Distributed Cognition Conclusion

Overall, I don’t believe the technology that my first graders use makes them smarter. If anything, they only use the iPads because they just need a break from doing things with pencil and paper all of the time. It’s unfortunate that there are only five in the room, though. I feel like if my students were using IXL, however, then things would be different as IXL actually targets certain skills and standards that students are at. This extra practice could actually help them meet grade level standards and expectations if they worked on it regularly. Technology is becoming such a popular thing in schools, so I feel like my teacher should allow our students to use it a little bit more than they are just to provide a change of scenery every once in a while. In order to enhance their knowledge on technology, students should be give the opportunity to explore it within a classroom setting.

References:

Martin, L. (2012). Connection, Translation, Off-Loading, and Monitoring: A Framework for Characterizing the Pedagogical Functions of Educational Technologies.Technology, Knowledge & Learning17(3), 87-107.

Menary, R. (2007). Writing as Thinking. Language Sciences29(5), 621-632.

Morgan, M., Brickell, G., Harper, B. (2008). Applying distributed cognition theory to the redesign of the ‘Copy and Paste’ function in order to promote appropriate learning outcomes.  Computers & Education, 50(1), 125-147.

Distributed Cognition #2

The second comic relates to my second observation where I talked about St. Dominic’s technology teacher, Avril Anders. Mrs. Anders is in charge of all of the technology in the building. In her classroom, there is a cart of chrome books that students in older grades can sign out and use for the day. The teachers of the younger grades have to sign them out for classroom use. Speaking of Martin’s four pedagogical systems: connection, translation, off-loading, and monitoring, Mrs. Anders follows only a few of these from what I have observed. For connection, she displays everything on a SmartBoard for every student to see. From what I’ve seen, students in the younger grades do a lot of drawings in technology class, but they come up to the SmartBoard to draw some examples. I would say this example could also relate to translation and monitoring as Mrs. Anders is displaying the overall worksheet in a digital format on the board, but students have normal worksheets at their seats. She is also monitoring students as they come up to draw examples on the board. 

In this class specifically, I feel like students are using effects of technology more. In class, someone mentioned that effects of technology is similar to knowing how to do something without having to consult other materials or resources. My students know how to draw and come up with examples on their own as they have experiences to do so. They are also very creative. However, for older grades, they have been exposed to a lot of technology during their time at St. Dominic, so if Mrs. Anders gave them an assignment that required them to use the chrome books and Google docs, they would already have the knowledge of how to log onto the chrome book, find Google docs, understand how Google docs works without being shown, etc. 

Based on what I said earlier, my first graders sometimes don’t really have the opportunity in technology class to do their own thing. I believe with the younger grades, this class is heavily monitored because they are so young and don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of technology yet. This reminded me of Morgan’s idea of “Copy and Paste” because I know that my students like to copy exactly what the teacher does at the board. I see this within my own classroom context. I don’t necessarily think that students are able to think freely on their own with the copy and paste idea. Morgan states that “Successful cognition can also be viewed as the extent to which the individual is able to make use of the affordances of the mediating artifacts available to them” (2008). I feel like students should be allowed to explore and learn on their own what they are given. I understand technology is hard to grasp sometimes, but how are we to actually learn some of the functions of technology if we are always being told what to do and how to do it? In my opinion, I believe that distributed cognition in this context means to learn by doing/experience to help them think about what they are doing, to ask questions, and to be involved in the learning process. 

Distributed Cognition #1

This comic specifically shows the two relationships that my first graders have with technology in our classroom. My mentor teacher spends a lot of time in the front of the classroom at the SmartBoard, showing our students videos, morning meeting slides, or pictures of things. She also uses our ELMO projector to model worksheets or to demonstrate how to do something. According to Martin, there are four pedological functions: connection, translation, off-loading, and monitoring. For connection, my teacher chooses to display information on the SmartBoard so that everyone can see. If she modeled a worksheet on the whiteboard, no one would be able to see what she’s doing and they would become very lost and confused. For translation, sometimes my teacher will show a video, such as a BrainPop Jr., to explain an idea or concept. She used one about the Constitution so that our students could listen and visualize what the constitution is. When it comes to off-loading, this is where the use of the iPads comes in. We usually do independent reading and math groups. My teacher gives everyone a worksheet to complete, but sometimes the higher level kids get finished first.

