Friday, October 19, 2012


 As I reflect upon my personal theory of learning, I am came to realize that in my instructional practices rely more on the differing  instructional strategies I have chosen for an activity than the theory behind learning. In week one, I identified the learning theory that I have subscribes to  intertwines with the Constructivist’s view on student learning. The Constructivist theory on student learning utilizes the student’s prior knowledge to explore new information to create new learning experiences (Kim, 2012). The purpose of learning is not simply to regurgitate facts or information, but rather the purpose of learning is to be able to apply the knowledge appropriately. In addition to drawing on experiences, Constructivist has established that trial and error is essential for the student to experience both the positive and negative outcomes in learning. In my philosophy, implementing the ideas of the spiral curriculum is an opportunity to revisit the skills and ideas to apply the skills towards a new concept (Kim, 2012).

In week, one I stated that my approach to the Foreign Language Standards allows concepts to be mastered and then revisited throughout the course. For example, not only must students exhibit the ability to translate numbers zero through one hundred in Spanish, but students must also illustrate the capability to apply this information in a variety of scenarios. It is essential that students are able to delve deeper into their understanding as they are attempting to transfer their existing knowledge to a new learning experiences.  Although I was able to gain a variety of new ideas regarding various learning theories, I have found that fundamentally my ideals and views towards learning has remained the same.  What has changed for me is a more deliberate intent to select instructional strategies that will gain the highest yield and benefit for my students. 

In reflecting upon the technology tools, the two that I have begun to incorporate more into my instruction has been Voice threads and virtual field trips. The field trips in particular have allowed my students to explore Latin culture in a way that was not feasible in a traditional classroom.  I also have begun to incorporate more graphic organizers that are constructed in a virtual environment to help student’s synthesis and organize information. What I have gained from this class in terms of my understanding and application of technology is how to take tools that were originally conducted paper and pencil and convert them to a virtual environ. This leap has greatly enhanced my students understanding and allowed me to be a better educator

Two goals I have for myself in relation to integrating technology into my instructions  are to ensure the 1) technology is integrated into my lesson planning in a meaningful and intentional manner. In essence when I incorporate a piece of technology it is not for the sake of simply ensuring I have technology is a part of my instruction. More that the technology tool enhance student learning and helps them to develop a deeper understanding of the content. My second goal is 2) implement technology on a consistent basis. Overall I want to ensure that the tools I have gained through this class are not merely applied during the course work but become part of my teaching repertoire. In order to accomplish this, I need hold myself accountable and continue to reflect upon my instructional practices. 


Constructivism. (n.d.). Funderstanding: Education, Curriculum, and Learning Resources. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from

Constructivist Theory." Instructional Design. Retrieved September 08, 2012.

Kim, B. (2001). Social Constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved September 6, 2012 from

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

The principles behind social learning theory as defined by Albert Bandura assert that learning occurs from observation, imitation and the modeling of your peer group and environment.   Social learning theory subsequently identifies human behavior in terms of “continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influence” (Social Learning Theory (Bandura), 2012).   As a bridge between behaviorism and cognitive theory, Bandura suggested that one’s behavior was not simply the result of the environment in which they are reared and reside in, but that one’s personality is influenced by the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (Social Learning, 2012).  It is the interaction between these facets that essentially influence the development of one personality, behavior and subsequently the learning of information. 

As stated, the observation and modeling of interactions and behavior greatly influence how one learns and interprets information.  In order though for effective modeling to occur, Bandura identified four necessary conditions:  attention, retention,    reproduction, and motivation (Social Learning, 2012).  Attention and retention refers to the amount and quality of attention paid to a given situation or individual and the ability to maintain that information in one’s memory.  Meanwhile, reproduction and motivation relates to the ability to reproduce a given behavior or activity, and the overall desire one has to imitate a given action. 

