorist learning theory I also believe reinforce effort is positively displayed in technological computer game strategy.
The website,  has map games that have stimulating colors, flashing prompts and encouraging voices giving instructions. The games reward the student for positive behavior by letting the student advance to the next question. Points and positive reinforcement are quickly connected in the student’s brain to develop a positive response sequence of behavior in the student. These games also quickly provide the final score of answers, so feedback on assessment is timely.The basic strategy of ask a guided question, answer the question, than an immediate correct/incorrect prompt from the computer mirrors behaviorist theory and outcome.
As long as students are playing games with solid curriculum backing, the use of this technology is school appropriate. Behaviorism and reinforcement effort are paired in computer game development and the use of this technology in the classroom.
Homework and practice is another instructional strategy with behaviorism as it’s basis.  While I do not assign homework since I teach computer applications as a “specials” class, I do subscribe to technology driven homework since our 6th and 7th grade students have school issued MacBook laptop computers. Our students should use Pages to prepare a writing response. They are shown how to access the thesaurus and the dictionary to expand their word selection and improve their writing  competence level. Students are shown that the calculator is scientific, actual or binary by just clicking a button.  Homework and practice are extensions of the classroom. Homework provides a student an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the content presented in class. (Smith, M. K.. 1999.) As students practice a skill, and receive positive reinforcement for completing the work, the behaviorist approach is providing the  reinforcement energy to produce the result.
The current practice of flipping the classroom entails students watching an instructional video as homework and then completing the assignment at home. The student can rewind the video as many times as they wish to review the instructions. The next day in class, the teacher reviews the assignment which was created at home. This flipping brings the students’ rendition of the homework back to class to be discussed. This discussion become the classroom lecture as opposed to the teacher presenting singular lecture during classroom time. This model still follows behaviorist theory, it just reverses the lecture to homework and the homework to classwork. I think this new version of an instructional technique lecture is brilliant.  
For our district, the technology can go home with every student, but a well planned lesson driven by a technology savvy teacher is still the impetuous for a dynamic classroom.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program one: Understanding the brain. [Video Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved February 27, 2012 from 
Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The behaviourist orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education,, Last update: December 01, 2011.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reflecting on Technology in Today's Learning Environment

     This course has exposed the true extent of technology’s influence in our society. When I surveyed the students in my classroom on their use of digital devices, I was amazed at the multiple ways students communicate. The course work required active participation in creating a classroom blog, at Blogspot,  a podcast with Podomatic, and a wiki page with Wikispaces. By developing these online tools I increased my knowledge and understanding of  Web 2.0 tools. Now I can incorporate this 21st-century communication  into my classroom. 
     My knowledge of Web 2.0 and my ability to use the tools has increased due to my recent exposure. I realized digital immigrants can learn and teach these tools, if we embrace the power of the Internet and the digital devices relevant to this generation. By using a classroom wiki, I have watched students interact with other members and check the posting history. I believe I learned a new way to teach and interact with my students.  
The change in my classroom from teacher-centered to learner-centered made sense to me as I completed this course. New curriculum for me this year included Lego Mindstorm robots and Sim City 4. My sixth graders learned how to download firmware and codes to the Robots. My seventh graders built virtual cities in Sim City 4 and participated in a Sim City challenge. As I was learning and integrating this technology into my classroom, I felt the shift from my personal instruction, to peer to peer and group discussion as the students discovered what combination of codes correctly ran the Robot C.  As the resources in this course implied, the shift from teacher, to group and student driven learning, is a desired affect of 21st century learning. I did feel more relaxed with my classroom’s atmosphere once I read this shift, from teacher lecture to group interaction was desired. I would have to say, my perspective on learner-centered instruction improved. I am going in the right direction; I just need to persevere. 
This course has encouraged me to build my technological foundation. With frequent use of a blog and wikispace I can stay connected with my students even if absences occur. I can post homework assignments and short instructional videos to the classroom wiki. Students can access the page from anywhere and no longer are dependent on a fifty minute block of lecture time in the classroom. The technology of RSS feeds will keep me informed on the latest techniques and changes I need to know in order o network with colleagues throughout the world. By maximizing my knowledge base, I can only increase my students’ achievement. By using a learner-centered environment, I believe I will engage my millennium learners more thoroughly.
One long term goal I have to transform my classroom environment is to learn the classroom management system BrainHoney. Our district has moved to this system and our staff is being trained to use it. Lessons plans, audio and video resources, graphics and pictures can all be stored in this one management system. Teachers can develop a quiz or test that is uploaded to a module. Automatic grading is programmed into BrainHoney, so students get immediate feedback. I really understand the benefits of BrainHoney due to the exposure this course has given me to the future landscape of teaching. I plan to enter new data and resources to my BrainHoney account with the benefit RSS feeds and recent networking has provided me.
A second long  term goal I have to transform my classroom environment is to increase my use of robotics. The Lego Robot C has been more successful then I had originally thought. The district leaders want this type of 21st-century learning to take place in our schools. At first I was afraid I would fail miserably with this curriculum. Surprisingly, I have learned to enjoy the challenge of programming a robot. My goal is to broaden my knowledge base of robotics and expand code writing with my junior high students. I plan to achieve this goal by teaching robotics 4 times a year instead of just once. I also plan to collaborate with other robotics teaches and share sample code and resources. I have already found reliable links that provide instructions and ideas for Robot C.
Concerning my feelings regarding the technological advances in the classroom, I will admit, the changes are more diverse than I realized. The speed of change and the amount of digital devices used by this generation is astounding. I believe all teacher must seek exposure and training in Web 2.0 tools in order to keep abreast of the changes happening in our careers. Evidence shows that almost every Web 2.0 tool makes it easy to connect and create with others globally to expand our instructional basis. We just need a little confidence and exposure to harness the power of these tools ourselves.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

