Sunday, February 20, 2011

Final Reflection on Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology

My thoughts on Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology

Upon reflecting on my ‘personal theory of learning’ from week one, I have made a few adjustments to it. In week one of the course, I had my lesson plans focused on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, and was in the midst of creating a podcast for the grammar project my students were working on for Language Arts. I finally finished the podcast with my students ( and was pleased with its results. This course Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology has expanded my knowledge, and has taught me the optimal way to use technology in the classroom. The modifications that I have made to my personal theory of learning are that I plan to infuse the nine instructional strategies (by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, Jane E. Pollock) with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. This strategy will enhance my ‘personal theory of learning’, and help me move towards acquiring 21st century skills for my students.

The book that we used for this course Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works by Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., and Malenoski, K. has a wealth of resources on how technology can be integrated in the classroom. The videos by Dr. Orey and the online line book Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology are excellent ‘go to’ places to learn about technology integration. This course has certainly deepened my knowledge and understanding of the learning theory and the use of educational technologies in the classroom.

As this course ends, I reflect on the instructional practices, and the best way to integrate technology in the classroom. The one adjustment that I would make in my classroom is to make a conscious effort to integrate the instructional theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructionism, and Connectivism and Social Learning Theories in my teaching. I was not aware of all the benefits of these theories, and feel that it is important for a teacher to be aware of them while reaching out to their students. The book, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works explores instructional strategies and the best methods to integrate technology with these strategies. “Applied effectively, technology implementation not only increases student learning, understanding, and achievement but also augments motivation to learn, encourages collaborative learning, and supports the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Schacter & Fagnano, 1999).

In my classroom, I use a blog, a podcast, and a Voice Thread on a regular basis. The blog has assignments every week that students need to complete. The podcast that I created was on a grammar project ( and of the two Voice Threads, one is on the grammar project ( and the other is on a non-fiction research project ( Besides these technology tools, I would like to use a Wiki and PowerPoint presentations with my students. The Wiki would enable students to collaborate with one another and pool all their resources in one place. Students can create a Wiki for all the vocabulary words for every subject, and can divide the words so that each student would be responsible for a few vocabulary words that would be posted on the Wiki. In this manner, all the vocabulary words could be in one place for students to access at any time. This technology tool will help in constructivism, connectivism, social learning, and cooperative learning theories. The other tool that I would like to introduce to my third graders is how to create PowerPoint presentations for their projects. I also plan to create interactive PowerPoint presentations, embedded with web resources, on the smart board. This technology tool will help them to be creative and organize their thoughts on slides, while being a good visual tool for the visual learners.

My repertoire of instructional skills has expanded because of this course and I have a bag of tricks I can ‘go to’ for teaching my students. I have created a web library using Diigo ( and have organized all the important websites according to their categories for quick and easy access.

The two long term goals that I would like to implement for my instructional practice are ‘setting objectives and providing feedback’ and ‘summarizing and note taking.’ I do not currently use much of these instructional strategies with my students. The first step in embarking on my first long term goal of setting objectives and providing feedback would be to write down the objective of the lesson I am teaching my students on the board. The technology tool I would use for this would be to create a Rubric for the students to let them know what is expected of them. I would first explain to my third graders the importance of a rubric and then guide them in creating a rubric on Rubistar ( Once they have witnessed the process of creating a rubric, they will be able to understand the rationale behind using it. For providing feedback, I plan to grade their tests and projects in a timely manner, and give them positive comments on their work. In the classroom blog when students comment on each other’s work, I will make a conscious effort to respond to each child who has posted a comment. I realize that this instant feedback is essential for the students’ self-esteem and success. “Setting objectives establishes a direction for learning. Once students understand the parameters of an objective, they should brainstorm to determine what they know and what they want to learn. Specific, timely, and regular feedback to students enhances their learning. In addition, feedback should include an explanation of why an item is correct or incorrect and be criterion referenced. In other words, students should understand where they stand relative to a specific target of knowledge or skill” (Robert J. Marzano,

The second long term goal that I plan to implement for my instructional practice is summarizing and note taking skills for my students. I used a concept mapping tool- Inspiration with my students, but believe that they need more practice on this skill. They have to be guided on the proper method of summarizing and note taking strategies. By giving them more projects to work on in cooperative groups and use the concept mapping tool – Inspiration - my students would become more confident in this area. The article Integrating Technology into the Classroom using Instructional Strategies gives very good examples on how technology can be used for this strategy ( “Summarizing and note taking requires the ability to synthesize information. Students must be able to analyze information and organize it in a way that captures the main ideas and supporting details that are stated in their own words. Students can summarize information in different ways, including deleting information that is not important to the overall meaning of the text, substituting some information, and keeping some information. As students practice these strategies, it enhances their ability to understand specific content for learning” (Robert J. Marzano, This is an important skill for students to acquire and the more I practice with them the better they will get at it.

