Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cognitivism in Practice

        The sensory memory holds information for only a very brief moment.  We must capture students’ attention by using cues, questioning, using different colors (stimuli), and even using gestures and fluctuating our voices.  In order to move information from short term memory to long term memory, teachers can make information meaningful and relevant to students’ lives.  In today’s society, students are surrounded with various means of technology in their everyday lives. Perhaps by integrating an assortment of technology into our lessons, students will be better able to determine the purpose of the assignment, the relevance of the topic, and the context of the material. 
      Researchers Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski (2007) discussed how cues, questions, and advance organizers enhances "students' ability to retrieve, use, and organize information" (p. 73).  I apply all of these instructional strategies in my own classroom in order to teach- and check - for understanding.  As Pitler et al. (2007) noted, cues are hints for what the students are getting ready to learn, while questions help to trigger memories.  In addition, "advance organizers help students focus their learning" (p. 73).  

     I do not always have to check for students' understanding via a formal assessment.  I do not only check understanding of the topic, concept, or skill by means of a quiz or test.  Cuing and questioning helps me to see what the students already know.  

I use graphic organizers to assist students with the placement of an abundance of information.  I have utilized Word and Inspiration software to create graphic organizers that help students to compile information into a more defined space.  I feel that this helps most students "see" the information.   This is also another way to check for understanding based on the placement of the information. 

       Additional instructional strategies include summarizing and note taking which "focuses on enhancing students' ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form" (Pitler et al., 2007, p. 119).  I can check for student's understanding of the day's essential question (pertaining to the lesson) by having students answer the question on a chart that I have created in Word.  The chart includes the Essential questions throughout the entire chapter, along with a space for students to write a short, concise response.  Here, I can quickly see if the student understood the lesson.  

   I have also used graphic organizers as a form of note taking, especially when covering a multitude of topics that students will later compare and contrast.  This way, students can divide the information into categories and see the bigger picture.  I also have had students utilize the Inspiration program in order to collect their thoughts into web.  This strategy has the students taking ownership of their understanding of the context.  


Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Malissa,

    I agree that teachers need to capture students attention in order for them to retain the information for a longer amount of time. I also believe that using a good amount of technology with lessons will enable teachers to meet the needs of capturing the students attention. I really like your idea of giving the students essential questions throughout the chapter in order to assess for understanding. By letting the students know what they need to learn before they get to it you are giving them an advantage. Great Work!


  2. I have found that my students sometimes get lazy and want me to just spoon feed them the correct answers. When this happens, I introduce a line of questioning that helps them to focus-in on the correct answer, and they soon realize I am not going to give them their answers. Over the ten years I taught middle school, I became quite good at questioning and helping to guide the learner towards comprehension.

    I also used lots of graphic organizers when I taught middle school. However, I used them more as notes. I provided my students with the graphic organizer layout and they filled out their sheet based on the notes I gave them. I will probably stop this practice, and move towards a more interactive graphic organizer where the students fill it out on the board in real time, and then we discuss the organizer as it gets filled out. In the past, I have used PowerPoint but I really like the SpiderScribe website that we used this week in class. The county I currently work for does not have Inspiration software, so I will probably use the free web resources.