Final Reflection

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  While many argue that these theoretical perspectives are outdated, the facts and research are the same, and more importantly we have an extensive amount of educational technologies today to bring these ideas up to date.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

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.



Social Learning in Practice

According to Lee Vygotsky, “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level and, later on, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological) (Vygotsky, 1978).”  Like Vygotsky’s theory, social constructivism is focused on the idea that getting students to collaboratively create something allows for enhanced learning outcomes (Laureate, 2010).   Providing students opportunities to collaborate, interact, and teach one another boost this theory.  With so much technology surrounding our students today, they can easily work together to collaborate, research, document, question, and reflect in a social setting.

Cooperative learning is a strategy where students interact in many different ways that can enrich their learning.  Living in such an evolving virtual field, our students need exposure to lessons that require them to both learn and create cooperatively (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Incorporating student-centered multimedia projects, web resources and communication software are some ideas.  ePals ( is a helpful community of classrooms that is set up to help schools connect and learn in a safe, project-based learning network.  “WebQuests are inquiry-oriented activities that allow students in a class or from multiple locations to work together to learn about a particular subject or to tackle a particular project of problem (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).” provides a variety of WebQuests designed for 5th grade language arts, and is organized by month.  Web site creation is another cooperative learning opportunity that would require students to work with a team, problem-solve and produce.  Microsoft Office Publisher ( is an easy site to use, that many students may have access to at home, that assists students in creating and publishing Web sites.

Throughout cooperative learning activities and projects, students can also get exposure to collaborative organizing with the help of various Web 2.0 resources.  Independence and responsibility can be incorporated into cooperative learning through use of shared calendars, shared bookmarking and course management.  Students can work closely with their teacher and group members to set up important dates and deadlines that are easy to progress monitor.  Yahoo Calendar is one of many useful tools that can be used for this (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Students and teachers can also bookmark, or save helpful Web sites for everyone to see.  I have used to manage my information.

Social constructivism is a necessary component in today’s classrooms.  It allows for the opportunity to teach the whole concept, where introduction, support and engagement are addressed (Laureate, 2010).  Through collaborative projects in the classroom, students are able to communicate, problem solve, think critically and produce something together.  Preparing our students for an unknown future is a bit intimidating, but social learning theories can at least get them started down the right path to a successful future.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2008). Social Learning Theories. [Video webcast]. Retrieved from

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

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society. London: Harvard University Press.

My very 1st Voice Thread:

Constructivism in Practice

Implementing a classroom project that can increase student motivation, enhance problem-solving abilities, allow for collaboration, improve media research skills and allow time for resource management (Orey, 2001)…sign me up!  The goal of a constructivist/constructionist classroom is focused on the individual learner creating something (Laureate, 2010).  Problem-based learning, project-based learning and inquiry-based learning are designed with these building blocks in mind.  Luckily, there are many instructional strategies teachers can implement to correlate with the principles of constructivist/constructionist learning theories.

Dr. Michael Orey highlights the four main mechanisms for learning, which are the main ideas of construction; assimilation- where reality is made to fit current beliefs, accommodation- altering beliefs to fit reality, equilibration- achieving balance, and schema- perceptions/ideas.  As educators, we want to provide our students opportunities where they are engaged in creating something, while facing disequilibrium (Laureate, 2010).  While for many teachers, this shift in the role from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom can be difficult, the outcomes are worthwhile.  One effective strategy for doing this successfully is generating and testing hypothesis.  This gives students opportunities to apply content knowledge and engage in internal thinking processes, which in turn enriches their complete understanding.  In a technology-geared classroom, students can work with spreadsheet software, data collection tools and Web resources (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K., 2007).

