Distributed Cognition Blog Post

I chose to watch the video Effective Teaching with Technology: Grade 3, English Language Arts for this blog post. I thought this video showed a really effective use of technology in a project based learning environment.  In this video they showed many ways that technology is integrated across the curriculum for this project based learning classroom. The classroom has an incubator to show the students the life cycle of a chicken from egg to full grown. The teacher then makes the lesson a cross curricular one by bringing in  a language arts element. She did this by creating a project that had the child make a persuasive argument, convincing an audience to purchase their poultry products. For this they have a ton of technology integration. They write up a script, looking up persuasive language on laptops they then have several options for how they complete their project. The students can make a poster or presentation in google slides, they can use an online poster making program called Canva, or they can make a persuasive video using imovie.  

There are quite a few effects with technology in this lesson. The students are working with the technology to create their persuasive presentation. They are the ones putting their own words and information into the programs, the programs are just there to enhance the work the students have done. The incubator is more of an effect of technology as it is doing all the work to heat and keep the egg living until it hatches.

 Some of the teaching is offloaded onto the technology as the students are all broken up to work on the projects. Some learning is offloaded onto the incubator and egg, rather than the teacher having to describe the life cycle of a chicken, she can just show it in real time with the egg and the incubator. Some of the work is taken off the kids as well, especially with the poster program, as they do not have to put in all the work of hand making their own poster. The final assessment of the project also has some elements of offloading, as they present their completed project to a public audience. The teacher works as a monitor going around and making sure the students understand what they are doing and have a grasp on how to run the programs, as well as write persuasively.

I feel as though the technology integration does help to make the students smarter and learn throughout the project. They used their own knowledge and understanding of writing persuasive papers, the technology is just there to enhance what the students create using their own intelligence. The intelligence did not come from the technology but from themselves. They used what they knew to create the outline of a persuasive project, and then plugged all that into the programs or videos. The intelligence of the technology is seen in the smoothness of the design it creates and its organization capabilities. This lesson shows distributed cognition in the fact that the students use not only their intelligence, but the intelligence of the technology that they have access to, to form their project

Blog Post Observation 2

I sadly did not receive an email back from my cooperating teacher about specifically who runs what when it comes to technology use in the school. Through the Nobel elementary website I was able to find a bit of information. On their website I went to the library page and found their library media specialist is named Yvonne Wallace, her specific title is “Library Media Ancillary”. Farther down the page we are given a list of what online resources the library specifically has. This list includes online encyclopedias, databases and learning resources.

They have a “staff directory” on the website as well, but you must know the person’s name in order to get their title, you can not just search a title, for example “director of educational technology”. They seem to have a few resources just for staff and parents that bring you to a separate website that requires a login. I then went onto the district website, rather than the one for my specific school, to see if I could gain any more information there. Here I found information about the district’s educational technology use. The information technology page starts with a message saying “The Information Technology Department supports this vision and helps prepare students for their future, a world of digital technology, global information, and instant communication. Increasing access to technology is essential for that future, and laptops, within a wireless learning environment, help students to learn at their full potential and to prepare for college and the workplace”. It also has the name of the district coordinator of technology, Christina Bauer, Ph.D., and the IT support line phone number. There was a subtitle called “information technology staff” in which I was able to find the technology and tech support staff for the entire district. This was not available on the elementary school’s website specifically. 

In the classroom specifically the students had access to Ipads. I never got an email answering my questions about firewalls, but through all my observations the children were only on the educational app that they were supposed to be on for the center.  

Overall the district has access to tech support and information about the schools use of technology, but only if you look on the entire district page. This might be an issue as firewalls and things like that for first grade are going to be quite different than those of tenth graders.

Digital Storytelling story board

“Extreme Weather!” (thunder clap)

*spinning text saying “extreme weather” comes in*

These are our unique experiences with extreme weather! 

Fade out 

Fade in 

*insert picture of child Kate*

“When I was eight years old I had my very first extreme weather experience”

Fade out 

Fade in

A car (white noise driving sound) 

“I was driving into Indianapolis, Indiana with my parents for a family trip.

The conditions were perfect for tornadoes but we weren’t expecting to see any. 

When the radio came on (radio sound)  and the weatherman told us there were two in the area, I looked out my window and saw two twin tornadoes just a few miles away! My family kept driving and we were safe, but it was a bit scary!” 

Fade out 

Fade in

*Picture of eight year old Maddie*

“I had my first extreme weather experience when I was eight too!”

Fade out

Fade in 

“I was spending a week with my mom in florida, she was working on a photoshoot for the company she was working for at the time”

“We were just about to leave to go home when suddenly…”


*wind sounds*

“There were two huge hurricanes back to back! We had to stay in the airport for hours not knowing when it would be safe to fly! I was a little scared but I made it home okay once the storm was over!” 

