My personal learning theory, developed in week one of this course is as follows:
I believe students learn through a chain reaction of experiences. The knowledge acquired through a given experience can then be connected to a new idea, which can then be learned by drawing on the learner’s previous experience. Transfer occurs via a student’s immersion within a given learning experience. Learning is therefore like a set of dominoes, where each domino represents a given experience, and each is necessary to “knock over” the next.
After taking this course, I still stand by my original description. According to Orey (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.), learning theories consider what transpires in the learner’s mind during the learning process and assume that the learner is actively involved during the process. My theory was written with these ideas in mind and I do not believe any further modification is necessary. What I have learned, however, is how to use technology to create or accentuate the learning experiences my students will use to gain knowledge. I believe this was the ultimate purpose of the course: to begin a lesson with how the learning is going to happen and then use technology to either create the necessary experience or to add depth to it.
I certainly feel this course has expanded my repertoire of instructional skills. While I would say I was fairly adept using most of the nine instructional skills described by Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn’s Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned many possible ways to enhance the skills through technology usage. What I would like to do in the short term with my newly acquired knowledge, is to add technology to some of my previously designed learning experiences. Two such experiences that come to mind will be approaching shortly in my geometry courses. After we have studied quadrilaterals, I typically give the students a blank graphic organizer in which they list the theorems related to each quadrilateral. To enhance this idea with technology usage, I will have the students create the organizer (with some guidance of course) themselves using Inspiration or any other free organizing software. In another upcoming lesson on slopes, I would like to add motion sensors to the lesson in order to model constant speed situations. My students would then have to interpret the meaning of the slopes of the lines the made after they had a good old kinesthetic time creating the graphs. These real-life connections to math are missing from far too many of my lessons.
In the long term, I would like to add at least one lesson per unit to my courses where students use technology to experiment, make predictions, and experience a real-life connection to the mathematics they are learning. My motivation is not simply due to Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn’s (2012) assertion these students will attain a deeper understanding of lesson concepts (p. 204), but because this type of thinking is the foundation for mathematics and science in general and should therefore be part of the curriculum. Accomplishing this goal will take planning and collaboration with other teachers in order for them to buy into this notion. It would also likely require some curriculum trimming to ensure we have the time to perform the activities, but it should be a realistic goal to attain. If two of these lessons can be added per year, it shouldn’t take long to ensure that I have a scientifically minded student population leaving my classroom in the summer. I would certainly feel better about my teaching if I knew this were happening. With some time and work, it will happen.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Instructional theory vs. learning theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.