Throughout the last seven weeks my theory about learning has not changed much. I continue to follow a constructivist/constructionist approach in my room. What has changed is the way my students communicate their ideas with one another. This course deepened my understanding for the use of educational technologies, so now my students collaborate utilizing technology as a means of doing so.
This course brought to my attention the importance for students to not only lead conversations, but to be in charge of the tools used for sharing the information. So often I find myself using questions and cues in order to engage my students in conversation, but maybe the probing would be less if they were the ones interacting with the technology. Applied effectively, technology implementation not only increases student learning, understanding, and achievement but also augments motivation to learn, encourages collaborative learning, and supports the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Schacter & Fagnono, 1999). Some things I have already implemented in my classroom are the use of the student computer work stations. I have four work stations in my room and my students are never on them. I now have thirty minute rotations every day and students choosing to stay in at recess to use the computers. This is wonderful for two reasons; first, they are often reinforcing their math skills and secondly they are learning their way around a computer. So many of my students lack knowledge when is comes to even turning on a computer. My students also lead the lesson during our phonics lesson. At least six students a day are able to be in charge of the Mimeo Pad, leading our lesson.
Another tool I began teaching my students to use is VoiceThread.com. By uploading my students writing via the document camera, my students are able to use this site to provide peer feedback. This concept is very new to me, so I am learning right along with my students. My students are fully engaged and putting more effort into the comments. Generally, my students use vague statements, but the first time using VoiceThread.com many of them were very specific about what they noticed.
During this course nine specific instructional strategies were focused on. The strategies were no surprise nor should they be. Although, the way in which I used or presented the strategies have altered throughout the course. For example, cooperative grouping is very present in my classroom, but prior to this course I did not have groups collaborating via technology. Summarizing and note taking is another huge skill fourth graders are responsible for learning to do well. Doing a jigsaw and having students input information using concept maps was very effective.
Although, I believe technology can enhance a student’s learning, I have to be realistic with what and how often I can incorporate it into my lessons. As it is, I feel I would have my students using more technology if it was more assessable and there was more time. Realizing that is a hindrance, I still have a couple of goals in mind. First of all I would like to plan a few of my lessons to incorporate enough time to change them from a regular paper pencil format to an electronic format. One idea I have is for my students to build a Wiki page for an ABC book I have my students do every year as a culminating project for Washington State History. Usually my students are put in groups of two or three and they are responsible for building an interesting fact page connecting to a particular letter of the alphabet. Technology supports the cognitive system by helping students to comprehend, apply and recall concepts (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). My hopes is by creating Wiki pages, we can build an ABC book on-line allowing other classrooms, friends, and families the opportunity to take a look. Also, for students that have access to computers at home to work collaboratively outside of school.
A second goal in which I have already been working on is getting my students familiar with their Gaggle accounts my district has set up for them. Gaggle is another social networking site, but it is very safe with all the controls our district has instated. Social networking opens up opportunities for my students to communicate with anyone anywhere. As they get older, they will learn to access information using these types of sites. For now, I would like my students to learn safe use of social sites and basic knowledge of use. Next week I plan to get them all in the lab and give a quick introduction to the site. By the second week I plan to post a question they must respond to. My desire is they will keep using their accounts and become familiar enough they branch out and try other applications the account has to offer. My students will have access to these same accounts all the way through their senior year if they stay in the same district. Many of their future teachers require their students to use some of the others apps I am wanting my students to just play around with at this point.
Overall, this course has stretched my technology ability more than I ever imagined it would. There are so many resources available that I was never aware of eight weeks ago. Honestly, I am curious if any other course can peak my interest as much as this one did.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). What Will Students Learn?. Using technology with classroom instruction that works (p. 3). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ;.
Schacter, J., & Fagnano, C. (1999). Does computer technology improve student learning and achievement? How, when, and under what conditions? Journal of Education Computing Research, 20(4), 329-343.