7th graders on Digital Devices

In an effort to understand how students in my classroom are changing with their access to digital media, I conducted a survey of thirty, seventh graders. These students all have a school issued MacBook laptop so the questionnaire evolved around how they use their laptop and other digital devices outside of school.
The students were asked to circle digital items they have access to outside of school, and the results were that 27 of the 30 had cellphones. 22 of the 30 students had iPods, 16 had digital cameras and 12 had access to a desktop computer at home.
Ten students said they had XBoxes with an additional 10 having other game devices.
Seven students circled MP3 players, five had an iPad and 5 more had an iTouch.
Two students had Kindles, but no other electronic reading devices were mentioned.
From these 30 students, it was noted that cellphones, iPods and digital cameras were the most popular devices.
How much time they spent with their MacBooks, cellphones, video games and TV per day was the second part of the questionnaire.
It seems that fifteen of the thirty or 1/2 of the students use their cellphones 3+ hours a day!
These students are texting and talking constantly. How do they find the time for this? It seems watching TV is much less popular with today’s 7th graders than it was with my generation. 17 of the 7th graders said they watched 30-60 minutes of TV a day. Only 5 students thought they watched 3 hours of TV a day. 
The students all used their laptops outside of school with the most popular use being to surf the Internet. Several students asked what spending time on FaceBook counted as. We decided this social networking would be included in surfing, so it was no wonder that 10 or 1/3 of the students said they surfed 3+ hours a day.
Another category asked students how much total time outside of school they spent on their laptops and the majority said 2-3+ hours a day. When asked how much of this time was spent doing homework half of them (15) said 30 minutes. So it seems our school incentive for 1-1 computers is not producing homework inspired usage of the laptop. 
The last category on the questionnaire involved playing video games. In this area, it seemed only a few students were gamers since only 3 admitting to 3+ hours of video games per day. Thirteen students said they play games 30 minutes or less per day. Five students, or 1/6th of the 7th graders, play games one hour a day.
In reviewing the results of this survey, and leaving margin for error, I conclude that today’s 7th graders are very attached to their cellphones, computers and iPods.
These students are spending time with devices that were not available during my youth. Watching TV has given way to texting, talking, FaceBooking and surfing.
Now that I am aware of the statistics concerning 7th graders digital pastime, I am aware of how important it is to be electronically savvy myself if I wish to relate to them in the classroom.

Friday, January 27, 2012

21st Century Skills

The website, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, seemed daunting at first. The many drop down menus seemed too extensive for me to grasp a singular meaning. After a bit of surfing I found their mission statement. This national organization advocates 21st century readiness for every student. The United States competes in a global economy that demands innovation.  P21 provides tools and resources to help U.S. education keep up by incorporating the 4Cs (creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration with the 3 R's (reading, writing and arithmetic).  They do this with the help of members that include Pearson, Walt Disney Company, Ford Motor Company, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Adobe and NEA, the National Education Association. Virtually every big name in technology and education is a member of P21. The impressive list of members surprised me, and lent credence to this organization.

The video Above and Beyond produced by  Fablevision illustrated how technical details combined with imagination produce innovative results. I enjoyed the video and found other educational video clips from YouTube that had been downloaded to the site.  P21 resources available to teachers included professional development, skill maps, learning environments and mentors. A guide for state and district leaders showcased assessment tactics to assist in statewide 21st century skills initiative.

P21 offers speaking engagements, workshops and seminars. It is apparent that mastering 21st Century Skills is taking a pivotal role in technology, and as educators, we need to feel compelled to acquire these tools. While the website seems too technical and overwhelming, I do believe the exposure I give myself to P21 concepts, the more effective and professional I will become as a teacher.