Saturday, October 20, 2012


With this course now coming to a close, it is of the utmost importance that we take a look back at some of the steps we have taken along the way.  We have been given a plethora of information to use, and a great number of technological resources to try and eventually implement in our classroom.  Looking back at my GAME plan from the very beginning of this course, I feel strongly that the knowledge given to through newer technologies will not only allow for me to carry out my GAME plan, but also to enhance my original ideas.

During my initial GAME plan post, I mentioned that one of the biggest changes that I wanted to make in my classroom was to improve upon ISTE standard number one:  to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity (ISTE, 2012).  In many ways, I feel as though the subject that I teach lends itself to inspiring student growth through critical thinking and creativity.  My curriculum centers on world cultural geography, and I am fortunate to discuss with my students a vast number of cultures from around the world.  The problem with this is that as seventh graders, they are just getting in touch with the world around them, and many cannot see the world outside of their own small town.  My goal has been to use the newer technologies to show the students the world.  While this certainly is an ambitious goal to teach my seventh graders, I feel strongly that with good guidance, students can see the relevance of the technological lessons that I will be presenting to them.

From the very beginning of my GAME plan, I wanted to implement a lesson using to allow for my students to make relevant global connections.  Though I have not reached the part of my course where I will be having my students write to others from around the world, I have taken almost all of the steps to prepare for it.  The only obstacle left to conquer, albeit a large one, is to find a classroom in another country that suits the needs of my students.  This has not been an easy task to this point.  Some classes that I have found are older, and many in neighboring areas of the world.  However, finding one may prove to be a bit easier than I had originally thought.  Since my initial blog post, I have had a few new students come through my classroom doors.  In particular, one student from Pakistan has entered our middle school, and brings with her an abundance of cultural ideas.  My idea is to set up a classroom connection through her old school in Pakistan, and communicate about cultures through the ePals site.  The student has assured me that it would not be a problem for the Pakistani students to gain access to the computers in that school.

This type of project can instill quite a bit of creativity from the students.  It is a great opportunity to not only make her excited about a project, but to make the world smaller for my other students.  They can get a glimpse into her culture and a better understanding of where she came from.  Additionally, each student will be able to tap into the 21st century skill set to complete this project.  While the project deviates a bit from my original idea of setting up a class discussion through students in South Africa or India, this new option presents itself as an even more real-life experience.

This course has also helped me gain a bevvy of technological knowledge, and has given a tremendous amount of resources for use in the classroom.  From interactive lessons, to virtual field trips, and digital storytelling lessons, we have been given a great opportunity to engage our learners.  In particular, I am excited to attempt two new journeys in my classes.  Edmodo is a resource that frankly I had not heard of before this course.  Each and every single week, there were members from this cohort that recommended it, love it, and use it on a weekly basis.  This type of resource can not only be valuable for instruction since it touches upon relevant skills, but it also taps into the creativity of the students through the online networking piece of it.  Though I have not yet attempted to do anything with Edmodo, I plan to, and I am excited about the possible future uses of it.

I would also like to implement a newer digital storytelling project.  Currently, I have in place an outline for a project that my students complete each and every single year.  They are to research a country and have the opportunity to create some technologically based project (PowerPoint, MovieMaker, etc.).  I think this could be a great chance to get my students completely immersed into their research.  If I were to possibly expand the rubric so that it became a group project, the students could create a ‘newscast’ of their researched country.  They can use a green screen to superimpose an image from the country that they researched, and create their newscast ‘on-location’.  There are relatively few challenges for me to set this project up.  I simply need to be comfortable with the editing piece of our video technology, and I truly think that this project can be a huge success.

Though my GAME plan has taken some turns along the way, I truly believe that this course has prepared me for completing it in a much more advanced way.  I now have more technological skills, more ideas, and more resources to complete my original goals.  Additionally, newer technological skills are in place to assist through a myriad of different ventures throughout the school year.  I am truly excited about what the future may bring, and feel genuinely prepared to embark upon that journey.


ISTE, I.S. (2012).  Nets for Teachers.  Retrieved September 12, 2012 
from:  http://www/

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring My GAME Plan

The largest component of my GAME plan process, establishing another classroom to contact via ePals, is one that I fully believe will not only present my students with a true authentic assessment, but also will allow for them to step into some higher-level critical thinking skills.  They will be able to formulate their own knowledge through these assessments, and they certainly can use their creativity to design their own questions for their ePals. 


