Blog Post: Distributed Cognition

     Distributed cognition is a very important topic that is shown throughout any lesson in the classroom. This concept is defined as a process in which cognitive resources are shared socially in order to extend individual cognitive resources. Morgan also describes this as a way to “understand how people interact with their environment and how they can be enabled by the environment to undertake highly complex tasks that would usually be beyond the abilities of the unassisted individual” (127). In the classroom, distributed cognition is used as the teachers apply external resources to enhance the lessons and learning for the students. 

     I chose to write my blog post based on the lesson that I watched “Google Docs in the Classroom”. Though this video only showed a small part of the overall lesson, the technology was present heavily throughout.This lesson focused on the students using laptops as their form of technology with the specific feature of Google Docs. Google Docs is an online document in which all the authors or group members can share access to the document and write simultaneously. In the specific lesson I watched, the students were in groups and were working on a writing project with their table teams through the use of Google Docs. Many of the groups were doing a lot of brainstorming on the actual doc before even starting the actual writing assignment. Even though this lesson was done in a high school English class, I have seen students in my grade 3 placement use Google Docs for their assignments which shows its ability for differentiation. 

     One benefit to using Google Docs for a lesson is that it fosters collaborative group work by allowing teams to work together at the same time on the doc as well as allowing the teacher to see exactly where people typed. This helps the teacher see who contributed and the overall writing process with spots on the side to leave comments along the way. One benefit that the teacher in the video discusses about using Google Docs, and technology as a whole, is that it takes out the process of maneuvering through papers, but still supports a healthy writing process because you have the ability to draft and change things whenever you need to, just as on paper. Finally, one of the standards is actually based on using technology to foster collaboration. So, I think that this shows how important technology has actually become in our society and learning today and how much it can be adapted for assignments to incorporate collaboration with our students. Based on what I saw from this lesson, as well as what I have seen in my own placements, I do believe that technology enhances student’s capacities to learn and does “make us smarter”. 

     My ideas are based off many of the articles we have looked at in class. Salomon stated that smarter means “technology that can support real and sustained learning.” I do believe that technology supports real learning because of the endless things you are able to do with it and all the programs that come along with it. Martin describes distributed cognition as “human actors and artifacts working together to bring about intelligent action and learning.” This shows the distributed cognition in the lesson I observed with the students and teacher as the “actors” and the artifacts were the laptops that they worked with to enhance their learning by using critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. The lesson I saw also shows the effects of and through technology. Effects of technology are the consequences, good or bad, of interacting with technology and whether you are acquiring new skills (Salomon Perkins). The effects of using Google Docs are highly seen because of the amount of features that it includes for the students to use when doing their writing process. For example, when writing the outline part, they can use the many different format techniques that the doc offers while being able to highlight, bold, underline, etc. different important words or concepts throughout. Though this could be done on paper, I believe that using technology to do this has more lasting effects because it overall is cleaner and more organized as each group member is able to add their thoughts. As they are typing, they are able to flip between tabs to do the research for the paper which deepens their knowledge and gives them a better conceptual understanding. Effects through technology looks at the overall parts of the system playing an active role in enhancing learning, which I believe the system of using Google Docs does provide to us. 

     So, I do believe that technology does in fact make us “smarter” in the sense that it does lead to a smarter performance by the users. (Saloman 75). As the students are able to explore through technology, they are constantly learning and finding new things to help enhance their learning. There are many affordances or things that are offered to us as we try to understand the way technology works and the benefits that it can provide to us as we strive to become “smarter” learners. 


Story Board Rubric

Story (____ /10 points): The overall story should make sense and events should occur in proper chronological order. The story must be a creative fable or folktale and the beginning, middle and end of the story should be clear and flow together. The problem and the solution in the story should be evident and the moral of the fable or folktale (always tell the truth, don’t cheat, etc.) should be identified. 

Project Planning (____/10 points): Students created a well-organized storyboard that captures the essence of their digital story. The storyboard included specific details about their digital story, such as sound effects, images, background audio, and transitions that were used in the final video. Students created a script that laid out the story they are trying to convey in their digital story. Both the script and storyboard were detailed and well-organized, and made sense in the overall story. 

