Sunday, October 23, 2011


In week one I developed a personal theory of learning which talked about how I thought students learned and what I did in my classroom to help students learn.  Much has changed now being in week eight.  I am not talking about totally reversing or getting rid of what I had before, I am talking about adding to what I had originally thought.  We have learned how to use some very neat and interesting technologies in this course and past courses.  What I found to be most interesting was the use of a Voice Thread.  I actually used this in my classroom with much success.  My students were very open to it and actually enjoyed it.  I talked about incorporating as much technology into my classroom as I possible could.  I have added a smart board to my classroom and now can use these other tools to help teach my students.  How students learn is a topic that will always be under study.  Students learn in so many different ways that having one way of teaching is not going to cut it.

I am starting making adjustments to my instructional practice already.  Having students with IEP’s mixed in with students without IEP’s I tough because finding the right strategy to reach them may take a while.  I have developed many instructional practices that I can use to reach all of my students.  With the help of the technologies we have learned in this course, I will be providing my students with a better education.  I will be and already have been incorporating Voice Threads in my classroom.  I feel that this helps break up the lecture time and gives the students the chance to be introduced to a new technology.  It is a technology that can reach all students because of the ability to use pictures and voices.  The other technology tool that I will be using is a blog.  I have created my own website for my classroom.  One there I have a blog where students can respond to questions I have posted.  I feel the use of this will get students more involved in class and be thinking about it in there off time rather than just playing video games.  There are many technology tools out there for us to use in our classrooms.  Many of them our students will be using after high school, so it is our job to make sure they get introduced to them.  However with budget constraints the way they are, it is hard to show them all of the technologies.  We do what we can with what we have.

We have gone over many instructional strategies and skills to use in our classrooms.  Many of which I did not realize were considered there own topic.  Becoming familiar with these can only benefit me in the long run.  Knowing what I do now about these different strategies and how they are incorporated gives me the opportunity to teach my students in different ways, which will benefit them even more.  They too should be learning different ways of retaining information because they will need to recall the information at some point in their lives.

Two long-term goals that I would like to reach in terms of technology integration into my classroom are bringing my students to the computer lab on a more regular basis and converting some of the lessons I have to be interactive on the smart board.  One thing that I feel my students do not get enough of is computer use.  We have one “computer lab” which consists of 15 computers in our library which can be reserved but the library has to be shut down.  Being there are teachers wanting to use it all the time, it is hard to plan around the use of the computers.  One of the things I am trying to do is write a grant to turn another room into a computer lab.  Until then I want to get my students working on the computer more.  Most of my technology class is hands on project based because our lack of computer based technology.  I would like to start developing projects, which are created on the computer because knowing how to use a computer is a life long skill that everyone needs now.  I also want to use my smart board to the fullest potential.  If I do not use it whenever I can then it is basically collecting dust, especially in my room.  Being that I just got it at the beginning of this year I have not had a chance to convert all of my lessons to be smart board compatible.  It will make it so much easier for me to use the smart board to go over projects and for classroom instruction.

This course has shown me that there are more technologies that I need to incorporate into my class and that having more than one instructional strategy is more beneficial.  My classroom has improved over the past 6 weeks and I am looking forward to making more progress.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cooperative learning and Social Learning Theories: How they correlate

Cooperative learning and social learning theories have many similarities.  Dr. Orey describes social learning theories as ones where students are actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  Cooperative learning is described as having students interact with each other in groups that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  Both of these principles have one ultimate goal.  That is to prepare our students for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit and to learn and produce cooperatively (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). 

I have my students work in groups very often.  Not only does this help build there skills of interacting with people, but it also makes them more comfortable around students they may have always passed by and never acknowledged before.  Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  I have to agree with this.  They way that I form my groups is to put a bunch of numbers in a can all folded up.  I have each students select a number.  The students who have the same numbers are partners.  I have found this works much better than either having them pick or myself picking for them.  This way is the most fair and believe it or not, even if there are students who despise each other, they end up working through it and completing the project.

