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