Connectivism: My Mind Map


This is my network.


Brain Research and Its Effects on Learning

The book, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, is one of my favorite books.  It is available at Walden University Library digitally as well as Barnes and Noble.  I love this book because it reminds the reader constantly of our differences as learners.  Not every student learns using the old model of lecture.  T. Armstrong reminds us that these are things that good teachers have always done.  Now we simply know why they work.  Some instructional strategies presented in this book include focus on linguistic, spatial and musical.  For example, Mr. Parr and many others have created songs that review content.  Focus on interpersonal skills could be a classroom debate.  Although lecture is a part of the MI classroom, so are videos, artifacts, experiments, artistic renderings and self-reflection.  Imagine a classroom where you were able to learn using methods that were specific to your learning style.  Then think of the thirty or more students in each of your classes doing the same thing.  This book will help more classrooms function that way.

With this foundation, I began exploring problem solving.  Cognitive Load Theory, Learning Difficulty and Instructional Design begins with the research about chess which is typically cited as the first research into problem solving.  It continues through multiple strategies and even focuses on brain research such as selective attention and cognitive processing capacity.  This article is of particular importance for me because of its conclusion.  Problem solving and building schemata are not synonymous.  One can work out solutions without actually placing new information into the long-term memory.  Can you imagine, all those word problems in math did not actually help you learn the skill?  Instructional designers beware!  Traditional problem solving must go!  New nonspecific goal problems teach the process.  The skills must be acquired first.

When I began designing professional development as well as my regular classroom duties, I read about andragogy and was completely disenchanted.  How could I ever hope to teach adults who learn differently than the children I work with daily?  K. Cercone answers this question in Characteristics of Adult Learners with Implications for Online Learning.  As a newly budding Instructional Design Specialist, I needed something to help me create online courses that were as valuable to the adults I work with as the digitally integrated learning I use with my middle school classes.  Enter K. Cercone in the AACE Journal available at Walden University Online.  Several learning theories are clearly explained and then applied to an online learning environment.  This article includes a good reminder that we are all people who have different needs, learning styles, cultures and personal experiences.  Learners are not simply processors of knowledge, but real people who are struggling to learn about themselves in addition to the course material.  Adult learners truly need time for metacognition within the coursework, whereas adolescent learners tend to need assistance with metacognition.


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. 

Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137–159.

Sweller, J. (1994).  Cognitive Load Theory, Learning Difficulty and Instructional Design.  Learning and Instruction, 4(4), 295 – 312.

My Favorite Blogs

Innovation in education is a communal process.  One person alone makes a small difference.  Working in a Professional Learning Community to affect change creates a much more effective and efficient change.  In order to begin changing education, one must first understand learning.  Defining learning requires research into learning theory and applications for the real world (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009).  Therefore, I am recommending my favorite bloggers to help create a Professional Learning Community with strong ties to research based applications.

Alex Rister is an educator at Full Sail University.  She works as an instructional designer, translating principles and into instructional strategies (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Her blog, Creating Communication, focus is on the visual presentation methods.  She analyzes current books, webinars and personal experiences to create an interactive forum addressing the formalized learning of adult students (Smith, 1999).  She connects me with innovators in the field by imbedding slides, video presentations or simply important pictures into her blogs about their techniques.  When I am looking to enhance my presentations of a new topic, I immediately search her blog for new ideas.  For example, she has presented slide makeovers that improve my presentations.

Bill Ferriter, the Tempered Radical, is by far my favorite blog.  I attended one of his training sessions last year and was inspired by his “edges of the box” theory.  I have read his book, Teaching the iGeneration and often revisit it when looking to increase my repertoire of technological skills.  His blog focuses on techniques he is utilizing, new books that include current research and educational policies that affect our classrooms.  Bill Ferriter is one of the most innovative educators in North Carolina and strives to improve all educational practices.  He includes resources such as voice thread and PLC tune up.  I especially enjoyed his article on Merit Pay as many of my colleagues and I worry about the implications of this policy.  He presents an educated an informative perspective on issues that directly impact myself and my colleagues.

Christopher Lehman was recommended to me by my principal last year.  His techniques for teaching Language Arts are so effective that our school district hired him for professional development seminars.  Although I was not able to take part in these training sessions, our Language Arts department was impressed.  Although I began reading his blog to research the effective techniques used in Language Arts, I was drawn to his post on poverty.  I teach in a high priority school and am concerned about the effects of poverty on education.  He provides research and analysis on this important topic.  He posts blogs on current topics of educational concern such as the Common Core and Bullying.

Although I tried to recommend only three blogs, I could not help listing the TED blog.  It is my favorite blog that is not strictly about education.  TED is a conference that has some of the best technology and world leaders in a variety of fields.  I enjoy watching the videos of conference sessions and reading about new ideas.  I use this blog to stay current with technology on a global scale.  Topics range from recycling plastics to meteorology.

While these four blogs are my favorite, I would enjoy learning about other educational innovators and their ideas.  I am focusing on applying different learning theories and current educational research.  As a middle school teacher in a high poverty school, I find it important to connect with others who are  improving education so that I can improve my techniques and understanding of the human brain. Please feel free to post blogs that deal with learning theories, educational practices or brain research.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Smith, M. K. (1999). Learning theory. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from