Saturday, May 29, 2010

Constructivism in Practice

The principle behind constructivism is that students actively construct their own knowledge . Teachers act as facillitators by providing students with the necessary resources and guidance. One of this week's readings focused on different tasks that can be used in the classroom which would have students generating and testing hypotheses. This fits well into the constructionist/constructivist model and is well supported by the use of technology. Students can use internet resources to gather factual knowledge and data on which they will base their hypotheses. Data can be organized and displayed in spreadsheets. Finally, with the help of interactive applets and simulations, students can test the hypotheses they make and draw conclusions based on the results. Students can then use whatever means of displaying their results that suits them, perhaps in a blog or power point format with charts and graphs or even in a video, showing and explaining the processes that were carried out. The end result would be students actively engaged in analyizing, using and conveying knowledge in a way that makes sense to them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cognitivism in Practice

Cognitive learning theories center around how we actually learn and remember things as opposed to the behaviorist theories which focus on why, or the motivation behind learning. In order for information to be sent to long-term memory and then remembered or retrieved when needed, connections need to be made. The more connections to a piece of infomation, the the more ways we have of retrieving it. Technologies such as word processing applications, concept maps, wikis, blogs, podcasts, virtual field trips, are all ways of helping students make multiple connections to the concepts they are learning. These strategies take advantage of episodic memory as students can connect the actual experiences of creating and being involved in their learning to the information teachers want them to remember. They also help provide students with visual connections. I think the biggest advantage to having such a variety of technologies available is that it allows students to make connections that work for them. Teachers can give students access to these tools and instruction in how to use them and then let students gradually become more and more responsible for their own learning by finding out what works for them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

As I stated in my earlier posts, this blog was created for a course I'm taking towards my Master's Degree. As you can see, I haven't made a post in several months. I am a very reluctant writer (I teach math) but I do enjoy the informal nature of the blog. This informality will allow me to share some exciting news with those of you that happen upon my page; I was granted tenure this week!
So on to behaviorism. The principles behind behaviorism are pretty simple; reinforce positive behavior and punish undesireable behavior. To me, this means providing students with well defined, obtainable, yet challenging, goals, then giving them plenty of support and opportunities to be successful, and finally rewarding them with positive feedback and a good grade. Direct instruction, which I typically use in my classes, ties in well with the behaviorist theory and works especially well in learning and teaching math. Math is a skill that needs to be practiced. I need to keep close tabs on the work my students are doing in class to make sure they are doing the problems correctly. No student wants to complete 10 math problems and then be told they did every one wrong. Frequent, positive and encouraging feedback is necessary if I want my students to not just stay on task but to take risks and try problems that may be a bit of a challenge for them.