Sunday, April 3, 2016

Social Learning Theory Reflection

The social learning theory discusses how people learn through others, a social context.  This learning can be done through observing and imitating behaviors.  This is usually the way traditions and cultural expectations get passed down from generation to generation.  It is important for practitioners to understand this theory, because this is the way our children learn.  Students learn from others whether it be appropriate or inappropriate behaviors.  This reflection will discuss the social learning theory.
            Most knowledge obtained by children is through observational learning, a component of social learning. Newman and Newman (2007, pg. 136) provide the example of a child learning how to play football.  A child can learn from watching other children play football, and watching football on TV.  The people playing football would be modeling for this child, giving him the knowledge he could use when the opportunity to play football arises.  Through observations like these, schemes are being built of how to play football.  Observations made to acquire new knowledge occur throughout life, and is not based on performance.  When children observe behaviors they are guided by them, which shape their own behaviors.
            In the classroom, students need to be provided numerous opportunities to work their peers, and learn from them. The 21st century classroom requires collaboration with others, this is a form of social learning.  Not only is it important to know that students learn from modeling when teaching them, but also behaviors they display outside of the classroom as well.  Currently I am dealing with gossiping with my students.  These students have learned these behaviors from older siblings, and TV shows they watch.  Although Huesman (2007) discusses observing violence in media and its impact, the viewing of shows with dramatic behavior is similar.  These behaviors I witness has a group of students talking about another group.  I have come to realize this is how these students are meeting their need for fun, even if it is hurting another.  Another example proving children learn from what they see is the imitation of power rangers.  Usually when I am on yard duty, I witness at least one group of students reenacting what they saw on a TV show, like Power Rangers.

As an educator it is important to be aware of my own actions and behaviors, since all students are watching me and I am their model.  Even when I am teaching a lesson, I produce a model for the students to learn from.  Children learn from observing others, and it is important for all adults to realize this.  Children can pick up appropriate and inappropriate behaviors from those around them.  By becoming aware of social learning, I can be more mindful of my own actions in front of others.  I also know that more peer work should be done in class, and even a tutoring group with older and younger students can be of great benefit to those students.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cognitive Development Theory

Piaget’s cognitive development theory discusses how individual characteristics interact with the environment to form knowledge.  Piaget believed learning and maturation constitute development.  A state of equilibrium, or balance, is what everything strives to achieve (Newman, 2007, p. 82).  Within this theory there are five key components: schemes, organization, adaptation, stages of development, and egocentrism.  Piaget’s cognitive development theory is important to early childhood education teachers so that developmentally appropriate activities can be organized to assist with the growth and development of young children.
            One key component of this theory is the stages of cognitive development.  “The stages he described encompassed abstract processes that could be applied to many content areas and that could be observed at roughly the same chronological age periods across cultures” (Newman, 2007, p. 87).  In other words, all children experience the same developmental processes in the same order.  Children will experience each stage of cognitive development going in order.  The stages are; sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.  In the sensorimotor stage, infants birth to 2yrs begin to reach and grab for objects.  The preoperational stage, ages 2 to 7 years old, allows for the child to represent actions with metal thoughts. The concrete operational stage, ages 7-11, leads children to think logical.  The final stage formal operational, ages 11+, allows for children to reason and think abstractly.
            When an early childhood education teacher knows about Piaget’s cognitive development theory, they begin to observe the children passing through the stages of development.  Also, when the teacher knows about the stages they will provide the children with developmentally appropriate activities to foster their cognitive growth and development.  When I taught Kindergarten, one of the things we assessed was conservation which occurs in the concrete operational stage, ages 7- 11.  Most children are ages 5 and 6 in a kindergarten classroom, so as one could guess, only half of the students responded correctly to the problem.  The assessment consisted of two lines of 8 counter chips, one line spread out more than the other.  About half of the students were able to make one to one correspondence with the counters.  The other half of students claimed the longer line of counters had more, since it was longer.  It is important to know the stage of development of students, so instruction benefits their individual needs.

            When working with young children it is important to know their stage of cognitive development so that activities can be conducted geared toward their individual needs.  When children participate in developmentally appropriate activities they receive the practice they need to master each specific stage of development.  These ideas can help me by becoming more aware in the activities I present my students.  Some students may need more support in an area which can be seen through assessments and observations.  It is important for an educator to know what kinds of activities foster the growth and development of each stage and things they need to look for when assessing the student’s mastery in each stage of development.

Newman, B., & Newman, P. (2007). Theories of human development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Schema Theory

An important theory which assists educators provide developmentally appropriate curriculum is the schema theory.  The schema theory allows for knowledge to be categorized in groups of existing concepts.  “Piaget preferred the term scheme rather than concept because it can be used to describe interrelated groups of actions as well as ideas” (Newman & Newman, 2007, p. 85).  When teaching mathematics to students, new schemas are created and existing schemes are constantly modified to fit the new schemes.
When a person acquires new knowledge, the information received is categorized in a scheme which allows for the person to make connections between knowledge the person already possesses.  Information is better understood when associated with things that are most familiar to the new concept. Once information is modified to fit into a scheme a person is better able to make connections and place the knowledge in long term memory.
In order to create a developmentally appropriate curriculum an educator must have an understanding of the schemas each child possesses, so that the new information can be modified to fit into a schema for the student.  When teaching math to my fifth grade students I have to use strategies that will allow for all students to obtain the information.  In 5th grade I know students have a slight background of fractions, usually only knowing fractions represent a part of a whole.  I have to strengthen this scheme and modify it so that the students understand how to manipulate the fractions.  Their modified schema allows them to know there are equivalent fractions, improper fractions should be converted to mixed numbers, etc.  I like to use the idea of a Hershey bar, since students know this candy can be broken into equal pieces.  Using this strategy allows for students to solve fraction problems, recalling the candy bar experience.
Schema theory allows for new information to be classified into a scheme, which allows a person to make connections and better recall information.  Educators need to know they must modify existing schemes for students so that they better understand the concepts taught to them.  Teachers need to know how to build on existing knowledge in order to create a strong foundation for future knowledge. My take away from this theory is to make sure to activate prior knowledge.  There are times when educators feel they do not have time to figure out what each kid already knows.  This is crucial on building upon existing scheme. It is highly important to learn about a student's’ prior knowledge so the new schemes can be molded to fit into the existing scheme.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Epistemology Reflection