My groups are always made up of two or three students.  This way each person will always have something to do.  I have found that having more than three can leave someone to do nothing and end up with a grade.  Keep the groups to a manageable size, according to (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). 

Dr. Orey brings up a good strategy, which will help with keeping all of the students engaged in the learning.  The jigsaw strategy is when each member of the collaborative team is responsible for learning information and teaching it to there teammates (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  This is great for both social learning and cooperative learning.  If each student is responsible for a certain task then they are more likely to stay on task and keep up with their group members.

I use many group activities in my classroom.  I feel that it helps prepare them for some of the things they are going to run into out in the real world.  Not only are they skill building, but I sometimes have them solving real world problems.  From 7th grade on to 12th grade, I use cooperative learning.  As my students progress, so do my challenges.

Our ultimate goal is to prepare our students for what they are going to encounter later in life.  Also we are introducing our students to new technologies or new ways to use old technologies.  Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).   I use as much technology as I can in my classroom because I know that the less technology my students are introduced to the farther behind they are falling

Howard, P., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn., & M. Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instructions that works. Denver, Colorado

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). “Social Learning Theories” [Webcast].  Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore, Dr.  Orey.

Voice Thread: Classroom Funds

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Constructionist/ivist theories and Instructional Strategies

Constructionist and constructivist theories are ones that affect us in our everyday classrooms.  The constructivist approach is one that is a theory of knowledge stating that each individual actively constructs his/her own meaning (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  The constructionist approach is a theory of learning that states people learn best when they build external artifacts or something they can share with others (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  With either theory, implementing them in the classroom will be affected by the instructional strategy that is chosen.  Ultimately the instructional strategy will be dependent on the students you have in class.  So my theory is that the students you have will have the control over what instructional strategy you chose which will affect whether you chose to go with the constructionist or constructivist theory.

Reviewing the resources for this week, I have gained some great knowledge.  In the chapter on generating and testing hypotheses, they give us six tasks we could use in our classrooms to help students generate and test hypotheses (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). After looking through them I feel the most suited to fit in my classroom would be problem solving.  I have many problem solving activities in my classroom in which I challenge my students to get them thinking about real world issues.  The more I can relate the problem solving activities to real world problems the better off the students will be when they begin there life after graduation. 

The constructionist theory talks about how students need to create artifacts to learn best (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  I feel that using a problem solving approach is best suited to meet the expectations of a constructionist.  I have my students solve many challenges in my classroom.  Some involve individuals and some are collaborative efforts. 

Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski (2007) relay to us that we should make sure students can explain their hypotheses and conclusions.  I find this to be very pertinent because some of the students I have will rush to find an answer and then be ok with what happens afterward.  In the problem solving challenges I give my students, they must design certain contraptions and make sure they are going to work before putting all the effort in to constructing them.  Once they have tested there hypotheses and figured out if it will possibly succeed, then they can begin creating there artifact.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cognitivism in Practice

The instructional strategies presented to us in the readings are very relevant in our classrooms on a daily basis.  We may not use of all the ideas presented about the strategies however we do use these strategies and have been successful with students.  These strategies should be used in combination with the cognitive learning theory because to get students to learn and understand different topics or information then we need to reach there short and long term memory and know how to develop those.

Cueing and Questioning is a great way to get students involved in the learning.  When we provide cues and questions, students have a clearer sense of what they are going to learn (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  One of the first things we need to accomplish is to get the students on the same page and have them know what we are doing.  To aid the learning process, we should look for opportunities to activate students’ background knowledge, thereby providing a direction for exploration (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  By getting the students thinking about background knowledge and other ideas to get them into the topic, we are creating networks in their brain in which they will be able to retain the information better and when they need to recall the information for a test, they will have a variety of items they can think of which will lead them to the different networks they have developed.  When I begin a lesson in my introduction to technology class or even construction class, I get the students thinking by asking them about what tools they have used or seen used.  I then take it a step further and have them write it down so that I can have the information on file and can refer to it when creating my lessons.

