Cognitivism in Practice

This week’s learning resources focused on cognitive learning.  This is basically teaching students how they best learn information.  Cognitive learning theory requires the use of as many senses as possible in an attempt to better retain information.  This theory makes our brains similar to a filing cabinet with various files already established.  The idea is that the brain will file away information into a category in which a connection is made.  This theory is why so many teachers make a conscious effort to teach information in a variety of approaches that meet as many senses and types of learners as possible.

The concept of cues, questions, and advanced organizers in my opinion goes hand in hand with the cognitive learning theory.  I feel that these types of instructional resources are helping students to organize information and will ultimately allow more retention of this information.  I feel that note taking and summarizing are also helpful, however, I do not feel that they focus on as many senses and thus may not prove to be as successful as cues, questions, and advanced organizers. 

The key component to the cognitive learning theory is to make as many connections for students as possible.  Many people have heard the saying “do not beat a dead horse” but in education there is no such thing as a dead horse.  If a teacher thinks of a way to present information that may be more meaningful for students, he/she must present the information again using this new means in hopes that even just one more student will make the connection necessary. 

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Behaviorism in Practice

Reinforcing Effort and Homework and Practice

This week’s learning resources focused a great deal on reinforcing positive behaviors.  This has proven to be very helpful in my classroom.  Although I already felt positive reinforcement greatly impacted my class in a positive way, the chapter “Reinforcing Effort” reaffirmed my beliefs.  I have started using a test website called the Georgia Online Assessment System to assess student learning and gauge my instruction.  The chapter on reinforcement said that “technology makes it easier for students and teachers to track the effects of effort and facilitates more immediate feedback” (Pitler, p.156).  This makes me feel great about my recent efforts to utilize technology in my assessments when possible.  I have thoroughly enjoyed using this form of assessment because the website automatically grades the tests and tells my students how many questions were answered correctly.  They can look at the questions to review what they may have done incorrectly and what specific standards they may not have mastered.  Often, I will pull up a copy of the test that the students took on my projector and we will go through the questions together.  This not only allows them to see what they did wrong, but also gives me the opportunity to constantly remind students of good test taking strategies in preparation for our state high stakes test.  This database allows me to pull reports to see what each student scored on the assessment, and also specifically identifies what standards were areas of concern.  I love this feature because it allows me to reflect on my instruction and see if there are any standards that I need to go back and review with my entire class and then also if there are any students that I need to re-teach certain material to either individually or in a small group.

We also read “Homework and Practice” this week.  I do not give a lot of required homework assignments because our school population is not a group of students that typically complete homework.  My principal feels very strongly that students cannot be punished for not completing homework; therefore, this is something that I have a hard time justifying giving in large quantities.  One thing suggested this week was that practice is most effective when presented in an engaging way such as games.  This is something that I sometimes question, because I know a lot of parents want to see some type of pencil and paper practice for their children if they feel the children are struggling with a specific skill.  In my classroom I have tried to introduce learning resources that include a combination of tests and interactive activities that keep students from getting bored.  Our school utilizes Compass learning as a tool to assist in the practice aspect of learning.  I often assign my students assessments in this online program.  When students take this test they know that the website will assign a learning path based on their performance.  When students did not do well with a specific standard on the assessment the website assigns them practice games to complete.  They must score a mastery score set by the teacher before they can move on.  This has worked really well especially with my lower achieving students because they try their hardest to be successful on the first assessment so that they have less on their learning path to complete.  Students see right away how they did on the assessments based on how many standards are shown as needing assistance.  This goes hand in hand with Pitter’s belief that online games provide immediate feedback that can be used not only by the teacher but also by the students to monitor progress. 

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The Evolving Role of the Teacher Reflection

This course has been very helpful in developing my own technology skills as a professional teacher.  This course has exposed me to several new forms of technology that I had not previously used.  The use of blog groups has helped to provide me with ideas of ways to incorporate these new forms of technology in my classroom on a daily basis.   I already knew that a hands on approach was extremely helpful for some students, however,  I have seen that technology alone will not help to make them successful.  This technology must be used effectively to enrich their learning.  During my experiences in college, the focus was still primarily a teacher-centered classroom and activities.  This course has helped to confirm my beliefs that student-centered approaches are often more meaningful for students.  These types of lessons require students to not only master concepts, but apply them in real world situations.  Although I have been exposed to many types of technology and have applied several of them in my classroom, I feel that my learning is never done.  As a teacher I can continue to research effective blogs and contribute to them often.  I can continue to expand my knowledge through collaboration with my peers and try new forms of technology in my classroom.

This course has gotten me very interested in blogging.  Within the next two years I would like to create a classroom blog site.  I think this would be a great tool in which I could post study materials or even tutorial videos for my students on skills they are struggling with.  My blog would be very helpful for parents as well as it would expose them to the types of things their children are doing in my classroom.  I would also like to create a few lesson ideas that incorporate group wiki sites.  I feel that having students collaborate in this way would help to build a learning community and make their learning more meaningful.  I would like to start with one subject and eventually move to several subjects in a given year.

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Walden Podcast

A podcast is something completely new to me.  In fact, after uploading all of my sound clips, I began to wonder if I even did the podcast correctly.  You may follow the link below to visit my podcast where you will find my classroom demographics, and three clips of interviews with students.

http://feed.podcastmachine.com/podcasts/12635/mp3.rss

 

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Partnership for 21st Century Skills

I recently spent some time exploring www.p21.org.  This website has some great information for including 21st century technology.  This website provides resources for various audiences such as educators and parents.  As an educator, I spent time exploring the resources available to me.  I found that there were not just pointers on how to implement technology, but also what that means and why it should take place.  I feel this site is a valuable resource to anyone taking part in educating a child. 

Although the site was very helpful, there were things that I did not completely agree with.  One link discussed assessment in the 21st century.  This link said that currently most assessments require students to recall instead of having students apply what they know in a complex situation.  With rigor and depths of knowledge being such a focus, I feel most educators strive to incorporate assessment tools that include higher levels of understanding and are more rigorous. 

As an educator, I plan to refer back to this site specifically for information on exemplars.  Exemplars are a great way to differentiate math instruction among students and are something that I would like to incorporate during my needs based math center time.  This will challenge my higher achieving students and will help to improve the skills and critical thinking skills of my lower achieving students.

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How is a blog used effectively in a classroom?

After creating my blog, I began to think about how a blog could be used in a classroom.  As a third grade classroom teacher, I teach all subjects ranging from math and reading to science and social studies.  My school district purchased webpages for each school with personal links for each teacher.  On my webpage, my students and parents can find useful links, a weekly newsletter, and other important school policies and information.  I think my blog would be a very useful way to provide students and parents with strategies to use to help studnets improve in specific areas.  It would also be a great place to load practice for skills either past or present for parents to review with their students.  Using the blog as a board for parents and students to discuss work and walk themselves through problems woudl be a great way to build a classroom community as well.  Although the majority of my parents use my page on the school site to access the weekly newsletter, my blog is another place where that information could be stored. 

What suggestions do you have to make my blog more effective for my students and their families?

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Hello world!

Hello and welcome to my blog about all things educational.  I am very new to blogging so please be kind.

I will start with a simple question.  What are your top 3 technologies that you find useful in your classroom on a daily basis?

1. My computer and student computers are great resources for making activities for my students that keep them engaged. 

2. My LCD projector allows me to use Smart technologies in a modified way to create more hands on lessons with my students.

3. The internet allows me to find resources, share ideas with colleagues, and gives my students web sites to practice their skills each day.

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