Distributed Cognition Post #4

To conclude my research for this project, I personally believe that technology, when used correctly, can only benefit the overall learning of students. Technology however, should not be used as an outlet of laziness on behalf of educators. Technology is not present in the classroom so teachers can keep students busy while they help another student, etc.

When technology is used correctly, the effects can be similar to those I was fortunate enough to witness while at Gesu. Due to the thought put behind various projects, and the ideas of how to incorporate websites into the school day, I was able to see students thrive with their school work. For example, the level of interest that I saw throughout the math project led me to wish I had projects such as these while I was in elementary school. The interest of the students at Gesu far surpassed the level of interest that I had while learning multiplication. In addition, by incorporating technology based projects, students are able to develop creativity as they learn. The development of creativity at such a young age will only benefit these students as they become older, and it is a skill that cannot be learned from a worksheet on multiplication problems alone.

Distributed Cognition Post #3

The second example of distributed cognition that I have witnessed at Gesu, is during their reading time. Technology is used in two ways during reading time. First, it is used for students who struggle in reading and are allowed to use their Lenovo laptops to access the book they are currently reading. Students can search a book and use a program that allows them to follow along in their book, while also hearing the book read aloud to them. The benefit of using technology in this way, is from the program that actually lets the student see what word is being read due to it being highlighted as it is said.

Second, if students complete their required work during reading time, and still have time left over before the next subject starts, they are allowed to read quietly or log on to Spelling City. This website is a great tool for teachers because they have the ability to put the spelling words for the week on this program, and then hand select the games from the site that will be available to students when they log on. In addition, Ms. Barrett can assign activities for homework to complete on Spelling City, and then view the activity and success of each student. Martin states, “The feedback can also be used by a third party, such as a teacher, to assess a student’s progress” (95).

The program used to assist struggling readers and Spelling City, are both examples of effects with technology because students’ intellectual performance is being enhanced through both of these. However, I believe the progress being made through Spelling City is more notable. Spelling City is an example of effects with technology because as students play the games available to them, they are practicing their spelling words for the week. They are slowing gaining a deeper understanding of the words, and not simply memorizing the words for a test. Spelling City allows students to understand how the words are correctly used, while also making the process enjoyable from a gaming standpoint.

Sources:

Martin, L. (2012). Connection, Translation, Off-Loading, and Monitoring: A Framework for Characterizing the Pedagogical Functions of Educational Technologies. Technology, Knowledge & Learning, 17(3), 87-107.Salomon, G. & Perkins, D. (2005)”Do Technologies Make Us Smarter? Intellectual Amplification With, Of and Through Technology.”In: Robert Sternberg and David Preiss (Eds.).Intelligence and Technology: The Impact of Tools on the Nature and Development of Human Abilities. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Publishers. pp. 71-86.

Distributed Cognition Post #2

The first time I saw technology being incorporated in the classroom, was for a math project. For this project, students were put into groups by my cooperating teacher. The task that students had to complete was to create a math game that was connected to what they were currently reviewing in math, which at the time was multiplication facts. The students were able to use the laser cutters and/or the 3D printer to accomplish their task. The best way I can explain this project is through an example of one group’s work.

One group chose to create a multiplication Jenga game. In order to pull a block from the tower, the student would be able to see a math problem, and would have to answer the question correctly in order to pull the piece out of the stack. This game was created using laser cutters to cut the pieces of wood necessary to play the game.

I believe that this is an example of effects through technology because in this case, the material the students were learning and practicing was reorganized. Taking math problems, that easily could have been put on a worksheet to complete, were instead incorporated into a math game. The same end goal, the practicing of math facts, was achieved. The only difference is students were given an opportunity to practice these skills in a new and exciting way, or a reorganized way. It is projects such as these that makes students excited about their education.

Martin states “The most basic requirement for coordination is that systems must be connected in some way. That is, it must be possible for information to pass between the systems, whether actively and intentionally through explicit messages, or passively and incidentally, through shared connection to some sort of intermediary” (Martin, 92). The teachers at Gesu have achieved this with the math game project they created for students. The information of multiplication facts are being passively passed through the form of a game. Students now play these math games during indoor recess, which proves that they view this creation as a game instead of a chore. I believe that students would feel much more hesitant to practice their math facts if they were presented in the form of a worksheet.

Sources:

Martin, L. (2012). Connection, Translation, Off-Loading, and Monitoring: A Framework for Characterizing the Pedagogical Functions of Educational Technologies. Technology, Knowledge & Learning, 17(3), 87-107.

