Monday, December 19, 2011

Course Reflection - EDUC 6711

            During the last seven weeks, we studied several different learning theories and had the opportunity to grow as an educator.  In addition, we studied how integrating technology into these various learning theories can enhance student learning.  I have always felt that, since students learn in different ways, we must learn to incorporate different instructional strategies in our classes.  Having studied the various instructional tools throughout this course, I feel I have a broader range of tools to use in my classroom.  I also feel I have a better grasp on why certain students respond differently to the same instruction.  Trying to reach all learners is a challenge.  As educators, we must constantly evolve so we can continue to offer our students the best opportunity to grow in our classrooms.
            In week one of this course, we developed a personal theory of learning.  In it, I stated that all students have an innate desire to learn.  Students lose focus and motivation when the challenges become too great for them to handle.  Once students have the confidence that they can achieve in the classroom, they are more willing to work hard to battle challenging topics.  In my theory of learning, I also stated that students learn in different ways.  As teachers, we need to vary our instruction so all students can be successful.
            I would like to make some modifications of my personal theory of learning.  I still think students want to learn.  I still think instruction needs to vary to help students.  However, my focus before this class centered on how I delivered instruction to students.  Studying constructionism and connectivism allowed me to understand the power of learning strategies where students learned the concepts on their own with me being more of a facilitator.  Let the kids build a roller coaster to develop an understanding of energy and its conservation.  Let students work together and learn from each other as opposed to everyone learning my way.  With the many technological tools available, the possibilities are endless.  I may be able to learn from students in the same way they learn from me.  If I can learn to let students take on greater responsibility, students will be able to better understand the concepts I am trying to teach them.
            Two tools I would like to incorporate into my classes are Voice Thread and One Note.  I see an extremely high value in using Voice Thread when I know I am going to be out.  Instead of students working out of their textbooks, I could develop a Voice Thread lesson plan to instruct them.  Students would be able to collaborate using Voice Thread to achieve a particular learning goal.  One Note is a tool that I feel also has great potential.  One Note allows for collaborative work, especially in the one-to-one environment.  Even if we do not go to the one-to-one environment, One Note can still be used to have students work cooperatively.  There are many other tools I have learned about during this course.  However, I am a believer that one cannot learn and implement many tools at once.  As I continue to develop my repertoire of instructional skills, I will be able to include more tools into my classroom.
            One long-term goal change I would like to make is to institute a more regular lab/student-centered learning activity using technology.  While I use some of these activities throughout the year, I feel like I can incorporate more.  If I planned out more and preset the dates,  I would be more inclined to do more.  Oftentimes, I get caught up in how much of the curriculum I have covered.  I then have to decide to spend time on a lab or to move on to another topic.  Sometimes, due to time constraints, I choose the latter.  I need to make a better effort to incorporate these activities on a regular basis.
            Another long-term goal I would like to change is to use more collaborative work.  Many students have their own laptops in class.  We are looking to implement a one-to-one program where each student has his own laptop.  Many schools who have already implemented such a program use One Note regularly.  By learning how to use One Note, will be in a position to better incorporate this application in a classroom setting.  By doing this, students will be able to collaborate much easier.  Until we do that, I will have to find other ways of students collaborating.  By having students work together, they can learn from each other.
            There are still many ideas that I would like to implement.  These take time to complete.  However, I am making progress on that front.  In addition, I am a member of the technology committee.  I need to continue bringing ideas to the committee to enhance the learning environment of the school, not just my classroom.  As I develop my skill level in this area, other teachers will be able to do so as well.  This will give our students a better chance of success in the classroom.

Tim Trotta

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