The most difficult part of fulfilling this part of my GAME plan will be establishing contact with another classroom in a region of the world that we will be studying, with a similar age group.  Additionally, I need to garner support from my administration to be able to actually use the site in my building.  Both of these are still a work in progress.  I am not worried about the latter.  My administration has been extremely supportive of technologically-based lessons throughout my tenure, and I am supremely confident that they will continue to be with this lesson.  However, I am very worried about finding a class in another culture that meets the curricular needs of my classroom.  To this point, I have been unable to locate one that fits within the parameters that I have established.  While I find this to be frustrating, I am confident that I will be able to find a classroom that fits our needs.  When I was first introduced to the ePals site last year, I saw multiple classrooms that would match with the needs of my class.  I will continue to look to find another class that my students can write to.


One bit of progress that I have made is speaking with my library/media specialist about the topic.  Frankly, she was as excited as I have been about the project.  Though many of her hesitations mirrored those of others who have tried the site before, she talked to me at great lengths about the possibilities.  We spoke endlessly about the good this will do for our students, and their ability to create their own learning.  We also spoke specifically about how technology has made the world a much smaller place.  Our conversation went extremely well, and we both became very excited about the possibilities that this lesson can bring.  However, she did mention to me some parts of the lesson that could be changed. 


Though she completely agrees that the process should be monitored, she also talked made mention of the fact that my initial plan called for quite a bit of control on my end.  Even though my intentions have been to design this lesson so that my students had creative control of this assignment, she pointed out to me that my students had very little.  Allowing the students to create their own videos, share music, or even share some of their own schoolwork with these other students could stem wonderful creativity.  I had truly never thought of these ideas, and am very fortunate that they could happen through this brainstorming session.  She was still unaware of whether ePals has this creative capability, but we certainly will be testing it before we commit to using the site to communicate.


So far, I feel as though my GAME plan is progressing nicely.  I am very comfortable with the unit plan that I have designed, and am also excited about the collegial support that I am getting.  The input that my fellow educators have shared with me will help me to make my students much more effective self-directed learners (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  By giving them the opportunity to create at least some of their own questions and by using their own creativity, my students will now have a voice in their writings and sharing with their ePals.  In my experiences, when students are given this type of opportunity, they tend to do extremely well.  Students can not only learn what they have been taught, but they can also develop their own ideas and thoughts through communicating with their ePals.  I am very excited about the possibilities that this lesson entails, and am certainly eager to have my students start.



Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carrying Out Your GAME Plan

The beginning of the school year is a great time in many different ways.  Students are excited (or not) about their new classes and textbooks.  New faces and smiles warm the hallways, and new opportunities arise for each learner.  This feeling should not be limited to simply students either.  Teachers have a chance to enhance prior lessons, experiment with new techniques, or attempt brand new classroom management approaches.  In my particular case, I am most excited to implement some of the newer technologies that I have learned through my time at Walden, in an effort to enhance student learning.  In essence, my GAME plan centers around my ability to implement new technologies to enhance student learning experiences.  Through this, students can not only enhance their content knowledge, but they can play an active role in enhancing their own education in an increasingly technologically-driven world.

As social studies teacher, there are a vast number of resources that are available to use in the classroom.  From Google Earth to various virtual field trip sites, my seventh grade world geography students have experienced quite a bit in the past few years.  However, one are that we have yet to make significant ground in is through online collaborative efforts.  Today, more than ever, technology is readily available for our students to make the world a much smaller place.  They do this outside of the school building all too frequently.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites allow for students to reach out and connect with students in a myriad of ways, often without true guidance. 

The idea of my students making world connections is a great one tome.  However, the thought of my students not being properly guided into this properly frightens me.  It is possible that students can read false information, or find biased or harmful information even while researching the most well-intended ideas.  This is why one of the main focuses of my GAME plan is to have my students make responsible world connections.  I plan on accomplishing this by making connections through the site  This site is designed to be very classroom friendly, and allows for cultures all over the world to connect with one another.  As the year progresses into our unit on Southwest Asia, it is imperative for my students to have a grasp on the ideas and beliefs that shape this area of the world.  Each and every single year, I show my students multimedia segments to give students a better understanding of what this area of the world is like, and present it through the eyes of teenagers.  Though I have had experiences with many videos to explain the information to the students, the use of video streaming can be an extremely effective way for the students to learn (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

At the end of the unit, I have always had my students write to a ‘pen pal’, and ask them specific questions about their culture.  The exercise has always gone fairly well, but has always lacked a bit of the authenticity that ePals can provide.  My students have always written their letters and done an excellent job with it.  However, they have lacked the ability to interact with students of their own age, and truly receive answers to their wonderful questions.  ePals provides them that opportunity.  They can ask appropriate questions, and get feedback from their ePals.  During this process, I can monitor what they write, and guide them through this process.  Not only does this provide genuine 21st century skills for my students, but it also allows for differentiation.  I can guide each of my students through this process, and work with the cooperating teacher from the other school to set up pals that are appropriate for the needs of each student.

