Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflection on Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas

Developing a GAME plan is like making a detailed “To Do List.” There is just something about writing down what you want to accomplish that keeps you focused and committed. I personally cannot throw away a “To Do List” until I have checked off all the boxes, or have reevaluated and made modifications to the original list and complied a new list. I also can’t ignore a “To Do List” because I have made a commitment to accomplishing the goals on the list by writing them on the list in the first place.

By engaging in the process of developing a GAME plan, I have made a commitment to reach my goals and set a course of action to attain those goals. I have monitored my progress and made adjustments to my plan as my learning has increased my knowledge, which in turn has helped me refine and focus my instructional goals. My GAME plan for integrating technology into the content areas will continue to be a “work in progress” process, much like my own learning, knowledge and growth as an educator.

The greatest impact on my professional development from my last course Supporting Information Literacy, was realizing the need to incorporate cooperative learning and technology within content area instruction. As my current course Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas comes to a close, I have decided to focus my GAME plan on strategies for integrating social online collaboration into content area instruction. Vicki Davis (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009) gave a very clear picture of what online collaboration should look like. The part that really made an impression for me was when she explained that the model for education now is independent work, so every student can be graded. Yet with online tools such as wikis, blogs, tags and RSS Readers, teachers can actually see each student’s work for assessment purposes. I learned some useful tips for keeping track of student projects as well as insuring safe Internet practices. Ms. Davis mentioned (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009) two useful strategies I plan to incorporate into my procedures for online collaboration. I will have students submit blogs for pre-approval at Class Blogmeister. I will also teach my students to “tag” their assignments to be picked up by my Google Reader, so I can easily review anything my students post online.

My goal is to create a 21st century model for education in my classroom by providing opportunities for my students to connect and collaborate with fellow students, experts in the professional workplace, and other teachers around the world in an authentic learning environment with real world experiences.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2009a) Spotlight on Technology: Social Networking and Online Collaboration. Part 2. Laureate Press.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting Students in the GAME

The GAME plan process is a systematic strategy for actively setting goals and following a sequence of steps for achieving those goals. As detailed by Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer (2009), the GAME plan allows you to take control of your own learning by setting goals, taking action, monitoring your learning, and evaluating your progress. I used the GAME plan process to establish goals for learning about technology and technology resources. I selected two indicators from the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) as a focus for my GAME plan.

According to the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T), effective teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). By concentrating my GAME plan on NETS-T standard 2a - teachers design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity, I will provide the resources, learning environment, and support necessary for students to achieve NETS-S standard 1a - students apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes, and standard 1b- students create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

By incorporating digital tools in a variety of learning activities such as Internet research, blogging, creating Power Points, wikis, concept maps, and timelines my students have been able to successfully address several NETS-S standards. With guidance and scaffold instruction, students could employ the GAME plan process to set goals for increasing their proficiency in many NETS-S standards. For example, I am currently designing a project-based biography project involving Internet research and group collaboration creating a wiki. My students could utilize the GAME plan process to set a goal and develop an action plan for their biography project. To monitor their progress, they could assign tasks to each member and create a project timeline with scheduled completion dates. Students would complete a self-evaluation to assess their learning outcomes at the end of the project. Their GAME plan could actually become an interactive piece of the wiki where all members can track and record their progress.

Setting goals and using a systematic process for achieving those goals is a crucial skill for all life-long learners. Goal setting will play an integral part in the future success of every student sitting in our classrooms. It is not something that comes naturally for most students. It must be taught, modeled, and reinforced.


Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach (Laureate Education custom edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

ISTE | National Educational Technology Standards. International Society for Technology in Education | Home. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Revising My GAME Plan

I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with my GAME plan this week. I was still very focused on my goal of employing an array of digital tools - blogs, wikis, videos, and social media to tap into my students' passion for collaborating, creating and sharing. However, I felt like I didn’t know where to begin in designing higher levels of engagement in authentic real world experiences within the content areas. Although I have developed a language arts collaborative wiki project and placed an order for biography books for resources, I still felt like I should also be creating collaborative projects using Web 2.0 tools in science, social studies and math content areas.

