Sunday, February 27, 2011

"What was inter-mental becomes intra-mental." - Vygotsky

In a classroom the constructivist view of learning can lead towards a number of different teaching practices. Students are encouraged to use active techniques and reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher will then guide the activity presented to the student and have them build on it by encouraging learning and reflection. The constructivist teacher will provide tools such as problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities where students can formulate and test their ideas, draw conclusions and pool their knowledge in a collaborative learning environment. Constructivism removes the student from a passive to an active participant in the learning process. One of the best ways to understand what constructivism is and what it means in your classroom is by seeing examples of it at work. Does any have any examples that they could share with the class?

Friday, February 18, 2011

I before E except after C !

A Mnemonic device is a memory aid that provides a method for organizing information to make it more easily remembered. Much of what we learn in school is simple memorization. There have been many studies done that suggest using mnemonics actually improves the ability to apply the information remembered. The human brain likes patterns. When we learn something new, our brain tries to find an association between the new information and the stuff we already know. There are many different types of mnemonics; acrostic sentences, acronyms, rhymes, phrases, keyword mnemonics, loci mnemonics, and narrative chaining.
In my classroom mnemonics are used daily to assist our students with remembering. One example: DCAP-BTLS is used when looking for injuries on trauma patients. It stands for Deformities, Contusions, Abrasions, Punctures, Penetrations, Burns, Tenderness, Lacerations and Swelling.
I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t used Mnemonics at one time or another whether for yourselves or in your classrooms. As rare as it may be I have heard some people say you should learn the concept and not just memorize letters. Does anyone have any personal experiences or funny stories with mnemonics that they would like to share?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What did you say?

As I was reading Chapter 4 about the Cognitive Information Processing Theory a particular topic “caught my eye” theories of attention. My medical background teaches me that it is essential for our survival that our brains filter out an enormous amount of input. We need to block some things in order to deal with others effectively and that we all have differences in our abilities to control our attention and block out irrelevant stimuli effectively.
Anyone have students or a child who “studies” with earphones on as they blare out loud music? I always wondered how people can do that.
We as teachers also need to be aware of distractions on our part that we may unknowingly do. The book sites suggestions to mix-up the classroom material to focus and maintain student attention. Using signals, movement, variety, interest and questions can keep it a great learning environment for everyone.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is it possible to read a book about driving a car and actually know how to drive a car?

Chapter 3 talks about the Social Cognitive Theory. A theory based on learning that occurs in a social environment based on the relationship between three factors: behavior, environmental and personal. Albert Bandura believed that people could learn new actions merely by observing others perform them. This I believe to be true as I have seen it in my classroom. With my students we can lecture over and over and OVER about a certain skill or procedure but not until we break out the equipment and actually run through a demonstration do they grasp the concepts. In relation to the Social Cognitive Theory this chapter also talks about external items. Whether or not we perform depends on many factors as well. Some of these factors include our own motivation or interest in the topic. Whether or not there are incentives (grade) a need or social pressures.
So how do people’s experiences, environments and behaviors affect how they learn? Can you share some of your experiences?  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Conditioning Theories - Chaining

Chapter 2 Conditioning Theories talks about chaining and it sites a few examples such as riding a bicycle. Does this mean that the learner is doing several actions or items simultaneously without necessarily thinking about each? Can anyone clarify this topic for me? 

Conditioning Theories - Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Chapter 2 Conditioning Theories talks about Positive and Negative Reinforcement. As you read further it cites an example of the use of punishment and how it does not teach how to behave more productively and can actually hinder learning. I am curious of anyone’s opinions or if anyone has any stories that can be shared on this subject matter.