Invitation to a Paradigm Party

Imagine being invited to a party – you have never been to a party. It’s a pretty difficult decision. There is so much to decide! Not unlike deciding which instructional design theory best suits my learning paradigm.

As I read and analyzed the 5 instructional theories, I desired a deeper understanding by trial. Perhaps, the constructivist lingering inside sensed a challenge. As I read each, I considered my most recent practices trying to establish consistencies. Each one offered advantages, and addressed different learners. Is that what made this difficult? I visualized my learners who, with little support, seemed to wear any design best.

Recently, I completed the multiplying unit in math. We are in second grade. This is the first experiences with multiplication, but my class devours math experiences. They engage in the concrete ideas and extend ideas to practice in similar situations. A combination of Gagne’s 9 Levels of Learning and Understanding by Design suited the development of this unit because of the learners. To begin planning, teachers decided what we expected of the students by week 3. Every student would be able to use arrays to represent the multiplication process. We decided that to show understanding, each student would create a cityscape. The cityscape would be a more authentic display of students’ understanding of the use of arrays and the specific process to arrive at equations. We followed our math unit, but added a few extra practices with graph paper to encourage the development of arrays and the rectangular formula for area. Experiences of practice confirmed performance level, allowed time for feedback, provided assessment ideas, and enhanced the opportunity for transfer as we moved to our big project!  Students took ownership of their new knowledge and self-motivated and challenged created arrays of double-digit height to multiply higher numbers than I imagined. Successful students understand the use of arrays in solving multiplication problems!


However, during a literacy/science unit, the objectives focused more on cycles, similar groups, and the interaction of groups and individuals. We required more scheme, more vocabulary, and more relationship experiences to create understanding. In this case, my design looks more like elaboration. Basically, my students would recognize the basic parts of the plant and the plant life cycle. We began with the big picture organizing and separating living things. We read about trees and plants. We planted seeds, observed them, went on a field trip, and took notes. As we continued looking at the smaller, more intricate changes, the vocabulary, and returned to the bigger picture students developed relational skills like, “The seed coat is to the seed as our winter coat is to a person,” or “The soil is to the roots like nectar is to the bee.” These analogies demonstrated understanding and encouraged our drive into more information.

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Technology enhanced both examples with simply sharing Brainpop videos, using a photo journal, blogging about experiences and changes, and explanation of understanding on Seesaw. Viewing theBrianpopengages students in specific examples and vocabulary for the topic. I use these for both review and introduction. Students can access Brainpop when using the iPads independently. Blogging encourages students to write to an authentic audience. Students can read each others’ blogs and comment on the content of the blog. Interactive games motivate students with immediate feedback and graphics! Honestly, my favorite technology use with these activities was Seesaw during our review for the math test. Lazarus was able to explain how her solved, “$4.00-$3.65=.”  He usedSeesaw to photograph the problem. Next he recorded his voice using the microphone to explain. I would have never known his strategy if he had to type this to the class. The microphone helped me assess students deeper understanding before taking the assessment. Then, I used their explanation to show the others how to solve the review work. Students solved, taught, watched, listened, and learned from each other. Amazing moment!

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Owen’s Arrays

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Lazarus’s Explanation

Perusing learning design options, I claimed many lessons as similar to the others. The ADDIE and ARCS similarly motivate students through the gaining of knowledge and understanding. That is, these design models encourage students’ motivation to learn by providing feedback and confirmation while building confidence! I believe that students and class chemistry is as important in choosing learning designs as units, lessons, and objectives. As a veteran teacher, I consider my learners and my comforts as a teacher, but I denounce routine and comfort if it stifles the opportunity to growing learners!

So, the party … I enjoy a celebration – parties entertain me with awe and sweetness. But, my favorite parties are parties when I am prepared for such festivities. I am a constructionist and need to prepare for the building and growing. Preparing lessons and unit studies require the preparation and design consideration so that upon arrival we hear, “We do know our students!”

Let’s have a party!

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