Theories of Learning and their Roles in Teaching


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Maimonides

If you walk into any school in the country, you will most likely encounter testing of some sort. Whether it is fill-in-the-blank, matching, or short answer, the assessments all require one thing from the students: memorization of information for a short period without maximum retention. It is time for educators and those in charge of implementing testing to realize that the theories of learning in place are hindering the true learning potential that resided within all classroom.

Developmentally appropriate practice for classrooms involves several aspects, such as teacher clarity, discussion, feedback, formative assessments, and metacognitive strategies. If educators expect maximum results out of their students, it is up to the educators to ensure clarity of purpose and learning goals while providing explicit criteria on how students can be successful along with modeling work that the students will create. By ensuring that teachers are striving to reach their highest potential as an educator, their continued growth will only benefit the students whom they strive to serve.

Educational practices have been influenced over the years by various theories of learning. As the decades have worn on, theories such as Operant Conditioning by B.F. Skinner have shifted to Constructivist Theory by Jerome Butler to Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner and the list continues.  While these are only three of the many learning theories, it is essential to understand how different learning theories can affect educational practices. For example, if an educator is using Operant Conditioning Theory because structure and order are desired, the students would suffer the effects of not receiving a holistic education as they are merely seen as a means to an end (paycheck). If another educator utilized the Multiple Intelligences Theory, they would be acknowledging that their classroom is composed of many diverse learners who have different strengths and weaknesses. While this would be highly helpful when designing lessons, it could also cause certain students’ intelligences to be ignored if their group consists of 1-2 students in a class of 30.

If teachers wish to ensure that they are teaching their students for life and not simply to pass a test, educators need to apply their learning theories to “best practices”. This goes back to teacher clarity, discussion, feedback, formative assessments, and metacognitive strategies. By ensuring that the student is growing and developing on multiple fronts in a supportive and encouraging environment, teachers can better engage and motivate learners. By finding the learning theories that best serve this goal is the ultimate objective since our students’ success is what we are all working towards.


Website Resources

Vocabulary Enhancement


Discovering Relevant Questions/Topics


For ESL/ELL Student Needs


A Little Bit of Everything

Spring Student Teaching 2016 Sophomore Work

Alternative Assessment for Act 4 of Julius Caesar

This assessment was one of my and my student’s favorites of the semester. Our classes were composed of students of all ability levels, which made the one-size-fits-all quizzes difficult for some and simple for others. This assessment allowed the students to show what they had learned and demonstrate their understanding in creative ways that required them to transform their knowledge into a project rather than memorize answers from the review guide. When asked at the end of the semester what their best memory was from our class, the overwhelming responses from the students were creative activities and assessments, especially the Julius Caesar assessment.

Guidelines for Julius Caesar Mini Project

Julius Caesar Act 4 Mini Project

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Spring 2016 Student Teaching Freshmen Work


Poetry Project (Summative Assessment)

Rather than have the students take a test over what they have learned throughout the poetry unit, I chose to have the students demonstrate what they had learned. By transforming their knowledge in order to demonstrate their learning, the students were able to both interact more with the knowledge and develop more elevated skills, such as critical analysis, deeper thinking, and metacognitive processes.

Poetry Project Guidelines

            Over the past few weeks, we’ve been learning a lot of cool and useful knowledge throughout our poetry unit. I wanted to give you an opportunity to show all of the information you have learned and how you have grown throughout our time with poetry. However, instead of giving you a test, I thought it would be more fun for you to create a project to demonstrate your learning! Below are 3 possible options you have for your poetry project! Remember, poetry is all about expressing yourself and having a good time while you do it!

Option 1

For this option, you will choose at least 2 literary elements below and incorporate them into a well-crafted, self-written poem.

Alliteration     Hyperbole     Personification  Onomatopoeia    Metaphor      Imagery            Simile    Rhyme

Your poem must be at least 8 lines long, convey a message of some sort (topics must be O.K.ed by Ms. Ellison or Mrs. Funk).  On your poem, please underline/highlight moments where your figurative language elements are  being used and identify which elements they are representing. A 1-paragraph minimum authors note must be included. The author’s note should include:

  1. What poetic period your piece could belong to and why.
  2. What was easier than expected and a rationale.
  3. What was more difficult than expected and a rationale.
  4. What your learned, either about the poetry-writing process, yourself, or both.

Option 2: Performance Piece

For this option, you will choose a poem of your choice (must be approved by Ms. Ellison or Mrs. Funk) and read it to the class in a respectful manner. A 1-paragraph minimum author’s note will also be required.

Before presenting, you will:

  1. Name what period the poem is from, and
  2. Name the poet of the piece.

After presenting, you will read your author’s note, which should include:

  1. Your interpretation of the poem (you MUST use textual evidence to support your interpretation).
  2. (Optional): You may also change into an appropriate (for school) outfit that either reflects the period of your piece or the poem itself.

Option 3: Diagramming a Poem

For this option, you will choose a poem (either one that was discussed in class or one of your own choosing – if personal choice, please get it approved first by Ms. Ellison or Mrs. Funk) and diagram different figurative language elements incorporated into the piece. The diagramming must include at least two literary elements (not including rhyme or stanza) with an explanation of how each element affects the poem. You must also include the significance/importance of the literary element’ inclusion. If you choose to do a poem covered in class, do not choose the literary element that went alongside the poem (example: Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening could not use assonance as a figurative language element). A 1-paragraph author’s note must also be included explaining why you chose your poem to diagram and what you have learned either about the poem, the process of diagramming, or both.  The display of your poem diagram may be presented in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. The poem may be written on a lined sheet of notebook paper in CLEAR, NEAT handwriting. Please use pen (any color except red), not pencil. You may use the docucam to present if you would like. Please use a different color for each figurative language element and include a key/legend on your diagram to explain color choices.
  2. The poem may be typed in a Word document, printed out, and then written on for the diagramming portion. Each literary element must have its own color with a key/legend to explain color choices. Please write in CLEAR, NEAT handwriting. Pen only, no red ink. If you would like to present, you may use the docucam.
  3. ON a piece of poster board in CLEAR, NEAT handwriting or printed and pasted. Each literary element must have its own color and a key/legend to explain color choices. Pen only, no red ink. You may present to the class if you would like.
  4. Open to other options, please see me if you have an idea. Serious proposals only. This option will not be available 4 days from the due date.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Research Paper

The students spent two and a half months going through each step of the research process. These steps included finding a topic with reliable sources, citing sources, how to discern useful information, placement of information in paper with in-text citations, outlining, drafting, editing, and revising.  All of the materials were handed in together in a “research binder.” Through this process, the students developed a more solidified basis for their researching and writing skills. Along with these skills, the students were also able to develop essential life skills, such as organization, accountability, awareness of time and deadlines.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.