Monday, October 24, 2011

Final Reflection

As far as my personal theory or model of how students learn I said at the beginning of the class I firmly believe in repetition, collaboration and adapting lessons to meet the different learning styles. I feel this class helped strengthen the methods and strategies that I use to meet the needs of all my students. It also helped me discover new methods, and definitely new technologies that will help me meet all students’ needs.  Reading and reflecting on the new strategies and how to integrate them with technology really helped me see how the learning theories, strategies and technology all work together so that I could start producing lessons with all three of these components included (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Before, I would think of these three components as separate and producing different results, but now I can see how they all work hand in hand with each other. I also was able to see what a big part the social learning theory has to do with my personal learning theory because I believe collaboration is such a strong influence on how a student learns (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). 

One of the biggest immediate adjustments I will make to my instructional practice regarding technology integration after completing this course is I will be online looking for more resources to use in my classroom or to help my teaching partners. I am very excited to get more resources for the interactive whiteboard as well.  One of the technology tools that I would like to use with my students is the virtual field trip. My students come from low socioeconomic families and their ability to get out and travel to places very far away is very limited. This makes my job of bringing the outside world in to the classroom that much more important. With a virtual field trip I do not have to worry about permission slips, kids being absent or even finding the money for the field trip. With technology improving more and more each day the field trips that are available online will only get better as well. The other technology tool that I am excited to use is the concept map. The concept map not only goes hand in hand with the virtual field trip, but it also helps get the students exposed to organizing their thinking and learning on the computer. There are so many complex concepts in science and social studies that can easily understood when they are laid out in an organized fashion. For my three major science units of ecosystems, land and water and motion and design I plan on finding virtual field trips that accompany them and concept maps to help the students follow their learning. My repertoire of instructional skills as a result of this course has expanded quite a bit now. More importantly I now know that the instructional strategies that I already feel comfortable with can be integrated with technology easily and efficiently.  I think using the basic instructional strategies that all teachers should know and master is very important, but with today’s changing technological advances it is also very important for teachers to prepare their students for the technology filled world.

            One of my long term goals is I would like to make sure that I use my interactive whiteboard at least once a week to show something to my students or to work with my students. The second part of this goal is to make sure that once a week I allow the students to use the whiteboard on their own. As the months go on in the school year I would like to increase the time I use and the time my students use the whiteboard each week. I plan on taking more time looking up resources that I can use the whiteboard with and fitting them into my lessons. I will add a spot in my lesson plans to fill in an activity each day for using the whiteboard to help achieve my goal.

My other long term goal is finding or even creating my own virtual field trips. I would like to link them all to my science units because I know that I have a big responsibility to bring the outside world in to my classroom for my students. I know that virtual field trips are still pretty new so I am thinking that it would be helpful and even fun if I was to make my own virtual field trips.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Voice Thread

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

After reading the chapter in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I discovered some great examples to use in my science classroom when it comes to grouping, but also found many ways in which, “Cooperative Learning” shares common themes with the social learning theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).
Dr. Orey discusses the strategy called “Jigsaw” where students are randomly grouped for a cooperative learning experience (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  In the chapter on cooperative learning one of the generalizations states, “Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly” and with the strategy of jigsaw this helps alleviate the ability grouping each time (Pitler et al., 2007).  Another generalization states, “Cooperative learning groups should be rather small in size,” this is important to the social learning theory because with this theory the students each need to have a say and feel like they are involved with creating the artifact (Pitler et al., 2007). When groups get too big there are more opportunities for students’ voices to get lost and students lose the benefit of working with others. One way in which I use cooperative learning and also tap into the social learning theory is with expert groups in my classroom.  We have four kids in each of our six table groups. I call each of the number ones back separately, all the number twos, all the number threes and finally all the number fours. Each number gets taught by me about a certain subject. In this unit I am doing right now it is ecosystems. My number ones come back and learn about pond ecosystems, number twos about river ecosystems, number threes about the steppe ecosystem and number fours become an expert on the Blue Mountain ecosystem. These students then go back and teach the rest of their group members. Finally, as a class we all come together and I randomly pick students to give me an answer that will fill in the table I have up on the wall. I can call on any student and they get points for a right answer to fill in the table so this makes it so everyone at the table is held accountable. This strategy is very useful because all my students are ELL and they really need that practice to just use the English language. It is also beneficial for the students because they get to interact with each other and they can ask their “expert” if they have questions on the topic.           
In order to really take these expert groups and turn them into a real cooperative learning experience I could create a rubric for the students to grade themselves at the end of the unit. The rubric, like it states in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, would have to include how the students felt they worked as a team (Pitler et al., 2007). This would rubric would really help keep the students focused on how they were being graded, what was expected of them and how to be a successful member of a team, a very important 21st century skill.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

After reading the chapter in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I discovered some great examples to use in my science classroom, but also found many ways in which, “Generating and Testing Hypotheses” share common themes with the constructivism theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
            There are many kinds of generating and testing hypotheses, but the one that stuck out to me most of all was the experimental inquiry section because I am 5th grade teacher solely responsible for teaching all the students the science curriculum.  My days are filled with science phenomenon explanations and inquiry tasks. Many students struggle not with the questioning and hypothesis part of inquiry, but with the conclusion writing section and pairing it with their data.  One way in which the book talks about producing data tables and graphs is by using spreadsheet software, like Excel (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  One of the biggest projects that my students will prepare this year is a science board for our school’s science fair. This idea of creating a science board goes along perfectly with the constructivism model that says students need to create an artifact (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). Our school’s science fair will also be part of the Super Science Symposium that our PTA puts on towards the end of the year. At this event we have volunteers from the community come in for a night to go over different science concepts with all of our students and their families. One of the ideas that I have for this year is to have the 5th grade students present their science boards to other students and their families as part of the final project requirements. This way, students will not only create an artifact, but also have to talk about it and answer questions about it to other students and their families. These science boards will contain printouts and graphs that the students make on the computer based on their results and data. In this one project students have learned many valuable lessons about creating and showcasing their knowledge in an organized manner.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cognitivism in Practice

After reviewing the chapters in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I was able to see how “Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers” and “Summarizing and Note Taking” share common themes with the cognitivism theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
            As far as the, “Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers” chapter goes it is clear to see that the concept mapping tool would be perfect to help students organize their thoughts and thinking (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). As Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski state, “Advance organizers are structures that teachers provide to students before a learning activity to help them classify and make sense of the content they’ll encounter” (2007). This made me think back to my idea of having one big concept map that I had created for planning purposes and cutting it up into the different bubbles so that my students, at the beginning of a unit, could work as a group to put the concept map back together in a way that made sense to them. For example, in my concept map on ecosystems I used the terms herbivores, omnivores and carnivores so it would be good for me as a teacher to see which students knew those terms were connected. The cognitive theory is all about how we as learners take in information and organize it in our brains. A concept map is just a visual aid showing what is in our brains.
            As far as the, “Summarizing and Note Taking” chapter goes I believe that students can not only gain a lot from just watching the virtual field trips, but also taking notes on the virtual field trip and taking note of information that stuck out at them. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski discuss how this strategy is, “enhancing students’ ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form” (2007). This again goes hand in hand with the cognitive theory since it is asking the students to put the new information into an organized manner so that they better understand it and can access it better when needed. In the video on virtual field trips, the teacher used the virtual field trip of Ford’s Theatre to summarize and go over information the students had already learned about the assassination of Lincoln (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).
            Both of these strategies along with concept mapping and virtual field trips provide students with many avenues to help organize their thinking and learning new information.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Behaviorism In Practice

After reviewing the chapters in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I found not only some great ideas to use in my own classroom, but also many ways in which, “Reinforcing Effort” and “Homework and Practice” share common themes with the behaviorist theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
            First, for “Reinforcing Effort” I really liked the idea of a student created rubric and spreadsheet to help keep track of the effort they gave on a particular unit. Then it even went as far as to compare the effort they gave each unit to the score they received on that unit’s assessment. I teach 5th grade and I know how hard it can be to convince a student to just try and work hard to do their best. If they were able to see what a pay off putting more effort into their schoolwork could do to their grades I think a lot more of them would be easily convinced.  I believe that doing an activity like this goes along well with the behaviorist theory on reinforcement of behaviors that are favorable; in this case higher test scores. Most importantly is that this can be an intrinsic reinforcement because it was up to the student to grade how much effort they put into the unit and to compare that to their test score.
            As I was reading the chapter on, “Homework and Practice” I started to think about the generalization it listed, “If homework is assigned, it should be commented upon” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). This statement reminded me a lot of the behaviorist theory because if the homework was never graded, checked-off or commented on then the student would learn that there was no reinforcement or punishment for either getting the homework completed or not having it completed. Also going along with the behaviorist model is the, “drill and practice” part of a student learning (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011).  Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski discuss the importance of students being able to learn a new skill, get guided practice and then have more individual time to really gain a full understanding of the new concept. With all the new technology coming out today students need to be able to use it properly. Even learning a new skill on the computer takes many repetitions to master. There is positive reinforcement involved since it creates a desired result for the user when they get the process right.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program three: Instructional theory vs. learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Final Class Blog Post

             As I have completed my master’s class of Impact of Technology on Education, Work and Society I have found that I have learned a lot about myself as a teacher and technology user. First of all this class has helped me by putting me outside my comfort zone with some technology uses. I now have a blog and I cannot believe it! I never imagined that I would have a blog, especially not one for school! I am enjoying using the blog and seeing the helpful comments people write back to me. I believe that blogging can be a very useful tool to teachers who may not necessary teach in the same building or same district, but still have similar situations that they could benefit from having a group of peers to discuss it with. I had the opportunity to work with a group of classmates from Walden University in a wiki group and that was extremely helpful to see and go through that process as well. I had thought it might be really helpful for a district to set up a wiki for each grade level that takes the state test so that teachers from all over the district could go on there and share ideas of how they are helping prepare their students for the test. Just last year it became apparent how disconnected our district was just in the 5th grade team because some schools had updated information on the test and some had helpful ways of prepping their students and no way to share it with the rest of the district.

