In the beginning of this class I felt that students learn best when they can relate to their learning and are able to be actively involved in the process. After reading and learning more details about different learning theories and strategies, my belief still holds true. The only thing that has changed from my studies is my perspective about the use of technology devices more for learning tools and less for instructional tools. Students of today are wired differently than those a decade ago. In order to produce effective, successful students, educators must adapt classroom instruction to fit this changing world. Students today are accustomed to working with computers and other digital devices which give immediate feedback and they expect the same from their classroom assignments. Therefore, successful teachers are willing to learn about these new devices and modify their strategies to incorporate them into the curriculum.
I have had strong feelings about the use of technology in education for several years. As an educator I have made it a point to try to learn at least one new device or strategy to incorporate each year since. This course has helped me to improve even more as an educator. In the past I generally used these devices as instructional tools instead of learning tools (Laureate Education Inc., 2011b).According to Dr. Orey, if educators expect today’s students to be motivated during the learning process then they need to ensure that the student is actively involved. One way to achieve this desire is to allow students to use technology as they are learning. It becomes a tool for learning and not just for teacher demonstrations. Smart Boards are more than projectors; they are tools that get students engaged in the learning process when used properly. Like computers, the tax payers’ money has purchased them and they must be used to improve the education of our children, not just a toy for teachers to play with.
A second aspect of my teaching strategies that has been affected by recent studies is the use of dual coding (Laureate Education Inc., 2011b). I have used many Power Points and other Word documents as instructional tools in past years. Understanding the impact of incorporating more pictures into these tools will make the use of these tools more effective. Students will be able to relate the text to the accompanying picture. As Dr. Orey suggested when he described the difference between constructionist and constructivist theories (Laureate Education Inc., 2001a) students have different experiences that they bring into the classroom. These experiences can have an effect on how they perceive new information. When educators are able to include pictures, it enables the student to connect accurately to ensure they are able to visualize the concept. Using visual learning strategies within curriculum helps the student structure their thoughts and make connections to content (O’Bannon, et.al, 2006). It also helps overcome the obstacles caused by language barriers and reading ability in subjects that are not dependent on reading comprehension. As I work to use more technology within my instruction I plan to modify old presentations to not only be more student friendly but also to include more pictures to aid in the learning process.
There are multiple instructional strategies that have proven to be effective in the classroom. Incorporating technology into these strategies makes them more successful because it helps prepare our students for the competition of the twenty-first century workforce. Two strategies I plan to work to enhance in my instruction this year are: cooperative learning and summarizing and note taking. In order for students to become effective leaners, they need to be able to summarize their learning by being able to delete unnecessary information while focusing on the important facts (Pitler, et. al., 2007 p. 119). This is a new skill for my third graders. However, teaching them to effectively summarize their learning will help make them more successful in the future. It will help them be able to organize their learning. This strategy is difficult for them to accomplish at this age therefore I am also working to improve the effectiveness of cooperative learning within my classroom (Pilter, et. al., 2007 p. 139). While using cooperative groups students must understand the expectations of each individual learner. Students also learn when they have to “teach” another student. Using cooperative learning activities within the classroom will help improve the learning process.
As I work to improve my classroom instruction I have set two personal goals. I want to move from a more direct instruction classroom to a more student centered classroom. I not only want to move from using technology as an instructional tool to a learning tool, but I also want to hold my students more accountable for their learning. I want to become more of a facilitator and allow the students to learn more through doing and sharing amongst themselves. In order to accomplish this I must learn how to use technology tools more efficiently. That means taking time to practice and learn how the tools work. One tool I plan to use more is virtual field trips. Due to budget cuts, taking trips has become a difficult task. A second goal I have set is incorporated into the first: use more variety of technology in the classroom. I have used a few different tools in the past. Now that I have increased my knowledge in the types of technology available and how to use them within the curriculum, I plan to share them with my students. Students today have no fear and are willing to experiment on the computer freely. When they do so without adult guidance, it can lead to its misuse. I believe if I can at least give them some directed instruction in a wide variety of technology tools and how to use them to create an artifact, then they will have a heads up in the right direction. They will have an experience to relate to the next time they have to choose a method to present a project. By setting personal goals I will be able to improve my classroom instruction in order to produce more effective life-long learners.
This course has been very enlightening for me. I have learned more than I know what to do with right now. Focusing on one or two methods to improve on at a time will help me become a more efficient teacher. I want my students to not only experience success within my classroom but also in the real world when they leave. Incorporating more technology into the classroom is a step in the right direction.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program thirteen: Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
O’Bannon, B., Puckett, K., & Rakes, G. (2006). Using Technology to Support Visual Learning Strategies. Retrieved from http://www.hawthornepres.com/web/CITS.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.