This week’s resources dealt mainly with instructional strategies that integrate the constructivist/constructionist learning theories. One of our book resources, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pittler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007), had a chapter titled “Generating and Testing Hypotheses.” This chapter correlates well with the constructivist learning theory because it suggests that when students are using technology tools (spreadsheets, data collection tools, interactive applets and simulations) to create and test ideas in all content areas, students are able to construct meaningful knowledge and apply what they learn. Thus, students are actively learning and understanding more of the content area. Of particular interest to me in this chapter were the collaborative project Web sites, the Collaboratory Project, and the simulation websites. Many of these sites are excellent resources for engaging students in learning about different content areas.
I am trying to find more ways that I can get my students to not just be active in their learning, but to push them to that next step (constructionism) and have them find tangible ways to DO something with the new knowledge or skills that they have learned. For example, this last week my class was learning about local government and their role (now and in the future) in our community as citizens. One of the books we read together was about political activism. One of my students came up to me the day after that lesson and said that she was ready to start an investigation into why our school cafeteria served corn that was less than appetizing (this girl lives on a farm and I’m sure has some experience with growing and eating fresh corn). Sadly, our school year has concluded before she could begin this inquiry, but if we had more time, I might have facilitated a study into different kinds of corn, and how it is grown and processed for consumption. We could have done several taste test surveys and used technology to organize and graph our findings. Then, perhaps a presentation (Powerpoint or iMovie) to the Health Services department in our district might be effective in changing what is served in the cafeteria. Sounds interesting and fun, doesn’t it!
I hope that as I continue to learn and practice these constructivist/constructionist teaching strategies, that my students will be able to see themselves as scientists, activists, citizens, inventors, explorers… ready and able to change the world and make it a better place to live!
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD