I’ve been reflecting on how I use learning theories in my everyday practice to support student learning and I thought of a few examples of Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Connectivism.
First, I had a parent meeting this week about a student I’ve started a reading intervention with. One thing the mom pointed out that works for her daughter is positive reinforcement. I agree with Mom and think it’s really important to remember how effective positive reinforcement is for a lot of students. This student struggles with reading and by telling her how great she’s doing and talking about the positive progress she’s makes helps to keep her motivated.
Next, as a support teacher, I sometimes go into other teachers’ classrooms and teach their class. Our behavior management styles can differ and I was reminded this week how I need to start a lesson by telling the class my particular behavior expectations. Once I start then I consistently let them know when they are in line with or falling off the grid from my expectations. If I have a student who is off task, I point this out to them. As soon as I see them back on task, I point this out to them. Seven-year-olds respond to this type of reinforcement.
Students solving problems to learn is a part of the Constructivism theory. So often, students will ask for others to solve their problems for them. For example, I give my students wait time to think about how to read a word-I don’t tell them right away what the word is when they’re reading. If a student asks me how to spell a word, I ask them how they spell it. I don’t take their learning away from them by giving up the answer too soon. They need time to think about it and try to solve it on their own so they’ll learn that word.
Connectivism was a bit more difficult for me to think of examples of how I use it in my everyday practice. Siemens (2005) reiterated when he explained Connectivism is the digital age’s theory for learning. He explained the theory of Conneectivism takes into account how we work and learn today with technology whereas other learning theories such as behaviorism did not take this into account. I do recognize how when my grade 2 team is planning units we bounce ideas off each other and create better learning opportunities for our students. As Aristotle told us, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” With the vast use of the internet, we no longer have to work and learn in isolation. We can synergize for the best learning outcomes.
Part of our reading from this week came from Living with New Technology. I had a couple of takeaways. Teachers, parents, and other adults should take into account kids today can’t be treated like our parents raised us. On one hand, we’re interfering with our kids when we take away their access to the internet. This keeps them away from their peers-their common culture. On the other hand, educators are not communicating with the teens and adult leaders in the gaming and creative production worlds. We have to take people in those areas seriously because our kids are. The authors suggested to “build bridges” of communication in order to gain awareness. We need to stay in the know and ask our kids what they’re messing around with online.