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Constructivist: Building a Better Understanding
Transcript of Constructivist: Building a Better Understanding
Building a Better Understanding Taylor M. Bowers
MAT 5310 But we all know that.
There's more to constructivism
that makes it important. Scaffolding is a means support. When students are learning, their zone of proximal development requires some type of peer or teacher assistance; social interaction, as Vygotsky said. This is where scaffolding comes into play. Not exactly... So, the best way to teach
children is to set them loose in the classroom and let them roam free! They'll figure things out on their own, because they have peers to interact with, right? Vygotsky
pioneered the concept
of the "zone of proximal development," where he said children learn. This exists between what children can learn on their own and what is out of their realm of understanding. It requires a social aspect, either by peer interaction
or adult guidance. Vygotsky studied child psychology and social development. He said that children learn by experimenting, which begins on a social level. To put it in simpler terms, children learn best by experience. The most impacting way to teach a child a new concept is to let the child experiment with
it and develop their own ideas. "Every function in the child's cultural
development appears twice: first, on the social
level, and later, on the individual level; first,
between people (interpsychological) and then
inside the child (intrapsychological).
This applies equally to voluntary attention,
to logical memory, and to the formation
of concepts. All the higher functions
originate as actual relationships
between individuals." Constructivism is a theory based on
the work of Russian psychologist
Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). -Lev Vygotsky Constructivist classrooms
require teachers who are willing to
let students come to their own conclusions.
Think of our reading for our first blog post, about the children and their "warm clothes." The teacher in that classroom spent several days carefully guiding and and redirecting her students, without coming out and giving them the answer. By this method, the students gained a stronger understanding of where heat can come from and what can retain it. This type of teaching is by no means simple — even though the students are creating their conclusions through experimentation, the teacher is vital through
every step. It takes a lot of work to operate a constructivist classroom. The teacher must constantly evaluate, guide and redirect his or her students. So what else is there? Teachers can utilize certain tools to maximize their constructivist classroom. Vygotsky defined many of these in his writings. Let's get a better idea... Cultural tools are
developed in children from birth. They are the mechanisms through which children view the world. These cultural tools can improve a child's understanding. Because they involve everything a child experiences, they will vary based on where, when and
by whom the child was raised, as
well as other factors. Cultural mediation is
the way our culture affects what
we experience. For example, we can imagine a Christmas tree. An evergreen tree, covered in little lights and small decorations might be viewed as beautiful just based on appearance by someone ignorant about its significance. However, someone who celebrates the traditions of Christmas will likely have an emotional response by looking at the tree, because it is tied to his or her cultural background — including religious beliefs, family experiences and
personal views. Let's do an activity to demonstrate:
How delicious are Double Stuff Oreos?
Pretty great, we can all agree. But, are they REALLY "Double Stuff"?
Let's find out!
In pairs, design a quick experiment to determine if Double Stuff Oreos are really filled with double the "stuff."
Available tools are: regular Oreos, Double Stuff Oreos, a food scale, plastic knives and some measuring spoons.
Does anyone have a hypothesis, based on JUST what you can see?
What did you find out?
Now, please enjoy the Oreos! References:
Bcb704 (username). (2012). Vygotsky's zone of proximal development. (2012). [Web Video]. Retrieved from
Culatta, R. (2012). Instructional design. Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-development.html
Matsuoka, B. (2004). Constructivism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html
Taylor , M. (2011, January 10). Imagination soup. Retrieved from http://imaginationsoup.net/2011/01/what-is-a-constructivist-classroom/