Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cognitive views of Learning

Option 1 (1 hour)
I interviewed a second grade teacher, a third grade teacher, a fifth grade teacher, and a high school teacher.
Mrs. Cardineu- Second grade
Mrs. Lasita- Third grade
Mrs. Erickson-Fifth grade
Mrs. Grim-High School
What type of memorization is required for students in your class to do well?
Mrs. Cardineu- “Memorization is used almost solely in math. Even at the second grade level, math is primarily memorization and an understanding of how to use the concepts you have committed to memory in different situations.”
Mrs. Lasita- “In our class we try not to use memorization too much, because even as adults when we are asked to memorize something we memorize it, use it once and forget it. We want our students to really understand the material we teach, however we do use memorization from time to time to teach mathematical concepts as well as some historical data.”
Mrs. Erickson - “Memorization comes in handy when teaching math, grammar, history and finite things like capitals. We recently asked our students to memorize all fifty state capitals and we tested on their ability to recall them. Memorization is an important tool in my classroom and in every classroom.”
Mrs. Grim-“Because I teach a foreign language, memorization is important. I try to give the students the building blocks they need to understand the language. Learning a new language always requires you to memorize the basic ideas behind the formation of words. Even when learning our native languages we utilize our memory to grasp concepts.”

What types of classroom activities do you use to help children in your classes retain the desired information?
Mrs. Cardineu- “I do use some rhymes and mnemonics to help children remember things like the colors of a rainbow.”
Mrs. Lasita- “Rhymes seem to help a lot in history. Also multiple activities that are similar, but have subtle differences.”
Mrs. Erickson-“I encourage students to make flash cards and study guides on their own. I also use posters around the room of important information in hopes that seeing it every day will help them to memorize the information.”
Mrs. Grim-“I do expect students to do a majority of memorization on their own at home, but I do provide a lot of work sheets.”
What strategies do you think are most effective with the grade level and group you teach? How might this differ for other grade levels and other groups of children?
Mrs. Cardineu- “My class responds well to the rhymes, which I believe is a good tool in any grade level.”
Mrs. Lasita- “I like to repeat activities and I think this does help the students a lot. This will most likely work for all elementary school kids.”
Mrs. Erickson-“I think the posters are a big help, I only began using them this year and already notices a big improvement. The colors and pictures allow the kids to commit the information to memory easier than other ways.”
Mrs. Grim-“I think that the student’s willingness to put in work outside class is the key to the student’s success in a foreign language at the high school level. I do encourage the students to make flash cards on their own which I believe increases test scores. Although I do use work sheets, I don’t think the students take them seriously and feel a bit babied.”
How long are your students required to retain information between when it is presented to them and the required recall (tests, etc.)?
Mrs. Cardineu- “I’d hope that the children will remember the information for their entire lives, because a lot of things they learn with me are life skills.”
Mrs. Lasita- “For the most part I require the kids to remember the information they learn as long as they are in my class, although I would like for them to hold on to it forever.”
Mrs. Erickson- “I do give frequent tests on the information presented, but I don’t want to pile too much information on the students and overwhelm them. I do not require the students to retain the information indefinably, just as long as they need to do well on tests.”
Mrs. Grim- “Some of my students will go on and study Spanish and some will never use it again. I understand that this is not their only class and that most students are simply trying to get by just to get their diploma, but I do require students to remember most, if not all of the information I give to them throughout the entire time they have class with me.”
What kinds of individual differences are apparent in your students' ability to remember information?
Mrs. Cardineu- “Every child is different and it is very important that we as teachers are aware of this. For the most part the rhymes work, but for some kids they need more such as hand-outs or to be told the information over and over again.”
Mrs. Lasita- “I cannot possibly give each student the individual instruction they need in the short period of time I have them for the day, but I do try. I keep in contact with parents to help form an outline of what works best for the child and I try to include the individual needs into a class.”
Mrs. Erickson- “I know each of my students and for some students flash cards work better and I will supply the things they need to make them. However, for other students it helps them to hear the information; I suggest that these students make tapes and listen to them at night.”
Mrs. Grim- “I teach the class as a whole and encourage students to see me outside of class if they have individual concerns.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"A Teacher's Perspective on Classroom Reinforcement."

