Seven weeks ago, I summarized my personal theory of how students learn as being a recipe made up of various ideas from key theorists, in combination with updated ideas based on 21st century learning. In attaining my ultimate goal of preparing well-rounded students, I stated that learning should be a continuous process, not a product, and to achieve success, students need practical learning scenarios incorporated with technology as a key tool. Today, looking back at my theory, it has not changed much, but I have more of a definitive recipe for the make-up of those various key theorist ideas. Having the opportunity to research and become more familiar with the major learning theorists, I can now see how they fit into my classroom.
Within the behaviorist theory, I see a definite need for positive reinforcement as well as drill and practice in my classroom. One strategy I plan to incorporate within this area is immediate feedback through various word processing applications. Tracking changes, auto summary and the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) are just a few applications will help me provide my students speedy input to help move them along in their learning process. Understanding cognitivist perspective is necessary to acknowledge since each of my students process, remember and store information differently. Concept mapping is a tool I plan to use in my classroom to help students organize, visualize and connect all types of information (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). Finally, constructivism is the theory I intend to use more often. “Knowledge is unique to the individual who constructs it,” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008) so students need opportunities to create meaning individually and with one another. I plan to do this through web quests, virtual field trips and websites and blogs. This course has deepened my knowledge and understanding of each of these learning theories, and how they should fit into today’s classrooms. While many argue that these theoretical perspectives are outdated, the facts and research are the same, and more importantly we have an extensive amount of educational technologies today to bring these ideas up to date.
My repertoire of instructional skills has expanded a substantial amount as a result of this course. I have already made changes in my daily classroom routines in regards to technology integration. This year, I will be using an eBeam, (interactive technology solution) and already have been working to incorporate images and visuals to new vocabulary rather than just displaying definitions alone. In addition, I have started to organize useful websites, books and articles that I plan to share via del.icio.us.
One technology tool I plan to use with my students is concept maps. My students can work with definition frame templates, character trait note-taking templates and problem/solution templates. Each of these tools will allow students to organize information and connect important concepts. Another technology tool I am already planning to incorporate is wiki pages. Groups of students will be creating a wiki page to use for literature discussions. They will work collaboratively to effectively discuss selected literature books.
A long-term goal I would like to make to my instructional practice regarding technology integration involves the use of web quests and virtual field trips. I would like to work on implementing one every month. With so many options already created and available, I can find several that fit my curriculum, while I work on creating one of my own. I like the idea of web quests because they are “designed to use learners’ time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Another long-term goal I have is to get each of my students trained to create voice threads. I see so many opportunities to incorporate this idea in my classroom, and plan to start demonstrating and training them soon. I would like to see each student create a book-talk using voice thread. Both of these goals are easily attainable, and I know my students will enjoy seeing them implemented in our classroom.
I have gained a lot of knowledge regarding learning theories throughout this course and more importantly, strategies and techniques to implement them in a 21st century classroom. Every child is different; they have different interests, strengths, weaknesses and learn in different ways. To be the most effective teacher I can be, I need to introduce and incorporate a variety of instructional strategies and technology tools to help meet the needs of each and every one of my students.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Cognitive Learning Theories. [DVD].
Baltimore, MD: Author.
Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.