The Wiki Way of Learning

As much of what I am learning throughout the Curriculum and Instruction Program is centered around the educational theory of constructivism-I appreciate the ‘wiki way of learning’. That is, the communal construction of knowledge.  Humans are innately social beings so we, as educators, must nurture that characteristic and shy away from a more competitive model.

I also clung to the idea that there cannot be a construction of knowledge that aids in understanding and mental growth if individualism is not nourished. For instance, as stated on page 138 of this article, “Collectively, teachers and students benefit from a shared collaborative document that could not have been built without unique contributions from different authors,” and continues by stating that, “…it is a mode of thinking and acting that requires individuality in order to be a collective experience” (2009).

Going forward with the ‘wiki way of learning’, and not having many resources in my classroom to work with currently, I am going to attempt this collaborative knowledge idea on bulletin boards. This will be a place where new learnings, elaborations, thoughts, feelings, and questions can be posted, in linguistic or nonlinguistic representations, surrounding a particular idea or concept that is aligned with the current unit of study. I would contribute to the collaboration as well to monitor understanding and clarify as needed. This will also be used as a formative assessment tool that will continuously provide information about students’ growth of knowledge.

Also, each Friday or so, the class and I could have a group discussion surrounding the ideas and thoughts posted on the bulletin boards and come up with a group generated summary that would be pasted on the classroom blog or website. This way, “…knowledge is formed by the individual as a process rather than a product that is presented by them. Being a process, knowledge is always ‘in formation’ rather than ‘already formed’ (2009).

Ruth, A., Houghton, L. (2009). The wiki way of learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2). 135-152.


Bridging the Divide: Facilitating the exploration of emerging technologies that support innovative learning and teaching

An important question asked in this article, regarding technology use in instruction, was, “What do you want to be able to do?”  As I ponder this question I seem to come to the same answer over and over again, “I don’t know!” Mike Bogle, the author of this article, lists objectives he hopes to achieve:

an “increase awareness of emerging technology, particularly in its capactiry to enhance learning and teaching;

model effective use and best practice in a way that holistically integrates pedagogical factors;

establish a comprehensive support framework;

embed eLearning activities in wider policy measures.”

I need, not only insight into new technology, but someone to model for me how to use these technologies effectively and efficiantly in the classroom. Also, as Karin Stinger stated in her voice thread, I need to know if these technological teaching practices are going to be realistic in a second grade classroom with two computers. I need someone that is accessable, in the school, to, as Mike Bogle states, “help translate offline activities to an onlin framework and assess the pre-existing knowledge and comfort levels, and then having done that, to help develop a plan of attack for the next stage.”

What Bogle explains throughout the article; “…planning stages, through curriculum development and learning design, to the delivery and assessment stages…reflection and evaluation…” is explaining exactly what teachers do to learn the best practices of reading or math instruction. It’s just that technology, no matter how firmly it is planted in our societal culture, has not yet rooted itself as an essential ingredient of ‘best teaching practices.’

The people that know the answer to the question, “What do you want to be able to do?” Or, the people that have explored teaching through technology need to document and share their findings. Bogle’s last paragraph states exactly what education needs; real-world examples that we can analyze, enhance, practice -and from there- advance.

Bogle, Mike. (2008). Bridging the Divide: Facilitating the exploration of emerging technologies that support innovative learning and teaching.

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0.

I found the most prominent idea in this article to be the social learning aspect, as stated on page 3, “the focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning.”  A child can only learn so much via direct instruction, say about tolerance of other perspectives and ideas, but if the child were to engage in discussions surrounding various topics and be able to consciously change his schema surrounding that concept – that knowledge, that student –  will want nothing more than to share the experience and, in turn, share and create a similar experience for another.

Also, I have always found apprenticeships to be an effective learning process; but how great to have multiple masters as well as multiple apprentices to learn with (I say to learn with instead of to learn from because learning to be is a evolutionary process; no matter if you are a master or an apprentice!)

Having open source forums increases motivation for students to further their education. On page 15, Brown and Adler write about the demand-pull approach, saying that it is a “passion-based learning.” The student’s natural intrinsic motivation is tapped simply by allowing access to information that is interesting and intriguing to the student. Ownership plays a large role as the student becomes an active participant in a community’s evolving knowledge-it is no longer solely the community molding the child. We all now have the opportunity to be heard and our ideas (no matter how small) are taken into account. We participate, therefore we are.

I teach second grade and I know my students would love to hear and see how others discuss their ideas. I wonder if, in my classroom, could set up a some sort of forum (perhaps it would be a blog) about certain children’s books where students, teachers, and parents to discuss what main ideas and learning they took away from the story (perhaps could invite the author to join in and give us what he or she thought when writing the story).

Brown, J. S., Adler, R.P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1).