Epistemology is the study of knowledge and how knowledge is obtained.  There are three subcategories of epistemology which help clarify how people receive knowledge.  The three categories are; objectivism, pragmatism, and interpretivism.  To be objective means your knowledge comes from experiences.  Pragmatics gain their knowledge from experiences and reason.  Lastly the view of interpretivism gains knowledge through rationality.  It is important for practitioners to know about epistemology to help others acquire knowledge or to better their own practice.  In this reflection I will determine my own epistemology, and try to clarify any misconceptions I previously had.
            Identifying my own epistemology was quite difficult.  I think I have at times fallen into both objectivism and interpretivism.  The majority of the time I am centered and practice both continuums, so I would consider my epistemology to be pragmatic.  Since I identify with pragmatism I believe knowledge is acquired through both experiences and reason.  “For the most part, pragmatists hold absolute knowledge as a worthy, but probably unreachable goal” (Driscoll, 2005, p. 13).  I truly believe not one person has the “right” answer.  There are many ways to solve a problem and communicate with others.  I am very open to lifestyles and beliefs that are different than mine.  Every person is constantly learning and growing from each encounter and/or experience they have had.  Driscoll mentions the pragmatism theory is like a hypothesis.  When I read this I immediately thought of the scientific method.  Whenever a question arises you create a hypothesis to help you work through the problem.  Most times a scientist changes their hypothesis numerous times through reason and learning from each experience they have had. 
            My epistemology impacts my teaching greatly.  I teach 5th grade and my lessons constantly change to meet the needs of my students.  I like to allow my students to work through problems with their peers.  It is very beneficial to give them the opportunity to communicate and share their ideas with one another.  Knowing that I do not know everything and one way of teaching a topic is not the only way, allows me to reflect on my practice of how to improve future lessons for my students. 
            An example of my pragmatic point of view, is when I teach fractions to my 5th graders.  This is a complicated topic for most students, and I have heard many people express how much they hate fractions.  I learned the procedures to solve fraction problems and could teach these methods to make it “easy,” but I want my students to have a better understanding of the meaning of fractions.  I provide the students with many resources when teaching these lessons.  We use manipulatives, videos, real life scenarios, and songs to help the multiple intelligences in my room.  After using these various strategies we talk about many real life problems, and students work together to better understand the topic.  When students are allowed to experience fractions using fraction tiles or candy bars the can visually see how parts become a whole.
            As a teacher, it is important to know about epistemology to improve my instruction to my students.  I am always reflecting on and in action of how to meet the needs of all my students.  I know that all students learn differently and so I need to present my lessons using a variety of strategies.  I believe being flexible and being able to alter what you are doing to better instruct students is very beneficial to all educators.  The most important thing an educator can do for any student is to create an experience for them, so that they can explain the concept in their own way.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Introduction to theories of learning and instruction. In Psychology of
              learning for instruction (3rd ed., pp. 1-15). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Hello!  I'm Candra Nason.  I am currently enrolled in my last semester of the Early Childhood Education Masters program at Fresno State University.  I am a third year teacher.  My first year I taught Kindergarten and for the past two years I have taught 5th grade at an elementary school located in Central Unified .  I enjoy attending trainings and conferences to further my knowledge about my field.  At my school site I serve on the Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team, assist with Character Counts, and lead our Peer Mediation team.

Outside of work I spend all of my time with my family.  I am married and have two children, Riley age 7 and Daric age 3.   We spend a lot of time at the Chaffee Zoo and different parks around Fresno. My kids are involved in various sports, and my husband and I play in an adult recreation softball league.  It is usually crazy at my house and looks like I live in Toys R Us, but I love every minute of it.

The school year following my high school graduation, I began working as an instructional aide for an after school program at a school in Central Unified.  The first two years I only worked with kindergarten students which was considered an extended day for them, it was when they only attended half day.  After the kindergartens began full day, I transfered into the after school program at the same school which assisted with students in first-sixth grade.  I spent a total of nine years at this school site supporting students in the areas of math and literacy.  During the last two years of this time I began subbing in classrooms K-6. In 2013 I was hired as a kindergarten teacher.  The following school year the number of kinder students enrolled was low, so I was placed in a 5th grade classroom.

After I complete the Masters program I would like to get involved in teaching at a community college.  I would like to eventually become a program specialist for early childhood education. In most cases that requires an administrative credential, so that would be a next step.

An early school memory occurred in Kindergarten.  The music teacher visited our classroom every week.  I remember getting so excited every time he visited.  We sang various songs and created movements for each song.