Presentation on theme: "Elements of Constructivist Teaching Practices EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods."— Presentation transcript:
Elements of Constructivist Teaching Practices EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods
What is constructivism? Learners make (construct) their own meaning. In a constructivist classroom, teachers search for learner’s understanding, and then structure learning opportunities for students to refine or revise these understandings by: Posing contradictions Presenting new information Asking questions Encouraging research Engaging students in inquiries designed to challenge current concepts
5 principles of constructivist classrooms Teachers seek and value students’ points of view Classroom activities challenge students’ suppositions Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance Teachers build lessons around “big ideas” Teachers assess learning in the context of daily teaching
Traditional classrooms Dominated by teacher talk (Goodlad) Heavily reliant on texts (one set of truths) Students work alone on low-level skills Student thinking is devalued, with a focus on “right” and “wrong” answers Schooling is premised on the notion that there is a fixed world the learner must come to know. The construction of new knowledge is not valued.
Principle 1: Posing Problems of Emerging Relevance to Students A. Time vs. Coverage: Constructivist teachers seek to ask big questions to give students a chance to think about it, and lead them to the resources to answer it.
Posing Problems of Emerging Relevance B. Learning for Transfer is an intellectual activity that must be nurtured and modeled. Unfortunately, most curriculum for secondary students is departmentalized, fragmented, relies heavily on memorization, and hence, does not support transferability.
Posing Problems of Emerging Relevance The Value of Changing One’s Mind - changing students’ minds is an invaluable element of the learning process.
Principle 2: Structuring Learning Around Big Ideas Much of traditional education breaks wholes into parts and then focuses study on the parts; many students, however, have difficulty building wholes from parts. Most of us need to see the whole before we are able to make sense of the parts.
Principle 2: Structuring Learning Around Big Ideas When concepts are presented as wholes, students seek to make meaning by breaking the wholes into parts that they can see and understand; they construct (constructivism) the process and understanding rather than having it done for them.
An example of traditional teaching: In history, students study the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War II separately and at different times (in other words, by the text) of the year. They memorize dates, important battles, and are tested on people important to each conflict. (this example breaks wholes into parts then focuses on each part separately)
An example of constructivist teaching: A teacher structures a unit around conflict (the big idea) around three wars, the Revolutionary, Civil and World War II. She writes them on the board and asks students to reflect on what they know about each, to select two of the three, and to compare them by illustrating their similarities and differences. (whole into parts they see and understand, they construct the process rather than having it done for them). Based on their choices she leads them to resources to answer their inquiry.
See the differences? Traditional teaching focuses primarily on lower-order cognitive skills (memorization) Constructivist teaching focusing on higher order cognitive skills of analysis, reflection, and synthesis.
Principle 3: Seeking and valuing students points of view Students points of views are windows to their reasoning. The acknowledgement that other perspectives exist implies relativity and merit, and casts doubt on many of the other “truths” we accept without reflection.
Design a backward design lesson based on some aspect of the Minnesota Standards in Social Studies using the first three principles of constructivist teaching Posing problems of emerging relevance Structuring learning around big ideas Seeking and valuing students points of views
Design a backward design lesson based on some aspect of the Minnesota Standards in Social Studies using the first three principles of constructivist teaching Stage 1: Identify desired results (understandings, knowledge, skills) Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence Stage 3: Structure learning experiences
Principle 4: Adapt Curriculum to Address Students’ Suppositions This principle implies that teachers need to know the cognitive abilities of their students, and then design lessons that challenge these abilities. So while we might assume adolescents are functioning at the formal operational level, many may still be at the concrete operational level.
Principle 5: Assessing Student Learning in the Context of Teaching Rather than view assessment as a way to determine what is “right” or “wrong”, or as a tool to evaluate individual students, assessment is used as an entry point for intervention and planning on how to lead students to construct new understandings, knowledge and skills.
Questioning Can anyone name one of the 3 ships Columbus used in his first voyage?(here, there is a “right” and “wrong” answer) Tell me what you know about the ships Columbus used in his first voyage. (here the inquiry is open-ended and can be used as a true assessment of where students are, and be useful in planning on where you want to facilitate their understanding).
Non-judgemental feedback We tend to fall back on “no”, “good”, “right”, and “wrong”. Tell me how you determined that, or tell me about that. This response places the responsibility back onto the student to assess their own response
Authentic assessment Fostering students’ individual construction of knowledge, and then assessing using traditional measures (multiple choice or T/F tests) seems contradictory. Instead, authentic assessment focuses on the authentic concerns and problems faced by students.
Constructivist Teachers… Encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative Use raw data and primary sources along with manipulative, interactive and physical materials When framing tasks, use cognitive terminology like “classify”, “analyze”, “predict”, and “create”
Constructivist Teachers… Allow student responses to drive lessons, shift instructional strategies, and alter content (teachable moment) Inquire about students’ understandings of concepts before sharing their own understandings Encourage students to engage in dialogue, both with the teacher and with one another Encourage student inquiry by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask questions of one another
Constructivist Teachers… Seek elaboration of initial student responses Engage students in experiences that might be contradictory to their hypotheses, and then encourage discussion Allow wait time, and are considerate for students who process differently
Constructivist Teachers… Provide time for students to construct relationships and create metaphors.