There is a close relationship between cognitive learning and instructional strategies, specifically in areas that use technology. One of the aspects of cognitive learning is the inability to have more than seven thoughts in a person's short term memory. The more distractions, the less likely that knowledge will pass from short-term to long-term memory and be retained. Using technology can reduce or eliminate distractions, so it can be useful in areas that we may not fully appreciate. One example that is close to my heart is using Microsoft Excel to help with lower level mathematics skills so that the student can look higher and attain higher learning. Karen Casselman spoke of technology helping to facilitate learning by eliminating the tedious repetition (Laureate, 2011). Instead of concentrating on addition, the students allowed Excel to perform the addition, and then they could concentrate on the higher level knowledge of the lesson, in her case trending. It is important to note that Casselman's students did set up the spreadsheet formulas in Excel. Since the students are using their short-term memory to add, they cannot hope to achieve trend analysis. I did a similar exercise with my middle school students when we went through a unit on perimeter, and the results were much better with the use of a calculator, because the students needed to learn about perimeter rather than adding numbers.

Using rubrics is not new to most teachers and not new to the students. We use Excel for rubrics, which allows for the automatic calculation of the students' grades for a project. The rubric can be printed; however, the students get additional points if they use the electronic version. I read this suggestion in a section of

*Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works*(Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) that deals with organizers. The base rubric has some consistencies, such as scores for grammar, citing sources, creativity, and organization. Each new rubric then gets specific entries; for instance, a biography on a mathematician would have a section for biographical completeness, whereas a mathematics dictionary would have a different section, for number of entries. The students, and the teacher, concentrate on the content of the rubric as opposed to the scoring.Another section in

*Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works*concentrated on note-taking. I was pleasantly surprised that they advocate teacher-created notes especially in this age of word-processing. It hit close to home for me, and brought back my college years. I initially struggled in calculus, and visited my professor to get help. He was sympathetic, and sought a solution. After a brief discussion, he suggested that I was paying more attention to taking notes than following the material. He told me to continue to attend his first period class to take notes, but then return to another section of the course he taught later in the day and do nothing but pay attention. My understanding went through the roof, and my grades returned. I attempted to implement the teacher notes with my classes two years ago, and it met with limited success. Several students felt as if they did not need to pay attention because the notes were already written. The students did not feel like they had input to their notes. As a bit of more information, I am part of a program called AVID, and we utilize Cornell Notes as our method of note-taking. So we reached a compromise. Some of the notes had the headings pre-entered so the students would enter their own notes. Other sections would be the opposite, where the notes were already there, forcing them to determine the main topic. When examples are shown, the students are still fully responsible for their entries.Overall, cognitive learning, or the limitations of attentions may throttle the information retained. However, with some simple realignments and ideas, we can refocus the students to higher level thinking by eliminating the distractions. Technology can assist by eliminating the tedious tasks, allowing the students to attain higher levels of thought analysis. If we can get one of the slots of short-term memory of our students, hold onto it, and turn it into a conduit for knowledge to flow into long-term memory, then the use of technology, cognitive learning, and instructional strategies can work in a symbiotic way rather than be mutually exclusive.

Do you have any more ideas on how to focus the students to higher levels of learning? If they pertain to mathematics, I would enjoy your contribution to this blog.

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast].

*Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.*Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007).

*Using technology with classroom instruction that works*. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
I agree with you, technology has afforded the cognitive process to be more eventful than ever before, teachers can now teach with basically all pictures and sounds at their finger tips. I wish when I was in school there were computers in my class to help me solve math problems. I remember the old fashion scientific calculators which were not very user friendly because we had to press one thing to get to another. Now students can use a simple Microsoft program and all they have to do is enter the digits and the computer will do the rest. Learning is now more friendly than ever before, more students are excelling because of the constant research that is been done on the brain and memory as well as the help we get from technology in making everything more learner friendly.

