Constructivist and Constructionist Classrooms

Constructionist theory is an ideal theory for teachers to incorporate into classrooms because of the level of preparation it gives students for the real-world and solving problems. Having students create projects based on a problem in the area, like the two educators did when assigning the artifact and oil-spill projects (Laureate Education, 2016), helps students have immediate interest and connection to the assignment. When thinking about this idea of lessons that require students to be engaged and creating, this is a great place to incorporate technology. Particularly for English, there are so many ways to have students stretch beyond the idea of an essay to display their knowledge about something. There are so many websites and apps out there that allow for authentic creations (Canva, Easel.ly, FlipGrid, to name a few) that there is no excuse to be limiting students to one-dimensional assignments. When thinking about how instructional strategies play a role in this, constructivism deals with that idea that students are building their own understandings and ideas about topics (Laureate Education, 2015). Students will enter a constructionist projects with different understandings about the background of it, which is where constructivism comes into play. A way to help students get their ideas out there is using a constructivist approach of having students communicate collaboratively within the classroom (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012). Setting up a Padlet stream to have students have a place to get all their knowledge out there in one place about a subject is a good place to start. Then students who know a little less can see what other students know, and students who may have not considered something another student has have opportunities to see everyone’s thoughts.

Within my own classroom, I definitely use a constructivist-based theory to guide lessons. I want my students to be engaged and active ALWAYS during the learning process. I also want them communicating always, because I believe that active communication among peers helps them extend their thinking even more and gives them an authentic audience to their work. Communication is one of the ISTE standards I feel the most strongly about, because students need more academic communication in their lives (International Standards for Technology in Education, 2016). A few times this year, I have had students have silent online discussions and feedback sessions because of technology. In one instance, students listed possibly research questions on a Padlet stream and classmates commented on what their favorites were or with feedback on how to make a more specific question. Everyone had ownership of all of the ideas, because everyone was giving each other feedback and working collaboratively. It became this organic, collaborative process because of a simple technology tool, and it made students so much more engaged than they would be if they had merely been listing questions on a paper and turning those in with no feedback or audience of peers. As a teacher, I am always trying to think of ways I can be a better facilitator (International Standards for Technology in Education, 2008) of these resources to students. I try to be cognizant and incorporate as much as I can into lessons. 

In the scholarly source I found for this week’s module, Ballard and Miller-First (2017) discuss using jigsaw as one way to get students active and involved as a constructivist-based approach. Jigsaw is a strategy I have heard about many times, but still have yet to incorporate in my classroom. When thinking about a Genius Hour project I could do with students, if I had them broken in groups, each group member could be responsible for a different part of their research, and then jigsaw would give them that time to catch each other up on all the different parts. Not only are they responsible for their portion, but jigsaw gives them that additional ownership of having to teach it to the rest of the group members and be effective communicators. The blog I found, Constructivist Education (2007, had a great post that listed qualities of constructivist learners. This would be a great list to replicate into a sign to have display in my classroom for students to reference. It also lists traits that they will have in the classroom, such as “asks questions” or “self-reflective” (Can, 2007). Students being able to see qualities that they should strive to have in the classroom would hopefully encourage them to display some of those traits and help make those connections. In the Genius Hour project, they are going to need to display those traits in order to be successful, so going over WHAT a student of this theory looks like will help them understand and hopefully model those traits. 

 

References:

Can, T. (2007). Constructivist education. Retrieved from http://constructivist-education.blogspot.com/

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for educators. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015). Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016c). Constructivism in practice [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Miller-First, M. S., & Ballard, K. L. (2017). Constructivist teaching patterns and student interactions. Internet Learning Journal, 6(1), 25-32. doi: 10.18278/il.6. 1. 3.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

Virtual Field Trip

This graphic organizer was used with this virtual field trip that I found at this website: http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/danibrown1/502/start.html

We are about to begin reading The Odyssey, and there is a lot of key background information to go over. By chunking the information like Orey (Laureate Education, 2015) suggested, I used this graphic organizer specifically for the day we were working with the Deities tab. Students had choice in choosing key Greek Gods or Goddesses and choosing the facts to learn about. They also had to include pictures to help add more sensory elements to the assignment.

