Sunday, February 5, 2012

Solution to my VoiceThread

This is the link to see the solution:

If you have not done it, do not cheat, try it out. It is really interesting to do!

Friday, February 3, 2012

My voicethread

In my voicethread, I posted a problem to solve for students. This exercise is for high school students. Younger students would not have the skills needed to solve this exercise. This is the link:

I am sorry I could not use voice as well. My microphone got wrong, I need a new one :(

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cooperative Learning and Social Learning Theories

Social learning theories are based on the idea that culture and content are important in understanding what occurs in society and the knowledge we acquire (Jackson, Karp, Patrick & Thrower, 2009). Human beings are social by nature and, since we are born, we learn from others. It is fundamental that teachers, in the same way teaching is not a solitary profession anymore, use strategies to enhance and encourage social interactions among the students to help them develop their skills and acquire knowledge by learning from each other. The instructional strategy Cooperative Learning applies what social learning theories say about how we learn.

The Cooperative Learning strategy "focuses on having students interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning" (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 139). This strategy allows them to learn to work in groups, skill they will need for the 21st century jobs they will acquire in a not so far future, and lets them construct knowledge learning from their peers. "The main purpose of cooperative learning is to actively involve students in the learning process; a level of student empowerment which is not possible in a lecture format" (Furney, Richardson & Ritt, 2006). As teachers, using this strategy we are enhancing social constructivism, giving students multiple opportunities to construct their knowledge from their peers and, at the same time, we are addressing multiple learning styles. 

One of my favorite activities that can be used to apply cooperative learning is the Jigsaw strategy. It consists of organizing a small group of students to learn different parts of an extended content and each member would teach the others the part they were assigned to learn about. This strategy is way useful when reading books, learning aspects of history, to investigate the parts of the cell, and much more. The ways it can be used are unlimited. To find more ideas on how you can use the Jigsaw strategy in the classroom, check this link: The reader might want to be careful checking this site because it allows you to see only five resources free.

Picture retrieved from  http://pedagogy21.pbworks.
It is very important when using cooperative learning to use a variety of criteria to group students, either informal, formal, or based groups (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 140). Taking this into consideration, the teacher will be able to include in the variety of assignments these five components, main base of the social constructivism ideas: Positive interdependance (we all work or we will fail), face-to-face promotive interaction (helping each other to learn and reinforce effort), individual and group accountability (each member has to contribute to reach a goal), interpersonal and small-group skills (like communication, trust, and leadership), and group processing (how the team works and how it can improve) (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 140).

This is not limited to their classroom mates though. Connecting with students in other places like cities, states, and countries, "challenges them to learn about other cultures, languages, and issues throughout the world" (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 145).  Technology gives us tools to make this possible. Some of the tools available for this are ePALS and Keypals Club International, among other great resources.

Technology provides wonderful and a wide range of resources to create cooperative learning scenarios. Creating a website, using WebQuests, sharing bookmarking and calendars, and even creating a course management system program provide the students thousand of opportunities to learn in groups and to work in groups. In this webpage, the reader will be able to find a lot of great resources to use this strategy, among other free teaching resources:

I am sure it can be overwhelming to know all the alternatives we have as teachers to create a cooperative learning scenario. Even though, we should never forget the fact that we are helping our students to construct their future together.


Furney, Richardson & Ritt. (2006) Cooperative Learning. Retrieved from 

Jackson, Karp, Patrick & Thrower. (2009). Social Constructivism. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works.Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Constructivism and Constructionism

Constructivism and constructionism: so similar concepts that we used to mix together as one. To be able to get the difference, I have created an analogy to help me remember it. The V word is meaning and the T word is building. Constructivism (the V word) "expresses the theory that knowledge is built by the learner, not supplied by the teacher" and constructionism (the T word) "expresses the further idea that happens especially felicitously when the learner is engaged in the construction of something external or at least sharable" (Orey, 2001). This website will provide a better insight of the difference between these two theories: The instructional strategy Generating and Testing Hypothesis is completely related to these two theories. We will see how.

I have always related the word Hypothesis to science because it is part of the scientific method. Nevertheless, hypotheses can be created in all the subjects. To find more about how creating hypotheses can be used in every subject, check this link: When we make an hypothesis, we are stating what will happen before we try it out. "When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content" (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 202). This statement demonstrate how the constructivism and the constructionism are related to this strategy.

