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.


  1. I agree with you, there are a number of different ways in which we can get students to put things in their long term memory. For example teaching students the topic parts of a book, I realize that I can get my students to remember if I make a song listing each part. All I have to do not is begin the song and they will start telling my each part and it function.
    Students also remember when they can associate what they are presently learning with real like experiences. As a result I compare the book to the body, the back bone the spine and each part of the body is used to identify a part and its characteristics.
    I have to teach my students to summarize as well, when I am teaching history I have to play different games in an effort to get them to remember the dates. As a result I use a lot of concept maps to help students remember. For example when I say Christopher Columbus, a number of different things should come to mind. I realize that when I do this my students retain information longer. I don’t only use the person name, in some cases I would get a picture of the person or even we will be discussing.
    It is not hard to get students to remember what we want them to once we use the right methods that appeal to them.

  2. Ben,
    Many times when I have read something that is difficult for me to understand. I find that I will read it several times until I have made sense of what the text is presenting. I like that you summarize the information you have read. Do you model this with your students as well and have them practice summarizing, too?

  3. Ben,
    It’s best to see what background information students have about a topic before trying to teach the concept. Last year I was introducing the concept high tide and low tide. I gave an example about the water at the beach and I notice that my students looked puzzled. I then ask have anyone ever been to the beach and everyone said no. The beaches are about 2 ½ -3 hrs away. Going to the beach is a popular thing in my area for middle class people. After thinking about my student background I understood why they haven’t been. I was able to find a video that explain high and low tide. The following day I did an experiment to simulate what happens at the beach during high and low tide. The students were able to understand the information because it was presented by a video with diagrams and an experiment.
    Alicia R.

  4. Marisa
    Yes i practice and model this for my students. I have them summarize what we are learning so that they can retain the information better.