Constructing Your Understanding: Classroom-Based Activities

Five Overarching Principles in Constructivist Classrooms

1. Teachers seek and value their students' points of views:
  • In constructivist classrooms, students' perspectives are cues for teachers regarding ensuing lessons; it is not about presenting the same information to students at the same time or regarding different student perspectives on certain issues as interfering with the pace and timing of lessons.

2. Classroom activities challenge students' suppositions:
  • As students enter a classroom with assumptions garnered from their personal experiences about how the world works, meaningful classroom experience either transforms or validates these truths.

3. Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance:
  • "Constructivist teachers [acknowledge] the central role of the learner structure classroom experiences that foster the creation of personal meaning."

4. Teachers build lessons around primary concepts and "big" ideas:
  • Teachers don't teach concepts in small, disconnected pieces but rather weave together an interconnected unit centred a "big idea" or problem; "Constructivist teachers offer academic problems that challenge students to grapple with big ideas first and discern for themselves, with mediation from the teacher, the parts which require more investigation.

5. Teachers assess students' learning in the context of daily teaching:
  • Constructivist Teachers don't view assessment of student learning as separate and distinct from the classroom's normal activities, but rather embed assessment directly into those recurrent activities.

mouse&cheese.jpgFOOD for THOUGHT:
How do these principles resonate with your current teaching practice?
Are there certain things you do that are constructivist?
Respond to the discussion threads found in the discussion forum symposium for this week.

Exploring Constructivism in Action

Select ONE of these articles to review. Compare to your current understanding of constructivism.

Constructivism: What does it look like in the classroom -
Constructing Knowledge in the Classroom:
Application of a Constructivist Checklist -
Be Constructive: Blogs, Podcasts and Wikis as Constructivist Learning Tools

FOOD for THOUGHT: Use a graphic organizer to collect and gather the ideas for further comparison and reflection.

References / LinksBrooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In search of understanding: a case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Curriculum Supervision & Development.