The skills that are worked with these strategies has to do with system analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making. These tasks, as Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski describe them, describe what the project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based activities are about (2007, p. 2003). "When teachers vary the processes in their classrooms, they are following the classroom recommendation that their students be engaged in different types of hypothesis generation" (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 204). This way, students will have a lot of opportunities to construct their learning, and build their own projects to share them with the world, just as the theories of constructivism and constructionism suggest.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cognitivism in Practice

The cognitive learning theories are all about information processing. According to Orey, there are three steps of the information processing model, which are the sensorial reception of the information, the adquisition of that information in the short-term memory, and, with enough rehearsal, it will get into the long-term memory (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). Taking into consideration that the "relationships among two or three concepts are about the limit of working memory's processing capacity" (Novak & Cañas, 2008, p. 6), there are two instructional strategies that allow the teacher to help their students learn new concepts and connect their old learned concepts with the new ones. These strategies are Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers" and Summarizing and Taking Notes.

The first instructional strategy, Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers, "focuses on enhancing students' ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic" (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008, p. 73). The cues are reminders or hints about what the students will experience, the questions trigger students' memories and help them to have access to their prior knowledge, and advance organizers are provided before a learning activity to help students classify and make sense of the content they will find, especially the new content that it is not organized in the original format (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008, p. 73). This is directly related to the cognitive learning theories when we consider the components of the cognitive learning theories, as Orey explained them, are: limited short-term/working memory, elaboration, dual coding hypothesis, and network model of memory (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a).  Short-term memory can process 5 to 9 pieces of information at one time and anything that can be done to limit the quantity of information assures the learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). Providing cues, questions, and advance organizers such as concept maps, brainstorming software (Rapidfire, Kidspiration), and high level questions (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008), combining images and text as the Palvio's dual coding hypothesis states, will limit the information the students need to process in their short-term memory,  and eventually provide practice enough so the students can store all the new information in the long-term memory's networks of information (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). To see some examples of how to formulate questions according to Bloom's taxonomy, check this website:

The second instructional strategy, Summarizing and Taking Notes, "focuses on enhancing students' ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form" (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008, p. 119). Summarizing is probably one of the most difficult skills to learn by students. To complete this process, students will need to delete, substitute, and keep information, but to achieve this, the students will need to analyze the information at a deep level (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001, p. 31). When the process is completed, the information selected would fit perfectly into the short-term memory to be processed easier. Using the rule-based summarizing and the technology that the word processing applications provide using Track Changes feature will teach students how to summarize a text in a way that is easier for them to understand the important content (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008, p. 121-123). I found very enriching summarizing activities here:

The concept mapping and the virtual field tour would be excellent tools when using these two instructional strategies. The concept mapping can be used either to analyzing previously known concepts or to summarize a text and they support the dual coding of information (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). The virtual field tour can be the foundation of ideas when learning content by creating episodes that students would not have otherwise and give them the opportunity to go to places that they cannot go physically (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011b). I believe that the most important aspect of using these strategies is that they develop students' critical thinking, one of the skills they will need the most in the 21st century job field.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment.

Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 01-2008. Retrieved from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Web site:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Instructional Strategies vs. Behaviorism

The instructional strategies analyzed and studied this week, “Reinforce effort” and “Homework and Practice” are examples of what behaviorism is. Behaviorism “emphasize changes in behavior that result from stimulus-response associations made by the learner” (2001). Starting from this definition, we will see how these strategies are correlated with the principles of behaviorist learning theory.

According to Pitler and Hubbell, “the instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning” (2007, p. 155). If we contrast this with the behaviorism definition, to reinforce effort provides stimulus to obtain changes in behavior or attitudes. Usually, students cannot see the relationship between the effort they make to become better in their classes with their success or failure. Reinforcing effort allows them to notice this relationship and helps them to make changes in their performance to achieve success.