Thanks to the resources in our course this week, I have been able to take a breath, calm down and make some revisions to my original action plan. I plan on following the sound advise on how to get started with online networking and collaboration offered by Vicki Davis (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009). My first plan of action is to visit Web 2.0 resources sites such as Eduwiki to locate ideas and examples for student projects so that I am not reinventing the wheel for every project in several content areas. I also plan to start small by creating one project, and then expanding from there. As Vicki Davis said, “You don’t get there overnight” (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009).

The second part of my revised action plan is to search for an online grassroots project to join. According to Vicki Davis, “Teachers must develop a personal learning network of teachers and other experts. For teachers to innovate with Web 2.0 tools, it is vital to connect to their network” (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009). It has become evident that in order for me to successfully integrate Web 2.0 technology into the content areas and provide my students the opportunity to personalize their learning, engage in the discovery process and creatively express their understanding, I must connect and collaborate with educators beyond my school and district.

Now that my students understand the concept of blogging, I am trying to locate an online blogging tool where my students can interact with each other, teachers and experts around the world. Most blog sites are blocked in my district, however I heard this week that they are looking into allowing Moodle. In continuing my search for an online learning platform appropriate for younger students, I plan to check out and Wiggio.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2009a) Spotlight on Technology: Social Networking and Online Collaboration. Part 2. Laureate Press.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evaluating My GAME Plan

This week produced some successes towards meeting my goal of seamlessly integrating technology into my daily instruction. Unfortunately I also experienced a few setbacks (as is often the case when working with technology). The actions I have taken over the past two weeks to increase my classroom technology to include five networked computers were a success. Students were searching the Scholastic News Online site for blogs they wanted to post on. Many of the blogs on this site are an extension of the Scholastic News Magazine articles we use for our reading content. Students selected blogs on current relevant topics such as movies, music, books, news, and conflict resolution. Once they decided on a blog they wanted to participate in, they used Word to write their response. Students used writing strategies, sentence structure and grammar from our language arts content to compose their blog comments. On Tuesday, half of my students used classroom computers to work with partners on their blogs while the other half of the class worked with partners on identifying main ideas in their Scholastic News Magazine. The next day, the two groups switched activities.

The lesson was going well, students were excited and engaged as they applied their reading and writing skills in authentic learning experiences. The only glitch in the plan was when students tried to post their blog and received an access denied message. This technical issue will involve some investigating and problem solving that may require me to modify my action plan. One explanation could be that when students posted blogs last week, we were in the computer lab using newer computers with a higher operating system, which may allow the blogging. Another possibility is that the district filter system has recently blocked posting blogs. I modified the lesson by having students save their blog to their network data folder, and will post it to the blog next week in the computer lab. If the computers in the classroom cannot post comments on blogs, I will have to reevaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of continuing this authentic, real-world experience in the content area of reading.

This would also be an excellent opportunity to focus on the second part of my action plan by collaborating with technology experts in the district to develop solutions to issues such as accessibility to websites for educational purposes. As part of my next steps in my action plan, I will contact our district’s Information Services requesting access to VoiceThread, Blogs and other social networking sites.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Staying On My GAME

In working toward my Goal of designing and developing digital-age learning experiences, I continued exploring opportunities to enhance learning and promote critical thinking by seamlessly integrating technology into my daily instruction. This week I continued to focus on developing authentic problem solving experiences set in a real-world context in the content area of reading.

The first Action I took this week toward reaching my goal was locating resources for age appropriate student participation in blogging. Through exploring the Scholastic News Online website, I discovered several opportunities for students to blog on school related issues presented in our weekly news magazine subscription. This is the perfect opportunity to integrate communication tools into reading content. Within this site, students can also post blogs on top news stories. Additionally, Scholastic Online offered two important resources for implementing blogging in the classroom. The first resource I used with my third grade students was Blogging Rules. This reference sheet outlined rules for Internet Safety and rules to follow for Quality of Work when posting online. The second resource I used with my students was served as an extension of the Quality of Work rules. In the computer lab, my students located a blog at Scholastic Online, and then used a rubric to score the blog on quality of work. For my students, it was authentic application of using a rubric to score another student’s blog. This exercise also helps further the understanding that this experience might be reciprocal in that another student might be on the Internet scoring my students’ blogs as well. Again reinforcing the importance of responsibility when you post on the Internet, because the world is your audience. After scoring a blog, my students selected a story that caught their interest, and submitted their first blog! As they exited the computer lab, I overheard a few students saying how fun that was.

