Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Social Learning

Dr. Michael Orey states when children are engaged in social activities meaningful learning can occur (2001).  This is called social constructivism.  This week I was able to revisit the importance of cooperative learning. Cooperative learning focuses on student interactions (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  Cooperative learning is a tool which can be used to support social constructivism.  The text gives many examples of cooperative learning ideas that involve technology.  The most applicable tool for my kindergarten class would be keypals, or email pen pals.  Go to ePALS to find penpals for your class! Not only with this enhance my kindergarteners writing skills it will enlighten them on other cultures and places. I especially like this site because it also gives information on cyberbullying. It dedicates grade specific messages boards for discussions on dealing with cyberbullying.  Go here to check it out… STOP CYBERBYLLING!

Watch this short video about using ipads and ipods in a reading classroom.  3'Rs in Reading 

Although, this video if focusing on the technology it is easy to recognize the student collaboration within these lessons. There's no doubt in my mind that these students are engaged and learning from one another.
 Here’s another video of first grade students who use ipads to learn collaboratively in their classroom.  IPad in 1st! 
I believe that in kindergarten and first grade these type of projects are feasible for our young learners.  I am currently using an app called Story Kit with my class.

My kindergarten students work in pairs to create stories.  This app allows all students to be successful as they can draw, write, record, and take photos to create pages to a story.  When the story is finished it can be uploaded and emailed to parents. Click below to read a past post on Story Kit.  You can even hear an example of a story by my students! http://kindergartenipads.blogspot.com/2011/11/story-kit.html
 Now that my students are familiar with this app and creating stories I plan on introducing a story rubric.  This will allow the students to know exactly what is expected of them and to insure all are participating in the process (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).

I believe the social learning theories are very important to today's students. As teachers we must ensure that all students are able to communicate and learn with one another.  We can do this by incorporating technology along with group work within our classrooms.

Here is the link to my VoiceThread that I created http://voicethread.com/share/2492132/  . I am excited to see what ideas my students come up with for finding out information on other customs!  

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Free Apps!

Check out these links to Facebook pages where
 I have found many free apps!


Free the Apps!


Have any good ones???  Let me know!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Constructionism in the Classroom

This week I explored generating and testing hypothesis within all content areas as it relates to constructionism.  Although many of the resources were geared towards older students than my kindergarteners I am able to find the value in the methodology.  Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn describe six tasks teachers should use to help students create and test hypotheses (2007). 

Here are the tasks along with examples of how I could use it in my classroom.

              System Analysis
Learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin
               Problem Solving
What would happen if a pumpkin fell in the water?
               Historical Investigation
Why do people carve pumpkins?
Create something to make a pumpkin sink
               Experimental Inquiry
Will the pumpkin sink or float?
               Decision Making
How will we know?

By creating this entire problem based unit on pumpkins students would be actively engaged in creating their own individual meaning (constructivism) about pumpkins in a meaningful way.  I would extend this project to a constructionist approach by allowing students to create digital stories to share their findings.  The focus of constructionism is an actively engaged learner creating an artifact representing their learning (Laureate Education, 2011). 

To find out more about constructivism watch this video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGcXj5Kma6E&feature=related

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cognitive Tools....

This week I have explored tools that fit under the cognitive theory of learning. Cognitive tools allow students to learn in a more meaningful manner by causing students to actually think about information instead of simply regurgitating it for a test (Orey, 2001). 

Check out this catchy song to help with your understanding of cognitive learning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8mo2CLSKJ8

One particular tool that is very advantageous in kindergarten is advanced organizers.  We created a concept map in Inspiration.  This concept map allowed students to organize thoughts on the life of the Pilgrims. 

One tool from the resources that I plan to implement more in my classroom is virtual field trips.  From a practical standpoint these are advantageous because our district is no longer financially able to provide field trips for our students.  As a teacher of kindergarten students this is very disappointing because students are able to gain so much more understanding of a topic by actually experiencing it and making connections to prior knowledge (Laureate, 2011).  Virtual field trips allow students to experience places and concepts that were impossible in the past.

This week our class took a tour of the Pilgrim Village and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  You can take this virtual field trip by going to Scholastic-Thanksgiving.  Imagining life so long ago is very difficult for a 5 year old, this field trip helped make it real. The students were so excited to go on a field trip, even if it was only a virtual one!

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [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

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This week I was able to explore two instructional strategies, reinforcing effort and homework practice.  Positive reinforcement and reinforcing effort is vital in kindergarten.  Smith points out that positive reinforcement is key if you are attempting to control behavior (1999).  Teachers have control of the environment and in turn can have control of the behaviors in the classroom.  I find this to be glaringly true in a kindergarten classroom.  Kindergarten students are eager to please.  Many times all that is needed is a positive comment or a smile to reinforce the behavior you are seeking.  The wonderful thing about kindergarten is that not only do you affect the specific child who you are responding to, but the entire class wants the same reward as the original child, even if it is simply a smile!  Everyone in the class wants to use punctuation after Johnny received a thumbs-up for using a period.  Could there be a greater grade to teach?

As well as creating positive behaviors, reinforcement can create positive learning experiences.  Effort is one of the most influential factors in achievement (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). In kindergarten we are constantly discussing what our “best” work and behavior looks like.  We emphasize the process and the amount of effort a task took more importantly than the finished product.  I feel that my job is to be their biggest cheerleader in the classroom.  Eventually, the students themselves catch on to this and are found encouraging each other and praising their classmates. In kindergarten we create spreadsheets of student growth and are able to share these with students and parents.  Even if kindergarten students are not yet capable of understanding the charts and graphs they are excited to show “what they learned” and how much they now know. 

Watch this YouTube video to see an example of positive reinforcement in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK32448CgKE&feature=related

Homework in kindergarten is not as prevalent as in other grades.  Pitler et al explain that parents should not be heavily involved in homework (2007).  Since the typical kindergartener would have difficulty reading and following directions we keep homework to a minimum.  The homework we give in kindergarten is many times an opportunity for students to show their skills to their parents.  We send home a weekly poetry notebook which is learned in class and simply presented to the parents at home.  Parents sign the notebook and are able to leave a comment for their child.  Most of the students love this chance to read to their parents. 

We use web resources in the classroom and as activities parents can do with their children.  I send home sites that focus on the skill we are currently working on.  I have found that parents appreciate the guidance in finding sites for their children. 

Behaviorism is most definitely alive and well in the kindergarten classroom.  When used appropriately it can be very effective.  Of course, like most good things, it can be over used.  Not all activities can have rewards for simply doing what is expected.  Teachers must find that fine line between overuse and behavioral harmony.
Check out this about behaviorism in education for more information.  http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Behaviorism

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

Smith, K. (1999). The behaviourist orientation to learning. In The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm

Stanbridge, M. (2008, February 5). Behaviorism. Retrieved from Emerging perspectives on learning,   teaching, and technology website: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Behaviorism

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Story Kit

Story Kit is the app that I have been using to create stories with my kindergarteners. 
              I love it because:
                   -It is simple....not a lot of buttons,which is good for K!
                   -You can type text and record your voice, great for reaching all students in my class!
                   -You can insert pictures from your iPad or take a picture right then.  My students love this feature. 
                  -There is a drawing feature that allows students to add their own illustration.
                  -The app comes with some stories already saved (3 Little Pigs for example).  Students can then go and change the text and/or story.  I haven't used this feature yet but later in the year we will do this whole group. 
                  -  IT IS FREE!

Click here to see an example of a story some students in my class created.  Click on the 'speaker' to hear their voices.  (I do not like the look of the book on the web through the link.  The story is much more authentic when viewed on the iPad.)