These seven weeks have been very interesting and rewarding for me. I have maintained a classroom blog, used the smart board on a regular basis, and made sure that my students participate in their learning process. Besides the blog, I have created a podcast and Voice Threads with my students. I know that all technology tools that I have implemented in my classroom are only a ‘drop in the bucket’ of immense possibilities I can implement with my students. I am looking forward to learning more ‘tricks of the trade’ as I proceed with my Masters degree.
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved on February 19, 2011 from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007).Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, Jane E. Pollock: Integrating Technology into the Classroom using Instructional Strategies: Classroom Instruction that works: Retrieved on February 19, 2011 from
Schacter, J., & Fagnano, C. (1999). Does computer technology improve student learning and achievement? How, when, and under what conditions? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(4), 329-343

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Voice Thread

My Voice Thread

I look forward to your comments on the concerns I mentioned on my Voice Thread. This was my first time using Voice Thread and I simply loved it!

 The URL to my Voice Thread is:

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual.


Social Learning
Social learning has always been around. We as individuals know very little of most things--only from our individual perspective. Thus, we are often like the blind men feeling an elephant and describing the parts they encounter--but never quite arriving at the whole. In discussion with others, the whole is gradually formed thus enabling us to view the entirety, and arrive at a "holistic understanding"--a much bandied about term. 

Connectivism and Social Learning Theories are inter-related. In order to understand the relation between them it is important to know their definition. “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired, and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. Also critical is the ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday” (Siemens, 2005, para. 24). The Social Learning Theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Bandura (1977) states: "Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action" (Bandura, A. 1977). The images that I posted on the blog explain the relationship between the Connectivism and Social Learning Theories. These days we are all ‘connected’ and access to information is very easy. When knowledge is acquired with ‘social interaction’ and collaboration, it is most beneficial.

Cooperative Learning is an excellent strategy for Social Learning Theories. Cooperative learning provides students with the opportunity to work in groups with their peers, either using technology or just an activity in the classroom. “The instructional strategy of cooperative learning focuses on having students interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning. When students work in cooperative groups, they make sense of, or construct meaning for, new knowledge by interacting with others.” (Johnson, Johnson, & Stanne, 2000). By helping each other with the projects or the assignments, students learn to communicate and work collaboratively.

Technology plays an important role in cooperative learning. It facilitates “group collaboration, proving structure for group task, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face” (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K). Connectivisim is a way for people to interact with each other on the internet to gain knowledge that is networked. Wikis and blogs are good examples of Connectivism and Social Learning. In a wiki, people collaborate and work cooperatively to gain knowledge or information. In the video Connectivism as a Learning Theory, George Siemens discusses Connectivism and describes how this theory meets the criteria for being a new theory of learning. According to him, Learning Theory has three roles; it explains how learning occurs, allows us to create future models of learning, and lastly, helps us to make sense of the present. I was very impressed with George Siemens’ explanation of Connectivism and the Learning Theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism and their relation to Connectivism. I agree with him that knowledge resides in connections and “Learning is an act of forming networks and navigating networks of knowledge” (Laureate, Education, Inc.).

I explored the Social Learning Based Technologies that were suggested in this week’s resources. Out of the six suggested social learning technologies that support and facilitate social learning approaches including communication, collaboration, and cooperation, I use four of them for ‘connecting’ with my peers and students. The first one is Facebook – social networking site. By using Facebook I am able to connect with my friends, teachers, and classmates in a social setting. We have many educational sites that are also connected to Facebook and share valuable information via a social setting. The second tool that I use with my students is Webquest. The third tool that I use regularly is Google Docs. Instead of using flash drives or e-mailing documents to each other, I use Google Docs with my grade level teachers to share information on lessons and documents. Lastly, the blogging site that I use everyday is Blogger (, instead of Edublogs). I maintain a classroom Blog and my students and I connect with each other every day. They post comments on the assigned work and I regularly comment back on their posts. This learning that they are able to accomplish after leaving their classroom is very exciting. Besides maintaining a blog, I Skype ( with different teachers around the country and my students love this experience. “Communicating with students in other cities, states, and countries broadens the perspective of students and challenges them to learn about other cultures, languages and issues throughout the world” (Pitler, H. et. al).

“Cooperative Learning promotes social interactions; thus students benefit in a number of ways from the social perspective. By having the students explain their reasoning and conclusions, cooperative learning helps develop oral communication skills” (Guinevere Palmer, Rachel Peters, Rebecca Streetman). Cooperative Learning is one of the instructional strategies that link with the principles of social learning theories and Connectivism. All the social learning based technologies of multimedia; web resources and communication software facilitate Cooperative Learning.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.
Guinevere Palmer, Rachel Peters, Rebecca Streetman: Cooperative Learning: Retrieved on January 31, 2011 from
Johnson, D.W., Johnson R.T.,& Stanne,M.B. (2000). Cooperative Learning Methods. A meta-analysis. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.
Laureate, Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Constructionist & Constructivist Learning Theory [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: George Siemens
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved on February 1, 2011 from