While Monitoring the progress of my game plan, I have identified additional support and resources that are either necessary and/or will enhance the effectiveness of my goals. Although I located an additional computer for my classroom last week, it is evident that the computer needs more TLC than I am able to offer. Another computer in my classroom frequently displays an error screen. I will be submitting a request for service for both computers to my district Tech Support.

I am also gathering resources and materials for a project based learning unit I am developing for this year. I am changing and existing biography research project to incorporate cooperative learning groups and a wiki for the final product. Students will work in partners during the research phase, and then groups of four to develop their wiki. I am currently trying to purchase another set of age appropriate biography books for partners to use as one source of information.

As stated previously, I don’t plan to wait until I have the latest technology resources before I put my GAME plan into action. When Evaluating my GAME plan although I know there will be set backs ahead, I feel excited and motivated about my progress this week. And yes, teachers always have a wish list. As part of my long-range goals, the following resources would increase the type of enriched learning experiences I can offer my students:

  • interactive white board
  • microphones
  • video cameras


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Having established a clear, concise, and obtainable GAME plan for integrating technology into the content areas enabled me to make considerable progress toward my goal of developing digital-age learning experiences in the content areas. I was especially motivated by one of the Stories From Practice in our resources last week. Janice, a second grade teacher, shares, “if I sit around and wait to purchase the latest and greatest technology system, I’m not going to get anything accomplished. I need to use everything I have to its fullest extent” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2010 p.87). That was exactly what I needed to do, use what I have more effectively. To provide as much time with digital tools as possible, I located another computer for my classroom, now I have four networked computers with Internet access. Additionally, I secured another day where I can take my students to the computer lab.

Next, I located resources for Internet activities related directly to our reading content for each week. For independent self-selected reading, my students read fiction novels all day long with Scholastic Reading Counts. Therefore I concentrate reading instruction on nonfiction genre with Scholastic News Magazine for Kids. Unfortunately like many teachers, I’m so busy trying to get through the content standards, I never explored the teacher’s edition that accompanies each issue for resources and lessons on integrating technology. What I discovered was an incredible source for ideas, lessons, and resources for real-life, critical thinking learning experiences right at my fingertips. For example, in our latest issue, Volcanoes Erupt, students explore how volcanoes form, why they erupt, and why the Ring of Fire is such a hot spot. In the resources section, there is a website to access classroom activities on plate tectonics. There is also a website where students can gain more information on volcanoes.

In this particular issue, there was also an article about the migration of whooping cranes and large decline in numbers last year. The teacher’s edition referenced a website for tracking the fall migration of the eastern whooping crane flock as an extension activity.

I now have the flexibility to offer individual, partner and small group computer time in the classroom in addition to two to three class periods a week in the computer lab. I have also found an amazing source for integrating technology into our weekly reading content. I am so excited to get started.


Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Scholastic News Edition 4, Oct. 19, 2009, Vol. 72 No. 5

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting My GAME On

Completing my Master in Science - Intergrating Technology in the Classroom at Walden University has provided me with motivation and encouragement to get my GAME on to explore the possibilities of empowering students through integrating content area learning experiences with critical thinking and new media tools.


To get my GAME on, I first evaluated my confidence and proficiency with the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). I have selected two indicators as the focus for my GAME plan. The first indicator I have selected is to design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments. The second indicator I will concentrate on is to engage in professional growth and leadership.