Option 2 (1 hour)
"A teacher's perspective on classroom reinforcement."
Mrs. LaSita : “I used stickers, marbles and privileges to encourage the children to behave.”
-The privileges the teacher is referring to are computer access, library time and recess time.
Mrs. LaSita: “I took away minutes from library time and recess for individuals; I also removed marbles from the jar when the class as a whole was misbehaved.
Mrs. LaSita: “In this class removing marbles from the jar seems to work best. The children do not want to keep their class mates from doing activities.
Mrs. LaSita: “I think my system works well for my class, I know the students in my class well enough to know how they work. We have very few behavioral problems. We are a well oiled machine!”
This observation took place at Edna Louise Elementary School in a third grade class, with Mrs. LaSita. The teacher was not exaggerating when she said that her class was a “well oiled machine.” In my time with this class I did indeed observe a very well working classroom. The students knew what was expected of them and responded very well to the teacher. I only viewed one instance of ill behavior when a few children were talking out of turn, the teacher threatened to take back marbles if this continued and the children ceased speaking. I was shocked at how well this classroom worked together. The teacher provided a clear behavior to consequence relationship and the students respected the relationship. The teacher provided a combination of both positive and negative reinforcement. This marriage between rewarding the class with stickers and activities, as well taking away privileges works very well for this class.

Fieldwork: One

Option 1 (1 hour)
Part I
I chose Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper for my observation project. I worked with two six year old children and one ten year old child. The responses I received were:
Child 1(age 6): “You should not be lazy or you won’t have no food.”
Child 2(age 6): “You have to be ready for winter or you will get sick.”
Child 3(age 10): “You shouldn’t play around when you should be working.”
Part II
I gave the children fifteen objects including; a magazine page, a newspaper article, a crayon, a stapler, a paper clip, a marker, a piece of chalk, a piece of loose-leaf paper, a piece construction paper, a roll of duct tape, a roll of scotch tape, a roll of masking tape, a sandwich bag, a paper bag and a cup. The children grouped the items as followed. Once they grouped the objects, I asked why they put them in the groups they did. (Group/Reasoning)
Child 1(age 6):
(Magazine page, Newspaper article) “You read them.”
(Loose-leaf paper, Construction paper) “You write on them.”
(Masking tape, Duct tape, Scotch tape, Paper clip, Stapler) “They stick stuff together.”
(Sandwich bag, paper bag) “You put stuff in them.”
(Crayon, Marker) “You draw with them.”
(Chalk) “It writes on the chalk board.”
(Cup) “You drink out of it.”

Child 2(age 6):
(Loose-leaf paper, Construction Paper) “They are paper.”
(Paper clip, Stapler) “They stick two pieces of paper to each other.”
(Masking tape, Duct tape, Scotch tape) “They are sticky.”
(Sandwich bag, Paper bag, Cup) “They are for lunch.”
(Crayon, Marker, Chalk) “They write.”

Child 3 (age 10):
(Magazine page, Newspaper article, loose-leaf paper, Construction paper) “They are all made out of paper.”
(Paper clip, Stapler, Masking tape, Duct tape, Scotch tape) “They help hold things together.”
(Sandwich bag, Paper bag, Cup) “You can put things inside of them.”
(Crayon, Marker, Chalk) “You use them to write with.”

Part III
I set up thirty colored tokens in two lines on a table. I moved one set of pennies into a pile in front of the child and the other in front of myself. I asked the children if we had the same amount these are the responses I received:
Child 1 (age 6): “Yup yours is the same.”
Child 2(age 6): “No! I has more!”
Child 3(age 10): “Yea, you have as many as I do.”
I then spread out the tokens into the original lines and asked again if we had the same amount.
Child 1 (age 6): “Yes I have the same.”
Child 2 (age 6): “Yes I have what you have.”
Child 3 (age 10): “Yes you still have the same as me.”