Fade to black screen 

“So, what should you do to stay safe in extreme weather conditions like us?” *news alert sound* 

“Pack things like water, blankets, flashlights, and bandaids when traveling in case you run into extreme weather. (Zipper noises) Know where storm shelters are in the area. Communicate with your family when you are not with them in severe weather.(texting sounds) And if you are able to, remember to follow the tornado safety rules in this graphic. Driving in tornadoes can be dangerous, so take shelter if you are able.” 

“Now for some…”

“…hurricane safety tips!”

“For this also be sure to have supplies and stay in contact with loved ones if possible! Try and be somewhere safe from flooding and have an evacuation plan just in case!”

“We stayed safe in these storms and so can you! Tell us your story and give us safety tips so that your classmates can know what to do when extreme weather strikes!” (thunder clap)

Digital Story Telling Blog Post 2

The classroom I am observing in is in a type of school that I have not really experienced before. I am in a lower income school near east Cleveland. The students have a different dynamic with the teacher than I’ve seen or experienced in the past. Many of the students are disruptive and sometimes just get up and move around the classroom to avoid doing work. The teacher’s discipline seems style seems to involve much more yelling than what I am used to. She often scolds them and threatens to take away recess as her main form of discipline, this doesn’t work with all students though, some seem to think that that is a fair trade for not completing their worksheet right then.  

Most of the class is spent as a whole group, every once in a while certain kids get pulled out of the classroom throughout the day to work with a teacher that helps them with reading and math in a separate room. The only time I have seen small group work occur is when they break up to do centers or work with partners to talk about a story that was just read to them. For centers they are in the same group everyday.  The work done in these centers is more individual work. They don’t really collaborate with each other, but they more just do the same work next to each other, sometimes asking questions to their neighbor. The students also occasionally do partner discussions during rug or circle time. The teacher will ask them a question and then tell them to give their answer to the person to the right or left of them. She will also have them retell or summarize the story she just read to their neighbor. Other than that I have not seen many instances of group work done in this class. 

The classroom uses technology quite a bit throughout the day. Most of the technology use involves the smart board at the front of the room. Often the smart board is just used as a visual aid, like having a copy of the worksheet they are doing so the teacher can write on it with them. But, there are occasions where the class uses it to play a game together. For example there was one day I observed recently where they matched rhyming pairs. The screen showed two ships, one had one common rhyming sound written on it, and the other ship had a different one. Off to the side words that fit one of the rhyming sounds were written on cannonballs. The teacher would call on the students one by one to come up and put a cannonball in the ship it belongs to. The kids really seemed to enjoy the interactive use of the smart board in this lesson. There is also one center where the students have their own iPads and headphones so they can use an interactive app that has reading and writing games.

I asked a few students about their personal technology use at home. Since I am in a first grade classroom none of the kids I spoke to had any social media (which makes sense because of their young age). All of the children I spoke to said that they had a tablet at home that they used for “fun games” not “school games” or for watching youtube and netflix. I think the classroom uses technology pretty effectively over all, but I would love to see more group work done with the students.  

Digital Story Telling Blog Post 1

In the essay “Digital storytelling: Capturing children’s participation in preschool activities” by  Lisa Kervin and Jessica Mantei they introduce the essay by starting with a conversation about the importance of belonging when it comes to early childhood learning. They also discuss the idea that children are “competent interpreters of their everyday world” which is something I feel a lot of people do not think about. It is always assumed that things can be talked about in front of them and they won’t understand because they are too young. Keeping this information in mind gives us more insight into how children might view the world and their place in it. 

It then moved on to bring the idea of digital storytelling into the essay. The authors emphasize how digital storytelling can be used as a great means of self expression saying “They allow their creators not only to express themselves but also their understanding of the world”. Children can use digital storytelling to show their interpretation of the world and their place in it. This can especially be used to help early childhood students to find their place in the world and their sense of where they belong. 

The essay then goes on to explain the research, explaining that “the children were invited to create a digital story to represent the ways they engage in their prior to school setting”. The results of this experiment showed that the “children in our research demonstrated clear understandings about the boundaries, expectations and ways of being in their community”. I liked that this article used digital storytelling not only to prove the importance of young children having a sense of belonging, but also a method of self expression for the children to use express how they feel in the world.

I worked with Kate to make a comic that provided information about both essays we read.

Video Game Blog Post 4

I decided to jump back into the Homer Learning app and see what other games the learning path had in store for me today! The first game involved teaching “and” as a sight word. It first showed the child the word and then had a dotted line version where the child was instructed to drag and drop the correct letters in their corresponding spots. This was a nice way to introduce the sight word and let kids see how it was spelled while also keeping in child involvement. They feel as though they have a job to complete the sight word! 