 

Laureate Education (producer). (2015). Cognitive learning theories [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Behaviorism In The Classroom

Behaviorism is a theory that, without even technically realizing, I implement in my classroom. Orey (2010) describes behaviorism in education as setting up a system of praises and punishments. Reinforcers are key in a classroom; whether it is praising positive behavior or removing something to ensure a specific behavior/type of work. Most educators probably hear behaviorism and think it can only be used in regard to student behavior, but it can also work hand-in-hand with instruction and performance on assignments in the classroom.

My school implements the PBIS system, which is Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports. As one of the leads on this team, I am part of the team that tracks data, breaks it down, and figures out how we can reinforce the good behaviors within the school. Our school-wide reward system in Classy Cash – students can redeem Classy Cash at the “store” for prizes and also the coveted Cafe Dollars (worth $1 in the cafeteria snack line). These can be given out for various reasons. For instance, one month we saw an influx of students getting detentions for not having their ID. So for a week, teachers were at the door during class change and passed out Classy Cash to student who walked in with a visible ID. We did not say WHY we were passing it out until after the bell had rung. Those who received Classy Cash wondered why and those who did not get it were frantic to figure out why they were left out. After they were told, as the week went on, more and more students came to class wearing an ID. Not every teacher each day gave it out each class, but students were given the positive reinforcement of Classy Cash when wearing the ID, so it made them more likely to have it on in hopes for the reward. 

In thinking about how I currently incorporate behaviorist-based instructional strategies, I have to break it up in the categories of effort and recognition like Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn (2012) did. I would say I am strongest in the recognition aspect of behaviorism within my classroom. We recently did a research project where students created and displayed infographics.  The infographics were displayed without any student name attached to them, and every student was given a poll with specific requirement to “grade” each infographic on. That was out awards were given out to infographics based on word clarity, design, visual appearance, etc.This is similar to what Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn (2012) recommended doing by using a program that tallies votes anonymously. The means in which I had them give feedback and vote on their classmates’ work supports the International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE] (2016) standard 6a which states, “Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.” By having students use this online tool, they were able to use this resource to give their classmates anonymous praises and feedback. Simply being a facilitator of technology (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2017), and also incorporating behaviorism WITH the technology, is key for teachers to do. Conditioning students to use these tools in a responsible way by giving positive reinforcement and teaching them to give proper feedback too is important and technology users.

Since recognition has “a more direct impact on socio-emotional indication such as self-efficacy, effort, persistence, and motivation than on learning” (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012, p. 63), I want to become better with reinforcing effort within my classroom. As Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn (2012) point out, we as the teachers must show students how an increased effort and understanding of effort will directly impact their achievement. A good strategy for this would be creating online organizers or some sort of scaffold-note taking an praising students as they complete the steps. This incorporates strategies and technology tools with the behaviorism idea.

For my Genius Hour project, I want to have students do an independent research project based off an article we will read in class. We have already done a larger research project, but I wanted to find a way to get students to do some authentic and personal research while still hitting standards and preparing for our big EOC test in a month in a half. The EOC focuses on our State standards as well as a writing portion, so a Genius Hour project would be a great way to creatively incorporate them all. Setting up a scenario where students know what the expectations of the project are, and then conditioning them to reach their goals with PBIS rewards, as found in my scholarly source, will result in great Genius Hour projects. PBIS helps because it’s a system, “ in which students who yearn for teacher affection or connection are simply overlooked” (Gomez, 2017, pg. 6). When thinking of  Genius Hour project, students are going to be searching and solving the problems in their own way, so not everyone will have the same exact checklist or work to turn in. Conditioning students by rewarding them reaching goals and making strides will encourage the success and motivation they have in their work. This also relates to what Nebel discusses in her blog. She noted that it is important to give feedback immediately to students in order to address the skills they are doing (Nebel, 2017). For instance, if in my Genius Hour project I set timeline goals, I would praise students who reach the goals and pace the project out; I would not want to praise a student who waited until the last minute and produced decent work, because that would encourage the negative behavior of not spacing their work out. 

Behaviorism is a theory that I was to be better about being more intentional about in my classroom. Whether it is thinking about conditioning behavior or a desired education expectation, behaviorism is a great way to not only boost student self-esteem, but also get them engaged and trained to be the best, most focused student they can be.

