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Thematic Approach to Master of Instruction Course work

时间:2011-05-27 22:34来源:知行网www.zhixing123.cn 编辑:麦田守望者

As I progressed through the course work of the Master of Instruction program, I found two themes becoming central to my thinking about education. These two themes have influenced and changed how I organize my classroom, plan lessons, decide upon teaching techniques, and assess student learning. First, the cognitive approach to teaching and learning has helped me move from feeling that I needed to be the source of all information and the center of all control to charging students with some of their own discovery and sharing control at appropriate times. Second, the value of using technology to encourage learning and higher order thinking skills in students has become ever more apparent. The technology that teachers use in the classroom has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past five years, thus, it is easier to create activities and environments that challenge students to become fully involved in their own learning. When this occurs students learn not only the content of the lesson, but problem-solving skills, social skills and thinking skills as well. My teaching has evolved over the past 22 years as I have incorporated these two ideas, which complement each other almost every step of the way.

When I was an undergraduate all of my courses centered on the behavioral approach to teaching. Cognitive theory was rarely mentioned. When I started teaching drama and public speaking at a public high school, I felt confined by the small (in scope) behavioral objectives that I had been taught to write. I started using cognitive principles in my teaching without knowing that there was a theoretical basis for the common sense decisions I was making. In acting and public speaking classes, a student's self efficacy is very important. Along with my students, I developed guidelines for critiquing student performances that helped to build self confidence and a community of learners in the classroom.

In the Psychology of Teaching class, I learned that these ideas are integral to the cognitive movement. When I took Psychology of Teaching I was no longer teaching drama and public speaking. I was teaching (as I currently am) computer science classes. I had left many of these ideas behind, thinking that since I had students who were sitting in front of computers each working individually, I didn't need those techniques. Psychology of Teaching reinforced the fact that I did. I realized that students ideas of intelligence, whether they viewed intelligence according to an entity theory (I was born with as much as I'm going to get) or an incremental theory (the more I know the more intelligent I become) can make a real difference in their self efficacy. "Even those who struggle in the classroom can change the way they think about intelligence, which, in turn, may have a positive effect on their classroom achievement." (Bruning, Schraw, Ronning, 1995). Most of the high school classes I teach are semester classes. At the beginning of each semester class I make a point of discussing these different theories of intelligence. Many students can become frustrated when working with computers. I teach programming courses as well as applications courses and when things are not going well I refer back to our discussion about intelligence and reassure my students that the more they know the more intelligent they become. I reinforce the fact that in the Computer field mistakes are necessary. We learn much from fixing our mistakes.

Cognitive theory has also helped my in my efforts to build students' self-efficacy. Bandura (1993) defines self-efficacy as a judgment of one's ability to perform a task with a specific domain. "The student with the higher effecacy will be more inclined to persist and to maintain self-confidence" (Bruning, Schraw, Ronning 1995). In Models of Instruction, I learned techniques to aid in the development of student's self efficacy. Bandura (1986) proposed that cognitive modeling can be effective because students can learn a great deal of about how a skill is performed, how to think through a problem, and can raise expectations that the skill can indeed be learned. Cognitive modeling is a teaching technique that I now use extensively. Meichenbaum (1977) includes the following six steps in cognitive modeling: create a rationale for learning the new skill, model the procedure in its entirety while students observe, model component parts of the task, allow students to practice component parts of the task under teacher guidance, allow student to practice the entire procedure under teacher guidance, have the student engage in self-directed performance of the task. I will model the particular skill I wish students to learn, then usually in small groups students will model the skill to each other. I feel the use of peer models is especially effective and helps to build the community of learners in the classroom.

A community of learners is very important to a student's construction of knowledge. Constructivism is a philosophical and psychological position that holds that what an individual learns and understands is constructed by the individual (Graves & Graves, 1994). Many constructivists also emphasize the role of social interaction as heavily influencing what learners acquire (Bruning,Schraw, Ronning, 1995). One of the most influential constructivists is Vygotsky. He developed the concept of the zone of proximal development. The zone of proximal development can be defined as the difference between the difficulty level of a problem a child can cope with independently and the level that can be accomplished with help. I see the technique of cognitive modeling as a means to keep moving a student's zone of proximal development forward. The social nature of modeling adds to the student's comfort level in freeing the student to ask questions that otherwise the student might feel too insecure to ask. This increase in the comfort level encourages students to attempt problems that are more difficult than they would dare to attempt on their own.

Another model of instruction I have found to be most effective is the use of cooperative groups. Cooperative learning is described as having the following essential features: students work in teams to master academic materials, teams are made up of high, average, and low achievers and are racially and sexually balanced, and reward systems are group-oriented (Arends, 1994). I used a variation of the Group Investigation approach in my Computer Applications class. Students developed a multimedia presentation of the Dewey Decimal System for the school librarian to use with her elementary students. I felt that my students and I had real success in developing this multimedia presentation. I acted as coach and facilitator, students were in charge of setting the plan, implementing their ideas, and analyzing information and evaluating the final product. Click here to see sample screens.

Assessment of cooperative learning activities is often done with a rubric. In Measurement Applications for the Classroom I learned to develop rubrics and performance assessment tools. I use rubrics often to assess the quality of student work done in groups and individually. Click here to see some sample rubrics.

The elective courses I took gave me the technology tools and ideas to structure cognitive modeling and cooperative learning activities for my students. For example, after learning to use the multimedia authoring language, Podium, I taught students to use it through cognitive modeling and then directed them in cooperative groups to design a multimedia presentation of their own. We took a Group Investigation approach. The students' assignment was to teach a concept. Students decided on concepts, researched information, gathered materials, analyzed approaches and put the presentations together. The students then presented their material to the rest of the class.Click here to see samples of students' work. At another time, after I learned to write pages in HTML for the World Wide Web I taught students this skill. Then they designed home pages for famous people, Susan B. Anthony, Michael Jordan, Leonardo DaVinci, and Thomas Jefferson to name a few.

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标签(Tag):Instruction
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