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: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with
classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.