Salomon, G. & Perkins, D. (2005)”Do Technologies Make Us Smarter? Intellectual Amplification With, Of and Through Technology.”In: Robert Sternberg and David Preiss (Eds.).Intelligence and Technology: The Impact of Tools on the Nature and Development of Human Abilities. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Publishers. pp. 71-86.

Distributed Cognition Post #1

Before taking Educational Technology, I had never heard of nor researched the topic of distributed cognition. Due to being unaware of this topic, my research was very enjoyable and I feel as though I have learned meaningful information. When the use of technology in the classroom is discussed among educators, it is common to hear answers ranging from it is absolutely necessary to it is not needed in the classroom at all.

In order to connect distributed cognition to my observations at Gesu, it is important to define what distributed cognition is first. The idea of distributed cognition originated from Edwin Hutchins, and states that cognition and knowledge are not limited to individuals. Instead it offers the thought that cognition and knowledge can be distributed across various things, such as: objects, individuals, and other tools. With this definition in mind, the question posed by Solomon and Perkins should be addressed. Their question states, “Does technology make us smarter?” This question should be explored through three ways, which are effects with (how use of a technology often enhances intellectual performance), effects of (how using a technology may leave cognitive residues that enhance performance even without the technology), and effects through (how technology sometimes does not just enhance performance but fundamentally reorganizes it). These are the three ways that cognitive technologies could enhance people’s cognitive capabilities, or to “make us smarter” (Salomon and Perkins, 81-82).

I reflected on the lessons/activities I have been able to observe and assist in at Gesu in the attempt to make connections with these lessons to distributed cognition. It was clear from my first day at Gesu that the school as a whole puts a large emphasis on incorporating technology on a regular basis in a hands-on way. One reason Gesu is able to provide such learning experiences for their students is due to the technology wing that was recently build within the past three years. In this wing of the school, as I have mentioned in previous posts, 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and coding devices are among some of the various tools available for students. It is up to the students’ homeroom teacher to incorporate activities that take place in this wing of the school into the students’ classes.

Source:

Salomon, G. & Perkins, D. (2005)”Do Technologies Make Us Smarter? Intellectual Amplification With, Of and Through Technology.”In: Robert Sternberg and David Preiss (Eds.).Intelligence and Technology: The Impact of Tools on the Nature and Development of Human Abilities. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Publishers. pp. 71-86.

Classroom Technologies

At Gesu, the students have access to Lenovo laptops as well as iPads throughout the day. They are used of a multitude of purposes. From applications that tie into the curriculum being taught to interventions, such as Learning Ally. From Learning Ally’s website, I learned that their software provides struggling readers with access to the books they want to read and the grade-level content they need to read. Learning Ally has the largest library of human-read audiobooks and a suite of educator tools and resources, students become engaged, independent learners. The students are also asked to frequently use Google Classroom, as well as Accelerated Reader to take reading tests on books they have read.

Software used: The three main ones used by the students are Microsoft word, google chrome, and PowerPoint. They are used for writing projects, research, website applications, and more. In addition, most students use Lenovo laptops or iPads, however, in the higher grades students use Google Chromebooks. The reason for implementing Google Chromebooks in the higher grades is due to the frequent use of Google Classroom and other Google resources.

Miss Barrett, my cooperating teacher, uses most of the same hardware and software as the students in her room. She regularly uses her Dell computer and laptop. Most of the work she is doing on the software is to prepare for the week with her students, as well as to teach them how to use the materials. She also has more access to email and is frequently in contact with parents. 

Lastly, Gesu has the STREAM center which is filled with more software and hardware that is not found in classrooms, such as different laptops and desktop computers. The students have access to software that allows them to create items on 3D printers, laser cutters, and circuit cutters. Students use these machines mostly for their PBL units, but also for other enrichment opportunities for our curriculum. PBL stands for Project Based Learning. Students in third grade have Project Based Learning incorporated into various subjects. For example, students are currently working on their math projects in the STREAM center. They were required to come up with a math game that deals with multiplication. Once they came up with their game idea in their groups, they were able to use the 3D printer to print the pieces for their game.