While my teacher is working with the lower reading or math groups, students are able to go on the iPads in the classroom. There are only five of them, but some of our students will share. However, students are playing educational games on these iPads, so they aren’t really used to enhance the concepts of the lesson that was just taught. When independent reading and math groups occur, my teacher is solely focused on the small group she is working with, so she doesn’t really monitor the kids on the iPads. For example, one day we were in small group and someone yelled very loudly something regarding the game Candy Crush. Two students were playing that game and my teacher and I didn’t even know it was happening. We immediately deleted the game off of all the iPads, but we didn’t even know what was occurring at that point in time. St. Dominic uses a program called IXL for both reading and math, so I feel like during independent time, students could work on that instead of playing games. We can track their progress online to see what they are doing, and when they log in and out.  

Because my teacher is very old school, she likes to use lots of pencil and paper in class. Although using pencil and paper is not something we would consider technology, I do believe that this helps with my definition of distributed cognition. According to Menary, “We create and manipulate words and sentences in conjunction with relevant bodily and neural functions” (2007). This reminded me of the gears example we talked about in class. Students have to think about the words they want to write down using a writing instrument. They put their thoughts into words and put their words onto paper to make meaning. Based on how my observations went and how my teacher teaches her class, this is what I would think distributed cognition means in this type of context.

Access to Technology: Observation II

Who are the people at your school in charge of the technologies available to advance the learning of students?

The person in charge of the technologies available to advance the learning of students at St. Dominic is our technology teacher, Avril Anders. If there is any type of technology issue, she is the one to call. I haven’t seen her teach an actual technology class, but I have had to ask her some technology questions about how to work our projector or SmartBoard for some of my lessons. She has also helped both my cooperating teacher and I print off some classroom management posters so our students know what is expected of them. She is the one keeping track of upper grades Chromebooks as they are not allowed to take them home with them.

Details of what technology is available, where it’s located, quantities of technologies (i.e. is there a classroom set of iPads for the students to work with)?

In my first grade classroom, there are five iPads for the students to use during independent reading/math time. However, in the technology lab, called the STREAM Lab at St. Dominic, I believe there are about 30 Chromebooks for student use inside of the technology lab. Students have to check them out if they want to use them. I believe the grade level to check out Chromebooks is 4th or 5th grade. The Chromebooks are located in a cart in the tech lab. Our class iPads are in a bin on the floor, constantly on the charger. Students are also required to bring headphones to technology. We have a large crate in our classroom to hold everyone’s headphones (they are in bags with everyone’s names on them). When it’s time for tech, everyone has to get their headphones to take with them upstairs. We also allow students to use headphones when they are using the iPads in the classroom.

Are the technologies readily available and are they in working order?  How do students and teachers gain access? Is there a means for reserving them? Are there required purchases by families?

This is something I wasn’t able to find out when I was at my PST placement. However, from what I do know, our iPads are always readily available and charged. The only problem is that we only have five in the classroom, so it’s a first come, first served kind of deal. I believe with the Chromebooks, students in the older grades are only allowed to have access to them if they sign one out during the day. Once they are finished, they have to return it back to the tech lab before Mrs. Anders leaves for the day. I will have to find out more information about this as the first graders don’t really have to worry about this problem.

Teachers and Students Using Classroom Technologies: Observation I

Observing Students

What software applications and hardware are students using in the classroom?

The day I observed, my students were not using technology at all. My teacher is very old school and likes to have them do everything with pencil and paper. However, usually during the week when we do reading or math groups, students have the opportunity to go on our class set of five iPads.

Describe what the students are doing with the technology that you identified.

On the iPads, students are playing educational games related to phonics instruction. The above level learners usually play scrabble or other word-making games. Below and at level learners usually play simple phonics or math games to help sharpen their skills. I am not around to monitor what they are playing, though. I just know from what my teacher tells me. They have a list of games that students are allowed to play on these iPads, so the students are not able to randomly download a game or play a game that is not educational.

What software applications and hardware are facilitating/impeding the conditions that make student learning possible?

One of the games that I saw was called Word Connect, or it was something very similar to that. I am not sure of the math games that they play. These games help to facilitate student learning as we are working on both phonics and math skills in first grade.

How so?

This helps to facilitate learning as we are focusing on spelling words in our class. Actually seeing how these words are spelled can help students when it comes time to actually write them down. The one problem that would impede on student learning is that there are only five iPads in the classroom. Therefore, not everyone gets a chance to play on one during independent instructional time. The iPads are also very old and cannot get certain software on them to help facilitate learning. 

Digital Story Assessment Tool

When I am doing a self-assessment, I find that rubrics help me the most as I am looking for what I need to include in an assignment. It also helps me to identify what I am missing or how I can improve next time to receive a better score. I chose to highlight some of the criteria mentioned in the Ohler article, as well as added some of my own from class discussions. On the bottom of rubrics are comments or feedback sections. This is where I will do a bit of self-reflecting on my work. I will include strengths of my work, as well as some areas for improvement. I usually never give myself a perfect score because there is always something to improve upon as I am not a perfect person. A reflection portion of a rubric really allows me to go back and look at my assignment in detail to figure out my strengths and weaknesses. For this rubric, I am choosing to do a three-point scale. A score of three points will be the highest amount of points I can receive, and a score of one point will indicate that I haven’t included any of the elements mentioned in the rubric, and failed to produce a quality video. 