Throughout my lessons I give cues to help students understand where we have been, where we are and where we are headed with the lesson.  I question them throughout the entire lesson to check for understanding and to make sure they are constantly thinking about what we are doing.

Summarizing is a great tool for students to use and even for teachers to use.  This strategy provides students with a process to apply as they summarize and gives them a structure to guide them when attempting what can otherwise be a confusing task (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Many students have trouble retaining information that they have just read, which means they will have to read it over and over to really understand what is being said or what is meant.  I, myself use summarization when I read because I have trouble remembering what I just read.  As our students start to summarize information they begin to create networks in the brain, which store the information.  They when the information is reiterated in class and connected to real life situations, the students begin to connect the networks in the brain to the information at hand.  They are basically concept mapping in there head.

When I am going through my lessons, information that is not critical for the student to know, I summarize.  This helps me with time constraints and keeps my students engaged in the lesson because I can cover the material much quicker.  Not having to teach to any standardized tests gives me the freedom to go at my own pace and teach what I want to. 

These two strategies presented to us in the reading are very relevant in my classroom and will be for a long time.  Our student’s brains are constantly developing and we need to do everything we can to help them develop the networks to retain the information we present to them.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Behaviorist Learning Theory with Instructional Strategies

Behaviorist learning theories have been and will be used in the classroom for years.  Using these theories and how in depth someone takes them depends of the instructional strategies used in the classroom.  In my classroom, I use many different instructional strategies because I teach technology and using the same methods over and over get boring for the students.  In turn this may cause them to become behavior problems.   I use mostly a project-based curriculum, therefore my instructional strategies are ones that get the students involved in what I am teaching them.  In the article, “the behaviourist orientation to learning”, James Hartley (1998) talks about for key principles to use when dealing with behaviorist theories (Smith, 1999).  First is that activity is important because learning is better when the learner is active rather than passive (Smith, 1999).  This is so true in my classroom.  I get many behaviorally challenged students in my classes because the guidance counselor has no where else to put them.  I find to have a better connection with these students because they are active in my room using there hands to build things. 

Also Hartley (1998) mentions that learning is helped when objectives are clear (Smith, 1999). When I am going over project and directions in my classroom, I make sure that the students know what the objectives are and what needs to get done.  Being I have been there for four years now, words travels, and I am starting to get students who know what my rules are and know not to break them.

Going through the text, I found that “Reinforcing Effort” seems to be a great strategy.  I find the connection made between the effort put forth in the chart and the grade at  the bottom to be a very real and eye opening way to show students that effort and grades are tied together.  Using that chart not only shows students that there behavior in the classroom effects there grade but it also gives them a small responsibility to be truthful in putting a number on there effort in class and also the responsibility of remembering to fill the chart in.  If a student happens to lie on the chart and ends up with a poor test grade, then it will not be hard to tell that they student is not being truthful.  This activity helps to add evidence that positive reinforcement in the behaviorist learning theories are important in the classroom.

After reading through the text on “Homework and Practice”, some very important ideas jumped out at me.  I have caught myself doing this and I would venture to say most teachers have, I assign homework and then either forget to check it, collect it and forget to grade it or even collect it and not even acknowledge it.  Once sentence that jumped off the page at me was “If homework is assigned, it should be commented on” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski, 2007).  If we are using behaviorist theories and providing positive reinforcement, how do we covey to our students that we “forgot” about the homework when them forgetting to do the homework may result in a punishment!

Another thing that stood out on the page was the fact that a homework policy needs to be established and assignments need to clearly articulate purpose (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski, 2007).  This also aligns with the ideas that Hartley (1998) presented.  He talked about how learning is helped when objectives are clear (Smith, 1999).  When we convey a clear concise message to our students about the assignments we want them to complete, there is no question that they know what to do and should be able to complete the assignment with no issues.

I feel that I have developed many good instructional strategies, which help bring certain aspects of the behaviorist learning theory into my classroom.  I am a big believer in positive reinforcement but also know there is a time and place for punishment.

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

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflection on Technology

As a technology teacher, I need to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest technologies.  Until this class I had never been exposed to blogs, wikis, or podcasts.  I have definitely become more in tune with technology.  I have been developing a website for my classroom, which I have included a blog for my students to use.  Before taking this class, I would never have thought of including a blog.  I feel that I have learned ways to use valuable tools to expand my teaching.  I am always looking for ways to improve my instruction and lessons.  Now having been introduced to blogs, wikis and podcasts, I can include them into my lessons.  My students will ultimately benefit because they will be getting the experience of using them.

I know that I cannot teach my students everything they need to know about technology and living in the 21st century.  The only thing that I can do is to make sure I use all of the technologies available to me to prepare my students.  They are being exposed to many technologies everyday even if they do not realize it.  Many times I have left school having learned something new taught to me by one of my students.  As much as I like to keep myself updated with technology, there is always something better and newer.  My students are so in tune with technology they teach me.

Ever since I took my methods class in college, I decided that I did not want to stand up in front of class and lecture all day long.  To me it gets old, boring and my students hate it.  Instead, I teach project-based learning.  I stand in front of class for 10 to 15 minutes just long enough to introduce the project and show my students what they need to do.  I feel, from personal experience, that my students develop a better connection with their teacher using project-based learning especially if you incorporate a technology that they are very familiar with.  I like to pick projects which will give my students the most benefit for instance in my construction class, I show my students how to frame up a wall for a house and we actually have a project doing that.  I have had multiple students and even a couple parents tell me that this project has come in handy at home.

I am constantly looking for new technologies and new ideas for my classroom.  I participate in professional development every year to help keep myself on top.  I attend a technology conference every year where I see the latest and greatest technologies for my classroom.  As I become more in tune with technology, so do my students.  They have to have the newest technologies that come out and then bring them in.  Student achievement is my number one concern, by teaching my students everything I can about technology and the 21st century skills needed for them to be successful, I will be ensuring that they will be prepared for what they will face after high school.

Going with the flow is a way that some teachers take to get through the school year.  By setting goals, we as teachers can become “expert” teachers.  Some of the long-term goals I have set for myself is to reach all of my students and to make sure they are successful.  Our students come from many different backgrounds and have many different learning abilities.  Trying to teach the information to all of them and having them all understand or grasp the concepts all at once is unheard of.  I need to develop a instructional strategy which will allow me to reach all of my students.  My second long-term goal is to develop my classroom website into a teaching resource.  I want my students to be able to go to my website to get any resources they need for my class.  I want to have my students constantly blogging about classes and working with each other on classroom assignments.

Referring back to the beginning checklist about technologies, I have been progressing.  I feel that in the next two years I will become a teacher who uses technology on a daily basis.  My students need to learn 21st century skills and using technology is one way of getting them these skills.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

21st Century Skills: Are Our Students Learning Them.

21st Century skills are what our students need in this day in age.  No one can predict what jobs will be available in 6, 7 or 10 years from now.  The only thing we can do is to prepare our students for what we think the future will hold.

The 21st century website was interesting to say the least.  I found it very informative.  I feel that the site contains a lot of very important information about the 21st century skills and what they involve.  I like how it goes through and gives you an outline of the student outcomes.  It also shows you the topics and ideas which should be taught for 21st century skills to be achieved.

What surprised me most about the site was that it listed all the states that have taken the initiative of implementing and setting up guidelines for the 21st century skills.  It is very encouraging to see the list of states.  I would hope that not long from now that list will have doubled.  Even though the economy is not great right now, there are still plenty of things we can do to help prepare our students for the 21st century.

