Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology: Final Reflection
 “A student enters my room with three expectations. The first expectation is to enter with an open mind and be ready to think and create, to create with all senses being open to the many ways that the hand, eye, and mind can use, and to reflect on learning, in the same fashion.” I return to these words that I wrote a while back upon reflection of the reasons and directives for instruction. My expectations have not only been strengthened through current coursework taken at Walden University, the course entitled, Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology has placed a wide array of instructional tools and strategies into my hands that will expand my ability to teach more effectively.  As in industry, in order for growth to continue, there is a need to “retool” The shiny new toolbox that I have come away with is one that will not only contain tools that I will now use but one’s that will be shared.
As a journeyman teaches an apprentice, the learning that takes place is both active and interactive, making best use of the technology at hand to increase production in the development of, an art product, and the learning experience of the “apprentice”. Tools that my students have already begun to use include computer, and digital imaging equipment in the production of digital imagery as a form of creative expression, and as a means of advancing cognitive abilities that relate to literacy and critical thinking. Tools that I have begun to use on an instructional level are interactive software, instructional software such as Voice Thread, Virtual Field Trip, and an array of digital devices for presentation of content.
Tradition in the classroom has been focused on incorporation of a diverse range of classical methods of art making.  There is and will always be the need for, the face-to-face, hands on instruction found in a traditional approach. What I can now include from my retooling experience is the learning opportunity that students gain from peer based interaction of social networking situations, and expansion of student centered, peer collaborative experiences.
This new learning has provided technological advancement that will increase the opportunity to provide students with the ability to take greater ownership of their learning experience, and be able to extend the student’s ability to think critically beyond the insular quiet of a studio experience to a more social setting. I believe that it is within these two areas that I, with more time and practice can provide for a more effective learning experience on the student’s arrival at my shop door.  
A further note, would be to thank Dr. Susan Krauss at Walden University for being an "apprentice" in her "shop".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Constructionism in Action
It has been a week of project building, reflection, & assessment. It has been a week of learning.  Images of the week include students manipulating ink onto paper side by side with those manipulating pixels using Adobe Photoshop software. These students were working in the classroom while others were in the hallway staging artwork and lighting to document their work digitally for AP Studio Art Portfolios and My Big Campus blog critique. Image development and critical review occurred at the beginning, during, and at the conclusion of activity that in some cases extended into the night (Or, during student learning in other content areas). 
The students though appearing at first glance to be loose and less than constructive were engaged in their learning process.  The preplanning and understood expectations set the stage, along with constructive and instructive guidence The combination of collaborative and introspective, hand built and digital investigation methods appeared to be on track for a successful learning experience. The tie in for continued success for this constructive experience is with continuation of the process of learning reinforced by the dialogue that will take place between students and peers seated next to and across from each other via social network. The collaboration that follows will create the “promotive interaction” (Pittler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Melonoski, 2007, p. 140) of a social environment were the students can support both personal and group advancement within their creative and cognitive development.
Now if I could only get the students to do a thorough cleanup of physical and digital workspaces before they move to different work locations.  …. Artists!
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Cooperative Learning. In Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (pp. 139-154). Denver, Colorado: MCREL.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theories
“Every thought tends to connect something with something else [intentionality], to establish a relation between things.  Every thought moves, grows and develops, fulfils a function, solves a problem” (1962, p.125; 1986, p.218).

I have been studying Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget this week and the process tends to have been, as Vygotsky has been quoted, “every thought tends to connect something with something else to establish a relationship”. It is with this in mind that I am coming to an understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development that comprises the student experience within the classroom and teaching experience.  It is with the cognitive tools that an instructor supplies that a student can begin to make those connections that will change the schema that they bring into the classroom. Whether by accommodation or assimilation it is the instructor’s role to provide the student the opportunity to find equilibration.  Providing the student with the social connection to guide cognitive growth is only the beginning of the learning process. The student should also have an active role in the development of their learning, and their peers.
The instructor has a number of options at his disposal for providing a well-laid and fertile ground for student growth. Two that would be affective would be in the area of problem solving and with the incorporation of project based learning opportunities. 
In an age where technological growth has made such amazing inroads, its use in the classroom can provide opportunities for more learning to occur by relieving the student of the weight of burdensome calculations, and the time consuming searches that can be a deterrent for student motivation to advance. Technology in and of itself can also provide the means for, cognitive growth, success at problem solving activities, and interpersonal skill development through cooperative opportunities both real time, and through social networks. (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Melonoski, 2007, p. 140). An example of technology that has proven successful in my classroom is with the development of a virtual field trip  This mechanism provides the instructor and learner with the opportunity to work together in the creation of an online tool where the students become a part of not only the questioning process but the development and synthesis of the information that is being produced.   This in a sense adds another connection for the process of learning and student cognition.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cognitivism in Practice