My plan is to employ an array of digital tools - blogs, wikis, videos, and social media to tap into my students' passion for collaborating, creating and sharing. By designing higher levels of engagement in authentic real world experiences within the content areas, my students will become more self-directed and self-motivated learners. I will start by changing he three major research projects my students complete into Internet- based collaborative inquiry projects. I will also continue to replace traditional textbook based lessons inscience and social studies with Internet-based activities.

The second part of my action plan was evident after listening to Marcie Hall (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009), speak on developing your personal learning network (PLC). In order to continue to build upon my personal best practices, I will, “participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning” (NETS-T, 2009). Although I will continue to assume a leadership roll in technology at my site, I will also seek out experts throughout the district as well as online resources to gain the knowledge and experiences necessary in reaching my goals.


To monitor my progress, I will utilize digital lesson plans. With digital lesson plans I can easily evaluate lessons, make notes, revise, edit, and conveniently store for future use. Digital lessons will also facilitate collaboration and communication on enriching content area learning through technology with professionals in my PLC.


To evaluate and reflect on my progress, I will develop student self-assessments on their learning. Specifically, I will be evaluating their engagement, interest level, creative and critical thinking, and content knowledge learning. I will discuss the effectiveness of learning experiences and collaborate on next steps with colleagues in my PLC.

Final Thoughts

Our students are living in a digital world. Although they may possess the know-how on the actual digital tools, their knowledge on using media tools constructively to create, collaborate, problem solve and communicate is limited. I want my students to be creators to share their own learning instead of simply receivers of content.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Program three. Enriching content area learning experiences with technology, part 1 [Motion picture]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore: Author.

National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) retrieved from on November 10, 2009.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflection on Supporting Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom

Fluency no longer strictly refers to paper, pencil and books. Being literate in today’s information-abundant society means integrating literacy and digital culture. David Warlick (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) explains how new literacies change regularly as technology opens new possibilities for communication and information. This has a direct impact in the classroom as we seek to prepare students for the new literacies that will ultimately define their future. Continually changing information technologies provides unparalleled opportunities for teachers to design and create rich learning experiences for their students. The goal of education is no longer that of simply feeding students content, but to teach students how to learn if we plan to provide them with the futures they deserve.

The students sitting in our classrooms today will be the ones who will shape the future of society and determine the dynamics of the Information Age. They will also be the ones developing advances in technology to meet the needs of the world they live in. If our mission as educators is to have our students become productive participants in society, we must embrace the Information Age. A student’s ability to navigate in a technological society will be a determining factor for their success in life. Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari (2007) ask, “How do we educate our students to meet the demand for high levels of literacy in the technological workplace?” (p.1). The authors go on to say that the key for “meeting these challenges is developing student competence in learning in information-laden environments and for finding meaning from a variety of sources of information.”

My initial reaction to the thought of teaching the higher-level new literacy skills to third grade students was that it would be an ambitious undertaking. Teaching students that are still working on increasing their reading fluency and comprehension skills to identifying appropriate sources of written material, verifying the accuracy of information, and then applying that information to appropriate learning tasks would be an extremely challenging task.

The most interesting revelation I had regarding teaching new literacies skills to my students is that they really can acquire new literacies skills such as identifying, analyzing, summarizing and synthesizing information from the Internet with appropriate modeling, scaffold instruction, guided practice, and thoughtful feedback. By the time I had finished designing my online inquiry-based unit plan for this course, I thought to myself, my students really can do this. It’s just going to take baby steps. I have learned that the greatest motivator for students is the opportunity for them to personalize their learning, engage in the discovery process and creatively express their understanding. Students get excited, and this excitement translates into success.

Due to this course, I am excited about combining cooperative learning and new literacies this year by making content relevant to students’ lives and create opportunities for students to interact with each other in project based learning. In order to create collaborative opportunities for student-centered knowledge development and provide purposeful learning experiences, I will be developing online inquiry based learning projects. According to Eagleton & Dobler (2007), “Working in groups of three or four can help children improve their communication skills, design more creative solutions to problems, and gain a sense of what it is like to manage real problems in the workplace (p.12).

