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.

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/

Week 7 Reflection

Technology is ever changing just as education is ever changing. The two go hand in hand because they both impact each other in so many significant ways. Throughout this course I have been given many different tools that I am able to integrate into my classroom easily. These tools will provide my students with learning experiences that they are able to better relate with, become excited with, and use these tools in the future as they grow and adapt with technology and education. One important thing that we must remember as an educator is that we must always be life long learners in order to provide our students with the best education they can possibly have. Educators have the important role to continue growing with the trends and adapting our lessons everyday to incorporate materials and methods that we may not have been familiar with before. We must understand that we are preparing students for real life.

My first goal that I would like to set is to become more familiar with grant writing. Many of my frustrations in the classroom stem from not having the appropriate technology that we need to make sure our classrooms 21st century learning environments. It is always very easy to neglect integrating technology in the classroom when it is difficult to get your hands on the tools that provide these learning experiences. I want to become familiar with researching and writing grant proposals so school districts, like the one I work at, will not be left in the dust because we just do not qualify for funding. I will work hard to make sure I am taking advantage of all opportunities that are provided to educators.

My second goal is to make sure that I am up-to-date on all of the latest technology that can be brought into the classroom. I am ashamed to admit that I had not blogged, podcasted, or created a wikipage before this class and after creating all 3 I am excited to make them apart of my classroom. I know that these tools are only a little part of the technology that is available to get kids excited about learning and creating. I will make sure that I am constantly learning and researching different methods of learning that I can integrate into my classroom to make sure I am creating a 21st century learning environment.

This course has definitely changed my outlook on education and technology in a positive way. Before I thought because I didn’t have easy access to computers or a SMARTboard that I could just make do with what I had. Now I understand now that it is my job to make sure that my students have access to all of this wonderful technology so that when it is time for them to enter the real world they are entering it as a prepared citizen.

Walden University Podcast – Technology

http://podcastmachine.com/podcasts/6577/episodes/31090

“Every child in America needs to be ready for today’s and tomorrow’s world.”

http://www.p21.org/index.php

“Every child in America needs to be ready for today’s and tomorrow’s world.” This statement is very powerful, we must remember that our lessons that we teach our students everyday in school must not just be something good for today, it must translate to tomorrow. To do this we must be adaptable and open to change so we are able to keep up with the ever-changing world around us. Our goal as educators is to create life long successful learners who will continue to be successful long after graduation. We have a difficult task ahead of us, but with the right tools like the Partnership for 21st Century Skills we can develop practical and effective ways to create 21st century students who are prepared for the world around them.
I think the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is very intriguing, and hopefully something that will change the way we teach, learn, and work in a positive way. They work together with the government, businesses, community, and education to mesh what we have been learning in school in a new and more real life way so that our students are able to come out of school not only educated, but ready for life. They always say that you learn best with hands on experiences, that is why teachers student teach and others apprentice in their field before they take over. If we are able to have this ‘apprenticeship’ in place while our students are learning in school then we are instilling them with 21st century skills while educating them properly.
I also clicked on the New Jersey section of the 21st century website to how my state was implementing this initiative, but I couldn’t help but thinking how the government role of this equation, just isn’t working out. We have had funding continuously cut to our schools over the last year and I believe that something needs to change to ensure that programs like this will be effective rather than just a great idea.

Ideas for blog…

After watching the Spotlight on Technology video with Kathy Martin I thought having students create their own blog where they could interact with each other would be a great tool for a classroom.  As a “partly” departmentalized 5th grade teacher I think it would be a wonderful way to not only have communication between my three mathematics classes, but also a way to integrate writing into math.  A goal that I have set for myself this year is to have my students (math and language arts) do as much writing as they possibly could and if I provide them with a method to write that is fun and interactive then I may reach my goal while the students are able to have a wonderful time learning.

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