As I reflect on my “Personal Theory of Learning” from the first week of class, I find that I can confirm my personal learning theory is a combination of the four learning theories. Each learning theory is important when considering the diverse group of students in a classroom and each theory has its advantages. Even though I was familiar with all the learning theories and knew that it is important to use a variety of ways to teach my students, I now have a deeper understanding how each learning theory helps my students to gain knowledge of the concepts that I am teaching. A main thread that I noticed within each learning theory is to keep students active in their learning process. This course has also helped me to see how I can use the learning theories and incorporate technology to enhance and engage my students in their own learning.
One of the immediate responses to this course that I am implementing in my classroom is examining how I am incorporating technology into the curriculum. Dr. Orey discusses how technology can be an instructional tool or a learning tool. Technology as an instructional tool is when the teacher presents information to the students. Technology as a learning tool is actively engaging students in the use of the technology (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). Even though using technology as an instructional tool has its place, using technology as a learning tool is more powerful and the most effective way to incorporate technology. I have already begun to examine how I implement technology in my classroom and insure that it is mainly used as a learning tool for my students. Technology as a learning tool insures that my students are actively engaged in their learning.
One technology tool that I plan to use with my students is a wiki. Wikis provide an opportunity for students to work collaboratively on a project while allowing the teacher to see who is contributing to the project. This tool will encourage my students to interact with each other to enhance their learning. Using a wiki has the students synthesizing information and then stating the information in their own words, a cognitive instructional strategy (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). It also has the students using multiple senses to gather, manipulate, store, and use information.
Another technology tool that I plan to use this year is both a classroom blog and individual blogs. I already use a classroom blog to keep my students’ friends and family updated on what is happening in third grade. Students take turns to analyze what we did all week and then summarize the important activities. However, in the past, I have had the students dictate to me what to write and then I type their responses. This year I have given my students more control. I give them time to type their responses and then I go over what they typed and help them to see any changes, additions, or deletions they need to make. I am also going a step further and using blogs for journaling and story writing. Blogs are a great way to involve others outside of the group to help critique, evaluate, or even leave a comment about a group’s project. That can include other students, teachers, family, friends, or even experts from around the world.
This course has provided me with numerous technology tools to incorporate into my lessons that will engage and motivate my students in their learning. So numerous, that at times I have become overwhelmed trying to explore all the options. To alleviate the stress of feeling like I have to know it all, one of my long-term goals is to gradually implement the various technology tools that I have been introduced too. I have made a list of all the tools and websites that I want to explore in more depth. I then plan to work on incorporating two technology tools at a time. Once I can implement them well, I then will explore more options to incorporate into the curriculum. I am sure that some of the instructional technology tools will take longer to feel comfortable with while others will be a bit easier.
Another long-term goal is to keep learning about how to integrate technology until it is a natural integration in my classroom. As I become more comfortable with technology and how to use it to actively involve my students, technology will become an integral part of our daily learning. Right now, at times, I feel like it is a forced integration versus a smooth, automatic response to our classroom learning. As I continue to work on my masters program through Walden University, use the expertise and support of my colleagues, and continue my own life-long learning, I will strive to achieve a 21st century classroom that helps prepare my students to be productive citizens of society.
As we learn more about how students learn and with the constant changes and the ever-increasing usage of technology, this will change the teacher-directed instruction to more student-driven projects using technology. Most students are already using technology but educators must teach them how to use it safely and appropriately from a learning/educational aspect. Not only does technology make the subject matter more fun for the students but it keeps their focus and interest too. It also provides them a variety of ways to learn the material. It is important for educators to prepare students for the changing world of technology, so they can be productive and lifelong learners.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011d). 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
Pitler, Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.