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 (http://preetisingh.podbean.com/grammar-and-language-arts/) 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 (http://preetisingh.podbean.com/grammar-and-language-arts/) and of the two Voice Threads, one is on the grammar project (voicethread.com/share/1708412/) and the other is on a non-fiction research project (voicethread.com/share/1741539/). 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 (http://www.diigo.com/user/psingh65) 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 (http://rubistar.4teachers.org/). 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, et.al).
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 (http://www.tltguide.ccsd.k12.co.us/instructional_tools/Strategies/Strategies.html). “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, et.al). 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 http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007).Using technology with classroom instruction that works.
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 http://www.tltguide.ccsd.k12.co.us/instructional_tools/Strategies/Strategies.html
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