Originality, voice, creativity (____/10 points): The content of the story should be presented by a voice-over narration. The tone of voice used should be engaging and pair well to the images or videos that are being presented. The volume level of the voices and background audio must be adjusted properly so that the words are clear and concise. Because this focuses on fables and folktales, overall creativity should be displayed with original script and dialogue from the characters in the story. 

Flow, organization, pacing (____/10 points): The video should be well-organized, should transition smoothly from one image/video to the next, and should be at a pace that is easy for the audience to understand and follow along without being too fast or too slow. The script should be organized in a way that makes sense to the audience so that information will be attained while viewing the video. It should be clear to the audience that this video was intentionally created specifically for them. It should also be clear to the audience that the creators of the video took their time and paid attention to the flow, organization, and pace of the video. 

Presentation and performance (____/10 points): The completed digital story should be uploaded to Youtube and placed within each person’s blog page for access by others. The digital story should have different visuals, audio, and effects to engage the audience. The presentation should be meaningful and display content in a way that is educational as well as developmentally appropriate for the audience.

Total (____/50 points)


Field Observation II

     After observing myself and talking with my cooperating teacher, I am able to learn about the different ways that technology is used throughout their school and the resources that they have available to them. I was only able to talk to my teacher about this, so I assume that someone such as the principal would have more knowledge on how each individual grade specifically uses technology or the IT director on how well the technology actually works. In terms of what is available in classrooms, the older classrooms (3 and up) have carts of chromebooks within their classrooms where each student is assigned to one and has their own specific login information. Students use these chromebooks almost everyday during reading rotations where they are practicing for the OSTsAll classrooms also have a row of computers in the back of their rooms of about 3 to 5 computers that students often work on during station rotations. I have seen them in the younger classrooms too but am not sure what they use theirs for. Each teacher has a computer in their classroom by their desk and each classroom is provided with a smartboard at the front of the room that their computers are connected to for displaying work throughout the day. 

     Outside of their classrooms, other rooms are provided with one to two additional computers such as in the two science labs, the intervention specialists’ room, the multimedia center and reading room. These rooms are for individual students or small groups where they can go to for short lessons or extra help and the computers are used when it is necessary during these lessons. The teachers need to reserve these rooms in an online form, but if they are not reserved at certain times, teachers are allowed to send students to them to work in.  The students have technology class once a week where they go to the computer lab that is filled with about 30 computers and they use them all class to practice typing, creating presentations, etc. In addition to using computers in the classroom, much of the homework that is assigned is also online at home for students’ to do in their own time that is also in preparation for their OSTs at the end of the year. All the technology that I have seen in the classrooms and other areas of the school are in working order with no technical issues.

     As most schools have in place, there is firewall blocking access to applications on the chromebooks and computers in the classrooms. This blocks social media websites such as instagram and twitter, games that are not school appropriate, netflix, etc. These are blocked so that students are not off task or going on websites that are not appropriate for learning. The district is in control of this access and there is no way for students to get past them unless they are unblocked. 

     Many people are involved with the technology options and learning paths at the school. To be sure technology runs smoothly, there are multiple IT workers throughout the school that come to classrooms when work orders are put in to fix the computers. In the technology lab, there is one instructor that runs the classes and in the library/multimedia center, there are 2-3 library media specialists that work everyday and help with technology in those centers. The programs that are chosen by the school system are discussed with the principal and a curriculum integration specialist and those are the ones who inform teachers of how the programs work and how they should be used. Overall, technology is a large part of my school and my cooperating teacher takes full advantage of the available resources.


Digital Story Script

The Recess Buddies

Lesson: Fables and Folktales

Moral of Storyboard: Cheaters Never Win


Mouse- An honest third grader who enjoys playing recess games with the other students and has many friends.

Fox- A sneaky third grader who often finds ways to cheat to win games and is not very fair.

Rabbit, Squirrel, Bird – Third grade students who are always kind to others in any games they play.


Mouse and Fox loved playing games every day at recess, specifically four square. 