Gomez, F. (2017). PBIS: Moving beyond a focus on behavior to relationships. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.csumb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1192&context=caps_thes_all

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2017). Standards for
educators. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for
students. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015). Behaviorist learning theory [Video file].
Baltimore, MD: Author.

Nebel, C. (2017). Behaviorism in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2017/8/10-1

Orey, M. (Ed). (2010). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.
Retrieved from
http://textbookequity.org/Textbooks/Orey_Emergin_Perspectives_Learning.pdf

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Final Thoughts on Incorporating Technology

Technology and classrooms need to become more in sync. Teachers need to embrace change and technology and fully take advantage of the resources out there. If teachers do that, they will see an increase in engagement in the classroom.

Through this course, I have learned of strategies, resources, and tips that I did not know before. The constant viewing of the International Society for Technology in Education standards has helped me constantly be thinking about how to effectively incorporate technology within my classroom. Being a true facilitator and guide to these standards for students is a goal in my classroom, and I am thankful that this class gave me the exposure to those standards and those goals (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016). This course has helped me view Twitter, a tool I mainly used for entertainment, as a new educational resource. As Richardson (2010) pointed out,  “following other educators on Twitter creates a “network at my fingertips” phenomenon where people ask questions and get answers, link to great blog posts or resources, or share ideas for projects as they go through the day” (p. 85). There are other educators I follow now, politicians, Twitters devoted to specific products and resources I use, and others. There are Twitter chats that take places based on content areas where you just tweet a hashtag to get involved. This class has opened my eyes to it all.

I have deepened my knowledge of incorporating technology by being more intentional. When crafting the lesson a few weeks ago, I kept thinking how is technology going to make this better? How is this tool going to help them in the future? By tying technology use to the 21st-century skills Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2015) mentioned, I could honestly say I was preparing students for more than just success on an assignment, I was helping prepare them for life after high school.

Classroom blogs seems like the most realistic Web 2.0 tool for me to incorporate within my English class. Richardson (2010) tells that blogs can become, “online filing cabinets for student work, eportfolios, collaborative space, knowledge management” (p. 20). Most of those traits for blogs directly relate to ISTE standards, and also incorporate SCCCR standards. A roadblock I could see happening is students perhaps not being able to locate information easily or not understanding initially how to work around the blog. By practice and modeling and setting up the blog in an easy format, I think this would be a short learning curve. EduBlogs (2018) features privacy settings, grouping, commenting, activity reports, and more. There are so many tools I could use to streamline information and get students engaged in the content. Blogging covers the collaboration, communication, and designer standards from ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016). My school supports my integrating of technology by having a digital integration specialist who is always willing to visit my classroom and help me test out something new or show me and my students something new.

My SMART goals are to incorporate one new element of technology for as assignment purpose in my classroom per semester and to attend technology professional developments in order to apply to be a TTL (Teacher Technology Leader) by the 2020 school year. These are both achievable goals because one is set on a semester based goal of incorporating some new element of technology with giving students projects. I can achieve this by collaborating with other teachers (Walden University, 2010) to get best practices and their input. My goal for becoming a TTL is achievable because the more I immerse myself in technology knowledge, the better of a chance I will have to pass the interview and be an asset to the TTL group, That is a good 2 year goal because I want to be done with my Master’s program before taking that on, and this program will also give me great preparation for that role.

Over time, I would definitely love to be able to track the connection and benefit of technology use with the special education community. I am the only English teacher in my school that teaches co-taught sections where I have majority special education population in my classes with the help of a co-teacher. These students need a more modified curriculum and haven needs beyond those of regular students. With all of the technology resources and strategies, I would want to find the best way to reach them while still incorporating technology.

There is such a vast amount of technology out there, and I am thankful that this class opened my eyes to all the resources while allowing me to practice with them as well. It is my goal to incorporate more to make learning even more meaningful for my students, and this course has put me on the right track to do so.

Realistically Incorporating Blogging

Blogging is a feature that I had never considered in the classroom, but after looking over texts and articles about the subject, I cannot believe I am NOT using it in my classroom. There are benefits in every subject, and blogs help teachers extend the learning and create an authentic connection for the students.

