Distributed Cognition 2

In this pictured lesson, students are in Spanish class. Every week, towards the end of the week, students participate in a formative and interactive game to test their knowledge on their vocabulary. Throughout the week, the teacher monitors their progress on Quizlet to ensure that students are putting adequate effort and time into learning their new vocabulary. The technology of Quizlet and the SMARTBoard allows for students to grow as independent learners who can work at their own pace while having interactive features for collaboration. Students are heavily monitored during their independent Quizlet time whether that occurs at home, at school, or at the library. Quizlet enables the teacher to directly engage with the statistics of which students work with the material throughout the week and which ones do not. 

As “a constructivist philosophy (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Jonassen, Mayes, & McAleese, 1993) of learning was the basis of the instructional strategy adopted in the study…recognised that in order for learners to ‘construct’ knowledge they must be actively engaged in ‘processing content for understanding’”(Morgan, 2008, 126). In this activity, students are physically and actively engaged in their learning. As they “interact with their environment” of learning a new language they are undertaking a very high level task that arguably is “beyond the abilities of the unassisted individual” (Morgan, 2008, 127).

 Since distributed cognition is as much working with technology as it is with other people, their Spanish teacher enables them to do both. Students are directly engaging and working with the technology of Quizlet while they are studying independently. They are also working with other people as they work together as a class to accurately define vocabulary. They are externalizing their knowledge in both an active and verbal way. The top finishers also receive a bonus point. This is given to them on a piece of paper that they must remember to bring to class in order to receive the point. This works on students being held accountable as well as staying organized and responsible. 

When working with the Quizlet software and the SMARTBoard hardware students are equipped with different ways to study and to become familiar with this material. One of the effects of working with this technology is the multisensory component. Students can engage with the material through their sight as well as their hearing. This caters to individual learning needs. The effect of this technology is that students can take it and do it anywhere that best suits their living and learning situation. It also invites students to engage with the material through different games that invite them to learn in a fun way.

I believe that this lesson and integration of technology will make students smarter as students getting maximum exposure to these vocabulary words and their definitions. Having students do part of the review independently and at their own pace and schedule helps learning to be an individualized experience. Having students participate in their review together as a game also benefits student learning because “the use of games to promote learner engagement can be supported by a range of learning theories, including those of Vygotsky, Gardner, Keller, and others.”

This type of formative learning activity aligns with “Vygotsky (1934) [who] believed that learning takes place within the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD), which is “the gap between what a learner has already mastered (the actual level of development) and what a child can achieve (potential development) with the guidance of an experienced and capable assistant such as a teacher or more capable peer” (LEARN NC, 2008, p.1)” (Gareau, Stephen and Guo, Ruth (2009)). In working as a class and with the support of their teacher, students’ knowledge and boundaries are being pushed to grow. 

Gareau, Stephen and Guo, Ruth (2009) ““All Work and No Play” Reconsidered: The Use of Games to Promote Motivation and Engagement in Instruction,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 12.

Morgan, M., Brickell, G., Harper, B. (2008). Applying distributed cognition theory to the redesign of the ‘Copy and Paste’ function in order to promote appropriate learning outcomes.  Computers & Education, 50(1), 125-147.


Distributed Cognition 1

In the time of instruction pictured above, students were participating in a lesson that I taught to my third grade class. Students were learning about the difference between inherited and learned traits. Before using the technology to formatively assess student understanding of this knowledge, students individually completed a reading comprehension packet that we went over as a class. Students then were put into teams, or their pods that they sit in, to play Jeopardy. This was done to evaluate their science knowledge as well as the social emotional component of the ability to work collaboratively and positively with one another while demonstrating respect and good sportsmanship. Through this Jeopardy game, students are offered the chance to engage in autonomy as they select which question they would like to answer. 

This topic is unique because some students’ baseline knowledge comes from their background knowledge and lived experiences. However, it is important for students to understand it on a larger scale within the lens of science and within their society. Through this lesson, students see “That mediating artefacts are derived from the cultural and physical environment so that cognition is a property of not just the internal processes of the individual but also involves their social and physical context. In this way cognition can be viewed not just as a property of the internal cognitive abilities of the individual but rather as the result of the individual and the surrounding resources that take part in an activity” (Morgan, 2008, 127).