The next game was a repeat of one from a previous blog post. It involved first selecting the image of something that started with an A sound and the next part of the game involved selecting the word that had an A sound in the middle. I don’t think children would mind the fact that this was a repeat game as the animation was cute and repeated practice helps with mastery. Something that confused me was the fact that there were two games for the beginning A sound and only one for the middle A sound. I wonder what the creators thought process for this was. 

The last step in the first level of the learning path was a sort of reward where kids just to go put stickers on an image, the stickers had something to do with one of the interests the parent selected in the setup of the game. After the child decides they are done setting up their picture there is an explosion of stars and a monkey comes up and says “congratulations you have completed level 1! Let’s move onto level 2!”

Video Game Blog Post 3

I decided I would try and make it a little further into the learning path and look at what the next few steps are. The first game played today was part fun memory game and part understanding rhyming. They had to flip a card that had a word and picture on it and try and flip over another card that rhymed. I thought this was a good method for working on rhyming because, while you still needed an understanding of rhyming to complete it, it feels much more like a game than a lesson. I think this helps draw children in because they are learning, but having fun while doing so. 

For the next game we created words but had to make sure the letter was facing the right way to complete the word. The child had to tap the square with the letter facing the correct way and the game would say “good job” if you selected the correct one. I wanted to see what would happen if the child selected the wrong answer, I selected a letter facing the wrong direction and the game said “not quite! Try again!” I liked that it did not flat out shame the child for getting the wrong answer, instead encouraging them to try again. I think young children will really like how much this learning app feels like a game and will appreciate that every game is different to keep the child’s attention. I will post updates as I continue through the learning path to see how the game changes and adds new lessons

Video Game Blog post 2

For this blog post I went through a few of the steps in the learning path. First it had the child just introduced to letter A sounds, playing a recording of someone saying the sound and then recording the child making the same sound and playing it back so they can hear themselves. I liked this playback element because the child can hear their voice compared to the game’s voice. 

Next activity the game had was writing the letter A in upper and lower case. I first showed the child how to do it with an animation and then asked the child to try writing it themselves with their finger. Showing the kids an animation of how to write the letter rather than just having them trace it or do it themselves is a very helpful element. I think it gives the students some direction so they don’t go into it blindly and learn how to write in a wrong way. 

In the next game they showed a row of four uppercase letters and asked the child to tap the one that was an A. They did the same thing with lowercase a as well. I liked that they did it with both uppercase and lowercase because it shows the child that, even though they look different they are the same letter and make the same sound. 

The next step in the learning path had the child choose what word out of a list of three words started with the letter A. They read the words out loud and had the words represented by pictures. The child then had to tap which picture was a word that started with the letter A

The next game was very similar but their words had an A sound in the middle instead of the beginning this time. I liked that this activity showed the places A sounds could be in word so kids understand A is not just a beginning sound.

I am curious to see how the learning path continues or increases in difficulty as time goes on!

Video Game Blog Post 1

As I am an early childhood education major, looking to work with the younger side of early childhood, I decided I would look into the Homer app as my game for the class. This is an app meant to help very young learners with reading and phonics. The game allows you to create an account for your child asking for their name, age, and interests from a pre-made list.

It then asks a series of questions to determine the reading stage of the child. Each question about the child’s reading stage has three answer option, those being: all, some, or none. For example, one of the questions is “my child can identify beginning letters and letter sounds” and you would choose all the time, some of the time, or none of the time. After you answer these questions it gives your child a personalized plan to improve their reading skills.

It then starts them on a personal learning path where they complete different games to make it to the next level or game. As they progress the games get more difficult and teach them new things

These games seem like a great and engaging way to get your young child to learn to read and understand phonics. I am going to go through the learning path to see how it changes and progresses. Stay tuned for app updates, and I will do my best to follow along and look at it from both the viewpoint of a student and a parent/ teacher.

Introduction Post

Hello, my name is Maddie and I use she/her pronouns. I am originally from Pittsburgh but I attend school in Cleveland. I am an early childhood education major and would love to teach kindergarten one day. I have always loved working with kids. Being a teacher is something I have wanted to do since I was very little. I would set up my stuffed animals and read to them almost every night.

In school I am part of Kappa Delta sorority. Being part of this organization gives me even more experience with young children as we do several activities a semester with Brownies and Girl Scouts.

I am the kind of learner where I like to talk out my ideas with small groups of people in order to sort of bounce ideas off each other. I enjoy environments where new ideas are welcomed and constructive criticism is provided with a lack of harsh judgement.

I find it very important that all students feel safe, comfortable and welcome in a classroom environment. This not only provides an emotional safe space for kids, but it also is proven to increase students academic success.

Lastly I would like to ask Dr. Shutkin what he feels the most important aspect of a classroom is.