Script

Learning, for many people, beings at a young age. For me, it began when I was just a baby where my parents read books to me, introduced me to counting with blocks, and taught me basic life skills that I would need for my future. Over the years, my learning style has changed from getting everything done in a timely manner, to getting everything done the day before it’s due. Yes, you heard that correctly, I am one of the biggest procrastinators you will ever meet. The amount of stress and anxiety is definitely not worth it, but I seem to learn and work better under pressure. This is because the pressure allows me to focus on what I need to get done.

Focusing is the one thing that will continue to help me learn best. I usually like to work independently because I am able to focus my thoughts betters, as well as formulate my own opinions. However, I also like to learn in focused, small groups. If there is too much chatter about random things in small groups, I will find myself getting anxious as I am not learning anything or getting anything accomplished. If I am in a small group that is focused on the assignment or task, I will feel like I am truly learning and getting things done. Working in small groups allows me to hear everyone else’s thought and opinions, which helps to make my learning more meaningful as I am able to hear ideas different from my own.

Another learning style that helps to keep me focused is learning visually and kinesthetically. Learning visually allows me to see what is happening and how it should be done. If I am not being shown what I am learning, my mind will go in a million different directions, and I will become frustrated. Therefore, I need to watch someone model how something is done in order for me to learn effectively. Although being shown what to do helps me learn well, I also need to be doing hands-on things at the same time. This helps me to become more engaged with what I am learning, and helps to keep me focused.

Speaking of hands-on, the last way I learn best is by writing things down using pencil and paper. I have noticed over the years that I must take notes with pencil and paper to help me learn and retain information. Something about taking notes on a computer just doesn’t do it for me. When writing something, I am doing it in my own style. It also takes me more time to write, so I am absorbing that information as I go. This helps me to learn better as I can remember the things that I have written down and can visually see everything in my head. Writing helps me to focus very intently and I become very concentrated. Writing also helps me to organize my thoughts in a way that I like and is useful to me.

As you can see, learning takes on several different meanings in my life, but having a focused mindset is key. With focus, I become resilient and determined and can learn successfully.

Digital Storytelling Comic

The article that I chose to explore more thoroughly was Digital Storytelling: Capturing Children’s Participation in Preschool Activities by Lisa Kervin and Jessica Mantei.

This article discussed how Preschoolers were introduced to the idea of digital storytelling, as they were asked to choose something that they liked doing in Preschool. Students worked with a researcher to take 10 photos of them doing something in Preschool, and the researcher would help the students annotate the pictures by asking them questions about the activity or place they chose to take pictures of. Both the student and the researcher would work together to edit the images and add audio to their digital story.

Miss Mott (Teacher); Leila (Student); Mrs. I (Researcher)

This comic describes what the process mentioned in the article is like. There is definitely more to it, but this is just a general idea of what both the researcher and student do together. The researcher also tells the teacher why digital storytelling at the Preschool level is so important.

As Dr. Shutkin and I were talking about this article, we both felt that the students should be more in charge of this, and the researcher would be there to help guide them through the process. It would be fun for the students to edit their own images so it makes the digital story more authentic and personalized. I work with Preschoolers and they would have so much fun with this. Of course, they would ask a million questions, but having them do this on their own with guidance can give them the experience on what it means to create a digital story.

Reference:

Kervin, L. & Mantei, J. (2016). Digital storytelling: Capturing children’s participation in preschool activities. Issues in Educational Research26(2), 225–240. 

Video Game Exploration Update

In Executive Command, the player must take on the identity of being the President of the United States. In Gee’s article, he discusses the idea of identity, and how a player must “…adopt certain ways with words, actions, and interactions, as well as certain values, attitudes, and beliefs” (Gee, 2007). In the beginning of the game, you can choose a candidate of your choice. It does not give you the ability to completely customize the candidate, but there are several options to choose from. I think being able to customize your own President would be a great addition to this game as you, the player, can truly take on the identity of being the President of the United States.

Choose Your Candidate

The game requires the President to make decisions for the greater good of the country. Otherwise, if the President makes a bad decision, the support of the people decreases. Taking on the identity of the President was very fun, but it was also very stressful. When I made the wrong decision, I had to think about why that decision was wrong, and how I could improve upon that decision for the next bill I had to pass or veto.