In advance of a student field trip to the National Gallery in Washington DC, I have begun to build a Virtual Field Trip Concept map to plan the course of the student visit.   Sitting down with several students to discuss and plot out on the computer, the “essential question” learning objectives, and logistics of the trip was an eye opening experience for us both.
We soon discovered each other’s level of understanding of what it takes to plan and pull off a bus trip with Advanced Placement Art Studio students into a big city and back.  We also discovered how little the expectations that each had for the trip matched.
Planning and plotting the steps into the bubbles on the screen presented the group with an opportunity to be actively involved in the development of the itinerary and the opportunity to take ownership of their learning experience.  The students examined prior knowledge of the site and educational objectives of their course work, adjust their thinking after investigation of current shows, and possible learning opportunities.  The planning had to allow for, travel time, time at site, time allowance for lunch.     
From an instructor’s point of view this provided both a teaching, an assessment moment, and more importantly, a moment to observe and study the process of learning, particularly the critical thinking involved.  From the students’ perspective, the mapping provided them with an opportunity to participate in their own learning, contribute to the planning, and help reinforce learning that related to their content. 
One additional note on the process was with the use of the technology itself.  The speed at which the students were able to adjust the map to accommodate the updates and changes in was a very positive aspect of its use.  This lessened the amount of time necessary for adjusting and readjustment of the timeline and provided an almost immediate visual reference of how the trip was coming together. 
All in all the incorporation of  technology and this particular mapping program was a good one for both instructor and student and provided  growth in student and instructor’s  understanding of  a variety of  learning opportunities.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Behaviorism in Practice

“Practice makes perfect” as the old idiom goes but as the psychologist Ericsson also presents, In the absence of adequate feedback, efficient learning is impossible and improvement only minimal even for highly motivated subjects. Hence mere repetition of an activity will not automatically lead to improvement in, especially, accuracy of performance” (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993, p. 367). In recent readings I have discovered two areas of instruction that can be directly linked and tied to both reinforcement of learning in the classroom and contributing to the learning itself. This would be in the area of reinforcing effort generally and more specifically with homework and practice.

When applied to homework Eriksson’s comment is especially true. For it to be affective and to reinforce student learning it must include well-developed tasks that engage the student on a number of levels both cognitively and behaviorally.  Dr. Pitler states in his writings in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, “homework is an extension of the classroom” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Melonoski, 2007, p. 187).  It is a place where reflection upon and shaping of the content should occur. To accomplish this without the undue effect of homework losing reinforcement value and be perceived as either punishment or becoming a meaningless rote drill the “role of expectancy and value components” (Trautwein, Ludtke, Schnyder, & Niggli, 2006, p. 16) should be taken into consideration in that students are clear on how they are expected to behave and are provided with the motivation to be successful . 

Dr Pitler and McREL speak also in a more general sense of addressing reinforcement of learning in the area of effort.  Where homework design and presentation is instructor-based, the notion of effort and success is within the control of the individual. Dr. Pitler and the authors state, “effort is the most important factor in achievement” (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 155). Students taught that the relationship of effort and achievement are tightly meshed whether with homework or other areas of learning, and understand the importance of effort for success are viewed to be more likely to succeed (Trautwein et al., 2006, p. 19). 

How an effective instructor brings these two factors for reinforcement of content acquisition into play in this age of the 21st Learner, should vary in both, method and delivery. With the use of technology, an instructor can provide the means for motivating and reinforcing learning growth.  The use of spreadsheet software to create, rubrics, effort/ achievement Microsoft Excel charts that the student can access and record progress (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 160), and survey charts that provide visual clarification of how effort and achievement correlate.

The incorporation of technology into shaping skill mastery and adaptive learning can provide success in homework design with word processing applications, spreadsheet software, and the use of multimedia, and communication software such as Writeboard (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 208).  Means such as these can provide a student with a broader range of learning experiences that reinforce content acquisition and application, and provide motivation for success.  This provides the student with the “extension” to the classroom (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 187)  and reinforcement strategies that will lessen Eriksson’s concerns where “practice will make perfect".   


       Acquisition of Expert Performance [Scientific Article]. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406.

      Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (pp. 187-201). Denver, Colorado: MCREL.