Mouse was always known as a fair player who was always humble when she won. On the other hand, Fox always argued about the rules, bragged when he won, and was a sore loser if he lost. 

One day at recess, the students decided to have a four square tournament. Fox insisted that he start in the King spot like he always got to and nobody argued it. Mouse patiently waited in line for her turn, but noticed that Fox had not been playing fair all game.

Just as Mouse had realized that Fox was not being a good friend, Rabbit, Squirrel and Bird had too. “This game isn’t fun when Fox gets to make up his own rules and doesn’t play fair,” said Rabbit. “I don’t want to play anymore with a cheater. Let’s go start our own game over there,” said Bird. 

Suddenly, all the third graders started to follow Bird to play in a new area. Mouse noticed that Fox started to get sad that all his friends were leaving and he now had nobody to play with. “You may have won the game, but you lost all your friends for not playing fairly,” said Mouse. 

After Mouse walked away, Fox realized that Mouse was right and that nobody wanted to play with a cheater.

Fox walked over to the new game and apologized to his classmates. “I promise to never cheat again. Do you think I could play with you guys?” he asked. Everyone was happy that he apologized and decided to let him play with them again.



Reflections on Students

    The students in my placement are very familiar with group work and cooperation. In fact, almost all of their daily activities take place within their designated groups from the minute they get to school until the minute they leave. Not only are their worksheets done in groups, they also break off into centers after and work within smaller groups as they rotate through the stations. Within these groups that the students work, technology is not really a huge part of their days, but they do use technology for some larger projects that they work on in class.

    Like the articles that we have read state, my placement teacher has also told me that she enjoys using technology in her classroom because of how widespread it is nowadays. She said it is easy to find quick videos to help back up the learning in the classroom in a fun way that the students can watch on the board. Not only have they used technology in this way as a class, but they also use it in their small groups and as complete individuals. For small groups, the students have used Microsoft softwares such as Word and Powerpoint and many other online web sources for research and learning. When they finish their work early, they are allowed to go on the computers individually and play typing games or games that work on their literacy. Many of the digital games that I have seen them choose, such as StarFall or PBS, are very similar to the video type games that we chose for our video game projects which I found to be really interesting. They recently are working on cooperating with each other in pairs to learn how Powerpoint works and to create their own Powerpoint together on a book that they are reading. This new project has been a challenge for most students because it is a new process for them, but they have seemed to figure out the different features very quickly.  

    After observing the students and their different varying abilities with technology, I was able to make some interesting inferences. Many, if not all, of the students told me that they have their own iPhones and/or computers at home that they spend lots of time on in their free time after school. I have found that the students who have the cell phones are mostly using them for social media such as Instagram and TikTok whereas those with only computers often use them to practice an extension of the material they learn in class. I have also found that those who only have a computer enjoy playing the additional learning games when they are at home and are more adapt with the Powerpoint in their groups whereas those who have a cell phone would rather be on their social media and somewhat struggle with the Powerpoint and other things that involve using the computer. Lastly, the students are all part of an individual year long website that works to prepare them for the end of the year OST tests. They all have time to complete it throughout the week in class but must spend extra time at home in order to complete it before test time. With this, my teacher has noticed that those who have cell phones and have free reign with them at home are very behind on this program, but those whose parents monitor them have completed a significant more of their program. 

    I really enjoyed using my time spent in the classroom to specifically observe my students’ use of technology and group collaboration with multimodal composition and digital storytelling. One thing this classroom has allowed me to see is like the article Critical Lessons and Playful Literacies: Digital Media in PK–2 Classrooms states, “Technology allows even the youngest learners to create digital texts combining drawing, writing, sound, and animation in ways never before possible. Digital texts differ from traditional text by being collaborative, co-constructed, and shared with an audience who will further shape and refine the text” (82). Especially in their Powerpoint projects, I was able to see how capable young learners are with learning new digital media and being able to insert pictures, captions, transitions, etc. through their collaboration with their partners. Another connection I made as a positive for integrating technology and multimodal composition into a unit of study is how easy it is to connect the State Standards. The article Engaging Students in Traditional and Digital Storytelling to Make Connections Between Pedagogy and Children’s Experience states, “Literacy centers embrace activities aligned with curriculum standards. Literacy centers require students to complete activities based on specific language arts objectives and global skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving” (130). The literacy centers that allow students to work with technology completely follows these statements as they are very collaborative and cause the students to use their critical thinking to answer many of the questions or complete the projects. 

