Socially Constructed Knowledge

There are different types of knowledge students learn throughout their K-12 education. A few of specific types of knowledge student acquire are subject-related knowledge, academic skills, social skills, and collaboration abilities. Prior to grade school, children often experience life primarily at their home, at a preschool, or in a childcare center. These places tend to be very small populations and children interact with familiar people. Elementary school changes this learning and knowledge dynamic. Students are exposed to new learning content, social procedures, and a diverse set of perspectives and approaches to life. Children start learning new and different knowledge as they work with others. The cooperative learning approach supports students as they learn how to respectfully interact with each other while building vital social skills for adult life.

The cooperative learning strategy recognizes that students have diverse interests and the class acquires knowledge together based on those interests. The process of cooperative learning includes creating an environment where students can explore new knowledge by discussing the information with peers, and developing an understanding with classmates about the information (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 37).

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Image 1 (Retrieved from collaborativegrouplearning.com)

Image 1 on the right summarizes the cooperative learning process as students interact in a community and share ideas. The teacher’s responsibility during this process is to facilitate the groups, intervene when necessary, and act as a consultant (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 252). When students participate in a cooperating learning environment, knowledge is constructed based on the group interests rather than knowledge the teacher believes students should learn.

I have participated in numerous group-learning projects throughout my education and in the work setting. Naturally, group work is challenging at times, but the value of working with different people and learning about their perspectives or approaches outweighs the difficulties. As a teacher, one of the best benefits of utilizing a cooperative learning strategy is so students have the opportunity to talk and exchange ideas. Humans are social creatures. I do not expect my students to sit silently for the majority of the school day. Instead, I want students to learn how to exchange ideas and reflect on their knowledge through discussions and collaboration. Another advantage of group learning is that students realize working together is easier when they properly utilize each other’s strength and knowledge. Every individual has a unique ability or thought that should be shared with group. When everyone participates, the result is a better solution to a problem or a stronger final product. A cooperative learning approach advocates the notion that students learn more when working together because they are simultaneously teaching each other. This type of education and knowledge cannot by preplanned by a teacher, so teachers should encourage students to learn from each other through group activities and discussions.

References

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., & Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Module 2 – Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

ISTE Standard 2 recommends that teachers utilize modern digital resources while designing, developing, and evaluating learning experiences. When effective technology tools are integrated as part of student learning, then learners become more actively involved in their education. Using digital tools also provides opportunities for teachers to modify lessons according to student learning styles while continuing to develop individual student’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.

After thinking about ISTE Standard 2, I was curious how I could design digital student assessments for fifth grade students and myself to evaluate their skills, knowledge, and learning goals. There are two core objectives as part of this inquiry since part is focused on what can help me facilitate the learning process while the other part focuses on how students are responsible for their learning. First, what digital tools might assist me to quickly provide feedback and evaluation during class? Second, what digital resources allow interaction between me and myself as they create learning goals and monitor their progress?

Numerous educational platforms are fun and engaging for students to use while practicing their knowledge and skills. These resources frequently provide teachers the ability to review how students have progressed. Socrative is an app that students use to submit an electronic version of their work so teachers can evaluate comprehension (Harold, 2014). This is an example of a resource that provides opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and teachers the ability to provide quick feedback. If students submit their work during class, then teachers can take a moment to review everyone’s work and modify instruction as necessary. Figure 1 below is an example of the teacher’s dashboard when logging in to Socrative.

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Figure 1: Socrative Teacher Dashboard (Retrieved from Educators Technology)

Another useful program for teachers is VoiceThread. VoiceTread is an online tool that allows teachers to upload digital content like a video, image, or document, so students can then collaborate by interacting with the content (Cicconi, 2013). This platform offers students options since they select from different methods to communicate and they can collaborate with their classmates (Cicconi, 2013). This is a functional tool for teachers to incorporate as part of any lesson and provides students the possibility to gain a better understanding of different perspectives and learning styles. Both of these resources offer the instructor the ability to digitally assess student work. Then teachers can decide the best way to continue facilitating lessons for individual students or the entire class.

Finding a program that allows students to be actively involved in their learning while evaluating their critical-thinking skills is challenging. I initially found a digital program called PEAK (Personalize, Engage, and Achieve with K12). PEAK is a functional tool for teachers to track students progress since it combines digital content and assessments from various sources such as the company itself, third-party vendors, and any sources teachers upload (Harold, 2014). The advantage of this program is that it is a single source for teachers to monitor all the data from multiple platforms. Another benefit is that teachers can easily review each student’s information and modify instruction as appropriate. A disadvantage of PEAK is that it usually tests basic comprehension skills. Another downside is that the platform is for teachers to assess learner information so students are not involved in monitoring progress. Student involvement is essential in the creation, evaluation, assessment, and reflection process.

One of my cohorts shared an article that examined an electronic portfolio program called ePEARL (Electronic Portfolio Encouraging Active and Reflective Learning). ePearl is a comprehensive tool for students to create learning goals, monitor and reflect on individual progress, share and comment on each other’s work, and teachers provide feedback during each step (Abrami, Venkatesh, Meyer & Wade, 2013). ePearl is used throughout the school year so teachers and students are consistently engaged in reflecting on the learning progress. ePearl researchers also discovered students demonstrated a notable increase in reading and writing skills when test evaluations were compared to classes that did not integrate ePearl (Abrami, Venkatesh, Meyer & Wade, 2013). This result is significant because the purpose of integrating technology is to guide and improve the learning process. ePearl is Canadian platform so I am interested in finding an alternative that incorporates American education standards. Otherwise, ePearl appeared to be a fantastic solution for teachers and students to use during the school year.