This course has confirmed my commitment toward teaching the new literacies to my students. To meet this aspiration, a professional development goal I would like to pursue is to increase participation in educational partnerships within the local community. During this course, I was immediately drawn to the collaborative project at the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Kidsteam is a partnership between the university and local schools that pairs students with researchers, who then work together to design new technologies for children (

According to Partnership for 21st Century Skills, “teachers can create a 21st century context for learning by: making content relevant to students’ lives, bringing the world into the classroom, taking students out into the world, and creating opportunities for students to interact with each other, with teachers and with other knowledgeable adults in authentic learning experiences (p. 12). There are two excellent opportunities for educational partnerships right in our own backyard. The first is California State University Long Beach, which is conveniently located across the street. I would like to pursue a partnership between my students and possibly both the industrial design department and the computer science department. The second partnership would be with the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, which would align perfectly with third grade science curriculum. Students would have the opportunity to work collaboratively with experts in the field on real life, hands on, problem solving experiences.


Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the Web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York: The Guilford Press.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program One. Skills For The Future [Motion picture]. Supporting Information Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom. Baltimore: Author.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills.

Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Personal Theory of Learning and Technology Integration

Effective teachers must have knowledge of the learning process as well as an understanding of the individual and environmental factors that affect the learner (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). They then apply that knowledge by choosing to implement certain parts of learning theories that best match a student’s needs and a particular lesson’s specific objectives

Studying learning theories in the Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology course over the past two months has substantiated many of my personal beliefs on how students learn. At the center of my personal theory on how students learn is Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. According to Gardner’s theory, every individual possesses some degree of each of the nine types of intelligences, but one or more of the intelligences dominates (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). As an educator, it is my personal challenge to identify each individual student’s dominant intelligences, and subsequently plan instruction that will ensure opportunity for optimum student learning.

In my teaching philosophy, I have always viewed myself as a facilitator of learning by allowing students opportunities to question, examine, explore and analyze to make meaning in their world. Students are engaged in the active process of making meaning by building new ideas or concepts through connections to past knowledge and finding new levels of understanding. With studying a variety of learning theories, it has become evident that my personal theory on learning is grounded in the social learning and constructionist learning theories. Cooperative learning is an important teaching strategy that supports social learning theory. "When students work in cooperative groups, they make sense of, or construct meaning for, new knowledge by interacting with others" (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). A key component to the constructionist learning theory is a learner-centered environment, which maximizes student decision-making and initiative. Dr. Orey (2001) explains the implications of constructionist practices in the classroom as the following, “Learners become more accountable for their learning through designing, sharing, piloting, evaluating, modifying their work, and reflecting on the process”

Integrating technological applications provides students the opportunity to explore and discover while making connections and creating their own artifacts. VoiceThread has unlimited potential as a technology tool for facilitating both constructionist and social learning in the classroom. VoiceThread captures the interest and engages students while they work cooperatively in constructing their own knowledge. I would immediately use VoiceThread to facilitate students communicating and sharing ideas in a discussion board. VoiceThread promotes a synchronous discussion where students can interact with images while explaining their posts.

Web Quests is another Web resource I would like to utilize to support social learning theory. Web Quests are inquiry-oriented activities that allow students to work together to learn about a particular subject. Students work together while using critical thinking skills to analyze the information presented. According to Dr. Orey (2001), “Involvement with application in the real world allows the learning process to take place in a more meaningful context” (p.3).

Two long-term goals related to instructional practice and technology would be:

1. I will create Webquests to integrate into my science curriculum that align with state content standards.

2. I will use simulation games and virtual field trips for social studies and science curriculum that align with state content standards.

In order to achieve these goals, I will continue to research resources available on the Internet for integration into the classroom. I intend to write a grant proposal to obtain an interactive white board for students to use in the classroom. I will also inquire with my district’s IS department for permission to access specific web sites for classroom use.


Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education,

Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Orey, D. M. (2001). Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology.

