Let your students create!-Project Based Learning and Technology

Let your students create!

The constructivist/constructionist theory explains how important it is for the learner to explore and create for themselves (Laureate, 2011). Project based learning derives itself from this theory and explains that “Because [it] is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying” (Nichol, 2011).

When coming up with a project for your students, it is important to create a situation where they will be forced into a point of dis-equilibration. When students are in a place where they do not know all of the answers they are forced to work through a situation or problem in order to solve it. The answers are not given to them. Students learn when they have to solve something on their own.

Students need to be able to work through a problem successfully as well as sometimes, unsuccessfully.

Creating and testing hypotheses is a great way for students to work through problems and different concepts.

“When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007).

Technology tools help enhance the testing of hypotheses. Students are able to manipulate figures and work with the content in ways that would take too long to work through on paper. Microsoft Excel is a convenient tool that many students have access to at school and at home. There are also many online spreadsheet tools such as Google Docs (Spreadsheets) and wikiCalc (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007).

Online gaming systems, oddly enough, provide simulations where students “use background knowledge, make decisions and see the outcome of their hypotheses, often in virtual situations that would be impossible or financially unreasonable in real life” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007).

As many people would consider Farmville on Facebook a waste of time, it may have a place in the classroom. Players are able to make decisions about what would work best for their farm, try it out and see the consequences. Where SimCity and the Sims are seen as programs that waste too much time, and maybe they do, they could also have a place in the classroom. Students are able to try all kinds of different situations without any harm to their real lives. They are constantly testing hypotheses without even knowing or trying.

Presentation tools such as SlideRocket and Prezi are great ways for students to document what they have researched or what they are working on. Both sites allow the user to easily upload or embed presentations into websites. They also have a link that can easily be shared.

No matter the content area, there is a technology tool out there that can enhance your curriculum.

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Nichol, M. (2011) What Works in Education. Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience. Retrieved fromhttp://www.edutopia.org/project-learning-introduction

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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3 thoughts on “Let your students create!-Project Based Learning and Technology

  1. I love you comment about the relevance of games in education. I try hard to make my learning engaging and fun, but there is a nagging feeling that if it is to fun then it isn’t school. I am researching games that tie directly into curricular goals (which is tough) in hopes that I can tap into the unbridled educational energy kids have to discover every aspect and advantage of a new game. Do you use games in your class frequently?

    • That’s so true that if something seems fun than no one is learning they are just having fun, but fun is learning and learning is fun! 🙂 I teach second grade so I introduce “gaming” activities the second semester. I love the games were they have to run something like a lemonade stand and they have to make sure everything is just right and figure out why they sold more lemonade one day and less the other. My students all have computers at their table and we often do “brain breaks” where they will get to jump on and play a quick 5 minute game. I have found that it is a great way to get them re-energized for the next subject.
      Thanks for responding!

  2. Allie

    I love how you brought up Farmville and Sim City! Even though there are some skeptics out there, I totally agree with you. These programs are great ways of creating things that relate to the real-world and they have to think critically when playing them. There is another program on Facebook called Cityville (I think that is what it is called), but this is an awesome game to teach the students about their local government and citizenship. Last year, I asked our Technology Coordinator and principal about being able to use these in the classroom and I was told that because it was accessed through Facebook, that I would be unable to use it in my classroom. I was very disappointed because it would have been fun and an exciting way to teach these concepts, since they can be very hard to understand and to some, very uninteresting. Youtube is another one of those programs that can be used for many great things but because of the inappropriate content that can be accessed on it, we are not able to use it. It would awesome if they could find a way to allow teachers to access these types of cites, so we could use these programs to our advantage!

    Great Blog!

    Crystal Moyer

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