All the children appear to be at the appropriate cognitive level for their age, although one of the six year olds did display a small deficit in logical thought. During the first activity, the six year olds used more groups to define the objects than the ten year old did. One of the six year olds was often distracted by small things and grabbed at the tokens I had set aside for myself. The ten year old illustrated advanced social development in that she related to me differently than she did her friends. The six year olds exhibited more signs of egocentrism in the penny activity than the ten year old this is most likely because they are in the Preoperational Stage of development which is right after the Sensory Motor Period in which children display signs of egocentric thought. One of the six year old's answered “No” during the penny activity to the question of whether or not we had the same amount when the pennies were piled in front of them, which indicates a deficit on the grasp of logical concepts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reinforcement Yes/No

In “Reinforcement in Developmentally Appropriate Early Childhood Classrooms,” the authors discuss the “…behavioral strategy of reinforcement with varying degrees of appropriateness.” The behaviorist idea of reinforcement is praised for its effectiveness in early childhood classrooms. The authors use various examples to provide a positive outlook on the use of reinforcement in early childhood education. Throughout the article, Duncan, Kemple and Smith discuss the need for individualized reinforcement as well as different types of “Positive reinforcement.” They review; social reinforcers, activity reinforcers and tangible reinforcers. According to a quote from the article, social reinforcement is defined by “…interpersonal interactions to reinforce behaviors” (Schloss and Smith, 1998). Teachers using social reinforcement will often use “Positive nonverbal behaviors” (Duncan, Kemple, Smith, 2000) or verbal praise. Positive nonverbal behaviors include nodding and smiling. The authors argue that social reinforcement promotes positive self esteem. Another form of reinforcement is activity reinforcement. Activity reinforcement is when a teacher will give a child “access” to an activity that he or she enjoys. Yet another type of reinforce is tangible reinforcement. A tangible reinforcer is a token or prize of some sort that is given to a child when a positive behavior is performed. Of all the types of reinforcers discussed, the most effective according to Duncan, Kemple and Smith, is social reinforcement; whereas the least effective is the tangible reinforcement.

Within the article; Another View on “Reinforcement in Developmentally Appropriate Early Childhood Classrooms,” author; Charles Wolfgang discusses many criticisms of the Duncan, Kemple and Smith article. He states that the authors of “Reinforcement in Developmentally Appropriate Early Childhood Classroom” come from a behaviorist background, whereas he is from the developmentalist school of thought. He suggests that the behaviorist and developmentalist schools differ in views of developmentally appropriate practice regarding reinforcement; in that the behaviorist school of thought promotes a temporary solution to a permanent problem and the developmentalist school would “attempt to change Rodney’s antisocial behaviors by trying to understand his developmental needs-specifically”(Wolfgang,). Wolfgang argues that reinforcement is not developmentally appropriate practice and that children should take part in positive behaviors because it is the right thing to do.

I believe that reinforcement is needed in the early education classroom, because it promotes the recurrence of positive behaviors. When used together, all forms of reinforcements can be an effective tool in the classroom. Wolfgang suggests aggression diversion, which could possible confuse the child about the socially acceptable times for aggressive acts. Also, the author says that the child acts out because “…he does not yet have the social skills to work with others and to get his needs met.” I feel that a child must have reinforcements to understand even his or her own needs. When I worked as a one on one aid at a school for special needs children, I had the opportunity to see positive reinforcement in action. The children were kept to relatively strict schedule and were given access to fun activities, if and only if positive behaviors were preformed. Reinforcement is necessary to help a child comprehend socially acceptable time for actions and for a child’s smooth integration into society. Many of the children that I have worked with responded well to some sort of positive reinforcement, which in often cases was combined with another type of reinforcement. In many of the classrooms, teachers and aides were notified of a child’s weaknesses and asked to reinforce positive behaviors verbally, as well as with prizes such as stickers and erasers. In conclusion I am a believer in positive reinforcement in the early childhood classroom and think it is appropriate to help a child socially blossom.