Our final project for CEP 800 was to write, implement and reflect on a lesson plan that embedded technology using Learning Theory as the lens through which we are creating and reflecting. My original lesson plan can be found here: Dewey Decimal System Lesson Plan.
I taught my lesson this past week using my children as my students. My reflection on that process can be found here: Arnold_Reflection. You can also read my reflection below.
Lesson Plan Description
My lesson plan is an introduction to the Dewey Decimal System. The lesson is designed for first quarter third grade students. These students are aware that the library has organizational systems in order to locate books efficiently, but this is their first experience with DDS. I used PearDeck to design a small group activity exploring the 10 categories that make up DDS. Students will examine books representative of each of the categories and in PearDeck write or draw a description of what they believe the overarching theme of that category to be. Those responses will be aggregated and used in a second lesson going deeper into DDS. I changed my original lesson plan based on Unit 6 learning. With students being expected to focus on new content, a new technology tool and the activity itself in an open concept environment, I felt that my initial lesson split student focus. As a result, I will be having students work in stations around the media center using DDS category representative books rather than moving through the stacks. This change will allow students to focus on content and new technology rather than book choice and environment.
As I am out of the classroom for summer, I chose to present this lesson to one group of representative students, my daughter who just completed 3rd grade, and my son who just completed 1st grade, but is academically at a 3rd grade level. I taught in my school media center using Chromebooks from my library lab as the hardware. The lesson went fairly smoothly with the biggest stumbling block being group dynamics – as it would during a regular lesson. My children were able to access the PearDeck easily and work with the interface because it is very user friendly. There were no problems with looking at the books and discussing common features – although it probably helped that their group did have a one-on-one instructor. The biggest problem came in the decision making process for who and how their results would be entered into the program. My son preferred to represent his learning by drawing and my daughter preferred writing a narrative. This is a problem I can see happening within the classroom as well and is something I will have to account for in the lesson directions with a roles and responsibilities piece. I also would probably change the type of hardware used to a tablet because it would allow students to draw more easily and clearly than the track pad on the Chromebook. Overall though, the lesson went well.
In my lesson, I felt that my students learned about categories and classification as well as how to use the tool PearDeck. This matches up pretty closely with my learning goals for this lesson as the bigger goals such as understanding the categories of the Dewey Decimal System really cover the entire unit and not just this lesson specifically. The assumptions about learning made in this lesson were that learning occurs best in a social, hands-on constructivist matter where students are able to explore and learn together. The biggest constraint for knowledge being created and represented in this way is that it takes more time than a traditional behavioristic style lesson plan where knowledge is presented to students. This lesson, even in a scaled down format, took much longer than it would take me to present the information using a Smart Notebook document with little student interaction. The students working together and creating their own understanding of the categories was really social constructivism at its core; although I do believe I may have brought some behavioristic aspects in while guiding the students to certain discoveries rather than working beside them to create learning which may develop differently in a full class environment. Students were assumed to know how to work a Chromebook and that the library is divided into categories prior to the lesson, but other than that that, the tech tool is intuitive and no additional demands are placed. The tool I used was chosen because I could create an activity that allowed for differentiation among users to take place – both in how the material was represented to students (visually, orally) and how students were able to express their learning (through drawing, writing – or if necessary orally). PearDeck also allowed me to assess their learning and hold them accountable by aggregating student responses in one location for me to view.
Technology plays a central role in this lesson because it is both the means I use to represent learning for students and the means that they use to express their learning and engage with the topic. In this lesson, technology is very advantageous because it allows the students to engage with a topic that is not particularly engaging and it allows the students to construct their learning together both within their group and across groups. The students were very excited to be using this new technology and they were not surprised to be using a new technology because they are used to me as a parent and an educator using technology to support their learning. They really did not have many questions about the technology other than basic functionality questions. They used it as a tool to help them organize thinking and learning on the topic of DDS. It really served as a scaffold for the knowledge that they were creating together. It allowed them to offload some of the memory requirement for the project and metacognitively they worked together to implement the tool as a strategy for their learning. While this same lesson could be taught without the technology, I believe its inclusion allowed the students to explore the topic more deeply through increased engagement and the use of multiple means of respresentation and expression of the topic.