Access to Technology

In order to gain the necessary information regarding technology at Gesu, I spoke with Miss Vidmar (Primary Enrichment teacher), Miss Weimer (Educational Technology Specialist), Mrs. Gessner (STREAM director), and Miss Barrett (my cooperating teacher in 3rd grade). I learned that in almost every classroom, there are carts that hold either Lenovo computers or iPads. From these carts in the classrooms, each student in the room has access to a computer and is assigned to one. Students at Gesu are able to have access to these computers through the tuition that they pay—not through additional fees. Gesu has a technology coordinator who is in charge of the school’s firewall and helping to decide what is appropriate to have unblocked for school. There are many times that the faculty researches what the website is before they would request for a website to be unblocked. Gesu is also a school with almost 1-to-1 technology so they have to be very careful of what the students have access to on their devices. At Gesu, applications are preloaded onto the devices leading each device to hold the exact same features and content. Mrs. Gessner was extremely helpful with my questions. She is the director of STREAM, which stands for science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and math. She finds ways for students to incorporate technology into all of these fields. In addition, Mrs. Gessner gave me a quick tour of the new technology wing at Gesu. Technology in this wing includes, 3D printers, a lazar cutter, sewing machines, and coding tools. At Gesu, students begin to learn how to code in Kindergarten. In Kindergarten, the coding devices may be seen as an extremely basic and simple. However, it is through scaffolding in each grade, that students in 8th grade leave Gesu with a deep understanding of coding.

Field 1: Reflections on Students

My field observation this semester is at Gesu in a third grade classroom. My cooperating teacher is a very enthusiastic and dedicated teacher who differentiates her lessons with technology. The students in this classroom typically work with those they sit with, due to their seating arrangements being in pods of four. In addition to this grouping, the class also separates into groups of two for their reading instruction based on their current level of reading. The group who is currently at the higher level of reading leaves the classroom and are taught by another teacher, while the students at the lower level stay in the room with my cooperating teacher.

I have seen technology used greatly within the third grade classroom, and also in their special, which is called Enrichment. In terms of the technology I see within the third grade classroom, there is a SMART board at the front of the room. The teacher uses the SMART board for various things, such as: posting timers so students know how much time is left on particular activities, to demonstrate how to work on PowerPoint assignments, and assigning nightly homework assignments on Smart Notebooks. The second piece of technology that is used in the third grade classroom are the Lenovo laptops that sit in a cart, and are assigned to each student. On these laptops, students have the ability to read books with audio, take accelerated reading tests, and work on PowerPoints for projects.  The last time I observed in the third grade classroom, my cooperating teacher assigned a new project that the students were able to view on their Google Classroom accounts.

I had the chance to sit down with my cooperating teacher and discuss what technology she uses in the classroom that I have not had the opportunity to see yet. She explained that there are various programs she takes advantage of when there is downtime in the classroom. She uses Learning Ally (an online program that serves as a reading support), Sushi Monster (an app to practice math skills), Brain Pop videos, and my personal favorite, Spelling City. I am very fond of Spelling City because it is a website that my cooperating teacher has the ability to program the spelling words of the week into. This then generates activities for the students to practice the words on while at home. A very beneficial aspect of this website, is the ability that the teacher has to view what activities each student has completed on the website, and how long they spend working on their words.

I also had the opportunity to visit the Enrichment class, and was pleasantly surprised to see all the technology outside of class available to students. Some examples of what students work with while in this special include lazar cutters and 3D printing.

After speaking to students about what technology they use outside of school, I was given a very long list of their favorite games and apps that they love playing. The students showed interest in Minecraft, Fortnite, Dragon Simulator, X Box games, and Spelling City.  

One aspect of being a teacher that is crucial, is to take advantage of the great technology that is available to support your lessons. In addition, I also feel as though it is my responsibility to not only use what I know is available, but to also seek out new programs, apps, and websites! I read an article titled, Critical Lessons and Playful Literacies: Digital Media in PK-2 Classroom by Nicholas Husbye. This article discusses redefining what it means to write a story. From this article, I learned that through storyboarding, the rules of writing have changed due to the new ways to produce a meaningful story. This new way strays away from putting pen to paper, and rather places an emphasis on creativity in the technology world. It focuses more on using “voice as individual expression” through technology, such as storyboarding. Students are able to use technology as a creative outlet in order to convey the story they intend to tell.

Husbye, N. E., Buchholz, B., Coggin, L., Powell, C. W., & Wohlwend, K. E. (2012). Critical Lessons and Playful Literacies: Digital Media in PK-2 Classrooms. Language Arts, 90(2), 82-92.