    Lastly, there are also implications with integrating digital storytelling/ multimodal composition into a unit of study that I have too observed. Like Lisenbee and Ford state, the students do form a reliance on technology and begin to see traditional activities as boring and start to rush through their work to get to the extra technology part (136). Also, because they are still young, it does take time for them to learn the ways of the technology and the programs they are using independently to where they are almost wasting class time to even teach them the programs before getting to the important part. Overall, I find it to be a positive experience.


Video Gaming Wrap-Up

Following my last post, I have done more exploration to try and figure out my last question of how exactly I will be able to monitor progress and hold whole-class discussions when every student may be at different points in the game. One solution that I have come up with for monitoring progress is the ability for students to create passwords in the game. The game provides them with a username and password that they can log back in with, so they could give me their information and I can keep track of where they are throughout the game. 

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One solution that I have come to realize for how I could hold class discussions for the game is that even though everyone might be at different levels, the game can still be talked about because each level essentially has the same components. All students can contribute to discussing the different shapes they needed in levels, the hamsters they used to get there and the thought process they used to solve each level. 

In doing my video game exploration, I have come to many realizations about how they might be used in the classroom that I never would have thought of before. I now am able to see that video games are much more than those played on consoles with remote controllers as a fun after school activity. Video games can be important parts in the classroom in keeping students engaged but also allowing them to learn. I would now agree with Gee in the article “Good video games + good learning” that “Video games are action and goal directed preparations for, and stimulations of, embodied experience” (23). Standards can be picked out to influence what goals you want your students to achieve from playing the specific game you choose. 

I really enjoyed the experience that my learning circle gave me by picking out this game. The engineering aspect is something different then I would normally expect a teacher to use, but the game includes many different mathematical aspects that can also be used. I believe that the game Hamster Run definitely includes many of the different aspects that are included in a good video game and that is why I would choose to use this specific game in my classroom. 

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Video Gaming Post Two

As I continue to play the game that my learning circle chose, Hamster Run, I am able to find more and more components that I did not originally see. One thing that I noticed is the ability to create different paths for the hamster. This aspect fosters a lot of creativity for the students because they are able to build the paths however they like and there is not one correct answer. I also noticed the different shapes that are available for each level change and this aspect also changes how the students would go about approaching each level. 



While working my way through the levels I have not experienced yet, I began to search for what standards I would want to select to assess my students with as they play the game. Two standards that I selected were the technology standards 3-5.DT.1.b. give examples of how requirements for a product can limit the design possibilities for that product and 3-5.DT.1.c. describe a process as a series of actions and how it is used to produce a result. The first standard can be demonstrated throughout the game because each level has only a limited amount of possibilities that the shapes can come together to reach the product, the carrot. The second standard is also present in the game as students will be able to describe the process of placing each block into a specific spot to produce the result.

Even though I picked a standard for grades 3-5, this game is still very much appropriate for grade K-2 as well because of how differentiated it can be. A standard that I may choose for a child in those grades to focus on would be K-2.DT.2.a., observe and describe details of an object’s design. For example, the level pictured below could be created by the student then described as adding a square on top of the original square and a triangle on top of that square. They could also say how the design already came with two triangles and two squares, so they did not need to add that in the beginning.



I think the ability to use this game across many grade levels shows how much it can be differentiated and how great it would be for teachers to use in their classrooms. The only challenge that I still see with this game is one from the article “Teaching with Video games: How Experience Impacts Classroom Intelligence” by Amanda Bell. She states, “One challenge is that students usually play digital games individually and reach different points in the game at different times, making student progress a challenge to monitor and whole-class conversations difficult to structure” (514). Since students are all at different paces and will work through the game at different speeds, trying to see how exactly to incorporate discussion on it in the classroom may be more difficult. I want to find out a way to do this as I continue to work through the game.