Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chapter 10 Content-Area Learning

In reading content-area learning, I was disappointed about one thing, the arts are not mentioned. I understand that they are not considered a “core subject” but one can always hope. I feel that motivation and self-regulation, and language comprehension are items that I take into consideration when designing lesson plans. Having said that, the section of this chapter that intrigued me was the “writing to learn” idea mentioned on page 430. The book states that writing has been credited with improving student learning capacity and academic achievement. The language arts teachers at our school are firm believers of this theory. They require students to actively participate in the world that surrounds them, by commenting on events in the form of editorials. Some topics covered were, the border wall, the recycling ban and the Arizona law. The teacher then submitted the articles to the local paper’s “Letters to the Editor”. Over the past couple of months, a good portion of that classes’ letters were published. The students increase in self-efficacy in their potential to be published writers is quite evident. Students were in the computer lab researching literary magazines and online student sites for opportunities to publish more of their work. I couldn’t help but think, this is an excellent example of “writing to learn” and its benefits on student self-efficacy and academic achievement.
Do any of you, have any examples of instances similar to this, or other programs that exist out there?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 11- Motivational Theories

An amusing side note I must include, is that I thought the reading for this week was chapter 9, the Neuroscience of Learning. Wow, did I have to filter through that a couple of times only to realize that we were supposed to be reading Ch. 11. The theme of Motivation in Chapter 11 is an ideal subject for a teacher. This is one thing I constantly struggle with when designing lesson plans, “how will I motivate my students to learn?” In my teaching experience of almost two years, I have noticed that if the students are motivated the learning comes naturally. The section that appealed to me most in this chapter, was the one devoted to Social cognitive theory. My literature review topic is self efficacy. It makes complete sense to me that a student needs to have confidence in his or her ability to learn before they can start to set goals and expectations. So what are we as teachers doing in our classrooms to try to increase this “Self efficacy” within our students?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chapter 8- Development and Learning

Chapter 8 discusses development and its affects on child learning. While theories and ideas from familiar names, such as Bruner and Piaget were revisited, the child study movement and the familial influence on learning concept were introduced. One aspect of this chapter that I found very interesting was the section on SES located under familial influences. The book is clear to state that the SES or the socio economic status of a student’s family is not the reason for a student’s lag in development but rather a contributing factor to difficulties in development. (Schunk pg. 350). I work at a school that is specifically geared towards educating the students of lower income families and providing these students with the education and opportunities needed to break the cycle of poverty. I never fully understood the concept of “breaking the cycle” until I started teaching and was able to witness firsthand the affects of a student’s SES on their education. Consider the unfortunately common scenario that applies to a student who lives in a low income home. The student is also the oldest of five children and must help his/her mother/father with feeding, bathing and putting the younger children to sleep. After doing all this, the student must still find the time and energy to complete his/her homework. The next day in class the student has trouble staying awake during a lecture and misses important information concerning an upcoming test. Now this student could be right where he/she is supposed to be developmentally speaking, but because of his/her family’s current financial situation, he/she is experiencing much difficulty. As educators it’s our duty to be aware of our students’ engagement in class and to develop engaging lessons that will increase students’ motivation to learn, but I do feel it is important to maintain a relationship with students’ parents.

Consider the previously mentioned scenario. What are some actions that we, as teachers, could take to aid this student?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cognition and Instruction

Chapter 7 focuses on cognition and instruction. I found myself most vested in the section concerning technological applications. I am a technology applications instructor for middle school. Two examples of computer based instruction that I implement in my class's curriculum is Mavis Beacon (A typing program) and (An online program). The typing program has proved to be an important tool in students reaching their typing goals. Along with lessons, the program tracks student's progress and rewards them with occasional games. After having observed students working with this program over the past year and a half, I have noticed that if a student is having trouble with certain keys on the keyboard, the program will redirect their lessons. is an online program in which students log on and complete online lessons that have been assigned by myself. These lessons are standard and have been created by Easytech(If I am correct), all I do is scroll through the list and select the lessons that I feel relate to the current unit. One problem that I have with this program, is that there is no way to differentiate the lessons on the program. I use this program more as a supplement to other modes of instruction, so I am able to differentiate in other areas. However, my concern would be with those who solely use the online lessons. There are also other lessons that have been uploaded by educators around the country, which are extended activities for these lessons. I think it is a valuable tool, but I guess my concern with computer base instruction without instructor added supplementary activities, is the lack of potential for differentiation. My feelings are that this might prove to be a disservice for some students.

My questions for you all out there concerning Computer based instruction are:
Do any form of computer based instruction in your classrooms? If so, what type?

Do you any supplementary material to accompany the lessons?

Do any of you share the same concern that I do concerning differentiation and computer based programs?