            This course has helped deepen my understanding of the teaching and learning process because it has made me really open my eyes to what technology is out there and how I can start to integrate it into my classroom. You cannot just take a new piece of technology, start using it in your classroom and say that is the best use of that technology. You will have to talk to people about its’ uses, try it in a few different lessons, try it with a few different content areas and be willing to change it up every time you use it. Just like with a new lesson that has never been tried before, you have to be willing to be flexible and if the lesson goes completely astray be ready to can the whole lesson and try something else.

I do not believe that I have changed much from being teacher-centered to learner-centered because my school and district has always been strong in allowing kids to learn together, work together and talk together so the focus was off of me the teacher to be leading everything from the beginning. With so many technological advances though coming up in our world I can see how I will have to be more aware than ever of the learning styles of my students and how I can best use technology to help them be as successful as possible.

The best way I can continue to expand my knowledge of learning, teaching and leading with technology to help my students is to continue to be a lifelong learner. I believe I signed on to be a lifelong learner the moment I decided to become a teacher, but today it has become even more important to stay up to date on the new advances in technology, how our students view and use technology and how we can best incorporate technology into our classrooms to better prepare our students for life after school.

One of my goals within two years is to create a blog for the state test for my district. This blog will be managed by me, but it will have the ability to have anyone share helpful information, strategies or ideas with other teachers about the test. My school found out a really helpful strategy for taking the test a few days before we were scheduled to have our students take the test so it was too late to teach it to our students, but that made it apparent to me that there has to be something in place where teachers can share and collaborate online even if they are from the same district because there is just not enough time in the day to talk with people from all the buildings. With the blog they can do it from home and on their own time as well. My second goal is to apply for a technology grant and purchase a set of clickers that I can use to help informally assess my students throughout the day and throughout various units. I have seen how useful these tools can be and I want to be able to show other teachers that technology is not scary and can be extremely useful.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review of, "Partnership for 21st-Century Skills"

As I began to review the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills I was very impressed that this is an organization fully committed to fulfilling the needs of all the students in our schools technologically so that they can become a competitive and successful adult. I really liked how there were many opportunities for people visiting the site to see the latest news and events that have gone on all of the United States that have to do with technology and 21st century skills. It was impressive that there were even opportunities for visitors to review a broadcast of a talk radio show if you had missed the initial one. Looking at the overview and framework for 21st century learning was very informative and I really liked what it stood for. The framework not only stated what the students would learn, but also the means the educators would use to help students learn all these new skills. I liked how the core subjects are all supported by technology and information skills, learning and innovation skills and life and career skills.  Core subjects are important, but they are not the end all to helping prepare our students for life as an adult; especially in a competitive workforce. One of the parts of this organization that I struggled to understand is that not all fifty states were part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I do understand that they would need the state and the government officials to buy into their program to be truly successful, but I also think that we have students in every state that deserve the help this program can offer.  I believe it should be that all states are part of this organization and they have the option to opt out each year, but not have to earn their way in first. Most of all this website offers great tools and publications that can help me as an educator in today's world to better educate and prepare my students for the 21st century.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Integrating Blogs in the Classroom

My idea for how to integrate a blog into my 5th grade classroom would be to let all my students have access to posting comments and sharing their learning with not only their parents, but also make it sort of an online pen pal with another 5th grade class in another state. This way the students can see how their communities, schools and states are similar and different. With a mail pen pal it takes quite a bit of time to receive a letter and to get a letter in return, this way when the students go to their computer lab or access it online they can see instant posts and comments. I could use this blog to give my students a grade on their writing and communication skills. We could also use it to study our social studies and do research about our area to share with our pen pals or look up information on their state so we would know more about them.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My After School Program

I also run a non-profit organization in the Tri-Cities. It is based off of a program started in California by Olympic Beach Volleyball Gold Medal Winner Eric Fonoimoana. It is an after school program that teaches kids the importance of education through the love of volleyball and mentoring. Please check out my website to learn more. Also you can visit Eric's site.

My site:

Eric's site:

Hi and Welcome to My Blog

I am currently a 5th grade teacher in Washington State and my school is unique in the fact that we are the only one in the district that serves three languages, English, Spanish and Russian.  I have had the opportunity to teach bilingual students and classes, even though I am not technically bilingual. This has been a challenging last 5 years of my career, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and teach so many great students of different cultures.  This coming year I will be teaching the only mainstream 5th grade class of 29 students so I know I will have my hands full, but look forward to the challenge.
I am also taking classes this summer that will help me reach my goal of earning my Master's degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. I hope to learn about many opportunities to help my district, school and students integrate technology into their lives.