Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Constructionism in the Classroom

Constructionism is a hands-on method of teaching where students are involved in either assimilating or accommodating new information.  Dr. Orey explains that humans appreciate equilibrium and when there is disequilibration there are two choices, to accommodate the new information or assimilate it (Laureate Education, Inc, 2011). 

Having students generate and test their own hypotheses creates a learner-centered classroom.  The students in Mr. McDevitt’s class were involved in a simulation of World War II (Pitler, et al, 2007).  A constructivist classroom is one where the students are being challenged to either assimilate or accommodate new content (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  The students were able to test what would happen in their decisions by participating in the simulation.  This makes the students more responsible for their learning.  They are not able to read and memorize facts.  It requires higher level thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy because they are applying what they learned to make hypotheses and then testing it. is a great resource to use with students who are studying constellations.  There are several variables that students are able to input and see the outcome.  In order to teach using constructionism in the classroom, the instructor must anticipate the direction the learners will be going.  They need to pre-assess the class’ skills and be prepared to make changes as necessary.  The instruction will be student-centered.  They will be encouraged to ask the questions and find the answers. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from 
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Connecting to the Content

Teachers are able to teach for understanding when they use instructional strategies that enable students to create multiple connections to the content.  According to Dr. Orey, one way to make these connections is to use dual coding.  This is when students see an image and a label.  When teaching, technology can be utilized to show and information about the image.  The brain can only take in about seven pieces of information at a time.  Images are a way to help the information go in multiple places.

In my classroom, I often use to introduce a new skill and create meaningful connections to the learning.  There are activity pages linked to the videos where students can complete an organizer while they watch the clip.  Tim and Moby are engaging to students and offer strategies for students to use in the classroom.  Giving students a skeleton organizer prior to a lesson, allows them to take meaningful and organized notes during the class.  Kidspiration offers many templates for note taking with students.  These templates are a great way to chunk information for students.  Dr. Orey reminds teachers that students are only able to process about 7 pieces of information at a time.  

Another strategy to help students recall information is to create episodic memories.  These are memories of an event.  Virtual field trips are one way to create these memories.  Students can use a concept mapping tool to answer an essential question as they go on a field trip without every leaving the classroom.  This type of activity is powerful and keeps the learner engaged.  A Google search for virtual field trips will turn up multiple sites.  I found that the best place to start looking for guided field trips is

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Novak, J. D., & CaƱas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 01-2008. Retrieved from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Web site:

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Behaviorism in the Classroom

Teachers use behaviorism in the classroom on a daily basis.  Homework is a great example of a behaviorist teaching strategy.  Students practice a skill until they have mastered it.  According to Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski, "students need about 24 practice sessions with a skill in order to achieve 80 percent competency" (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 188).  During these practice sessions, teachers need to give timely feedback to reinforce the skill.  It is essential that teachers recognize errors early in the process so students are not practicing the wrong thing.

Many students need to be instructed on how their effort correlates to their performance in class.  This is another form of reinforcement.  Teachers are able to have students track their effort using a rubric.  They can graph their effort with their quiz grades to see the positive correlation.  This correlation is another type of reinforcement for the student.  If they are not putting in the effort, they will see the impact on their grade.  

Once a skill has been taught to students, teachers are able to use technology to reinforce that skill.  I have found that games a wonderful way to engage my students and have them practice  a skill that I have taught in class.  Math games are one way that I have my students reinforce their learning. is a great website for a variety of skills.  

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