Saturday, February 18, 2012

Final Reflection

My Personal Theory of Learning has not changed since I began this course. I came into this course with the understanding that there is never an end-all solution to anything when it comes to education. I take a firm stance on what my responsibilities are. As an educator, I cannot attach to one theory because I do not feel one covers the diversities of all learners. “It is best to think of all of them [learning theories] together as the range of possible explanations of learning and to think of each individual approach as a unique and special addition to your collection. Then, as an eclectic instructor, you can choose to implement those parts of the theories that best match your learners’ needs and the characteristics of a particular lesson’s specific objectives” (Lever-Duffy, & McDonald, 2008, p.18). My experiences from the learnings of this course, however, have deepened my knowledge and understanding of learning theory and the use of educational technologies. There are many theories that match the learning needs of my students. I am now able to choose which strategies and technology tools will enhance their learning experiences.

The one immediate adjustment I will make in my instructional practice regarding technology integration is less teacher involvement and more student involvement. For meaningful learning to take place, I need to provide more opportunities for my students to embrace the technology tools rather than expecting them to learn from what I do with the technology. Dr. Orey states that if we want to use technology as a learning tool, we need to hand the technology over to the students. He further noted that students need to take more responsibility in their own learning. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

Two technology tools I would like to use to support my students’ learning would be the iPad and clickers. I feel that I have a great grasp on how to implement my document camera, projector, and Mobi; however, I would like to begin using the iPad as a tool for my students to practice skills through apps, which are appealing to my students. This would actually allow me to lessen the burden of homework practice. The clickers are available to me, but we are limited to two sets. I would like to spend more time doing more formative assessments in math with my students each day rather than spending time grading homework to compile data of each student to meet their individual needs on a particular concept.

As a result of this class, my repertoire of instructional skills has improved. Having a plethora of technology tools is no benefit to my students if I am not selective in what I choose to use and how I use it in my teaching. I know that there is not a benefit in handing my students an iPad and expecting learning to take place. Having access to all of these technology tools cannot create learning experiences unless I use them properly.” When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun” (Edutopia, 2012, p. # 6). I have a professional responsibility to research what has been used and what has worked for other teachers.

Two long-term goal changes I would like to make in my instructional practice regarding technology integration would be the amount of time I use my various technology tools and finding the best practices with these tools based on research. I would like to spend more time using the clickers. I would also like to research what apps are available for the iPad to enhance the learning of my students.


Laureate Education, Inc.(2010). Technology: Instructional Tool vs. Learning Tool. BaltimoreMD: Dr. Michael Orey.

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

Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many. (Copyright © 2012). Edutopia. Retrieved on February 13, 2012, from

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

The instructional strategies described in the resources explored this week correlate with the principles of social learning theories. Social learning theory can be described as interactions happening as students are engaged in constructing something while having conversations about what they are building” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). Cooperative learning is a prime example of social learning. “When students work in cooperative groups, they make sense of, or construct meaning for, new knowledge by interacting with others” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p.139).

Social constructivist approaches can include reciprocal teaching, peer collaboration, cognitive apprenticeships, problem-based instruction, webquests, anchored instruction and other methods that involve learning with others” (Kim, 2001). Many of these opportunities fall into the categories of web resources, multimedia, or communication software. These open up a world of collaboration through the Web with other students from other schools or their own, experts in the field, or collaborations with people from around the world (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). My class collaborates another fourth grade classroom in our county. The other fourth grade teacher and myself have assigned each students a pen pal. Due to budget constraints, it is not always feasible for us to travel and have the students meet their pen pals. Therefore, we are planning to Skype with them in addition to our letter writing to each other. Since Indiana’s fourth grade social studies curriculum consists of the teaching of Indiana history, we are now able to take advantage of sharing various learning experiences with our pen pals through Skype. I am very anxious to do this, and so are my students.

In the online book, I really enjoyed reading about the high school teacher who decided that she had had enough with her boring approach to teaching Shakespeare. She then moved to a more social learning theory approach to her teaching. Instead of merely reading the plays aloud, she decided to group her students and assign parts to the play. They would then have to act out the play in a collaborative puppet show. As the teacher set expectations and facilitated each group, they were able to create an artifact, which was created according to the social learning theories (Kim, 2001).