      Domain-Specific, Multilevel Homework Model [Scientific Article]. Journal of Educational
      Psychology, 98(2), 438-456.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

“Perception is primary, to see is to think” This quote by Richard Serra, (Films on Demand, n.d) is one that rules my instruction and has filled my thoughts the last few days. The balance of the quote is “to think is to see”.  The gestalt nature of this quote as a whole is one that is directly applicable in the learning condition of my art students. There is much more necessary to instruction than Watson’s or Thorndike’s Stimulus and Response but a number of James Hartley’s principles are an integral part of the strategies that I employ in the classroom (Smith, 1999, para. 2).  I have been working with Art 1 students in the learning of the visual vocabulary of art.  Most students being new to the visual arts and art thinking find great difficulty in visualization of the written definitions of the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design.
I am finding that the activity of learning by doing is extremely important for retention. Repetition of techniques and frequent practice reinforce the learning experience and as any sports athlete can attest, with the growth of the physical muscle comes also the muscle memory that is so important for stamina and lessoning of mental fatigue.  This applies to  sight training as well as for kinesthetic hand skill development. For the student’s to learn how to determine value exchange, surface treatment, intensity of hue and other visual and tactile issues the students need to build  "muscle"memory and perceptual abilities of the visual and other sense borne types. The development of these perception skills advances student capacity to understand the Gestalt found in the visual world.  The operant conditioning involved in the employment of behaviorist strategies when combined with stimulating and varied methods of instruction can provide the positive reinforcement and positive learning experiences that promote creative and intellectual growth for students that may only have this short opportunity to develop and express themselves with.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reflection on "Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society"

An instructor came to me this past week for information on procedures for creating podcasts.  For once, I was able to provide the instructor with, resources for acquiring software and tips on affective procedures for creation and incorporation of podcasts into coursework.
Upon reflection, the last eight weeks in this course in technology have brought me a wealth of information not only in the technical ability for the creation of blogs such as this one, but has provided me with the ability to meet the needs of educating students for the 21st Century.  The learning experiences were a stimulating opportunity to work collaboratively with peer teachers, with an emphasis on innovation and facility. This provided me with not only information and pedagogic resources but with an effective learning experience that I can translate to the instruction of my students
During a recent trip to the movies with my daughter a quote by the master of philosophy, Yoda came to mind, "Always in motion the future is.” This quote from the George Lucas movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is important for its relevance to the pace at which technology has advanced in the community beyond the classroom. In order for an instructor to provide, a student with the tools and capability to meet and master the requirements of becoming a productive positive member of society there has to be an awareness of this fact and its importance on how the instructor prepares for the learning experience.
The speed of growth has brought the need for change in many aspects of accepted pedagogy, and the affective strategies of implementation. Advancements in areas of growth such as social networking have had a significant effect on communication in the operation of industry, and the workforce, but where it has had the most profound effect is on today’s society and culture. This has translated to change in how the student acquires and uses new information.  The acquisition and the flow of information particularly at the students level has taken a turn away from information acquired within the classroom walls to interactive learning from peers, the connectivity that comes from this new digital age. What was not usual 10 years ago is not so today such as seeing students with their fingers flying over a digital device while also in deep conversations with a live friend or friends.   This brings relevance to a need for an adjustment of thinking on accepted thoughts on instruction and practices. One means by which to advance student learning is to move from teacher centered to student centered learning environments where the instructor becomes more of a facilitator and the instruction becomes more project based. In a world where the student will need to, interact and collaborate with others, be innovative, use more creative thinking skills, this approach to instructional practice is the manner in which I now see the need to bring greater focus.
Another change that I feel is necessary for growth within my instruction and the education process is the need to expand student learning beyond the walls of the physical classroom. I feel that I can do this in two ways. In terms of new technology, the virtual world provides great opportunity for not only information acquisition but for interactivity with peers, professionals, and other learning communities. With the incorporation of blog environments, and other forms of social media into the curriculum the student gains, information resources by which to expand their knowledge base, a community from which to develop future working relationships, and a system of interaction that will provide an opportunity for employment, and further lifelong learning.   
Where I come into the equation of providing an effective learning environment is becoming the nexus for their growth.  In a socio-economic, and, political climate that has brought a more restrictive nature to acquisition and implementation of new technology my goal comes in two parts. The first is to approach acquisition and employment of technology from a community based perspective. This would entail the development and use of community business and commercial contacts for the promotion and acquisition of not only new technology but for promoting the value of a tech savvy student as a member of the community and the work force. This has already begun with creating contacts with local business organizations for the sole purpose of developing the opportunity for students to interact with new technologies in use by local industry. The development of a working relationship between the two entities provides benefits for both.
At a more personal level, the facilitation of collaborative projects broadens the range of learning modalities that a student can strengthen and employ.  I am in the process of developing a creative reflection blog for my advanced art studio and photography students. This provides the student with a greater capacity to think creatively, and become more innovative in individual or collaborative efforts. As a result, of either directive for learning the motivation is the same, in that it provides students with the tools and the facility with which to use them productively. This benefits both the individual and the community by contributing to stabilization and growth of society as a whole. 
In reflection on the process of learning through the course of the instruction these last 8 weeks I feel that the goals that I have established for the advancement of my students is worthy of my own pursuits as well. I came into the course hesitant at my own abilities, and how they might be developed for the instruction of my students. I now feel that though I still consider myself among those identified as a digital immigrant, I am well on my way to attaining the same capacity that Marc Prensky, identifies as being a digital native. The continued academic pursuits in coursework like this in combination with further development of my Professional Learning Community in blog and Wiki format will advance the goals that I established in week one and will continue to provide the basis for effective instruction, because "Always in motion the future is.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

