This week’s resources have left me feeling disappointed in myself. At the start of the last school year I was involved and continue to be part of a technology grant my district received. At first, I was eager as could be. I created digital kits using inspiration. I had students using the document camera to share their work. I created concept maps as a partially filled note taking guide for my students. Basically most of the strategies we discussed this week were ones I tried, but have since thrown to the wayside. It is not rocket science to understand that students learn best when given these types of opportunities for learning, so why am I not teaching this way? I believe the lack of time to get through content has forced me to fall into bad teaching habits. For example, in fourth grade our students must master area and perimeter of a rhombus. Every year our students struggle to remember which the area is and which the perimeter is. My colleagues and I have spent a large amount of seat time teaching this concept, but to no avail, the percentage of fourth graders that passed this area on a district assessment was very low. Yesterday I decided to have them trace their feet and estimate the area and perimeter. Of course, one lesson my students enjoyed, and there was very little problem with recalling how to solve for area and perimeter or which one was which.
Dr. Orey mentioned Paivio’s dual coding hypothesis which is information being stored as text and images to improve memory (Laureate education, Inc., 2011). I could not agree more with this theory. My building has been working diligently for the last five years now to incorporate what we call visual vocabulary in every content area. The first few years we printed all the vocabulary, but lately many of us have used some type of software to present the vocabulary electronically. If I was queen of the world, I would have a classroom set of computers so my students could be responsible for creating the vocabulary presentations. As it stands now, I will attempt to have students work in small groups utilizing the few computers I have in my room in order to create a slide for a few vocabulary words from our reading unit. I plan to compare how the results on the final exam are affected by students creating their own.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.