Utilizing this software of Jeopardy and the hardware of the SMARTBoard, it is clear to see that technology has many effects on students and their learning. An effect of technology in this lesson is that students are able to work collaboratively with other students. As it is being presented on the SMARTBoard, it also provides an interactive learning experience for the entire class. An effect that comes with using this technology is that students are growing and affirming their knowledge and understanding by identifying which traits are which. 

Within this lesson, students are using a variety of means to demonstrate learning. In Gee it can be read that “Writing, digital computers, and networks each allow us to externalize some functions of the mind.”(James Gee, 2007, 26). In the students’ final assessment of this lesson, they are expressing their acquired knowledge through written form. Through a formative assessment, they are using a large digital computer, or SMARTBoard and the network of Jeopardy to express what they have learned. Within both of these methods, students are externalizing the thoughts that are in their own individual minds through collaboration, written and oral expression. 

As previously discussed, through this integration of technology I am able to formative assessment of my students while also monitoring them. Students were highly monitored with this technology as it was only broadcasted on and interacted with on the SMARTBoard. Myself and my cooperating teacher were the only ones who had access to it directly limiting student opportunity for distractions that can occur through the use of technology. This technology also monitored students’ knowledge as it would automatically track their points based on whether or not they got the question correct. As a teacher, this was beneficial because keeping score was one less thing that I had to worry about while monitoring my students and the overall activity. 

I would argue that this integration and lesson overall will make students smarter. It allowed students to work independently and to work collaboratively as they shared their ideas and knowledge through a variety of monitored means: Writing, Reading Comprehension, Art, and Technology through Jeopardy. The technology specifically helped to increase student knowledge on this topic as this integration piqued students’ interest and attention. Upon seeing that it was an interactive, competitive game on the SMARTBoard, the students immediately lit up. Every time I have taught in my classroom since, my students have asked me if they were going to get to play Jeopardy again that day. From this consistent question and from their reaction, I know that they learned a lot but also that learning was made fun and memorable for them. 

I would further argue that this was meaning in promoting learning as “multimedia-based games, such as board-based or computer-based versions of the popular television game show Jeopardy (Sony Pictures Digital Inc., 2008), can help to address both linguistic and spatial intelligence simultaneously, by utilizing screen elements from a range of media, including text, graphics, photographs, animation, audio, and video” (Gareau, Stephen and Guo, Ruth (2009)). 

Gareau, Stephen and Guo, Ruth (2009) ““All Work and No Play” Reconsidered: The Use of Games to Promote Motivation and Engagement in Instruction,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 12.

Gee, J.P. (2007) Good video games + good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Chapter 4: Good video games, the human mind, and good learning. New York : Peter Lang. pp. 22-44.

Morgan, M., Brickell, G., Harper, B. (2008). Applying distributed cognition theory to the redesign of the ‘Copy and Paste’ function in order to promote appropriate learning outcomes.  Computers & Education, 50(1), 125-147.

Technology Observation 2

  • Who are the people at your school in charge of the technologies available to advance the learning of students? Identify as many of these people as possible:
    • My teacher told me that last year there was a technology teacher that was a mastermind who had left the school last year. Since then, they have hired a JCU grad as their new technology teacher. 
  • Details of what technology is available, where it’s located, quantities of technologies (i.e. is there a classroom set of iPads for the students to work with)?’
    • Overall, within the school they use iPads, Chromebooks, and Macs. The teachers are given and required to use the Mac. In terms of students, the technologies that are shared are kept in the school library on charging blocks. There is a school set of iPads, one to one number of Chromebooks, and each classroom has a SMARTBoard. 
  • Are the technologies readily available and are they in working order?  How do students and teachers gain access? Is there a means for reserving them? Are there required purchases by families?
    • All of the student devices are in working condition. Kindergarten through 4th grade have to share the (x) number of iPads that are available. Grades 5-8 however, do  have constant access to individual chromebooks. However, some of the SMARTBoards are in the process of being replaced as they are not fully working. The one in my classroom is one of those as the touch screen is not fully functioning but it still does the basic projection and sound. 
  • What is the nature of the firewall blocking access to applications? Is there a process to transcend or move around the firewall? Who is in control? What is available and what is blocked and why?
    • Yes there is. This is put in place to keep students from being on websites and apps that they are not supposed to be on. They also have a program that monitors the students screens on these given devices and that is called Go Guardian. 
  • Significantly, pay close attention to and document who you are speaking with.  What is their role or do they have a title? Who is able to direct you to the people with the most information? Who has the most and/or best information?
    • When speaking about this, I talked to both my cooperating teacher and my school principal.

Technology Observation 1

Observing the students in my classroom

  1. What software applications and hardware are students using in the classroom?
    1. In my third grade classroom, my students primarily use two software applications in the classroom, IXL, and Xtra Math. In IXL, students work to develop their skills in both English and Math.
    2. In terms of hardware, the students have access to iPads but they do not have their own iPad, they are shared amongst all students K-4. 
  2. Describe what the students are doing with the technology that you identified.
    1. The students use IXL to complete Math and English that are tailored directly to the students map scores. This is great because it promotes individual development, learning, and growth while meeting the needs of each student individually. 
    2. The students use Xtramath to help them become fluent in math facts. Xtramath is an online math fact fluency program that helps students develop quick recall and automaticity of basic math facts.
    3. The students use the hardware, or the iPad when they are available to complete the work on, and to engage with the material on the softwares listed above.  
  3. What software applications and hardware are facilitating/impeding the conditions that make student learning possible?
    1. These software applications facilitate student learning because it individualizes the learning experience for each student. As the classroom I am in has a very large range of student ability, making it a great benefit that IXL uses their map scores to determine the content each student is given. This feature maximizes student growth and overall skill development, meeting each student where they are at. 
    2. When they have access to them, the hardware facilitates student learning because it is a differentiated instruction method and offers individualized instruction. 

Observing my cooperating teacher

  1. What software applications and hardware is your cooperating teacher(s) using in the classroom? Document both hardware and software.
    1. The main software application that my teacher uses is called Renweb. 
    2. The hardware my teacher uses is an Apple Laptop as that is required by the school. In the classroom she also uses a SMARTBoard and live camera projector. 
  2. Describe how your cooperating teacher(s) uses the software applications and hardware.
    1. In the software, Renweb is a private and secure parents’ portal that will allow parents to view academic information specific to their children, while protecting their children’s information from others. You can see your child’s grades, attendance, homework and conduct, as well as other useful school information. Per request of the school, Renweb is very prevalent in the teachers’ daily lives. Everyday, my teacher is supposed to post her daily plan to inform parents on what they are doing, what their homework is and any important upcoming events. Additionally, this is where her gradebook is located and how report cards are released online.
    2. In the hardwares, with a SMARTBoard and live projector, she is able to provide the class with a live step by step of a task that everyone can see which is very beneficial. With her laptop and SMARTBoard, she is also able to have her screen mirrored which enables her to share videos, pictures, and important information from the online web with her students. With videos, the SMARTBoard also comes with its own speakers and sound system, giving all students the opportunity to learn visually and auditorily.  
  3. What software applications and hardware are facilitating/impeding the conditions that make teaching possible?
    1. When looking at the software I do not think that it is strictly impeding or facilitating teaching. When discussing it with my teacher, she told me that in her opinion, the software itself is okay. She openly admitted that she does not use it often and as thoroughly as other teachers do as she maybe uses 10% of the features. 
    2. When looking at the hardware, I do think that it greatly facilitates making teaching possible. The students are all able to follow along with what the teacher wants them to. It also enables the students to engage in multisensory learning as they are learning visually and auditorily.

Digital Storytelling Script


  1. “Perusall began following a major four-year research project at Harvard University; we created the platform to serve students in our classes, and then in 2015 built the business to bring our research to students and instructors everywhere. Perusall is now a profitable business serving 2,000,000 students at 3,000 educational institutions in 90 countries. “

2. “Perusall is an e-reader platform that allows students and faculty to annotate the assigned readings and engage the reading material in a style akin to social media posting. Students can write full comments, “like” comments, use hashtags, link URLs to their comments and even use emoticons.”

3. Its purpose is to motivate students with a social learning experience to increase engagement, drive collaboration, and build community through course content, including books, articles, web pages, videos, podcasts, and images.

4. It pushes students to be taking ownership of their own learning as they are cultivating their own thoughts based on the source provided.