I teach English 1 (which is predominately freshmen) at a high school in South Carolina. English 1 comes with a statewide standardized test at the end of the year, called the EOC (end-of-course). While other English classes in my school are focused on writing and going in-depth with readings and analyzing, English 1 focuses on skills needed in order to get to those higher levels. The test is multiple-choice with a writing section being piloted for the next couple of years. A blog would be a great tool to use as not only an information hub for those skills students need to know and review, but also as a way to extend the learning and have students begin practicing the skills of close-readings, annotations, and analytical writing. I could see, for the purposes of my classroom blog, having tabs/pages devoted to key skills or our ‘power standards’ as the state calls them. There would be basic recall information, but then this is where blogs get creative. The comment features or the discussion board features allow students to communicate with each other about topics. Maybe I post an argumentative topic and students have to respond on a post to prove their point, then go through and read their classmates’ comments and respond to those. Maybe I have an entire “Writing Conference” tab/page where students post drafts for feedback from myself and other classmates. From the teacher perspective, allowing students to communicate and collaborate freely online like this is “promot[ing] and model[ing] digital citizenship and responsibility” (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2008). Teachers cannot just expect that students will KNOW how to appropriately blog and communicate, so we must model what it looks like to give appropriate feedback and create safe and respectful online profiles. By having a blog and using it regularly, teachers have the chance to model daily what a safe and respectful online presence looks like. It allows for students to see and experience what an authentic audience for their content is and helps them grasp that what they put online is there for all to see. Giving students multiple ways to communicate with one another, be it on the blog solely or using the blog as a means to get to other collaborative tools, blogging lets students become the creative communicators that ISTE (2016) defines as students who “communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals” (para. 6). Blogs give students an general platform to communicate within the classroom blog, but also open the door for the entire blogging community to be accessed. Students can search tags and find blogs relevant to what they are learning and share with people from all over. The global aspect that blogs allow also means students are able to become “global collaborators” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016, para. 7), because blogs take classroom learning BEYOND the four walls. Incorporating any sort of technology in the class means that teachers, “facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008, para. 6), but blogs specifically allow technology to guide students and extend learning beyond basic responses to real, authentic work. I think about how our current research projects could be extended on that global aspect if I had a classroom blog. I could create a space for students to upload and share work, and they could add “tags” to them to make it searchable for all. That takes it from their audience being the teacher and classmates to the audience being the world.

 

Richardson (2010) mentions that classroom blogs can do beneficial things such as become, “online filing cabinets for student work, eportfolios, collaborative space, knowledge management” (p. 20).  Having a space for students to access not just the skills themselves that will be on the test, but perhaps links to extra practice, create a space that lets students take ownership of their learning. In addition to the filing cabinet aspect for work, blogs allow teachers to create posts that allow for interaction. Students can add comments and take part in a whole discussion that does not necessarily take place inside the classroom. One study found that students are more likely to revise their work with blogging. Young and Stover (2015) noted that most writers, “ typically view writing as something that is finished after the first draft is written” (p. 14). They tested this theory on a second-grade classroom, and while the age group was different than what I teach, I run into the same problem they do, which is getting students to revise work meaningfully and take feedback to make changes. They found that after a first draft was written, students were mainly in the ‘still-developing’ portion of the rubric, while after students commented on blogs with feedback and self-reflection, most students moved up to the ‘met’ category (Young & Stover, 2015). What an eye-opening studying, that students as young as second grade can drastically improve writing skills by teachers simply implementing a blog. Think of all the time that is saved and the greater amount of feedback that each student receives versus the more traditional student-teacher one-on-one conference. Blogs allow an expedited form of feedback and discussion to occur.

 

The implementation of blogs in the classroom, particularly my skill-based English class, would be nothing but beneficial to students. It goes from being as simple as providing almost an online notebook for students to access notes, but also a place to display student work, a place for students to communicate, a place for students to work together, and a place for students to connect on a larger stage.

 

References:

International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE]. (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved January 19, 2018 from http://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE]. (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved January 19, 2018 from http://www.iste.org/standards/for-teachers  

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Young, C., & Stover, K. (2015). Promoting Revision through Blogging in a Second Grade Classroom. Texas Journal Of Literacy Education, 3(1), 14-28.