I have always believed in rubrics to assess students’ work. It is amazing how they can help students when reinforcing effort, especially if they collaborate in the rubric construction process. What I like the most is how Excel can be used to show students this relationship between effort and success with graphics and spreadsheets. “By looking at the chart, students can clearly see the relation between their effort and grades they earned on their tests” (Pitler & Hubbell, 2007, p. 159). Even that it is not related directly to reinforcing effort, this blog talks about motivating students to learn, which has a lot to do with changing behavior and attitudes:

Regarding to “Homework and Practice” strategy, it is an extension outside of the classroom and “provides opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of the content and to gain proficiency with their skills” (Pitler & Hubbell, 2007, p. 187). I have always had a conflict with homework because, when it is not well applied, the students do not benefit as they should. Usually, parents get involved so much that students would not do their homework by themselves, which would not allow them to learn the homework targeted skills. Behaviorism correlates with this strategy because homework and practice is used to obtain a change in students, which is the master of complex skills and content outside of the classroom and link students’ view about the relationship between school work and real life.

In Puerto Rico, homework for most teachers is still viewed as a written assignment they would put in the children’s notebook and have them answered the next day or projects that their parents would do the 80% of it. I pray every day that they can learn what I am learning here about all the technology that can be used instead of those homework techniques like spreadsheets. What I liked the most about the technology embed with this strategy is the use of multimedia. I explored some of the links suggested by Pitler & Hubbell and I noticed most of these multimedia programs are not free. Even though, the resources and the attraction they provide for children are more appealing for them to do homework than writing in their notebooks. It is not the same to solve 10 addition exercises in my notebook and answering the same exercises through an interactive game. I loved the web site creation for homework multimedia. It reminded me a lot about Kidware Millenium and Waterford software programs, which I used as a preschool teacher. These two resources are an example of multimedia practice. I found these interesting blog about homework. I have to admit I agree with most of what they say there:

There is something I have not been able to find out and maybe one of you can help me to find it. Pitler & Hubbell said that Microsoft Word has a word search, which can be found in Tools>Research (2007, p. 189). Could anyone tell me where to find it in Word 2007? I have not been able to do it. I think this is a great tool that can save time in the internet when searching for definitions.

As teachers, we need to ensure students’ achievement in the content mastery and their socio-emotional development so they can be useful and mentally healthy citizens in their adults’ lives. These strategies are developed to achieve these goals and, with the technology help, our students will be able to do it in a much more engaging and funnier way than how it was taught to us back when we were school students.


Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Behaviorism. Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My New Views as a 21st Century Teacher

This course has helped me in ways I would have never expected. When I first saw the learning resources for this course, my first thought was about my own learning using wikis, blogs, and podcast, but I never imagined that what I was going to learn was how to use them in behalf of my students learning. About my technology skills, it helped me greatly to learn how to use podcasts and the technology I would need to do them, discovering that it is easier to use than I thought once you get the basics. The feature I enjoyed the most was the wiki, I have come up with so many ideas on how to use that great tool in my classroom, and how it can help me professionally as well.

My knowledge about the learning process and teaching have changed somehow. I have never had a teacher-centered perspective. I have always believed that students must discover, research, and create to make their learning meaningful and long lasting. This course has helped me to acquire more tools and skills to be able to accomplish this goal in ways more pertinent to the 21st century generations.

I will continue expanding my knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology to achieve student achievement by staying updated about new trends in technology, gathering resources and tools I will be able to use, and sharing knowledge with other teachers. Probably the most important aspect of all is staying focused in my students as human beings with strengths and weaknesses who need me to care about them deeply individually, keeping in mind their learning styles and specialty.  

I cannot think about two long-term goals within two years to transform my classroom environment because I have no idea of what I will find in my classroom when I finally begin working as a teacher this next year in Baltimore. Even though, all this knowledge gave birth to the idea of developing a technological school for low-resources students in my home country Puerto Rico by federal government proposals. Probably, I will be able to start working in this idea within 3 or 4 years from now. I want to give those children the opportunity of learning in a different way and help as I can to provide my island with the recent tools in technology. My logo will be: “Every child with the Internet at hands.” I am sure God will help me to achieve this goal to help in the development of the children from the country I love so much.

There is no way I can determine how my answers to the checklist from Week 1 have changed in my practice because I am not working as a teacher at the moment. Even though, I believe that the area I have changed my views the most is in developing technology skills for the school and workplace environments. I will definitely take an active role implementing the technology needed in the school I will work in the future to assume my role as a digital immigrant teacher, allowing my students to build artifacts to construct their learning.