# Constructivism as a theory for teaching and learning

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What does constructivism have to vị with my classroom?

As is the case with many of the current/popular paradigms, you"re probably already using the constructivist approach to some degree.

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Constructivist teachers pose questions và problems, then guide students to help them find their own answers. They use many techniques in the teaching process. For example, they may: prompt students to formulate their own questions (inquiry) allow multiple interpretations & expressions of learning (multiple intelligences) encourage group work and the use of peers as resources (collaborative learning) More information on the above processes is covered in other workshops in this series. For now, it"s important to lớn realize that the constructivist approach borrows from many other practices in the pursuit of its primary goal: helping students learn HOW lớn LEARN. In a constructivist classroom, learning is . . . Students are not blank slates upon which knowledge is etched. They come khổng lồ learning situations with already formulated knowledge, ideas, và understandings. This previous knowledge is the raw material for the new knowledge they will create. Example: An elementary school teacher presents a class problem khổng lồ measure the length of the "Mayflower." Rather than starting the problem by introducing the ruler, the teacher allows students to lớn reflect và to construct their own methods of measurement. One student offers the knowledge that a doctor said he is four feet tall. Another says she knows horses are measured in "hands." The students discuss these and other methods they have heard about, & decide on one lớn apply to the problem. The student is the person who creates new understanding for him/herself. The teacher coaches, moderates, suggests, but allows the students room lớn experiment, ask questions, try things that don"t work. Learning activities require the students" full participation (like hands-on experiments). An important part of the learning process is that students reflect on, and talk about, their activities. Students also help mix their own goals và means of assessment. Examples: A middle-school language arts teacher sets aside time each week for a writing lab. The emphasis is on nội dung and getting ideas down rather than memorizing grammatical rules, though one of the teacher"s concerns is the ability of his students to express themselves well through written language. The teacher provides opportunities for students to examine the finished và earlier drafts of various authors. He allows students to lớn select and create projects within the general requirement of building a portfolio1. Students serve as peer editors who value originality & uniqueness rather than the best way khổng lồ fulfill an assignment.**1.**

**In a history class, asking students to lớn read và think about different versions of và perspectives on "history" can lead to interesting discussions. Is history as taught in textbooks accurate? Are there different versions of the same history? Whose version of history is most accurate? How bởi we know? From there, students can make their own judgments. Students control their own learning process, and they lead the way by reflecting on their experiences. This process makes them experts of their own learning. The teacher helps create situations where the students feel safe questioning và reflecting on their own processes, either privately or in group discussions. The teacher should also create activities that lead the student to lớn reflect on his or her prior knowledge & experiences. Talking about what was learned & how it was learned is really important. Example: Students keep journals in a writing class where they record how they felt about the class projects, the visual và verbal reactions of others to the project, and how they felt their own writing had changed. Periodically the teacher reads these journals & holds a conference with the student where the two assess (1) what new knowledge the student has created, (2) how the student learns best, & (3) the learning environment & the teacher"s role in it. The constructivist classroom relies heavily on collaboration among students. There are many reasons why collaboration contributes to learning.**

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The main reason it is used so much in constructivism is that students learn about learning not only from themselves, but also from their peers. When students đánh giá and reflect on their learning processes together, they can pick up strategies & methods from one another. Example: In the course of studying ancient civilizations, students undertake an archaeological dig. This may be something constructed in a large sandbox, or, as in the Dalton School"s "Archaeotype" software simulation, on a computer. As the students find different objects, the teacher introduces classifying techniques. The students are encouraged lớn (1) mix up a group museum by developing criteria and choosing which objects should belong, và (2) collaborate with other students who worked in different quadrants of the dig. Each group is then asked lớn develop theories about the civilizations that inhabited the area. The main activity in a constructivist classroom is solving problems. Students use inquiry methods khổng lồ ask questions, investigate a topic, và use a variety of resources lớn find solutions & answers. As students explore the topic, they draw conclusions, and, as exploration continues, they revisit those conclusions. Exploration of questions leads khổng lồ more questions. (See the CONCEPT to CLASSROOM workshop Inquiry-based Learning) Example: Sixth graders figuring out how khổng lồ purify water investigate solutions ranging from coffee-filter paper, to a stove-top distillation apparatus, to piles of charcoal, to lớn an abstract mathematical solution based on the form size of a water molecule. Depending upon students" responses, the teacher encourages abstract as well as concrete, poetic as well as practical, creations of new knowledge. Students have ideas that they may later see were invalid, incorrect, or insufficient lớn explain new experiences. These ideas are temporary steps in the integration of knowledge. For instance, a child may believe that all trees thua kém their leaves in the fall, until she visits an evergreen forest. Constructivist teaching takes into account students" current conceptions and builds from there. What happens when a student gets a new piece of information? The constructivist model says that the student compares the information to lớn the knowledge và understanding he/she already has, & one of three things can occur: The new information matches up with his previous knowledge pretty well (it"s consonant with the previous knowledge), so the student adds it to his understanding. It may take some work, but it"s just a matter of finding the right fit, as with a puzzle piece.**The information doesn"t match previous knowledge (it"s dissonant**). The student has khổng lồ change her previous understanding to find a fit for the information. This can be harder work. The information doesn"t match previous knowledge, và it is

**ignored**. Rejected bits of information may just not be absorbed by the student. Or they may float around, waiting for the day when the student"s understanding has developed and permits a fit. Example: An elementary teacher believes her students are ready lớn study gravity. She creates an environment of discovery with objects of varying kinds. Students explore the differences in weight among similarly sized blocks of Styrofoam, wood, & lead. Some students hold the notion that heavier objects fall faster than light ones. The teacher provides materials (stories, posters, và videos) about Galileo, Newton, etc. She leads a discussion on theories about falling. The students then replicate Galileo"s experiment by dropping objects of different weights & measuring how fast they fall. They see that objects of different weights actually usually fall at the same speed, although surface area and aerodynamic properties can affect the rate of fall. Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching và Learning Explanation | Demonstration | Exploration | Implementation | Get CreditConcept khổng lồ Classroom | About the Series | Resources | sitemap | Credits

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