What I did not like about the site was that it did not have any place to blog or post ideas.  We as educators are the greatest resource for ideas, projects and knowledge.  We should be contributing to the development of the 21st century skills.  The greatest asset we can provide is how we implement the lessons and ideas into our classrooms.  It is one thing to come up with what needs to be taught, but it is a whole different approach when actually implementing the ideas and seeing what works and what does not.  I did not necessarily disagree with any of the information on the website, however I do think that more could be added.  The possibilities are endless on the information that could be presented. 

Not only do I need to teach my students what they need to know to help them be successful contributing members of society and the workforce, but they also need to realize that it is not a one sided conversation.  We can teach them everything we know, show them a million different things, but if they do not realize how this is going to affect them and contribute then they will not succeed.  After I have gone over certain information numerous times, I tell them that it is the last time I am going over it so they better ask questions.  If they come up to me after I have finished going over it, I tell them to go ask a classmate.  By the second or third week of school they know to pay attention.

If our students do not get the necessary information and develop the necessary skills then they are going to far behind when they enter the real world after high school.  With all of the cell phones and computers, our students are developing there 21st century skills and might not even know it.  We need to elaborate and go above and beyond to teach them the necessary skills to be successful

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogs: Are They Useful In The Classroom and How Do We Use Them

I would use the blog in my classroom to get feedback from my students.  We create many projects in my wood shop class and I am always am in need of ideas for students projects.  I could use the blog to post different project ideas and get feedback from my students to see who is interested on doing that project.  I could set up a blog for each class and that way the students would be able to narrow there search for project ideas.

This blog would serve many purposes for my classes. It would allow my students to have a bigger part in the class.  They would be more involved and would be able to have a decision in what happens in the class.  By giving them more control over the curriculum in the class, in my feeling, they will be less of a behavioral problem.  I have tried to get my students involved in the class, more than just completing the assignments.  I have assigned student assistants for each class and those students come in during a study hall to help out my students on projects.

This is a place for students to interact about content.  They will be commenting  on project ideas and new topics that will be covered in class.  Some students will not have access to this blog at home so i will allow them some time during class or they will be allowed to blog during a study hall.

These blogs will help enhance my lessons greatly.  Getting my students actually involved in creating the lessons will help them learn the material.  It will make the lessons full of material that the students have decided on learning.

I teach grades 7-12.  In 7th and 8th grade, i have every student.  It is mandated by New York State.  In grades 9 thru 12 they have a choice whether to take my class or not.  I have to turn students away because i just cannot handle more than 18 students per class.

Blogs are great tools for instructional context because they allow for students to interact with each other and the teacher.  This is a great communication tool.  Some students might not be very active in class and this could be a place where they feel comfortable talking with each other.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Could We Be Relying to Heavily on Technology In Our Classrooms?

Technology in our classrooms allows us to teach our students using the resources we need to create successful learners.  In today's classrooms, everything is dependent on some sort of technology.  We take attendance on our computers, we input grades into our computers, we create lessons and worksheets on our computers, we even use computers to help teach our lessons.  We are so dependent on technology in our classrooms that I think some have lost sight of where we have come from.  The big question to ask is, What if we lost our technology and had to teach out of a book or using a chalk board? 

I use technology everyday in my classroom and in my personal life.  I could not imagine not having the use of my cell phone or my computer.  The point that I am trying to make is that we need to have a balance of technology use in our classrooms.  I feel that by over using technology we are showing our students that we need to rely on technology in our lives.  To a certain extent we do have to rely on technologies to help assist us in our daily lives.  We cannot solely rely on technology because if it were to fail then we would not know what to do.  I believe in showing my students some technologies but also showing them the skills they need to survive without using all of the technologies that have been created for us.  I like to have my students participate in many hands on activities such as building and drawing just so they can get a feel for what it is like.

I would like to know peoples thoughts on this.  Creating successful learners is our ultimate goal as an educator.  Do we use a balance of technology and hands on activities?  How do we know what the balance is?