In fourth grade, teaching idioms can be difficult. I actually created a book of idioms of which the students would write the meaning of each, and then use the idiom in a sentence. Boy, was this boring. To take a more social learning approach, I purchased an idiom book of plays. My students had the opportunity to act out a play and apply the idioms in conversation with their peers. They had a great time creating the set and practicing their parts. The plays were even comical. They were able to participate in creating an artifact while learning.

One interesting piece of information gathered from the online book was that of the positive affects of social interactions. From a psychological perspective, students can actually benefit from a cooperative learning environment because they have a support system with other students. When they have this support system, their attitudes change toward education in general. They have a better attitude because they are playing an active role in their learning (Kim, 2001).


Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism.. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved January 31, from

Laureate Education, Inc. (2010). Social Learning Theories. Baltimore, Maryland: Dr. Michael Orey.

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


Please visit my VoiceThread and provide comments! You may click the hyperlink above or click the address below.  ~Julia

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Constructivism in Practice

The principles of constructivist and constructionist theories correlate with the instructional strategy of Generating and Testing a Hypothesis. According to Dr. Orey, Constructionism involves the building of something, while Constructivism involves constructing meaning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). With both theories, students can create something to construct meaning through critical thinking an unforgettable hands-on experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the example from our book of the fifth grade class that began to collect data and investigate whether or not their town had acid rain fall. The great thing about this scenario was that the students “heard rumors” that their town might have acid rain. There was a spark of interests captured. I think this is vital when students are taking on an investigation as such. The students were able to create a table to record the data collected. Once they made their predictions, collected data, and compared their data, they had the opportunity to share it. This step completely amazed me. Instead of just doing a traditional “sharing” in the classroom, which is what I seem to do often, students had the opportunity to visit a collaborative project website. There they can provide sharings of their data with others doing the same project. They can then compare their data.

“When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes…” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p.202). Ironically, I am teaching scientific investigations in my small literacy group. We call these small groups our WIN (What I Need) groups. We go through a unit of science lessons in preparation for ISTEP+ (IN state test). Because the text we are reading mentioned the fact that scientists could be children, a light bulb went off! My students began to brainstorm ideas of what we could do for an investigation. Because I only meet with them 30 minutes per day, I asked them if they would be willing to work outside of our meeting time. They all agreed.

I immediately knew I had to follow through with this because in the past, I have taught these short lessons with no thought of actually “doing” the investigations. After reviewing previous examples of investigations, they came up with their own. They want to find out how much and what kind of precipitation we will have in our town in one week in the month of February. Right now, they are brainstorming the tools we will need to begin our investigation. Today we came up with a question and a hypothesis. I am so excited to use our classroom laptops to have them create a table to collect the data. Afterwards, they can chart their comparisons on a line graph. They can also record patterns in their findings. Because we will not begin until February, I would like to check out an online collaborative site where my students could share and compare data with other students in a similar investigation in either another town or state.

As my students engage in this investigation, they are not only creating, but they are constructing meaning throughout the process. In the past, we have always just read the text and “discussed” the text a little more in depth - I am positive that experience quickly left their short-term/working memory. If a similar scenario is on our state test, my students will be able to recall that information because of their real-life experience.

A posting from AnnMarie Thurmond (1999) on the Seymour Papert and Constructionism site, she emphasized the importance of constructing knowledge in the mind of a learner rather than learning from direct instruction from the teacher:
     Constructionism asserts that knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to student, but is actively constructed by the mind of the learner. Moreover, constructionism suggests that learners are particularly likely to create new ideas when they are actively engaged in making external artifacts that they can reflect upon and share with others (


Laureate Education, Inc.(2010). Constructionist and Constructivist Theories. Baltimore, MD: Dr. Michael Orey.

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

Thurmond, A. (1999, May). Constructivism and Constructionism. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cognitivism in Practice

The instructional strategies described in this week’s resources correlate with the principals of cognitive learning theory. They will allow me to teach for understanding. These instructional strategies are Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers. The other is Summarizing and Note Taking.