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary is and must be taught in schools yet so many teachers don’t know how to effectively and efficiently integrate vocabulary instruction into their classrooms. Vocabulary instruction isn’t only necessary for English language learners but for the general education population as well. We, as teachers, have (or should have) a knowledge of prepositions, conjunctions, suffixes and prefixes, nouns and verbs but do we understand that there are certain words that will give us the most bang for our buck? Do we know what the best teaching practices are for promoting vocabulary growth in our children? I will highlight some of the teaching practices that I have found most beneficial including high frequency words and word utility, strategies to teach word relationships and awareness, and the importance of reading and conversation. To read more:

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Is culturally relevant professional development necessary for teachers to be the most effective educators for Native American students?

In the following document you will see my research proposal for enhancing Native students’ educational experience through professional development for teachers of Native students.

Native American students have consistently scored lower than their European American peers on the WASL in the areas of reading and math. Teachers that receive professional development centered  around the needs of Native American populations will have a positive impact on the academic success of Native American students as well as provide a more diverse education for non-Native students.

NA research proposal

Maximizing Motivation

Motivation is the key to effectively educating children. There are three main aspects to maximizing a child’s motivation to read: choice, collaboration, and competence (Gaskins, 1998). “One reason that motivation and engagement may influence the development of reading comprehension is that motivated students usually want to understand text content fully and therefore, process information deeply” (Guthrie, et. al., 2004). Read more in the following document: Maximizing Motivation

Teachers, Not Technicians

Reflecting on my own instructional practices regarding technology, I discovered that I am in the adoption phase of the five stages of the instructional evolution to integrating technology in the classroom.

The stages, defined by Judith H. Sandholtz and Brian Reilly, are quite interesting: Entry; Learning the basics of using technology, Adoption; successfully using technology on a basic level consistent with existing instructional practices, Adaptation; using technology to increase productivity, more frequent and purposeful, Appropriation; use of technology with no effort to accomplish instructional and management goals, Invention; technology is a flexible tool, learning is collaborative, interactive and customized; new teaching and learning practices emerge (2004).

I feel that I am stuck in the adoption phase because of two main reasons; time and availability.

Time is needed not only to plan and collaborate but also to explore new  instructional strategies and learning practices surrounding technology use. In the Everyday Mathematics curriculum explorations are a key component to initially addressing critical concept information.  This exploration phase allows the students to discover and begin to define concepts on their own or with peers to begin making connections and thinking about their background knowledge before the teacher begins the presentation of new information. This effective instructional strategy should be implemented in educators’ professional development regarding technology’s implications for teaching and learning practices.

Availability of technology equipment and professional development opportunities of various kinds is necessary. There is only so much one can do to get more equipment so I have begun to assert my creativity in order to enhance my students’ learning experience surrounding technology. For example, this bportfolio gave me a great idea for my class next year. Seeing as I only have a couple computers in my room, I thought that it would be a good practice for the class as a whole to compile our reflections of learning into a summary on a blog page.  This way students, teachers, and parents are connected to the experiences occurring in the classroom. When parents ask, “What did you learn at school today?” There will no longer be a passing of silence but a “Look at our blog!”

Also, like many of our students, we learn differently.  Like David Wicks stated in his brief summary of our voice threads, what one can do with a handbook another needs to be face-to-face and so on. Professional Development also needs to be more focused on instructional practice rather than – this is how you use an online grade-book or make a graph. I want to know how to better engage my students and prepare them for our ever-changing world of technology.

Overall, technology needs educator buy-in. Technology use in instruction must become a district culture if it is going to be utilized effectively and effeciantly for all educators and students.

Sandholtz, J. H., Reilly, B. (2004). Teachers, not technicians: Rethinking technical expectations for teachers. Teachers College Record, 106(3), 487-512.

Language Development and Linguistic Diversity

Two of my colleagues and I created this power point presentation to better understand and aid our fellow educators’ understandings in how children learn language, to investigate the positive and negative impacts of second-language learning and to better serve students with language disorders. Language Development and Linguistic Diversity power point

Growth Portfolio in Mathematics

Attached is a sampling of Kaitlin’s growth portfolio that shows her progress in backward number sense and numeral identification. The first table in this document is Kaitlin’s initial assessment of these skills and is followed by intervention assignments as well as follow-up assessments of both her backward number sense and numeral identification skills.  These artifacts illustrate her exceptional growth in these mathematical concepts.  Student Growth Portfolio

Assessing Fluency: Is There a Better Way?

Fluency has yet to enter the spotlight in reference to good reading instruction. However, we expect our students to pass multiple fluency tests throughout the school year regardless of the absence of explicit fluency lessons. School districts throughout the country rely on the fluency standards the Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment provides and yet the DIBELS’s only fluency task is speed.  Assessing Fluency Using DIBELS Tests

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