Monthly Archives: May 2016

Project Based Learning in the Classroom

With the multitudes of technology available, project based learning offers a wide variety of options for teachers and students to use when generating and testing hypotheses. “Technology plays a vital role in generating and testing hypotheses because new developments in probeware and interactive applets allow students to spend more time interpreting data than gathering the data” (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012, pp 205). Project based learning puts the learning in the students hands and gives them the control to demonstrate their knowledge in their own way. “Project-Based Learning offers many advantages and challenges when implemented in the classroom. However, there are strategies to successfully meet these challenges. Some of the advantages in PBL learning include but are not limited to: Increased motivation, problem-solving ability, media research skills, collaboration, resource management skills” (Orey, 2001).

There are two vastly different examples of constructivist learning experiences that I feel are extremely valuable to students. The first fits in the category of generating and testing hypotheses to an extent. It is an old game for the X-Box but its value is immeasurable. The premise is of an orphan boy in a fictional nation who realizes his dream of becoming a hero.  Players go through the game at the boy and each decision the player makes changes the way the citizens of the nation perceive him and also change his appearance to mirror the good or evil deeds he has done. Each choice has consequence and the player must live with the consequence. The player can go through the entire game making only a couple bad choices, but the marks of choices remain. There are a few online games that resemble Fable, however this is the best there is of this type. This is a great real world example of constructionist learning theory. Players learn that in the game, as in life, with every choice comes a consequence whether it be negative or positive. In the game the consequences are visual as in positive choices are  depicted as a halo, shaft of sparkling light, butterflies, etc. Negative choices are depicted as red haze, draws flies, red eyes, grows horns etc. There are other real life consequences of choices such as over eating, drinking too much alcohol, among other things. Students are creating their own learning as they play the game and realize that it mirrors life in that their choices all have consequences and once they are make they must live with them.

The second example is Thinglink/Tackk app smash. “ThingLink is an interactive media platform that empowers publishers, educators, brands, and bloggers to create more engaging content by adding rich media links to photos and videos” (Thinglink, 2016).Thinglink can be used to create interactive presentations using pictures, maps, posters, and catalogs. A single photo can tell a story. Students are given a topic or problem to research and guidelines to follow and they are left to their own creativity to demonstrate what they have learned. Tackk in the Classroom is a great tool as it is a social creation and collaboration tool. Tackk can be used as a blog, a school project or even a blank canvas to be used for teachers and or students to present information.  It is a cross between Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, allowing for curating, creation, collaboration, and communication. Conversations can be held between groups about presentations and for collaboration.The site connects users on a creative level, allowing for discussions on user-created content. The great thing about these apps is the student can take pictures, YouTube Videos, or any other web application and embed it into the Thinglink. Attached below is a link to a particularly creative project on Mary Todd Lincoln by a second grade student.

Constructivist learning experience and project based learning are the best ways for students to construct their own learning. There are many ways to accomplish this whether it be through simulation, web quests, and others. The important thing is the learning is active and the students are the facilitators of their learning.


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


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

 works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD




Advance Organizers

Technological advances have given educators many tools which were not available in the not so distant past.  Thanks to the internet our students can experience animals, people or places they could not otherwise experience due to distance or finances. “A virtual field trip is a web-based tool that can expand learning opportunities by allowing students to visit places they otherwise might not be able to” (Laureate Education,  n.d.). Virtual field trips have grown in popularity over the past seven years and the possibilities of destination are practically endless as are platform. Depending on the subject of the field trip there can be a great deal of information given throughout the experience.

This is where the concept map and summarizing and note taking are good strategies to use. “Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts” (Novak & Canas, 2008, pp. 1). Concept maps are a great example of and advance organizer and can be used throughout the trip.  Depending on the topic a KWL chart can be used, a four square, Fishbone, or a concept patter organizer. The most important aspect of an advance organizer is it should focus on what is important, and essential.  It should guide the learning in the right direction. Summarizing and note taking should be used throughout the trip as a way of remembering key points made during the field trip. Upon returning to the concept map the notes can be used to complete the missing key points.

Between advance organizers, summarizing and note taking and virtual field trips there is a complete learning experience for students of all ages. Technology plays an important role in the experience. This, however is just the minimum of what can be done. This activity could be taken so much further with more technology. Educators have such a vast tool box with which to choose from to insure their students become 21st Century learners.


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  df

 Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.-j). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video file].

Baltimore, MD: Author


Behaviorism and Technology


Behaviorist learning theory is concerned with physical behavior and the ways it can be modified by outside stimulus either positively or negatively, depending on stimulus. In and education setting the desired outcome is generally positive, as that is when the ability to learn is at its peak. There is a multitude of learning strategies available to assist learning, although now only two will be explored.

Success in anything does not come naturally. It comes through learning, practice and hours of effort. “To use the strategy of reinforcing effort effectively, teachers must understand the relationship between effort and achievement and the importance of consistently exposing students to information related to effort” (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012, pp. 57). The technology discussed for reinforcing effort gives the student a visual into exactly what effort encompasses. It also gives an understanding that he/she may not be in the same place as the next student academically, but putting forth the effort to improve. It sounds like the “NOT YET” mind set.

Classroom management is the key to a successful classroom. There must be a clear set of expectations and routines. Consistency is the most important part of classroom management. “Reinforcement is the cardinal motivator. Positive reinforcers like rewards and successes are preferable to negative events like punishments and failures” (Smith, 1999). Positive reinforcement alters behavior quickly. Stickers, badge and award generators, are great motivators to alter behavior.

Homework is important as long as it is relevant and grade level appropriate. The technologies described work well with behaviorism. They are active learning as many are game based such as BrainPop and BrainPopJr. and Battle Graph. There are repetitive, drill, flash card games. The number of websites and games online as well as multimedia, communication platforms, relevant engaging homework is easy to find.

Behaviorism is a theory which has a multitude of tools to engage the learner. From classroom management, to effort and recognition, to homework, technology can offer a number of alternatives.






Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

 works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The behaviourist orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal