Journal

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.

Video Gaming 2

For my second game, I chose to play Coffee Shop. The player of the game has the option at the beginning to create a coffee shop name, or stick with the computer generated name. This game is similar in some ways to the Lemonade Stand game that I played first. However, the large difference in this game lies in the fact that the player is required to make their recipe for coffee. I chose this game because I felt it was a more advanced version of the Lemonade Stand game. Since it is more challenging, I in turn became more interested in succeeding, which ultimately led me to become much better at this game than the Lemonade Stand. At the beginning of the Coffee Shop game, the player is given $30, which is then used to purchase: cups, coffee, milk, and sugar. Next, the player makes his or her own coffee recipe. Making a recipe for coffee on this game includes adjusting how much sugar, milk, and coffee on a scale of 1 to 4. When the game starts, a clue is given to the player that customers enjoy their coffee with lots of each ingredient. Although, upon starting the game, it is not possible to financially stay afloat while including each of the ingredients at the level of 4 on the scale. However, as the player begins to make a profit, adjusting the levels on all three ingredients to 4 becomes possible. After making your recipe for the day and pressing start, the player does not have the option to adjust their recipe, but the player can adjust the price of the coffee as the day progresses.

Another interesting aspect of this game is the clues given by the customers, which are visible above their heads. There are 6 main clues given, which are: magnets, milk with up arrow, snowflakes, dollar sign with a green border, dollar sign with red up arrow, and the sun. The magnet means that a customer has heard of this coffee stand and wants to try your coffee. The milk carton with an up arrow indicates that customers would like your coffee more if more milk was included in the recipe. The snowflakes mean that customers are cold and want a cup of coffee to warm up. The dollar signs with a green border means that the customer was satisfied with his or her cup of coffee, and how much they spent on it. The dollar signs with a red up arrow indicates that the price of the coffee is too high and they do not want to purchase coffee from your stand. Finally, the sun indicates that it is too hot outside for some customers to purchase coffee.

It is also important to remember while playing Coffee Shop is the weather. Similar to the Lemonade Stand game, the weather is also a very important in the Coffee Shop game. Customers are more likely to buy coffee when it is cold outside, and are more likely to pay a higher amount. On the other hand, if it is warm or hot outside, customers are not as interested in purchasing coffee. This leads the player to lower the price on hot days, and increase the price on cold days in order to make a profit.

In addition, at the end of each day there are sometimes messages that are included as a part of the game. These messages do not appear at the end of each day, and are solely included as an extra difficulty factor. For example, at the end of some days a message will appear that ants invaded your sugar, and you now have no sugar left. Another message states that some of your coffee became stale, and you lost 50% of what you originally had. Finally, the most common message stated is that the milk spoiled and you will need to replace it. Although at times these messages were annoying, it presented another level of challenge to the player regarding how to budget what you buy in the sense that you do not want to run out mid-day. However, you also do not want to buy so great of an amount of ingredients that you are wasting money.

After the end of each of the fourteen days, the player is given a summary of how much of each ingredient was used, the cash income, the reputation of the coffee shop from customer reactions, number of cups sold, and price. This is the time of the game where you, as the player, are able to see the amount of money you made as profit. Knowing how much profit you made allows you to then purchase the correct number of ingredients in preparation for the next day.

In conclusion, I enjoyed my time playing the Coffee Shop game much more than I enjoyed playing the Lemonade Stand game. I believe my enjoyment stemmed from the larger level of challenges presented with this game. With that being said, I still believe that both games would be applicable in the classroom setting. However, I would use each game for different grade levels. I believe that the Coffee Shop game would be much more successful in a middle school setting due to the challenges, and the prior background knowledge students in a middle school classroom would have with math. The Lemonade Stand game could also be used in a middle school classroom, however there were larger challenges presented in the Coffee Shop game and it was more engaging from the standpoint of a player of both games.  

