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.


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