The Cognitive Learning Theory proposes tools that play “multiple roles which allow students to interact with information in order to acquire, synthesize, create and share new knowledge” (Orey, 2001). Virtual field trips are the perfect tool to allow students to do this. Within virtual field trips students being by seeking out information, specifically relevant information to their assignment (Orey, 2001). Within the virtual field trip, my students took through Ellis Island, students collected information on the purpose of Ellis Island and the experience that immigrants had on their passage to and through the island. Prior to beginning this virtual field trip, my students went through practice activities on how to “weed out” useless information. My students were unfamiliar with how to conduct searches on the internet as well as reading through the material and identifying the main points. Next within the Cognitive Learning Theory, is the information presentation. This requires students to organize their information and make connections (Orey, 2001). Within the virtual field trip my students took through Ellis Island, my students needed to decide how to interpret the information and put themselves into another person’s situation. My students not only learned about Ellis Island but the experiences of those that went through it. My students took over the role of a health inspector and an immigrant by utilizing two different sites. Once their virtual field trip is over, students will research how to go about immigrating to the United States in 2016. The next step is knowledge organization, “learners organize information based upon experiences and interpretations rather than just copying information” (Orey, 2001). My students had to decide the best possible route to take to begin collecting their information and then organizing it rather than just copying down their new information. Once they have organized their information, they begin their knowledge integration. Students needed to take their new information about immigration and decide how it changes their prior perceptions (Orey, 2001). Lastly, students combined all of their information to create a product to present their information. They had the opportunity to create a product of their choosing, this allows students to “work with computer technology, instead of being controlled by it” (Orey, 2001).
Within this lesson, several ISTE standards are being fulfilled by both student and teacher. As an educator, I am designing and developing a digital age learning experience for my students by assigning them to go through a virtual field trip and then to conduct their own research (ISTE, 2008). Additionally, as an educator, I am facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity by having my students compare the experiences of immigrants that went through Ellis Island to immigrants migrating to the United States today. My students are fulfilling their own standards by acting as a digital citizen and becoming an innovative design when deciding how to present their information (ISTE, 2016).
Upon completing my lesson on Immigration with my 7th graders I was impressed with their skills. Beginning this year, they were very unfamiliar with the idea of researching on their own. They were much more comfortable with specific web quests, where I would give them the websites to find their information. I decided that for this lesson, I would begin with this and then scaffold to the point where they would complete their own research. The scaffolding greatly helped them, and for several of my students, I provided a second graphic organizer for their present day information. Students created a wide variety of products, and I was thoroughly impressed with the information they retrieved as well as the creativity it took to complete their products.
The sources I discovered would greatly assist in creating a Genius Hour within my classroom. I found a source that states “Inquiry learning is an approach that promotes engagement, motivation, and learning” (Ostrgaard, 2016). I truly believe in this. It is vital for students to experience their own need for inquiry to continue to grow their own interests. The best way to ensure that students are inquiring about their chosen topics is to get to know my own students (NA, 2011). Additionally, it is vital to fully understand and be aware of all learning theories and their implications within the classroom (Morrison, 2014).
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Morrison. (2014, January 31). Why Educators Need to Know Learning Theory. Retrieved
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