In looking to develop ideas, lessons and activities to incorporate in my 5th grade language arts class, I came across some fantastic Web Quests that could tie into my literature, grammar, reading or writing curriculum.  “Grammar Clamor,” is designed to allow students to work collaboratively to create power point slides to share, take quizzes, watch mini-movie clips and learn songs to help them remember important grammar concepts.  I also found a literature based Web Quest that I intend on using. takes students through six tasks they must complete after reading the novel:  From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Here students will be faced with vocabulary quizzes, research activities and be required to write a reflection piece.Both of these Web resources will allow students to use prior knowledge and make decisions in virtual scenarios that would not be possible without technology.

Project-based learning, problem-based learning, and inquiry-learning are all necessary components to a well-rounded classroom.  Allowing students to be an integral part of their own learning process gets them thinking critically, and forces them to question and make sense of what is unknown.  I have conducted these types of lessons in my own classroom, and have found that these are the projects that students get the most excited about and are most motivated to work on.  ”Constructivism is at present the most influential force in shaping contemporary education” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008).  As 21st century educators, we need to provide our students with opportunities and strategies to exemplify this important learning theory.

10 Ways to Plan a Student-Centered Lesson that Will Get them (and You!) Excited:

Great suggestions for student projects:


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

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

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



Cognitive Classroom?

“Cognitivists focus on learning as a mental operation that takes place when information enters through the senses, undergoes mental manipulation, is stored, and is finally used” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008).  While everyone learns differently, Dr. Michael Orey explains that providing students opportunities linked to dual coding of information, elaboration theory, and concept mapping, can enhance the information processing stage (Laureate, 2010).  Fortunately, we have advanced technologies today that offer a variety of cognitive activities to help.

One instructional strategy; cues, questions and advance organizers, puts a large emphasis on helping students organize information to more easily retrieve and use it later (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Since a learner can only process approximately seven pieces of information at one time (Laureate, 2010), they need reminders and hints to spark learned events, and make sense of new content.  Various word processing applications can be used to create organizers, help focus on an essential concept, or to aide in note-taking.  Organization and brainstorming software is one tool that offers an unlimited amount of help.  Kidspiration ( is one of my favorites that offers visual workspaces that incorporate visual thinking methodologies.   Here is a list of language arts lessons that are ready to use in the classroom (   These types of lessons engage students in the learning, while providing them both auditory and visual registers to help them make connections and process new information.

Another instructional strategy; summarizing and note taking, can help in teaching students for understanding.  Throughout these activities, students are learning to “synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Tracking changes, auto-summarization and combination notes can all be done using Microsoft Word while providing support and collaborative learning experiences.  Inspiration ( can be used to help record new information in different types of note-taking, where students can incorporate visual images, and make connections between ideas. assists students in organizing and citing web information, and uses questions to help students develop projects.  I have used both wiki pages and blogs with my students as well, and love that both of these tools provide opportunities for students to learn-by-doing in an ongoing learning process.

Technology tools have helped incorporate many cognitive strategies in classrooms today.  Providing students with as many opportunities as we can to make connections and associations to new content can benefit their information processing, allowing them to become more successful learners.

This file breaks down cognitive learning theory and provides some useful strategies and explanations:


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Cognitive Learning Theories. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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




Behaviorist Theory in today’s classrooms?

“The red-headed stepchild” is what Dr. Michael Orey referred to behaviorism as (Laureate, 2010) due to the negative reputation this theory has created.  While some believe that behaviorism is not necessary in schools today, there are numerous educational technology strategies that correlate with behaviorism that can reach all types of learners, even in today’s society.

Operate conditioning, or the idea that altering a behavior by providing reinforcement once a desired behavior is demonstrated was generated by BF Skinner (Smith, 1999).  This idea can still be applied in classrooms through behavior and classroom management, in addition to technology embedded learning activities.   According to James Hartley, behaviorism focuses on strategies that help learners succeed through repetition, rewards, clear objectives and the learn-by-doing method (Smith, 1999).  An example of this might be through homework and practice.  Since students need over twenty practice sessions before mastering a skill to eighty percent (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007), various “drill and practice” resources can be implemented to help students improve specific skills.  Several applications in technology can provide students with immediate feedback, while meeting their interests, learning styles and appropriate levels.  Word applications, spreadsheets, multimedia, web resources and communication software can be used for classroom activities (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).

