It’s a new adventure!

I am one and a half weeks into another class in my “Technology in the Classroom” Masters program.  This class is called “Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology” and I am excited because it looks to be a good review of learning theories that I haven’t revisited since my undergraduate program and it also will address how to support best teaching and learning practices with the latest in technological resources.

This week’s resources dealt mainly with the behaviorist learning theory, which basically states that learning occurs when a certain behavior is rewarded or reinforced (also called operant conditioning).  On the other hand, punishment decreases the likelihood that a behavior/learning will reoccur.  I believe, as does Dr. Orey (Laureate, 2011), that positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment in achieving and maintaining a positive, successful, classroom atmosphere.

Other resources I read this week also correlate to the principles of this learning theory.  In chapter 8 of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works”, the authors discuss and suggest the use of spreadsheet software or other data collection tools (such as Survey Monkey) to track effort and achievement in the classroom (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  I do explicitly teach my students about the importance of effort, along with a number of other important learner attributes and attitudes.  I have been looking more into how growth and performance in this area (particularly in behavior and work habits) can be tracked over time for positive reinforcement.  Recently, I have become aware of a free online program called “Class Dojo (classdojo.com)” that I would like to try.  It is a behavior management software program that helps teachers keep track of various desired behaviors and provides instant recognition in class.  There is a shorter time between an action and feedback, which leads to greater reinforcement.

I also agree with the authors of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works” that assigned homework and skill practice should be purposeful, focused on specific elements, and supported with feedback from the teacher (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  I have been experimenting this year with various online programs that I think fulfill these requirements and have had various levels of success with them.  One of the most effective programs I have found so far has been Khan Academy (khanacademy.org).  It is a engaging program that covers subject from math to history.  Students receive positive reinforcement by earning points and badges.  My students have really enjoyed this program and I have seen significant improvements in effort and learning with its use in the classroom and at home.

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program four: Behaviorist learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory,  instruction and technology. Retrieved fromhttp://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

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

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8 Responses to It’s a new adventure!

  1. Mark Fisher says:

    I like the website you found, “Class Dojo.” It is a lot like the “clip system” that many of the elementary teachers have been talking about using, as well as was mentioned by Dr. Orey in the video resource you cited in your post. I like how you can give students the instant feedback with the technology, you can even use your smartphone as a sort of remote control for the program, you can give points for both positive and negative actions, and that the point values have categories. I thought it was great how you could chart students’ behaviors and e-mail them home as well. My only question, and maybe I missed this on the site, is how you might also utilize punishments or rewards for students in class, similar to the “clip system?” Thank you for sharing the website.

    Mark Fisher

    • butkusfamily says:

      Isn’t it a great idea? Wish I would have thought of it first! It is a relatively new program, so my guess is that they will be adding more features to it over time. I am hoping to start using it by next fall. My guess about the punishments and rewards is that the teacher will probably need to come up with a system… so many points for a reward (individual or group) or something like that. I would probably only use it for positive feedback.

      • Mark Fisher says:

        I agree it’s an excellent idea. I would think it would be pretty easy to come up with a system of rewards, etc. too. I’ll have to play around with it more and see what you can do with it. Again, thanks for the resource!

  2. Jodi Cain says:

    I have never heard of Classdojo before. I am interested in looking into that site further. I have started to realized that effort is something that should be more intentionally taught in the classroom. Over the past two years, I have assumed that my students understand the correlation between their effort and performance, but I think that they do not fully understand the relationship between the effort they put into their work and the end result. Perhaps using an online tool to record behaviors would help reinforce the importance of effort in class.

    I did look into the Khan Academy site you mentioned this week. I thought the varied lessons for enrichment and reinforcement would benefit students in many ways. It definitely would fall into a behaviorist type reinforcement program as described in this week’s learning resources.

    • butkusfamily says:

      Khan is a great site and I am just beginning to understand all that it can do! It will let you “coach” individual students and it tracks their progress closely… you can even see specific questions that students are having trouble with so that you can be more specific with your instruction. Pretty cool!
      When I saw Sal Khan last weekend, I was struck by how powerful this program could be for kids in poverty or under social constraints (girls, in particular) where a good education isn’t attainable. With access to a computerized device (it doesn’t have to connect to streaming as each video can be downloaded), kids all over the world can have access to learning (they are working on translating the videos into multiple languages)!

  3. Jodi Cain says:

    That had to be a powerful professional development! It is nice it doesn’t need internet capabiliites to work.

  4. Be sure to explore and use the coaching mode in Khan Academy. The diagnostics included are excellent. Also, related to effort, we talk about the importance of defining what effort means and look like. Do a search on Rubistar for effort rubrics for one examples.

    • butkusfamily says:

      I LOVE the coaching mode in Khan! It has really helped me know where to help both my students that need remediation as well as my advanced students. Thanks!

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