While digital tools have advanced over the last two decades, the integration of technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly more common. As the Internet and computer technology have evolved, teachers have attempted to effectively combine digital tools with student learning. According to Hew and Brush, three obstacles have made it difficult for teachers to utilize technology in the classroom (Cicconi, 2013). These issues are: 1) lack of proper resources; 2) inadequate support when implementing technology; and 3) difficulty creating meaningful content. These are important considerations teachers should be mindful of when determining the appropriate technology to integrate in lessons. Technology tools can enhance the assessment process for teachers and students when realistic options are selected and proper time is spent on training how to use the platform. When students and teachers collaborate to use these resources, the result is likely to be a better understanding and appreciation of the learning process.

References

Abrami, P., Venkatesh, V., Meyer, E., & Wade, C. (2013). Using electronic portfolios to foster literacy and self-regulated learning skills in elementary students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105 (4), 1188-1209. doi: 10.1037/a0032448

Cicconi, M. (2014). Vygotsky meets technology: A reinvention of collaboration in the early childhood mathematics classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42, 57-65. doi: 10.1007/s10643-013-0583-9

EdTech Team. (2013). Teacher’s guide to socrative 2.0. Retreived from: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/12/teachers-guide-to-socrative-2o.html

Harold, B. (2014). Building better feedback loops. Technology Counts, 33 (25), 8-12. Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=aph&AN=94901239&site=ehost-live

 

Advance Organizers

One teaching method to consider when planning lessons is to organize information so learners start making connections between the new concepts and prior knowledge before teaching any details. This idea is an advance organizer approach. An advance organizer is a strategic teaching method that incorporates pictures, videos, stories, or other materials at the beginning of a lesson to stimulate students to think about important concepts, identify relationships, and activate prior knowledge (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 51). This is a different approach then when teachers preview a lesson by discussing objectives or reviewing materials at the start of each lesson. Two main benefits of using advance organizers is that it strengthens how students acquire and retain information (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 200).

Figure 1: Advance Organizer Process (Retrieved from tccl.rigt.albany.edu/knilt/index.php.Unit_2_Content_ Guide)

As shown in Figure 1 on the left, there are three phases to this teaching model. First, the teacher introduces the advance organizer at the beginning of a lesson to activate prior knowledge. The second step is the presentation of the learning tasks or activities so students begin organizing information. Third, cognitive development is strengthened as students integrate the content and acquire new knowledge.

I primarily envision utilizing this strategy at the beginning of major units or lessons. I think it is a necessary method because otherwise the amount of information can be overwhelming for students. It provides a logical way for students to organize the larger concepts before thinking about the details. Also, during future lessons it will be helpful to reference back to the advance organizers that have already been discussed. This helps students reflect on how their knowledge has grown and why organizing information is beneficial. Another situation when this strategy can be used is if I observe students are struggling with connecting concepts. I can approach the next lesson differently by starting with an advance organizer. While it is important for students to learn about their own interests, it also my responsibility to teach students to organize their knowledge and understand connections between concepts.

References

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., & Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

 

The Learning Process

One of my goals is to understand how people learn so I can practice more effective teaching methods. A standard teaching strategy generally involves a teacher providing information to students and expecting them to memorize everything. Next, the teacher assigns homework or worksheets focused on fact-based information. At the end of a unit, students usually complete a multiple-choice test to evaluate how well they have remembered specific facts. This is a repetitive process that rarely advances a student’s thinking skills. It is not my intention to primarily use a memorization strategy, but I do believe memorization is an important part of the learning process. A major teaching objective is to help my students learn how to remember what they are taught and to know how that information will eventually assist them in critical thinking.

Students can practice a variety of memorization techniques depending on what they are attempting to remember. Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015) present a four-phase process to help students memorize information. The four phases of memorization are: 1) attending to the material; 2) identifying connections; 3) using techniques to expand sensory images; and 4) practicing recalling the information until it is completely learned (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).The strategy used in each phase will depend on what type of content is being taught and learned. Eventually students learn which strategies are best applied to what they want to memorize.

Memorization is an important part of the learning process because students scaffold their knowledge and thoughts before applying different thinking strategies. Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Intellectual Processes aptly describes how the learning and thinking process develops. Bloom’s original model of taxonomy was created in 1956. The 1956 model categorizes the learning process into six domains, with knowledge as the first domain to be mastered before achieving success at higher levels (Armstrong, 2016). In 2001, the categories were relabeled as verbs in order to more distinctly demonstrate how people discover and apply their knowledge (Armstrong, 2016). Figures 1 and 2 below are examples of the original and revised versions. Both images include a short description explaining how learning occurs in each category.

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Figure 1: Original Version from 1956. (Image retrieved from http://www.uaa.alaska.edu).

 

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Figure 2: Revised version from 2001. (Armstrong, 2016).

 

As shown in both models, memorization is a significant part of the learning process since it must be mastered before moving up to the next level. Once students remember and understand knowledge, then I can apply other teaching strategies that guide students to a deeper thinking process. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a valuable resource for me to reference when planning lessons and to assess where my students are in the learning process. It is also important to share this model with students so they are cognizant of how their learning progresses overtime. I believe once students are aware of how learning occurs, then they will be more successful at mastering each level.

References

Armstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Student Affairs, University of Alaska Anchorage. (2012). The Assessment Cycle. Retrieved from: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/studentaffairs/assessment/assessment-cycle.cfm