Another category connecting behaviorism to the classroom today is in the area of reinforcing effort, which is said to be the most significant factor in achievement (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  Many students do not see a correlation between how hard they work and their academic successes or failures.  “Technology makes it easier for students and teachers to track the effects of effort and facilitates more immediate feedback” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  Providing tools to assist students in seeing this connection through rubrics, spreadsheets and charts will force them to pay closer attention to this relationship.

While I had discovered several uses for the behaviorist theory in classroom behavior management, there are endless technology based ideas that allow students opportunities for immediate reinforcement and programmed instruction, both important aspects of the theory.  Although behaviorism is criticized by some, its usefulness in the classroom is apparent.

Great explanation of operate conditioning and a couple of youtube videos (one with BF Skinner):

This article analyzes what has happened to behaviorism over the years and why it is still needed:


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Behaviorist Learning Theory. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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





Final Post

Technology in the classroom is a must.  I have learned that incorporating technology in any classroom is possible and doesn’t have to be overwhelming or too complicated.  Teachers need to accept the fact that we are living in a digital age with digital natives as students; the most effective way to reach, inspire, and connect with our students is through technology.  The learning process has transformed, and now the teaching process needs to follow.   As a professional teacher, I now feel more confident using various pieces of technology to enhance my teaching skills. In addition, I believe that with my classroom technology knowledge, I can challenge my students to use technology to enrich their activities and projects.

As educators, we are teaching in unique times.  We can no longer rely on the standards, curriculum and textbooks to teach our students.  We cannot continue believing that our “old ways” of teaching are good enough.  We need to tie those (somewhat outdated) resources in with 21st century learning skills that actually prepare students for their futures using critical thinking skills, problem solving, and collaboration.  We need to shift our roles into facilitators in our students’ learning.  Having first-hand experience, and throughout discussions with my peers during this course, I see and extreme value in introducing these new and improved tools to help students learn.

My perspective has changed from teacher-centered to learner-centered classroom environments.  Often times, teacher-centered lessons require students to memorize information that is not connected to their personal lives or interests, or offer no value in their mind.  Learner-centered lessons and activities allow students to see value, make connections, find interests, and have a voice.  Finding ways to facilitate student learning through learner-centered activities provides a more meaningful lesson that students feel part of, and in turn, are more likely to retain.   Finding new and improved ways to empower students can be difficult, but through such a large network of blogs, websites and online forums, teachers can stay abreast during these ever-changing times.  In addition, many of us have student experts that can teach us a thing or two in the area of technology!

Feeling excited and ready to go with technology in my classroom, one of my goals is to educate my administrators and colleagues on incorporating simple technology-based activities in their classrooms.  Although many are overwhelmed by the idea, if I can demonstrate to them the ease at which it can work, and even use my excited students to assist, I can work with them to begin transforming their thinking.  One idea is introducing one new technology activity at each of our faculty meetings.  Another goal of mine is to have an ongoing class blog and wiki page in my classroom by the beginning of next year.  I hope to train my students and allow them the eventually take over the editing and posting process.  Facilitating these types of learning activities will allow them to collaborate and problem solve.

Beginning this course, I had a positive attitude about the incorporation of technology, but thought all that meant was using a Smart Board or assigning students projects to complete on the computer/internet.  My understanding has changed.  Technology in the classroom has to do with using technology skills to communicate, question, collaborate and create.  Finding ways to introduce these powerful tools to students can and will lead to preparing them for their successful futures in the digital age we live in.


In searching to find IF there truly is the existence of “digital natives,” I’ve interviewed a few of my 4th graders to get an idea of the technological exposure they have.  Check out the podcast to hear my findings.

This group of 9-10 year olds are clearly natives…they do not remember a life without technology.  They thought I was crazy when I told them I didn’t get a CD player until I was in high school and a laptop until after college!