5. In my own experience, I have found Perusall to be a major source of my own learning. 

6. Within my education classes, this technology has been very prevalent and aids in fostering conversation and thought provoking discussion with my peers and with my professors as well.

7. In my education classes this has been a really useful tool because teaching in all stages, but particularly in the early stages is about collaboration and having a space to share my ideas and ask questions. 

8. My peers all have had different experiences in different classrooms from observation and student teaching. In Perusall, I am able to highlight the text or leave a comment to provide a connection that may align with an experience that I have had. This not only allows each of me to reflect on my own experiences but allows me to interact with and learn from the experiences of my peers.

9. I can ‘’like” the comment if it resonates with me, I can respond to it if I want to share a connection or proceeding thought, or even respond with a question if I want to know more and engage in a conversation, all via Perusall. 

10. My own learning is greatly enabled by being able to interact with the ideas of my classmates. As someone who is organized and values being able to look back at my notes to make connections or to pinpoint a certain idea that is important, Perusall helps. When you use a hashtag in your comment, it saves the hashtag and keeps it on your sidebar. So, if I consistently used the hashtag-#teachertoolbox, which is one that myself and my peers consistently use, you are able to click on it on the sidebar. When you do this, you are able to see all of the comments that have been posted using that hashtag, the person who wrote them, as well as the article that it was posted in.

11. Many of my teachers that have used this technology because they too have seen the value in it, have had guidelines surrounding our usage of it that promote knowledge and student learning in a meaningful way. I am often tasked to have at least one comment per page. As I am reading through that page, I am reading to make my own connections but I am also finding that I am making connections or wanting to ask questions about the comments of my peers. It encourages meaningful dialogue and pushes my boundaries of knowledge while welcoming academic growth and knowledge to be tied with personal reflections. 

12. Once a section of the text is commented on, it becomes highlighted. This helps me to see that one of my classmates found it important so I should take a look at what they had to say. 

13. As a teacher, I can upload a reading to Perusall and plant comprehension questions into it. As a teacher, if I wanted to do reading groups, it is a good way to implement questions and ensure that students are on task and are paying attention to the reading at hand. 

14. As a college student, Perusall has been an amazing tool and technology that has transformed my learning experience tremendously.

Video Game Post 2


As I continued to play this game, I still found it to be a game that promotes multisensory learning and appeals to all skill levels. I also found it to be individualized in the sense that it was easy to progress on my own time as I was prompted to click “Continue” when I was ready to move on. There was a unique element to this game that I found to add to the authenticity and credibility of the game and that was the photographs. Once moved into the internment camps, I was given the opportunity to click on items in the room. Upon clicking on an item, I was prompted with the name of the item, a description of the item, and a black and white photo of the item. These photographs gave a visual realistic glimpse into what life was like for these Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during this time period. To further the authenticity and educational aspect of the game, when having discussions with fellow internment camp stayers, they used very specific Japanese terminology that I had not heard of before. This offered me the opportunity to become more educated about Japanese culture as well as how they Americanized.

Through further exploration and impactful interactions with different elements of the game, I found that I was able to further connect it to Gee’s Learning Principles. While initially connecting it to Co-Design, as I continued to play, I found I could also connect it to the principle of Sandboxes. Based on the definition that states a sandbox is “a video game in which the player is not constrained to achieving specific goals and has a large degree of freedom to explore, interact with or modify the game environment” the experience I am having as Henry definitely feels this way. Thus far I have been exploring the life that Henry lived without a direct goal or objective. Throughout my experience I also have the freedom to explore and interact with the game environment.

As the game went on, I found myself to have more autonomy than I thought. I was able to move about throughout the barracks and talk to people who were in my vision. In talking to these people, I was able to gain insights into the direct thoughts of these people during these times. This was eye opening because I was exposed to the real thoughts of the Japanese who were sent here against their will. This authentic insight aligns with the idea from Squire that “games are an important site of a shift toward a culture of simulation, whereby digital technologies make it possible to construct, investigate, and interrogate worlds” that are different from our own. Through this game, I am able to construct my own version of and investigate the world that Henry was living in back in 1941.

(Screenshot as I (Taylor Loiacono) play “Prisoner in My Homeland” from Mission US: A Public Media Project on 9/26/22)

(Screenshot as I (Taylor Loiacono) play “Prisoner in My Homeland” from Mission US: A Public Media Project on 9/26/22)