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Vygotsky's Social Constructivist Approach

A look into the social constructivist theories of Lev Vygotsky in today's educational context. This presentation discusses Vygotsky's influences, theories, and applications in the classroom.
by Vanessa Engel on 18 April 2010

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Transcript of Vygotsky's Social Constructivist Approach

Social Constructivist Theories of Vygotsky Theories Zone of Proximal Development Scaffolding Private Speech Influences Karl Marx & Fredrick Engels Baruch Spinoza Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Applications Terminology Experiences Internalization Refers to when children learn through a cultural or social facet they integrate some of this knowledge into their personality and therefore, raise their zone of proximal development. Social Constructivist Approach Emphasizes the social and cultural contexts of learning and organizing knowledge through social and cultural interaction. Self-Regulation The ability to control and monitor one's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Cultural or Psychological Tools Cultural or linguistic symbols that can be used to restructure one's thinking.

Examples: celebrity icons
sports teams
catch phrases
television
movies
music
technology Borrowed from his dialectical theory--thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Meaning that one begins with one way of thinking, then it is met with a different way of thinking, then, consequently, is synthesised into a new way of thinking. He used this theory to argue that perception is the dominant part of consciousnes and can be nudged by environmental, cultural, and social factors. The development of cognition is a "transformation of one's thinking" (Hiding in Plain Sight, p. 3). Had a belief that self-regulation is one of the highest phases of cognitive development. "thinking is at first the servant of the passions, but the man who has reason is the master of his passions" Marxist/Socialist Thought
Authors of the Communist Manifesto Bases some of his theories on the cultural or historical norms of society. Due to this influence, there is some emphasis on individual emotions and ideas should coincide with the emotions of society. justice
loyalty
freedom
nationalism
Rather Than... individuality
originality
love/caring
passion
curiosity Child begins at a naive stage of inability to control their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as well as internal and external stimuli. Throughout their development, they learn to conquer these impulses. Changing or adjusting the amount of support or guidance to accommodate the student's current abilities and growth. This can be done also within the context of a cognitive apprenticeship. Emotions can also be a psychological tool and they can have a significant impact on a child's proximal development. Refers to the range of tasks that are too difficult for a child to accomplish alone but can eventually learn with guidance from adults or skilled peers. Lower Limit: Upper Limit: Tasks that the child can accomplish independently. Tasks that are at a within the level of additional responsibility the child can accept with assistance. Vygotsky believed that interaction with skilled peers, adults, culture, and other social facets broadened a child's ZPD. Also called egocentric speech; when a child speaks aloud to themselves for various reasons such as problem solving, organizing ideas, or playing games. 3 Types of Private Speech: "chaotic hodge-podge" which includes emotional speech and appeals to the object of the problem
brief commentary about a child's actions
verbal planning
Cognitive Apprenticeship is a relationship where an expert stretches and supports a novice's understanding and use of a culture's skills. A wonderful example of this will be shared in the applications section of this presentation. Here is a useful demonstration of the use of cultural tools, scaffolding, and cognitive apprenticeship. The child in the video is half Japanese and half Chilaen but his language of use is Japanese. His father conducts an experimental game to help the child learn Spanish. This is a fantastic video demonstrating and clearly defining the zone of proximal development. This really drives home the importance of social interaction in the development of children. All of these phases can prove to be very important in the cognitive development of a child in first having the ability to express externally and gradually work to transition this speech to be internal. These in combination with social speech can help a child learn to organize their own thoughts and help to regulate their actions, thoughts, and emotions.
Progression of Self-Regulation: The first is the premastery stage which occurs in young children approximately of preschool age. This is a naïve stage where attention, categorizing, conceptual thinking, and logical memory are at their beginnings and are not well developed. Attention span at this age is short, categorizing can be inconsistent, linking ideas or objects together is difficult, and memory can be fuzzy, although children at this age can absorb vocabulary quickly. As a child builds upon these skills, they develop the ability to regulate their actions, thoughts, emotions, external stimuli, and internal stimuli.
This is a synopsis of a story of a real live teacher using Vygotsky's theories in a 21st century classroom. I recommend everyone to read the article, Gifted Students in the 21st Century: Using Vygotsky's Theory to meet their Literacy and Content Area Needs, from the Gifted Education International journal which this synopsis is derived. This article plainly shows us the validity of these theories in conjunction with our 21st century tools. Ms. Hensen's social studies classroom evolved with the reading of an article about local children in poverty. Ms. Hensen let the students divide themselves into groups where they would discuss what they would like their lessons to be. The collaboratively decided that they wanted to have guest speakers to help them truly understand the gravity of this social issue. The author of the newspaper article, volunteers from the food bank, and a leader of the Habitat for Humanity came in as guest speakers for the unit. Ms. Hensen also gave the students freedom to choose their own groups and create their own group project. One group consisted of all gifted students and they all worked within their zone of proximal development by researching the history of food banks, participating at their local food bank, and creating a website with a link for donations. A mixed group with one gifted student canvased the neighborhood for food donations, wrote a local basket company requesting donations (of baskets so they may deliver the food), and the gifted student used her talents to create a blog where students worldwide can give their opinions about the issue of poverty. The lovely part about this particular group project was that the gifted child placed herself as the cognitive apprentice or a leadership role for the group. She worked within her zone of proximal development and the other students in her group asked her to teach them how to make their own blogs. This proves that her level of understanding was deep enough that she could teach others at their own levels without an ounce of frustration.
http://web.ebscohost.com.arktos.nyit.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=9&sid=a6b3fcfd-fdee-4b38-9efd-ee2bcdd9a1ff%40sessionmgr13&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=ehh&AN=47879515 Other Ideas: group activities where each student has a role
listening and summarizing activities
community projects
rotating turns as tutor and tutee for various activities Over my entire life I have been a subject of Vygotsky's Social Constructivist Theories only I never knew it. My father is a drama teacher and director so some of my earliest memories are of either watching acting or performing.
Watching others perform and my father direct since I was a toddler, is similar to the beginnings of the scaffolding approach. First acting was modeled to me, taught to me, then I was asked to perform and learn from those performances with less and less guidance. My father turned out to be a cognitive apprentice who shaped my perception to which I would transfer this knowledge and build on this social and cultural integration--hence, broadening my zone of proximal development.
As I got older, I continued to observe theatre, read about theatre, and learn about theatre from my father. During performance situations, I would work collaboratively with my fellow actors and the director and learn more about the craft as well as myslef. In My Life In The Classroom During my observations at P.S. 51 Elias Howe School in the first grade classroom, the students participated in a "pairing and sharing" activity. Each student read (some of these books were mostly pictures) a children's nonfiction book about science and were expected to teach each other the basic concepts of their book to the other student. This feels like this was an attempt at cognitive apprenticeship.

Some pairs did very well with this activity and others did not. Those who did not do well was mostly because they were not staying on task or listening to their partner.
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