Thumbs Up Constructivism

I have been focusing on two complex ideas: cultures of inquiry and learning theories. The way I understand cultures of inquiry is that they are different ways we can conduct research, such as ethnography, hermeneutics and phenomenology, to name a few (BIG words right!?). Learning theories apply more to how learners come to understand information.

The learning theory constructivism is one I would like to share in this post because I feel that, at this point in time (allowing myself to be open to change), my teaching is aligned with this theory. Author Weller (2011) states that constructivism is, “a view of learning that places the focus on the individual who constructs their knowledge through activity” (p. 8). As a teacher, specifically having taught Early Childhood Education, I allow my students to engage in their learning and take ownership of creating meaning from experiences that they have, providing them with support when needed, of course. As their teacher, it is crucial that I  “understand both the demands of the discipline and the needs of the child and then to provide learning experiences to enable the student to uncover the curriculum” (Darling-Hammond, Austin, Orcutt & Rosso, 2001, p. 8). By allowing my students to jump into inquiry-based projects and centre-based activities, I am letting them choose activities that they enjoy so they can then construct meaning from the experiences they have with these activities. This can be individual, or, children can engage with teachers and other peers. I open up these activities to be approached from many different perspectives so each child can feel confident choosing an activity that they feel they will learn from and succeed. Daily 5 is an excellent way that I have incorporated choice into the classroom, so children can construct literacy meaning from activities and experiences that they prefer to engage in. Also, providing children with technology resources, such as Seesaw, allows them to construct meaning on an even deeper level by extending the learning and sharing it with others.

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Until next time…

~ Kim

References

Darling-Hammond, L., Austin, K., Orcutt, S., & Rosso, J. (2001). The learning classroom: Theory into practice. Episode #1 how people learn: Introduction to learning theories (pp. 1-19). Course syllabus, School of Education, Stanford University, California, USA.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249 pp. 223-236.

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5 thoughts on “Thumbs Up Constructivism

  1. Great blog Kim! I am right there with you. When I read the material on constructivism I immediately thought “this is me”. I want to find ways for people to engage in learning that is exciting and meaningful to them. I think the hardest thing will be for me as an instructor or as a designer will be to ‘get out of the way’ of the learning. Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.

    Patricia

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  2. I enjoyed reading your blog, Kim. Thanks for giving examples of how you implemented activities that supported your learning theory. That’s what I call: “Learning theory in action.”

    I’ve looked at Constructivism, Social Constructivism, and Connectivism, and with those three learning theories, it appears that they are on a continuum. Are they really different theories? Or simply extensions of each other as we understand more about how individuals learn from the experiences they encounter? To me, Social Constructivism simply expands “Constructivism” to emphasize the “social” aspect of interactions. Yet, “Constructivism” doesn’t state that the interactions are not social and, in reality, how can interactions not be social? So I’m not sure why some felt that the clarification needed to be made.

    As for “Connectivism,” it seems to me that its proponents are really simply extending Constructivism to include interactions that are not in person, and are, instead, via network connections. Does the advent of the internet change how we learn? I do believe that digital “natives” are learning differently because of the technology they grew up with, but I wonder if Constructivism has even that covered. Constructivism is quite broad and seems to be able to include both the concepts of Social Constructivism and Connectivism.

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  3. Constructivism also had a great appeal to me. I really enjoy finding a project that provides authentic work and allows learners to share an experience together. The core work becomes so much less of a chore when they can work together around a shared experience. Constructivism also appeals to me because it handles learners gently, something I strongly believe is necessary. I deal with adults that experienced only harshness when they were school children. It has left deep scars.

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  4. I definitely feel that I fall into the Constructivist/Social Constructivist category. It is interesting to begin to understand that a significant portion of my early education was Behaviourist. Yet, when I am working with learners in my classes, we do a lot of collaborative discussion and relating back to their real-world experiences. This is something that I have never put a lot of thought into before but now that I look back, acting as a facilitator rather than a ‘sage on the stage’ is the natural approach I use. I had never heard the Daily Five before so I checked out the link. That looks like such a great way to build literary. I would love to be a fly on the wall in your classroom!

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