Constructionism and Constructivism

Introduction

“Constructionism supports the constructivist viewpoint–that the learner is an active builder of knowledge” (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001) I believe that constructivism and constructionism go hand-in-hand. In constructivism the learner understands better when they learn through experience. In constructionism the learners are able to show what they know by creating. I believe that both of these create experiences for students where they are better able to understand the concepts being taught in class. Both have a hands-on approach where students are engaged and are learning by doing. There are many ways that teachers can incorporate both the constructionism and constructivism approaches in their teaching practices that incorporate technology.

Project-Based Learning
In project-based learning the student is given the opportunity to develop and use skills taught in the classroom to create a project over an extended period of time. (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001) At this time students work on collaborating, time management, and developing skills while presenting information in a complex way. The learner takes control of their education because they are in charge of how they present their information and what they need to do to get it completed. This method can incorporate technology in various different ways. Students can create power points, movies, websites, and blogs to show what they have learned and what they can do.

Problem-Based Learning
In problem based learning students are able to form an essential question based on a real life situation. (Glazer, 2001) When students are able to make the connection from the classroom to real life learning becomes much more meaningful because they see how it can impact their everyday life. Students are responsible for forming the essential question and then researching solutions to this problem. This not only forms the experiences that the constructivism approach needs, but the hands-on learning and creating that the constructionism approach needs as well. Students are able to use technology to help research, plan, and create solutions to these real world problems.

Generating and Testing Hypotheses
“When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content.” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) This instructional strategy is closely related to problem-based learning because students are forming the essential question and then actively coming up with solutions to solve the problem. Here students form the essential question and then test their responses to see if they are accurate. In all of these instructional strategies students are actively engaged and learning through hands-on activities while forming experiences.

Conclusion
Students learn better through hands-on experiences. Both the constructivism and constructionism approaches promote student centered learning and activities. Teachers must provide students with the opportunities to explore and learn using technology. When students are able to take an active role in their education and show what they know the experiences they have become much more meaningful and have a greater impact than they ever did before. These two approaches ensure that students stay actively engaged in their education.

References:

Glazer, E. (2001). Problem Based Instruction. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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This week we read how cognitive tools help integrate technology in the classroom as well as help our students learn through prior knowledge and connections. Cognitive theorists such as Jean Piaget concluded that children learn at stages that their brains are ready to handle through assimilations and accommodations. (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008) Our students need to be prompted by environmental stimulus in the classroom in order for them to connect information or concepts in the classroom with prior knowledge that they already know.

To do this we must use cues, questioning, and advance organizers to help our students make the connections from the material and concepts in our classrooms to what they already know. This will help our student’s grasp new concepts much faster and easier because they are assimilating it with connections and concepts that they have already made. Cues are one of the easiest ways that a teacher can activate prior knowledge with our without technology. Placing a picture on an overhead that connects with a lesson or even decorating the classroom with what the lessons talks about will get kids excited about what they are about to learn. This will also give them time to start thinking about what they already know on the topic. Once it is time to learn the new material and concepts students have already activated and remembered that prior knowledge that they already have and the teacher has an easier time getting their students to learn new information by connecting it with stored information they already have in their brain. The brain then scaffolds this new information in with the old.

Another great tool that we can use to make sure that our students are connecting information they have stored in their brain with the new information being taught in the classroom is using a concept map. Students are able to visually brainstorm using a concept map. This is a great tool that students are able to constantly add new information to just as we do in our brains. When students are able to visually see what they are learning by filling it in with new information as they learn they are able to see the progress that they are making in class as well as seeing how it connects to information that they are already familiar with. It is also a great tool for teachers to use for assessment because we are able to see how our students are acquiring information and storing it.

References:
Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

“Behavioral change occurs for a reason; students work for things that bring them positive feelings, and for approval from people they admire.” (Standridge, 2002) Teachers use behaviorism everyday to ensure their students stay engaged and on task. I use behavior modifications in my classroom management to have desirable behaviors in my classroom. One example of a method that I use in my classroom is our Bergen Buck Bank Accounts. My students are each given their own bank account. Their goal is to collect the most money for the trimester to then win a party for their homeroom. Students are also able to use their money to purchase prizes in the class. Students are rewarded for behaving properly in class. Students are also given deductions in their bank accounts for undesirable behavior. This has been a very effective method in my classroom because I usually reward positive behavior, which acts as a model to those students who are not earning money. Most students yearn to fill their bank account up with Bergen Bucks so when they see their peers earning money, they usually start acting properly to earn money as well.

Another method that I use is creating a one-on-one behavior chart. These charts come into effect when a student has an undesirable behavior that we are looking to eliminate. We try to look at it in a positive way, so we first discuss the proper behaviors that we want in the classroom. The student is then able to choose a reward that they would like if they were able to act accordingly throughout the day. We then agree that if we reach a certain number of points throughout the day, then the student will receive the reward at the end of the day. I have had a lot of success with this method this year. It’s great because the student has a large role in controlling the rewards and understanding what behaviors we are looking to eliminate and then have more of.

“The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning.” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007) Another way that we can incorporate behaviorism into our classroom is by reinforcing effort with technology. So many times teachers make comments such as; more effort needed, but do we really ever define what effort is? Pitler, Hubble, Kuhn, & Malenoski (2007) suggest creating an effort rubric which clearly states what exactly is needed from a student as far as effort goes. The student is easily able to refer back to the rubric to make sure that they are following the guidelines to satisfy the rubric. Not only does this put more responsibility on the student, but it gives them clear directions that are easy to follow and interpret.. This is definitely a method that I will incorporate in my own classroom, I feel that this will give my students the guidelines they need when determining what I am expecting out of them as far as effort goes in the classroom environment.

We are also using behaviorism when assigning drills and homework, this practice multiple times reinforces the skill. I often drill students on their multiplication facts using a 50 fact test. We do these tests twice a week and it takes less than 5 minutes to complete the tests. I have students chart their progress to show them how continuing to do this has improved their retention of the facts. Our school also uses a program called, study island. Study Island is designed to help students prepare for our state standardized tests. The students log into the website and then complete mini lessons, or tutorials that connect with the mathematics and language arts standards for their grade. After the complete their tutorials they are able to answer questions connecting with that lesson, if students answer the questions correctly they are rewarded with a game. If they answer the questions incorrectly they are brought back to the tutorial to reinforce the lesson with more practice.

References:
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 10, 2010 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/