High School students access and use of technology

This week I interviewed a number of high schools students regarding technology that they have access to and use. Though i wasn't extremely surprised at my findings i was surprised at the variety of experiences that students have.   student technology podcast

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

             Tonight I reviewed the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization advocating 21st Century readiness for students. What I found was an advocacy for strengthening programs of instruction that meet the challenges that today’s students would face following graduation in terms of knowledge and skill development.  The focus of the tools and resources presented are on strengthening the 3R’s.  The 3R’s are the core subject matter such as English, Reading, Mathematics… Surrounding this is the umbrella of, Life and Career Skills, Information, Media and Tech Skills, and the 4R’s, tools necessary for synthesizing the core content, such as Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Innovation.  The outcomes are strengthened with support systems that relate to instruction. The result will deliver instruction in a manner that will lead to mastery and the ability for the student to engage their future effectively.
            The objectives present a sound program of development of the skills necessary for a student to meet and maintain growth in this new century.  Within the current, economic, social and political climate, the support for effective implementation of these objectives would appear to be cloudy at best particularly in terms of the cost of implementation and the complication of oversight. With this in mind the program that Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocate does present a strong model from which the educational community needs to develop instruction thus providing the roots from which our children can effectively engage their futures.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

digital options in the classroom

Today while studying for coursework I came upon an article in an online version of a Harrisburg PA newspaper.  The story was about local schools exploring digital options for the education of their students.
In use within some of the classrooms where digital flexbooks, and online homework services, with a discussion in the school systems of, all-digital textbook programs, incorporation of social network systems, use of fiber optic networks over servers, feasibility of one to one technology. The article is just one of an increasing number of recent articles that show the growing move toward instruction that is digital based. Though the focus for most is on the excitement that new technology generates this article also presented the financial and technical conflicts that exist in the current economic and political climate.  This presents the dichotomy  that prevails within most school systems. The article does not present a clear answer but does raise the opportunity for what is possible and the direction that education is moving in.
The article is - "Harrisburg-area schools explore digital options for use in classroom" written by,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

on the use of blogs in high school art coursework

On looking for ways in which I might incorporate blogging into the student’s experience, I can come up with two possible scenarios.   I teach two courses at the advanced level that might present two opportunities for interaction of this type. One use might be student blog development within the context of the AP Art History course that I teach focused on research results. Another avenue would be for students working within the studio arts courses.  Studio arts courses at the advanced level are by their nature places for hands on study with little interaction beyond the introspective reflective practices of the student, and small group critique.  Because of the nature of studio art, being limited to study in situ, access for review has been limited until the development of possibilities such as blogs. With the ease at which one can now capture an acceptable image and post for peer critique analysis a blog would present the student with a broader range of review and feedback for their work.  A blog situation that might be established would be a site setup for advanced fine art studio students in which students would post photographs of work in progress to a dedicated class blog site that interacts with student peers. Interaction could be in the form of type, via audio or video feed. Though under the guidance of an adult administrator the site would be student run.  A site such as this would provide the student with an avenue for critical feedback, a community with a common focus and interest, and the ability to step outside of the insular environment that tends prevail In studio art activity.  
Have any thoughts?

social media resource site

Though not trained in art therapy, I as an artist, art teacher, and teacher recognize the importance of it's use and incorporation into at the very least, the thinking process of developing affective teaching strategies. I found this art therapy site that includes a presentation of social networks and associated internet links and thought it might be an added resource for review.

"Fear No Art, Fear only Ignorance",   Anonymous

Saturday, January 7, 2012

educational blogging

"I think it’s the most beautiful tool of the world and it allows us the most magic thing..."
—Florence Dassylva-Simard, fifth-grade student
I found this quote in reference to the blogging experience and thought that it was inspirational.
It was found at an article on educational blogging by Stephen Downes.