In Gabriela Richard’s article, Video Games, Gender, Diversity, and Learning as Cultural Practice, she states that “…this work makes a more distinct argument about play as part of learning through social and cultural practice.” I agree with this statement in regard to the Coffee Shop game because through playing, I have realized that although it is an online game, there is an underlying lesson that is very important for students. The Coffee Shop games does require math knowledge, but more importantly, it teaches the player about making a profit while still running a successful business. I also think that having the game take place over 14 days is helpful because it makes the player want to slowly achieve a successful business. This lesson is also highlighted in the Good Video Games, the Human Mind, and Good Learning article by J.P. Gee. This article states, “You build your simulations to understand and make sense of things, but also to help you prepare for action in the world.” I agree completely with this statement because even after playing the Coffee Shop game a few times, I already have a deeper understanding of some aspects that effect a business, and how running a successful business is not an easy task.

Gee, J.P. (2007) Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy. Chapter 4: Good Video Games, the Human Mind, and Good Learning. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 22-44.

Richard, G. (2017). Video Games, Gender, Diversity, and Learning as Cultural Practice. Educational Technology, 57 (2), 36-43.

Link to website: https://www.coolmathgames.com/0-coffee-shop

Video Gaming 1

Prior to this class, I would not consider myself someone who has been exposed to the gaming world. The only computer game I really played growing up was Sims. Sims is a simulation game requiring the player to do tasks such as build houses for their Sims, and take care of them (i.e., feeding them, allowing them to have social interactions, keeping their hygiene levels controlled, etc.).

For my first gaming blog post for Ed Tech, I decided to play Lemonade Stand, which is a simulation game located on coolmathgames.com. I chose Lemonade Stand as my simulation game because it would be beneficial and practical to use with students in Elementary school who are learning about money, and the exchange of money. My goal with finding a simulation was to pick one that would serve a purpose and apply to information learned in class. This belief of mine is supported in the article, Mind Shift Guide to Digital Games and Learning, by Jordan Shapiro, where it is stated that, “Played in small doses, short-form games can serve as great interactive examples, reinforcing and supplementing a teacher-driven curriculum.” This also shows that gaming within a classroom does not have to take up the entirety of the class, but rather, it can be used for roughly ten minutes as a support to the information recently learned.

When beginning Lemonade Stand, you are given a choice to choose between 7, 14, or 21 days to make your profit off of the stand you are running. You will begin the game with a total of $20. Next, the gamer learns that he or she can control the price that the lemonade is sold for (located on the bar on the top right of the screen). In addition, the gamer can manipulate how many cups, lemons, sugar, and ice cubes he or she would like to invest in for the time playing. This is an example of how a simulation prepares one to take action in order to accomplish goals, as stated by Gee in Good Video Games and Good Learning.

A very important aspect of this game to take not of is the weather on each particular day that you play the game. I have noticed that by altering the price of the lemonade to correspond with the weather, you will make more of a profit. For example, I lowered the price on days when it was not very hot, or it was raining. On the other hand, if it was a hot and sunny day, I would increase the price due to the face that people take more of an interest in buying lemonade on a hot summer day, leading them to be more likely to pay more.

There is an option on the simulation to create your own recipe or to stay with the default recipe. It is suggested for new players to play the game using the default recipe at the beginning. I have found that I am still using the default recipe because I am still trying to master an outcome that I am happy with before manipulating more aspects of the game.

Finally, after completing the 7, 14, or 21 days that you selected at the beginning of the game, you will then be able to see the customer satisfaction and your profit.

Gee, J.P. (2007) Good video games + good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Chapter 4: Good video games, the human mind, and good learning. New York : Peter Lang. pp. 22-44.

Shapiro, Jordan. “Mind Shift A Guide to Digital Games and Learning.” Mind Shift A Guide to Digital Games and Learning, a.s.kqed.net/pdf/news/MindShift-GuidetoDigitalGamesandLearning.pdf.

Link to site: https://www.coolmathgames.com/0-lemonade-stand