Thursday, November 17, 2011

How do People Learn?

Since I spent this week looking into the learning theories: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism, I took the opportunity to really examine adolescents and the way they learn.
I've decided that people learn best when they can apply the information to themselves. This week, I watched as middle school students explored grasshoppers through a hands on dissection and another class watch a movie about periodic elements. The class that was conducting the grasshopper dissections was completely engaged in the assignment. However, the class watching the movie on periodic elements was falling asleep!!! What's wrong with this picture?
I think the problem is in the methods of teaching. The teacher that was conducting the grasshopper dissection (whom happened to be my student teacher) was proving the students with a hands-on experience that is applied to a real-life organisms that students see on a regular basis. The dissection provided information through scientific inquiry. The 8th grade science class that I observed was being provided with a visual of elements, however, the students had no personal connection to the material. Because of this lack of connection, there was no interest, and studentes were falling asleep!!
When it coms to my teaching style, I definitely keep in mind "theories of learning." Throughout my research this week on Behaviorsim, Cognitivisim, and Constructivism, I realized that I take a lot of these components into my own lesson planning. I believe that is important to keep topics current and relevant. By doing this, the students are much more interested and engaged. To my advantage, I get to teach an interesting topic, biology. Because of this, many of my students are able to relate the material to themselves.  Since adolescents are considered egocentric (caring about subjects/topics/things that affect them personally), they only seem interested in school topics that affect them! 
As a great guideline, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies is a way to incorporate current and relevant teaching styles.Within all three learning theories, each of these strategies can easily be applied. For further detail:
Learning Theories: Jigsaw to Matrix

Thinking back to Week One of my EDTC 600 class, I was asked my definition to Instructional Technology. My definition was as stated:

Instructional Technology is scientific theory to keep objectives current and relevant. It is used by myself, the educator, to facilitate cooperative learning among my students and use 21st century skills.

I still believe this! To expand, I now believe, that I'm a firm believer in the learning theory constructivism as well!!

During my classroom observations, I noticed the use of scientific inquiry (constructivism), positive behavior support (behaviorism), and hands on activity with a grasshopper dissection (cognitivism). Like I mentioned in my definition of instructional technology, it isn't just about use of technology (computers), but it involves cooperative learning as well. During my observations, I was able to see this in one class, but the need of improvement in another science class. Since I do have a student teacher this year, I'm getting the opportunity to work with science teachers and how they can take the standards and ideas and incorporate them into 21st century lesson plans!! If I get the opportunity to work with this teacher, I plan to help this person create some hands on labs to show periodic elements. A great example of this may be: A lab using idodine and sulfer to pull fingerprints for desktops!!

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