According to Dr. Orey, when information is received, it can move into the short-term or working memory of the brain. For it to move onto the long-term memory, we must provide what he called “sensory registers.” One example of a sensory register would be some sort of visual tool. If we use visual tools we can help to connect new ideas to other ideas that have already been learned, which will create episodes (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

Using Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers will allow students to recall, apply, and organize information about a particular concept (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K., 2007). I liked the idea of using brochures, rubrics, definitions, and programs as expository advance organizers. These organizers are a great way to introduce a lesson. The idea of getting the students to create a brochure before a field trip is a great idea. This will get their minds where they need to be when they begin to receive information, which needs to be stored into the short-term memory or working memory. Another idea was to have the students skim their brochure prior to the field trip as an additional advance organizer. The next application example of a word processing program was making a table feature as an advance organizer for taking notes. I know this example was to keep the organizer saved into a file for all-access, but you could have the students create a table and print it. This could be carried during the field trip, and after they visit various places, they could jot down notes of things they observed. This would be useful with a virtual field trip as well. In addition to the lesson, a virtual field trip can provide a much richer experience by also creating the episodes for the students to understand the concepts (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

Another idea would be to use a multimedia tool such as a concept map to pose a question that would tie into a virtual field trip. Dr. Orey called this a mind tool. In this mind tool, the central node would pose a question, and then the outer nodes would then contain basic facts that would answer the question. According to Dr. Orey, we need to provide episodes to students to tie their learnings (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

For summarizing, I liked the option in a Microsoft Word document that automatically summarizes. My students hand-write a body report in science. They also practice their typing skills by typing the report. This also allows them to catch spelling errors, etc. before turning in the report. One way to present this report to the class would be to use this tool. I liked that it also has another purpose. When the tool summarizes, the students can view whether or not the computer and the student agree on the summary. I would then conference with my students to see the accuracy. They may then need to revise (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K., 2007).

According to the McREL’s research from chapter six on note taking, “The more notes taken, the better.” The idea of using combination notes is a great way for students to revisit what they learned, but they are also able to view what the notes look like through illustrations of the notes. I like that they can use this strategy in PowerPoint. My students are very fluent with PowerPoint, and I think this strategy would fit many of our lessons.

All of these strategies are wonderful. I am so excited to use many of them in my own classroom. After creating a concept map as a brainstorming tool, then creating charts to take on a virtual field trip, students could then take what they created and learned and apply it to some sort of communication tool such as a blog or wiki. Instead of just giving a paper-pencil test, the students will be assessed on a hands-on experience. Not only will it engage the students, but it will also enhance the whole learning experience through episodes, which allow sensory registers to make connections. These connections will then allow students to store their learnings into their long-term memories (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). 


LaureateEducation, Inc.(2010). Cognitive Learning Theories. Baltimore, MD: Dr. Michael Orey.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Behaviorism in Practice

The behaviorist learning theory correlates with the two instructional strategies described in this week’s readings: Reinforcing Effort and Homework and Practice.

Reinforcing effort is described as improving a student’s grasp of the concept of effort and achievement by looking at their attitudes and beliefs about learning. We need to understand that not all students realize the importance of effort and having the belief in it. We also need to help them believe that effort does pay dividends even if they do not have the belief system. I liked that the book pointed out, that in many cases, this outlook is affected by environmental factors. For example, a student may really struggle with a particular subject because, according to them, their parent struggled. On the other hand, they may believe their friends are successful because of the stereotype they have about them. Because of research, this outlook can be changed. One way would be to produce an effort rubric or survey. Students not only take ownership in their learning, but they can also see how much effort really pays off. I liked the idea that I could even use this strategy by having my students graph how much time they actually spend studying. This would be workable since I teach fourth grade. (Pitler,Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). According to James Hartley (1998), there are four important key principles of the behaviorist theory under learning terms, and of those four, reinforcement was named the cardinal motivator (Smith, 1999). If a student’s efforts can be documented, they can be reinforced with the appropriate grade or score.

Homework and Practice is a great way for students to review what they have learned as well as use their newly learned skills in application (Pitler,Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). (Smith, 1999) states that skills are not acquired without regular practice. Homework, however, is not without controversy. Therefore, it is important for educators to evaluate the purpose of the homework as well as provide some sort of feedback on it. I loved the example of a writing assignment where a student decided to write a report after completing numerous other projects. This particular student was able to check the level of her writing through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level rating in a Microsoft Word document. When this student did a rating on her report, she discovered that her writing was below her grade level. She, therefore, decided to use some of the newly learned vocabulary words from class to make her report more descriptive. What a great way for students to get feedback in an assignment before it even reaches the teacher! This would be a great example of effort being reinforced through self-monitoring (Pitler,Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) .