In the classroom environment, there are number of ways in which educators can incorporate social learning theory into their instructional practices.  Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy in which students develop artifacts and gain knowledge through interacting with one another in a group setting. The MREL asserts that effective cooperative learning groups are: not based solely on ability, groups should be small in size, and should be used consistently but not as the primary instructional practice within the classroom environment (Pitler, et al, 2007).  

 As a result, cooperative learning groups offer a number of opportunities to incorporate technological resources.  One of the most common technological tools utilized are projects that include the creation of a video artifact.  Through the use of a rubric and clearly defined norms, students are able to develop a multitude of projects both inside and outside of the classroom environment.  Another technology tool that incorporates cooperative learning practices is web quests.  These scenario based tools allow groups to work on differing aspects of a common problem outside of the brick and mortar environment.  They challenge students to extend their learning beyond the concrete and engage in higher level thinking skills.  Again when paired with a rubric and norms, a web quest can become an extremely powerful tool for instruction.

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

Social Learning Theory (Bandura). (2012, October 1). Retrieved from Learning

Voice Trend Presentation

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Constructivism in Practice

In our study of learning theories and instruction practices we have explored behaviorism and cognitive philosophies, our attention will now turn to the constructivism.  Anchored in the work of Lev Vygotsky’s social development theory and the zone of proximal development, constructivism theory asserts that learning is actively created through an individual’s interaction with the environment (Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K, 2001).   As a result, instruction is more students centered in that the students construct understanding and meaning through the development of an external artifact. This project based learning approach shifts the focus from teacher driven lecture models to that of inquiry based questioning is posed to students.  The teacher subsequently acts as a facilitator to learning and monitors student progress and development.  According to Jacqueline G. Brooks and Martin G. Brooks, (1993) a constructivist classroom is and environment in which: student autonomy and initiative are accepted and encouraged, the teacher asks open-ended questions and allows wait time for responses, higher-level thinking is encouraged, students are engaged in dialogue with the teacher and with each other, students are engaged in experiences that challenge hypotheses and encourage discussion, the class uses raw data, primary sources, manipulatives, physical, and interactive materials.

As a project based style, constructivism lends itself to a number of instructional strategies and technology tools. An example of one of these instructional practices is found in the process of generating and testing hypothesis.  This process of generating a theory requires students to engage in higher level thinking skills, apply the content in a deeper more authentic way, and apply facts and content vocabulary in a logical and systematic way (Pitler, et al, 2007).  According to the MREL research recommends that when applying this practice into your classroom students must be able to articulate and explain their hypothesis and conclusions, and teachers must develop and guide structured activities for students generate and test their hypothesis (Pitler, et al, 2007).
As a result there are six ways in which a teacher can guide students through this process: system analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry and decision making (Pitler, et al, 2007).  In order to facilitate these practice, teachers can integrate a number of technological resources such as spreadsheets, web based tools, and other data collecting tools.  Spreadsheets can assist student in organizing their data and findings in a clear and concise document.  The sorting and filter aspects of a spreadsheet allow student to manipulate their data in order to prove or refute a hypothesis.  In addition, spreadsheets can upload to virtual programs such as Google Doc so students can edit and engage collaboratively outside the traditional school day.  With spreadsheets, one can then use data tools to displays their finding in a variety of modes.  The most common would be the creation of bar graphs and other graphing tools.  These tools provide students with a translatable and visual form of the data thus making the content more accessible for the learner. 

Finally, web based tools such as Web quests, mock scenarios and other live action activities allow student to explore a variety of hypothesis in a controlled environment.  They are able to test various theories and see how the results in real time virtual environments.  When accompanied with an avatar students can witness the human aspect and consequences that occur with different learning scenarios.

Although in many schools direct instruction is still utilized as a primary form of teaching, project based instruction and constructivist principles are emerging as a more effective resource to demonstrate 21st century skills. 


Brooks, Jacqueline Grennon, and Martin G. Brooks. (1993). In search of understanding: the case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from

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