I am excited to be starting a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology online with Michigan State University! I started my first course, Teaching for Understanding with Technology, this week and I will be using my blog to share my course work, reflect on what I’m learning and document my experience. My first assignment was to write an expository essay after reading the first three chapters of How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000). In my essay, I responded to the questions: “What is Learning?” and “What teaching methods support learning and its related concepts — understanding and conceptual change?”
You can read the entire piece here but my general takeaways are that learning involves hands-on, active engagement in new experiences that challenge students to think deeply about their understanding of a concept. Learning also involves constructing understanding by transferring knowledge from past learning to current experiences and building upon them. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) also encourage teachers to approach learning with the goal of helping students develop the ability to apply their learning in diverse contexts.
In my essay, I reference two examples from my work as a Tech Coordinator – a first grade coding project (recently posted as a Graphite Lesson Flow) and a design thinking challenge I facilitated with kindergarten. These two projects demonstrate both the importance of transference from previous learning experiences to new ones and applying knowledge in new contexts. They also show the power of empathy and problem-based learning in motivating students to engage in learning for understanding (versus memorization). Feel free to leave comments and feedback here or in the Google Doc about these ideas and my thoughts on learning.
Wow! Well, naturally my favorite part of your essay was when you talked about your work with first graders and kindergarteners. I’m fascinated by the fact that you’re teaching coding to first graders. I think that’s awesome! I also loved your gingerbread activity. As a former kindergarten teacher, I can only imagine their engagement with an activity like this. I like that you gave students time to reflect after the activity. I think that sometimes we forget that there is a lot of power in reflection, even for our youngest learners. I agree with what you said at the end of your essay, about using technology to enhance or extend learning. Viewing technology as a tool to support learning can be powerful for teachers.
Thanks for sharing!