Both of these strategies coincide with the behaviorist theory because there is some sort of reinforcement to desirable behavior or punishment to negative behavior. According to Dr. Orey, reinforcement is the most powerful of the two (Orey, 2002). If the student wanted to make her paper at or above her grade level of writing, she would have to choose whether or not to use more descriptive words. If a student documents how they perform on their tests or quizzes, and they lack the effort in studying each night, they will likely see a negative outcome for a given grade.

This, once again, allows the student to take ownership in their work. This can change the way a student thinks! No longer do they have to fall into the trap of a “defeatist attitude” (Pitler,Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).


Hartley, J. (1998) Learning and Studying. A research perspective, London: Routledge.

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

Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Evolving Role of the Teacher - Reflection

Step 1:
This course has helped me to learn new ways to implement new technologies in the classroom in order to motivate my learners. I have deepened my knowledge through the resources that were available to me (i.e. videos, articles, books, etc.).

Teaching with technology allows me to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Since so many of our learners are familiar with using a variety of technology, it allows me to “Do different things” as stated by Dr. Thornburg (2008) in his video, The Emergence of Educational Technology. If I can take a podcast and record my voice reading a passage, I now can upload it to my classroom webpage for students to access at home. Whereas, before I used to send home a practice sheet where the students had to record how many times they did the practice at home with a parent. They dreaded this activity. I feel that a pod cast is an exciting new way of practicing fluency while implementing it with technology. Although that is “Doing things differently” as Dr. Thornburg described, I am still motivating my students to use tools they enjoy using. My students can also now do a podcast of their own voices and listen to their own reading. This is such a great way for them to self-evaluate their oral reading performance. This is definitely “Doing different things” (Laureate Education, Inc, 2008).

Since I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I have always had the mindset of learner-centered learning. I actually have it on my resume’; however, my ideas file for implementing learner-centered learning has only grown. I am now excited to use vocabucasts and wikis in my classroom to take my learner-centered learning to the next level.

The only way I can continue to expand my knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology to increase student achievement is to continue my journey as a lifelong learner. I will continue to take courses and earn my Master’s in Education in Integrating Technology in the Classroom.

Step 2: Long Term Goals (within 2 years) Two long-term goals to transform my classroom environment:

1. Continuously seek ways of obtaining grant monies to purchase technologies.

2. If training is not available for these tools, I will network with other educators around the world through blogs, etc. to learn new ways to implement the equipment available to me.

My principal is always asking us what types of technology we feel would engage our students, so I would inform her because she has a grant writing team. I would also try to get as much training with these tools; however, as mentioned before, if it is not available, there is a vast amount of resources online that could be sought.

Step 3:
After reflecting on the checklist I filled out in week one of this course, I found that some of my answers have changed after taking this course.

I am currently using a classroom website and an online grade book to communicate with students and parents. I always have attended the “Meet the Teacher” night in person, but because I had to attend a recent funeral for my grandmother, I was able to webcast my open house. I called it my “Virtual Open House.” My parents and students were amazed with the technology, and how I took the time to use it in that manner. Had I not taken this course, I would have never thought to have such a backup plan!

Through this course, I have learned new ways to teach fluency through a Podcast. Vocabulary is also a hard concept to motivate students to study. Through vocabucasts, I can now teach vocabulary online, and my students do not even realize they are learning in the process because it is so much fun.

To design learning experiences and incorporate technology with that learning has been quite a challenge for me. I have used my Mobi for very basic things, but now that I have learned about blogging with other educators, I have learned of a new way to network while learning from other educators using the same tools. It has allowed me to learn new ways to engage my students.

My areas of opportunity have definitely changed! I am now feeling comfortable with blogs, podcasts, and wikis in the classroom. I can now add these to my areas of strength.

More than ever, I am now working to promote best practices in technology integration through research, evaluation, selecting and sharing these new tools and ideas for my classroom instruction.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). The Emergence of Educational Technology. Baltimore, MD: Dr. David Thornburg.