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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chapter 10 in Learning and Cognition - Content-Area Learning

I enjoyed how the book divided up learning styles and techniques by different subject matters. By specifically looking at how students comprehend and understand different content areas, educators can determine the best instructional methods for teaching their students. However, I was disappointed that the chapter didn’t focus much time on the importance of cross curricular teaching. I agree that it is important to teach your subject matter but research has shown how it is more important to use combined learning techniques from all subjects. Therefore I don’t believe that mostly one subject has more reasoning than others or one fosters more problem solving skills. What is your opinion?   

Chpater 9 in Learning and Cognition - Neuroscience of Learning

Neuroscience can seem like a daunting subject to examine but it is actually important for educators to understand the inner workings of the student nervous system and brain. I have often heard people saying they are more right brained or more left brained but I never really paid attention to what that actually meant. The left hemisphere of the brain controls analytical thinking and reading while the right processes spatial, auditory, emotional and artistic abilities. The most important I read was that the brain ultimately uses both left and right sides of the brain simultaneously to regulate learning and other activities. This makes me wonder if there is truly such a thing as being predominantly right or left brained and what I would be considered. What about you?  

Chapter 11 in Learning and Cognition - Motivation Theory

In the field of education, it is of vital importance to understand motivation theory and how human motivated behavior can help students and teachers in the classroom. The most interesting concept to me is that of achievement behavior – the fear of failure, the hope for achievement and even the fear of success. I have watched countless students struggle with the fear of failure to where they unwittingly perpetuate their fear. The self-worth theory from Covington also discusses how the feelings of the students can actually impede their own learning efforts. As educators, I wonder how we can help motivate students to increase their own self-worth. Decrease their fear of failure and realize exactly how talented they truly are?

Chapter 8 in Learning and Cognition - Developmental Theories

The chapter also discusses how to create developmentally appropriate instruction. However, I was struck with the multitude of factors educators should examine for this instruction and how it varies greatly from student to student. For example, we are to look at their transitioning behaviors, bodily changes, financial background, the developmental stages students are in, how they process information and much more. I have used several techniques in the Table 8.6 (pg 348 - “developmentally appropriate instructional practices”) and I have always taken the time to get to know my students but I wonder how other teachers get to know their students and learn about their students in order to help them develop?  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chapter 7 in Learning and Cognition: Cognition and Instruction

I loved that this chapter focused partly on Technology and Instruction (p.311 – 322). As a technology teacher, I have always been a strong advocate for the integration of technology into teaching styles as a means of stimulation, important 21st century skills, and engagement. My favorite sentence from the book is “Technology is not a cause of learning; rather it is a means for applying principles of effective instruction and learning.”

I am an advocate of the use of technology integration, not of technology taking over all of the teaching duties. Technology cannot be looked at as a solution to teaching problems but as a vehicle to help engage students in the learning process. For example, I do not think creating a power point presentation and reading it word for word to students is utilizing technology effectively for instruction. When have you seen technology misused in teaching practices?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chapter Six in Learning and Cognition - Constructivist Theory

Constructivism is not a theory but a philosophical explanation of how individuals learn. If one is to look at a constructivist classroom, one would notice that students would be asked to show their mastery of skills through the creation of some type of product. For example, while in this Masters Program we are required to create an ePortfolio. This ePortfolio displays our mastery. This product does not always have to be tangible. It can be a student asking questions or even having a discussion on the topic being taught. What forms of products have you used in your classroom that integrates constructivist views of teaching?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chapter Five in Learning and Cognition - Cognitive Learning Processes

In this chapter, the most thought provoking sentence I read was “Simply knowing what to do and how to do it does not produce success.” I think this statement explains why many students do not feel successful in education. Educators must know how students learn information and how that knowledge is stored, retrieved and then used. Through educators understanding the process, students can learn about metacognition and be aware of their own learning and cognition styles. With self-regulation, students gain a level of personal knowledge they did not have before.

What are some techniques to help students develop metacognition awareness?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chapter Four in Learning and Cognition - Information Processing Theory

I think what I took most from this chapter was a better understanding of how to teach my students and the different ways they store and retrieve information. I found it most fascinating that some things I already did in class to engage my students and their prior knowledge of certain subjects were things specifically discussed in the Information Processing Theory chapter.

I learned the most from the information given to help students with short term memory and with long term memory. I didn’t realize how important it was to know the difference between the two and the different instructional techniques that are needed to help students reach their fullest potential. For example, when it comes to short term memory and teaching a lesson, I should focus on sensory items that will get the students’ attention and help them focus on the immediate goals. For long term memory exercises, it is best to connect what the students are learning to something that they can relate to and that is already a part of their lives.

As a teacher, we have more control over the memories and information processes of students than we might realize. All memory functions can be enhanced or triggered by the techniques that we use to instruct. For example, a teacher that is interactive with their students and allows students to work together on projects will have much more success over a teacher that just lectures his or her students.

Overall, as a teacher I found this chapter very interesting and will keep these instructional techniques in my long term memory for future use.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter Three in Learning and Cognition - Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) falls under behaviorism which is intended to explain why animals and humans act a certain way. SCT can be found everyday in the classroom but also simply at home. For example, in the classroom a teacher may use modeling to show a student how to complete a math problem. The student observes the teacher and watches what the teacher does. Then the student completes a similar math problem by modeling after and learning from the teacher. At home, a younger child observes everything and everyone around him. He will emulate anything an adult or older sibling does. The child learns from watching others.

The processes of observational learning are very important for a teacher to understand. Attention, Retention, Production and Motivation are all essential concepts for a productive classroom. The teacher must first gain the attention of the students. Then the teacher focuses on educating so that the student retains the information he or she is taught. The student is asked to create a product to show mastery of the assignment and the student must be motivated through the entire process to learn.

I truly believe in SCT and use in my classroom. I do use the hands-on approach to teaching and think that my students benefit from it. I also encourage them to watch other students and help one another. By observing their peers, they can often learn in a way that I may not be able to teach them. How have you used Social Cognitive Theory in your classroom? How about at home?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chapter Two in Learning and Cognition - Conditioning Theories

Educational Conditioning Theories make up the back bone of many teaching styles and educational outlooks. Conditional learning is one of the basic forms of associative learning or making a new association between events in the environment. Ivan Pavlov is a famous scientist who discovered and documented the principles governing how animals and humans learn. His example of the bell ringing and the dog's response for food is one of the most used examples of how conditioning works.

In a classroom environment, this example reminds me of my high school students. When the school year first starts, my high school students would automatically jumped out of their seats and head for the door when the bell rang to signify the end of class. However, I had to condition them and make it a habit to where instead they would sit quietly in their seats and wait for me to tell them "Have a great day." If a student was standing or talking, the other students would police themselves and tell that student to sit down and get quiet so that I would dismiss them. This became a habit for them and what they knew I expected of them. It soon became second nature for them to wait for dismissal in my class before leaving.

Have you experienced this or have made this happen in your classroom or home? I look forward to more examples of how this works in everyday life.

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