The initial ideas for implementing my GAME plan are fully in place.  I have the outline designed, initial rubric for the writing assignment completed, and the unit plan almost completed.  What I have not yet done is speak to the library/media specialist and tech leaders about the usage of ePals in my classroom.  Talking to cohorts from previous classes during my Walden experience, they have explained some difficulties that have arisen with this process.  I am not sure if it ties directly into the fair usage policy for the Internet that each district uniquely possesses, or if it is a universal issue.  I plan on sitting down with the library/media specialist this Friday, when my class is doing a lesson with her on citations.  This will be the first step in making sure that my district is on board with the assignment.  Once I have the authority to go through with the project, I need to find a school district in another area of the world that not only fits in with my needs, but that has similar aged students.  This process, I have yet to begin.  However, once I do set this up, each student can use this technology to enhance their learning of these other cultures.  The more experience that my students have with the technology; the more they can include some of their own technological skills.

I truly feel as though my GAME plan has a well-founded beginning.  Implementation will be the difficult part.  I am hoping that as the year goes along, I will gain valuable insight from my colleagues.  Any input they can give me, or any experiences that they might share with me will allow for my students to reach a higher level of success.  I am always willing to listen to any and all help that other professionals will give me.  In this case, it will only help me to reach success with my GAME plan.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010).  Meeting students' needs with technology part 1 [Webcast].  Integrating technology across the content areas.  Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My GAME Plan

With our world consistently evolving around us, as educators, we need to continually evolve with the times.  If we do not, it is likely that we will not be presenting our students with all of the opportunities that newer technologies can present for them.  If we are uncomfortable with certain technologies and/or newer ideas, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to implement change in our lesson designs.  One way to do this is simply by having a “GAME plan” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).   A GAME plan is a way in which we can create our own self-directed learning.  We can set goals (G), take action (A), monitor progress (M), and evaluate whether the goals were achieved (E) (Cennamo et al., 2009). 

While making changes to our own teaching practices is never easy, it is certainly imperative for future success.  The GAME plan idea that we have been discussing for the past two weeks has certainly been a revelation to me, in that I can set up my own course of action to design my own ideas for self-directed learning.  In this case, I know that I need to come up with a game plan to better my technological use in the classroom.  I try extremely hard to better myself through technology each and every single year, but eventually, I find myself going back to tried and true lessons.  This is never exactly what I envision doing, but it is essential what winds up happening.  Part of being an effective teacher is recognizing your weaknesses, and making adjustments to your weaknesses.  In my case, I know that I am not as confident in many aspects of technology as I should be. 

Looking over the NETS-T standards, I immediately recognized two that I know that I can immediately improve upon.  The first standard that I would like to improve upon is standard number one:  to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity (ISTE, 2012).  While I certainly have students explore real-world issues such as population struggles and large cultural issues, I would like to make these issues much more relevant to my students.  My seventh graders often have a very difficult time making connections with other areas around the world.  It is certainly something that I attempt to do, and often fall short of.  However, I think that I can definitely instill some technologically driven lessons to help my students make those connections.  I frequently bring up the site as a site that can allow my student to do just that.  ePals is a wonderful site that allows students to write to other students from around the world, and make connections with them.  In my humble opinion, it is very teacher friendly, and allows for teachers to construct a setup that works best for their classroom.

In my particular curriculum, my students are consistently learning about new cultures.  We have often experimented with writing new cultures, and students write to students of the other cultures.  The problem with this is that there is no one to answer their questions.  Therefore, students are not able to create a true connection to the content.  ePals allows for that connection to be made.  For myself, my initial goal would be establish contact with another school in one of my content areas, and have my students regularly write to them.  This goal can certainly be accomplished early in the year though this site.  As the year progresses, I can continue to take action by not only allowing my students to write to these other cultures, but I can monitor what my students are producing.  This is one of the great things about the ePals site, in that I can see what the students are accomplishing. I can check for understanding, I can check for creative thinking questions, and I can check to make sure that my students are appropriate.  Monitoring the progress of my students is made easy through this site, and I definitely can gauge their progress with it.  Finally, I can evaluate how my students did at the end of the year.  Though I do not frequently give summative assessments, I can use these to see how well my students progressed throughout the year.  By giving them some sort of formative assessment early in the year, I can compare their progress.

Another standard that I am not as confident with is that of engaging professional growth.  I certainly take part in different professional groups in my building and district.  However, I do not in any way shape or form take part in the technological growth in my building.  I would like to change that.  As someone with a growing background in technology, my goal is to participate in a learning community in my district to help explore creative applications of technology, and explore student learning (ISTE, 2012).  While this concept ties directly into one of the standards, I find this is a rather achievable goal.  I plan on volunteering to take part in our ‘Tech Leadership’ program, which is a few select teachers from each building that are chosen to integrate technology into the building.  Assuming my vice-principal allows me to join the committee (he is usually on board with anyone volunteering to improve the building), I will then take one piece of technology that I use from that committee, and integrate that into my lessons.  By being in this committee, I can monitor my own personal growth, and have some of my fellow committee members do the same for me.  As I progress throughout the year, I can ask for feedback from the committee, and from my administrators.  Finally, I can evaluate and reflect on research regularly to support student learning.  As a result, the more I learn the more that my students will learn.

I am certainly excited to embark on this newest journey, and am certainly open to any sort of feedback.



Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009).  Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use.  

          Mason, OH:  Cengage Learning.

ISTE, I.S. (2012).  Nets for Teachers.  Retrieved September 12, 2012 from:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Final Reflection

Seven weeks have come and gone, and with it, we have accumulated an abundance of technological tools to assist us in our daily routines.  We have also been exposed to a number of different learning theories in order for us to shape and mold our own strategy.  With the course now coming to a close, it is worth looking back at how we viewed our own personal learning theories.  Being exposed to a great number of technologies has certainly shaped some of my individual lesson plans, but I do not think that my overall view of learning theory has changed.

Upon looking back at my initial post from week one, I claimed to follow a constructionist model to my classroom.  I truly had only a moderate idea of what constructionist/constructivist theory was, but it appeared to mesh more with my personal viewpoint.  I do institute quite a bit of cooperative learning, which also incorporates social learning theory.  This course has certainly validated my initial belief that I follow a constructionist approach.  Week after week we were given resources and exposed to a wide variety of different theories.  None of them resonated with me in the way that constructionism did.  Our students crave to create, and with proper guidance from a teacher, students can do just that.  If we make our expectations clear to our students before they begin a lesson, students will indeed strive to achieve those goals.  Albert Bandura, who developed constructivist ideas, believed that believed that outcome expectancies motivate students to imitate the behavior (Lever-Duffy, 2007).  In essence, teachers who model a desired behavior or result will have their students achieve that result. Modeling serves as a great focal point at the beginning of lessons, and in a constructionist classroom, is necessary for student success.

This course has absolutely deepened my knowledge of constructionist learning theory.  In particular, I find the VoiceThread technology that was introduced to us particularly helpful.  Students can certainly construct their own knowledge through a well-guided and maintained lesson including a VoiceThread activity.  By having them post responses to original thoughts, they become accountable for what they say on this VoiceThread, which gives them a piece of accountability.  It also makes their learning experience much more meaningful, and I think it can also be extremely fun for them to do.  Of course, it takes a lot of practice on the part of the educator in order for a lesson such as this to work.  However, since the teacher is a facilitator of knowledge, it is the responsibility of the educator to put the student in a situation where they can create that learning experience.  Looking back at the first week of the class, this was my belief in regard to the theory of constructionism.  I still strongly feel this way.

VoiceThread is only one of many technologies that I became aware about during this class.  The website is one that I am absolutely going to use in my classes next year.  This site essentially allows for students to have virtual penpals in other areas of the world. As a teacher of world cultures, I am thrilled for what this website is going to be able to teach my students.  For the first eight years of my career, I have had the students ‘imagine’ that they are writing a student in another country.  They can formulate their own opinions of what the other student may say while returning their letter, but there is never a concrete response.  By using this technology, my students will not only get answers to their questions, but also they will be much more thoughtful and purposeful in their questioning.  Since they will know there will be a return letter coming back to them, students will certainly be much more heartfelt in their questioning techniques.  I am very encouraged for what this site can do for my classroom, as it immediately takes the place of my traditional pencil and paper writing that I have had my students do.  They can construct their own knowledge in the conversations they will have with these other students, and all parties will retain the knowledge much more efficiently.

