Excellence in Constructivism~

Instructional Strategies: BLOG for Week 6

Excellence in Constructivism~

Activities which support constructivism are not specifically teacher directed, but rather require that “students construct meaning from hands-on experiences” (Dell’Olio & Donk, 2007, p. 168) and responsibility for learning is given to each individual student.  After assessing the understandings of students “…lessons are driven by the actions and reactions of the students as they respond to the teachers’ questions and work with data they have generated” (p. 177).

In consideration of the fact that students enter the classroom with different levels of understanding and represent a wide variety of background experiences, then perhaps “excellence” should be understood as a relative term.  In a constructivist classroom, what is meant by the statement, “student is making excellent progress”? It seems that through effectively using the “basic cooperative learning components [of]: Positive interdependence, Group Processing, Appropriate us of Social Skills, Face-to-face promotive interaction, Individual and group accountability ( Johnson & Johnson, 1999)”, (as cited within Marzano, Pickering, and Pollack, 2001, p. 90)—teachers can provide the flexibility needed to address the question of excellence.

This week amongst the discussion posts was one from a colleague who stated, “In education it is the teacher who helps the students put the many ideas together using the students own personal understanding of knowledge. We as educators have the amazing task of doing so in a fashion that is understood by every student.”

I do believe he is correct and that the goal of education is for students to internalize what is taught—an endeavor which can only be effectively accomplished at a personal level. I see this concept as relating to John Dewey’s thoughts expressed in the following statement:

“I believe that as simplified social life, the school life should grow gradually out of the home life; that it should take up and continue the activities with which the child is already familiar in the home. I believe that it should exhibit these activities of the child, and reproduce them in such ways that the child will gradually learn the meaning of them, and be capable of playing his own part in relation to them” (Dewey, 1897, p.4).

In the context of families and communities, the mosaic of a child’s life is begun. Experiences and knowledge from home, community, and school become the collection– the pieces and fragments—children bring with them into the classroom. Within our classrooms, we provide materials and opportunities to arrange and bind these “bits” together into a larger “whole”–offering new “gems” along the way. We trust that our students will “…gradually learn the meaning of them…” and come to realize that they have become the artist.

 

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dewey, J. (1897). My Pedagogic Creed. The School Journal. Retrieved from SPU website https://learn.spu.edu/@@/4CC9B04BB744AA6EE3086111A2D2519C/courses/1/EDU6526_Q4201122/content/_725246_1/Dewey%20Reading.pdf

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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