Retrieved May 5, 2009, from Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles:

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with

classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Social Learning and Technology

Social learning theory revolves around the concept of students interacting with each other for a common purpose in learning. Employing instructional strategies based on the social learning theory is definitely nothing new to teachers. Most all teachers have seen the learning potential when students are given the opportunity to collaboratively construct meaning. However, what is new are the advances in Web technology and the unique and important role it plays in cooperative learning. “Now students can collaborate through the Web with other students in their school, subject experts, and multiuser game players. They can even collaborate across the globe!” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).

Technology resources such as multimedia, Web resources, simulation, and communication software facilitate group collaboration by providing structure for the tasks and allowing members to communicate anytime, anywhere.

Revolution ( is a multiplayer 3D game where players interact with other players and townspeople as they proceed through events that foreshadow the American Revolution. Simulation games give students the opportunity to experience actual historical events as if they lived during that time period. “Gaming simulation is an interactive learning environment that makes it possible to cope with complex authentic situations that are close to reality” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). ( is a shared bookmarking web site that allows both teachers and students to set up their own social bookmarking site to share Web sites, music, books, and more for cooperative learning projects. Students can create online learning communities by sharing Web links, resources and calendars.

ePals ( is a web site that facilitates communication and project-based learning between students in different cities, states, and countries. Students can increase their knowledge about different cultures, languages and issues by learning firsthand from other students around the world.

“Ask an Expert” Web sites allow students the unique opportunity to ask and receive expert advice from professionals currently working in a particular field. The Web offers students direct access to experts in almost any subject areas imaginable from scientists to authors to Olympic athletes and technology experts.

Technology provides a natural environment for social learning by facilitating opportunities for communicating, collaborating, decision-making, problem solving and constructing meaning. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, (2007) offer the following, “To be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively.”


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

Saturday, June 6, 2009

VoiceTread - Unlimited Possibilities

VoiceThread has unlimited potential as a technology tool for facilitating social learning in the classroom. The capability for recording comments with Voice Thread would capture the interest and engage my students while they work cooperatively in creating artifacts. I invite you to check out my latest VoiceThread, Reaching and Engaging All Learners. Feel frre to add comments, it's really quite fun. In this VoiceThread, I take an indepth look at infusuing Universal Design for Learning, Differentiated Instruction, and digital Technology into a thrid grade science unit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Constructing Knowledge with Technology

Constructionist learning theory is the belief that people contstruct their own knowledge by building artifacts. In a constructionist classroom, the teacher is a facilitator and motivator of learning by providing students with options to choose topics of interest to them, to work collaboratively, to construct authentic artifacts and to provide opportunity for rich feedback. Educators have long understood the value of hands-on learning experiences. Technological applications can provide students the opportunity to explore and discover while making connections and creating their own artifacts.

When teaching my third grade students about various graphs, I usually have them learn by constructing their own graph. So I thought, why not add some excitement to the project by using real life technology? First, I give each student a box of Valentine hearts candy. Students are asked to hypothesize how many hearts there are of each color. Once a hypothesis is made, students open their boxes to reveal if their hypothesis was correct. Students then create a spreadsheet document using Excel and enter their data. Students can then quickly convert their data to a variety of graphs, and see the results instantly. They can determine how accurate their hypothesis was. When given engaging, real world experiences, students increase their problem-solving ability, improve their research skills, and work collaboratively as they apply skills and knowledge (Orey, 2001). As sixth-grade teacher, Lynda Donovan (Laureate, 2009) said, “The future is technology. Our job is to prepare them for jobs that haven’t even been developed yet.”

Web resources, interactive gaming and simulations can be “incredibly engaging learning environments, resulting in increased motivation and retention of learning” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p.213). Students have more of a vested interest when they build projects that suit their own interest and abilities. A perfect example of the excitement generated while creating projects with technology, is the class wiki my third grade students are designing. In the initial stages of creating the wiki, students are working in cooperate teams to design and create a page for our wiki. Students are learning how to add text, graphics and edit. They are also experimenting with the wiki at home. They come into class asking if they can add their own page to the wiki.

Check our wiki out at


Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Constructionist & Constructivist Learning theories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Ed., Inc.

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.