This course has also taught me more than I had ever dreamed of about PowerPoint.  Dr. Michael Orey and Dr. Debora Pickering both seem to acknowledge its possible uses, as well as its deficiencies.  It can be a teacher-driven instructional tool if an educator simply replaces lecture lessons with PowerPoints.  A traditional PowerPoint may prove difficult for many learners to gather true knowledge out of the topic.  In its traditional form, a PowerPoint can simply be another way for the lecture notes to be passed on to students.  I know that I have used this method quite a bit in the past, where I attempt to give students visuals to accompany the notes.  However, if there is not student-centered focus, many of my students will not be able to retain the knowledge.  Both Dr. Orey and Dr. Pickering would likely applaud my attempt to integrate pictures into the lesson, which would go a long way to helping support Pavio’s dual coding hypothesis (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  Even though the attempts have been there, I have continually missed the mark.

I do think that there is quite a bit of room for improvement in my teaching style, and this course has certainly taught me ways to do that.  In particular, the methods in which Dr. Orey has presented his information have resonated with me.  The PowerPoint, which I have mistakenly used in my classroom, is one way that I can make an immediate change.  For years, I have had my students do a research report on a country, with a rubric that details what they need for the project.  As I look back, all I see is information.  One slide will be words.  The next will be more words, and so on.  Though each slide is required to have a picture, what is lacking is true understanding of the topic.  The picture can indeed by the vessel to allow students to remember the topic.  Dr. Pickering suggests that we pull the information from the slide, and have the students present the information  through pictures only(Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  This would definitely show me if the students have retained what they have researched, and will likely lead to more practice from the students.  I am going to try this during our research project next year.  While I thoroughly suspect mixed results, I am eager to see if the presentations themselves improve.

The final piece of technology that I cannot wait to introduce to my students, was the afore mentioned VoiceThread.  During our discussions throughout the course, just about each member of our class seemed to absolutely love this technology.  I am no exception.  I think that the possibilities are limitless.  VoiceThread is a dream technology for a constructionist such as myself.  Students are given a resource, can create their own knowledge points, and truly construct their own knowledge.  In this manner, a constructionist is allowing a student to create what needs to be created in order to learn the subject matter (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). 

The goal of any educator is to get these technologies to work for them in the long term.  Having never implemented these activities in lessons before this course certainly can cause for some anxious moments leading up to these lessons.  However, having a long-term plan is vital for the success of each new technological tool a teacher is to use in the classroom.  In my case, I would like to implement the change in my PowerPoint presentations.  The final project my students are to do next year is a PowerPoint on a country from our curriculum.  Instead of presenting the information in the manner they had in past, with bullet points, students will not be using any words on the PowerPoint at all.  They will be using pictures, and presenting the information on each slide while having only the picture on each slide.  Throughout the year, students will be preparing for this larger assignment.  Each marking term, students will create a PowerPoint, and as their skills progress, I will challenge them.  They will start very simple, by creating a 2 or 3 page presentation during the first term, using words only.  They will then progress through using both pictures and words, and eventually to only pictures.  Along the way, I will model for them, as well as provide opportunities to practice presenting. 

Another technology that I would like to implement is VoiceThread.  This technology will be even more challenging for the students than PowerPoint, because it is highly likely that they have never seen it, or even heard of it before.  My long-term (multi-year) goal, is to be able to teach an in-service to my faculty on this technology.  I think it is remarkably easy, and something that everyone can use regardless of subject matter.  I had never heard of this technology before this course, and I plan on continually creating new and unique VoiceThreads throughout the summer and into next school year.  For my students, I would like to have them create a VoiceThread by the end of the school year.  In order to implement this technology, I have to proceed in the same manner that I did with PowerPoint.  Students will first be exposed to the technology.  They will then be required to respond only in text to one of my VoiceThreads.  From there, they will respond with Voice.  Finally, before they create their own VoiceThread, they will be asked to analyze one of my topics, and collaborate with fellow students to respond.  I feel that these steps will ready my students to use this technological tool to enhance their education.

I truly feel that these technological tools can be used in any grade level and in any subject.  It is very exciting to have practiced these skills, and I truly look forward to implementing these in my classroom.  With the summer rapidly approaching, it is easy to simply put aside some of these valuable tools, and tell ourselves that we can work on these when we get back to school.  While I definitely plan on enjoying my summer, I also plan on bettering myself in using these technologies.  I want to be much more prepared for the upcoming school year, and want my students to benefit from these technologies.  After all, that is why we teach.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eleven: Instructional strategies, Part one [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program thirteen: Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


This was my first ever VoiceThread, and I must say - I definitely see the worth in this website.  I pieced together part of a lesson that I have created for my students, asking them to make connections between a series of maps given.  We spend a lot of time on sub-Saharan Africa, and ask them to make connections between poverty, birthrate, and vegetation. 
As I get much more comfortable, I definitely will fine-tune the VoiceThread itself.  However, I am very excited about using this in my classroom in the very near future.

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

This week, we were introduced to the learning theory of social constructivism.  Going into this week, I fully expected a challenge with this theory.  Previous learning theories such as behaviorism and cognitivism I had heard of, and even knowingly implemented them into my classroom.  Social constructivism however, I had never heard of before this course.  I did not have any prior knowledge to its central components, its core strategies, or any of the founders of this theory.  Not having any prior knowledge of a topic can indeed be intimidating to a learner at any age, and I felt a lot like many of my students must when I introduce a new topic to them.  However, after researching social constructivism this week, I have found that I unknowingly subscribe to many components of this theory and employ many of them in my daily practice.

In essence, the theory of social constructionism/social constructivism is that students learn when they are actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  Dr. Michael Orey described this process very efficiently to me this week, and I definitely feel as though I consistently use it in my classroom.  One part of social constructionism that I certainly use often in my classroom often is the idea of cooperative learning.  In a cooperative learning group, students are responsible for learning information and teaching it to their teammates (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).   In essence, cooperative learning is not so much learning to cooperate as it is cooperating to learn (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p 143).  Students may complain about working in a group with specific partners, but ultimately they will get out of the lesson what they put into it.  The student becomes directly responsible for their education, and the teacher serves to guide them through that content.  I completely agree with Dr. Orey in that when a person teaches others, then that helps the learner develop a deeper understanding of the content that was presented (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). 

It is important that when teachers are designing cooperative learning groups that they use a variety of criteria to group all students (Pitler et. al, 2007, p 140).  Some students are better suited in particular roles in a group, and may struggle if they are not in roles that best suit their individual needs.  The difficulty with designing these types of lessons is that it takes a lot of time to get to know how students work.  Many educators are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to devote the time necessary to get to know the learning styles of each of their students.  This task may indeed be daunting, but there are ways to do this without completely revamping a teaching style that has taken years to develop.  One way to do this is by combining cooperative learning with other classroom structures (Pitler, et al., 2007).  One way that I do this is by having students read core texts in cooperative groups.  As a teacher, I can still guide the lesson when necessary, and I can interject points into the reading as I am walking around the classroom.  Students will usually read the topic together and summarize the information, thus sharing previous knowledge and different skills together.  There are many of my students who do not enjoy the cooperative groups, as many learners prefer to construct meaning on their own.  However, I strongly believe that these types of groups are for the betterment of all students, and they construct their own meanings.

Cooperative learning can certainly be effective through group learning such as described above, but technological tools can enhance the construction of knowledge. The creation and use of blogs, wikis, and podcasts are all ways to engage our students in cooperative groups while integrating technology.  My social studies curriculum allows for me to be extremely creative with the integration of technology into my class.  It allows for opportunities in the technological world that others may not.   We discuss world cultures and global topics, and modern technology allows for information to be passed globally with one click of the mouse.  

As we read this week in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, “communication with students from other cities, states, and countries broadens the perspective of students and challenges them to learn about other cultures, languages, and issues throughout the world” (Pitler, et al. 2007, p 145).  Newer technologies allows for this to happen much easier.  For my first 8 years of teaching in my district, I have had my students writing a pen pal letter to a 'student' from another culture.  Students may watch a film on another culture and be curious as to some of the nuances of that culture, and want to ask questions so I allow for them to be creative.  However, students do not get much in the way of TRUE feedback to their questions.  I answer them, and may not be able to construct true knowledge for the student.  This week, we were introduced to the website  This site allows for students to connect with classrooms all over the globe.  As a teacher of world cultures and social studies, this tool is very exciting for the next school year.  I am very eager to try it out with my students, and develop lessons surrounding the site. 

New and exciting tools like this allow for students to converse with one another, and to create meaning to a broad range of topics.  I definitely love to use cooperative learning in my classroom, and believe that the above activities are directly influenced by social constructivist/constructionist theory.  Now that I know this to be true, I completely subscribe to this learning theory and actively employ it in my classroom


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

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