Sunday, April 15, 2012

End of Course Reflection

In Week 1 of this course I developed my own personal learning theory. Looking back on this assignment, I see that my theory is heavily based on constructionism. While I wish to keep my previous ideas, I would add more after completing this course.

Previously I identified that students learn by connecting new ideas to old ones, and that it is therefore important to draw out prior knowledge in order to have something to build upon. In Theoretical foundations, Lever-Duffy & McDonald (2008) state that “knowledge is a constructed element resulting from the learning process.” While my previous idea describes a process, there is more involved here that can be supported by other learning theories. I now believe that learning is more complicated and is a combination of many different methods and ideas.  Each theory has its own applications, some are more successful than others, but all are important to be aware of. The most important piece is knowing why you are using a strategy or tool, and that is where knowledge of each theory is essential.

I have been adjusting my approach to planning lessons throughout the course as I have learned more about each theory and been introduced to new technology tools. While there are many, many amazing tools available, it is important to have a basis for selecting one to use in the classroom. My new strategy is to assess each tool by ensuring it can be used for learning rather than instruction. This means that the tool is student-focused rather than teacher-focused, as Dr. Orey discussed in his video (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). One learning technology tool I plan to use with my students is concept maps (I plan to use http://www.spiderscribe.net/) for note-taking because it will allow my students to better organize the information and include images, links and video. Another is http://www.polleverywhere.com/, which I can use to quickly assess student thinking. This is great for quick multiple choice questions or for longer-response questions and allows students to see how their answers compare to those of the rest of the class. I am grateful for the long list of technology resources I have been introduced to during this course.

I have set two long-term goals for myself in changing my instructional practice in regards to technology integration. One is to have students move from keeping a paper science journal to an online portfolio. This would be a means for students to keep track of their learning and share that learning with others. This will be a big change, so I plan to start on a smaller-scale with one unit and then build from there. We are waiting to find out what sort of learning platform we will be using next year, so once I find out I will be able to experiment with the options available and figure out if I need to supplement with another resource. If anyone does something similar on a small or large scale or has ideas for resources, please comment and share!

The second goal I have is to have one technology-based lab or WebQuest for each major concept. I have already begun working on this but it will take time to ensure there is one for every topic. So far I have two labs that utilize online simulations and two WebQuests. This is a great way to extend the learning that takes places in the classroom and have students transfer their knowledge to a new situation. It is also an easy way to differentiate because I can do more extension for students who are ready to move on while I work with students who are still struggling.  


References

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

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc.,    
       custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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