I am nearing the end of the fourth class in my Master’s degree program, “Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology,” and have learned much in the last seven weeks about theories of learning and effective instructional strategies, employing technology tools in particular, to use in the classroom. My personal theory of learning has been developed over 15 years of classroom experience and is a combination off all of the learning theories that have been discussed in this class. Though I have not made dramatic changes in my personal learning theory, I would say that I have reprioritized some of the learning strategies that I will use in my classroom in the future. There are several strategies that I see the need for increased use of in my classroom to enrich and deepen my student’s learning experiences.
I agree with many points of the behaviorist learning theory. I have seen, as Dr. Orey (Laureate Education Inc., 2011) states, that positive reinforcement is crucial in creating a successful classroom environment. I already intentionally teach and model successful learner attributes and attitudes, but would like to incorporate technology tools in this area to help me better organize data and results related to growth and achievement in academic and behavioral areas. One website that I plan to use this fall that will help me achieve this goal is Class Dojo (classdojo.com). It looks to be a highly visual program that will help me track desired behavior. It also provides instant recognition to students that exhibit model work habits.
Throughout this class, I have learned a number of strategies that correlate with the cognitive learning theory and help to increase learning retention. I have used a number of graphic organizers in the past, but as a result of this class, I have learned the importance of making this an interactive process, having students construct these on their own or with other students. I have investigated several web tools that facilitate this strategy and are referenced in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). I have also found a few new tools on my own or by communicating with my colleagues. Spiderscribe (spiderscribe.net), Exploratree (exploratree.org), and Microsoft Word’s charts are all excellent resources that I am planning to use as advanced organizers to activate prior learning and to organize new information.
I have also explored the constructivist/constructionists learning theories in more detail and am committed to reaching the goal of making every lesson I teach have students constructing knowledge for themselves and making connections to what they already know. I am also looking forward to having my students apply what they have learned in practical, meaningful ways. There are many online websites that support student endeavors in impacting their community and world and I am currently researching the web tools that would be most helpful in the units that my students learn throughout the year.
Of all the learning theories, I have found the social learning theory most intriguing and see its direct relevance to my classroom and teaching practices. I am convinced that cooperative learning is a valuable strategy to help students process information and make connections through conversation that they might not have made on their own. I am eager to use blogging tools and VoiceThread (voicethread.com) next school year to encourage collaboration, not just among my students, but also with an online community outside of the school building.
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.