ReplyDeleteTodd,

ReplyDeleteI was also impressed with Mrs. Casselman’s use of technology in the classroom. With the aid of technology she eliminated some of the tedious work for students and really got them thinking about how they could use the concepts they were learning in class to create new understandings of data and statistics. In order to make these learning experiences relevant, teachers need to have clear objectives and a good understanding of the critical content they want their students to remember. We all know middle school students (well most of them) can add, so rather than use her valuable class time practicing a skill that has already been mastered, she used technology to help them see the larger picture. I also like how she worked with her students to come up with a formula to manipulate their data. It is through this activity that students can learn about how the appropriate use of technology can increase the efficiency and quality of work in the classroom. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011)

I also liked the passage in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, that discussed note taking. Being a middle school teacher I find that my students struggle finding the main idea of a passage and recording only the necessary details. So often they are so focused on copying everything that was stated or read that they often attend to the small details rather than focus their attention on the main idea. I often create concept maps and/or flow charts that are partially complete so that students only have to fill in the blanks. I have found that this method helps students attend to the main ideas and helps them see how the concepts/ideas are connected. I have found that Inspiration has great pre-made templates and I began playing with LucidChart’s (found in our technology resources). LucidCharts appealed to me because it seems like a quick and easy way to create concept maps. You have the option of either printing them out or sharing them with your students so they could fill them out online. I haven’t had time to look yet but I also noticed that there is a community library where teachers can share their concept maps with fellow educators.

I also use Cornell notes with my students and like how you have set it up. Thanks for the idea! It sounds like you are doing some great things with your students and really focusing your instruction on how to make math meaningful to students.

Katie Dorr

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program six: Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

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

I enjoyed your post because it mirrors many of the issues that come up in my classroom as well. I often wrestle with the decision to use calculators and computers to solve the math problems. I want the students to have the skills to do the math without the technology, but I also don't want the lack of that skill to stand in the way of new concept acquistion when technolgy can better facilitate it.

ReplyDeleteNote taking has always been a difficult area for my sixth grade students. I rarely give them pre-printed notes for the same reason you stated above. They simply do not make the connection with the notes and many of the students do not get the benefit from them that they should. I find that using varied methods to take the notes helps with student involvement. Sometimes I will let students come to the board and created notes with the SMART Notebook tools on the board and sometimes I pass around a wireless keyboard for them to take turns creating the notes that will be printed. Of course, hand written notes are also sprinkled in. Changing the ways that we take the notes seems to help to make more connections and a higher percentage of students master the concept being studied.

To Syuen -

ReplyDeleteI remember those scientific calculators as well. When you say they are not user-friendly, you are very correct. We use an old set of the graphing calculators in class, mainly because they were free and available. A simple TI-30, which costs less than $10, is easier to use and more powerful. Thanks for your input and for reading my blog!

To Katie -

ReplyDeleteThis course's test is one of the better ones I have come across, either voluntarily or by mandated reading. It seems to be written to the middle school level, and after so many elementary school or high school texts, it is refreshing to see a middle school level. Sometimes it feels like Goldilocks - some books are too small, some are too big, but this one seems just right. Thanks again for you input and your thoughts.

Todd

To Anonymous -

ReplyDeleteI wish I knew who you are, because your thoughts are very constructive to me and my blog. I like your idea of allowing the students to create the notes for the class via a wireless keyboard. That must feel like walking a tightrope at times, because we know how mischievous these middle school kids can be at times. I am looking forward to giving it a try though.

If you come back to read my blog again, please let me know who you are, at least the first name so I can check the class list and thank you perosnally for your time and input.

Todd

Todd

ReplyDeleteMy geometry PLT has had many discussions about the use of fill in the blank notes for some lessons. Until the reading this week I was not sure about the educational benefits of providing teacher notes.

We use skeleton notes in units such as logic and for proofs to save time. Students often complain about the amount of notes they need to take during class. They also find copying figures for proofs to be tedious.

I appreciate your insight about providing teacher notes for students freeing up students from tedious tasks to attend to higher level thinking tasks. I am going to provide teacher notes in the hope I can get students to attend to the connections rather than keeping up with the notes.

Thanks for a great post.

Joanne C.