Team Constructionism

The last two weeks we’ve been studying some learning theories, namely Behaviorism and Cognitivism, and as you may remember last week I explained that they’re not in competition.   In fact, they address different aspects of classroom life and curriculum development.  Behaviorism helps in planning how I’m going to develop routines and best practices in my classroom, as well as address student actions (praise appropriate ones, censure inappropriate ones).  Cognitivism addresses how both short-term and long-term memories are stored and ways to structure lessons that promote long-term retention.

This week, we’re studying Constructivism and its practical application theory Constructionism.  These theories suggest that the best way to create a meaningful learning experience for students is by building something, by creating an artifact that demonstrates what the students have learned (Laureate, 2008).  As an Art teacher whose students are constantly making artifacts that illustrate what they’ve learned and practiced, this is music to my ears.  And once again, this theory is not competing for supremacy with the other theories, as Cognitivism explained the importance of Experiential Memories, and Constructionism insists on a teacher giving her students learning experiences.

Finally, we were introduced to a few strategies aimed at putting Constructionism into practice.  One such strategy is to use Project-based Learning (PBLs), which are spectacular if done right.  PBLs [http://pbl-online.org/] are assignments wherein a group of students are given a problem to solve collaboratively, yet each individual has a specific role essential to the solution.  PBLs require communication, team work, research, presentation skills and the creation of a product that illustrates the learning and serves as an authentic assessment.  Simply put, they are real-world challenges given to students to discuss, solve and present as though they are in a professional environment.  The teacher does all of the work up front, and acts as guide or facilitator throughout the project.  I do a Graphic Novel PBL with my beginning Art students in high school and it’s a favorite project with the kids every year because it feels ‘real’ to them.

Have any of you developed PBLs that ‘worked?’

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). Constructionist and constructivist learning theories. Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology. Laureate Education, Inc.

Learn What Defines Project Based Learning.  (2010). Project Based Learning. Retrieved July 20, 2010 from http://pbl-online.org/

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About Megan Boyd

Teacher of Graphic Design I & II as well as Digital Photo. I live in Room B207.
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3 Responses to Team Constructionism

  1. Megan Graham says:

    I have done project-based learning. I have found it to be very time consuming and very difficult to manage. Last year was the first year I have done anything like it. I plan to implement and improve the projects for my students and learn from past experience. The projects in the past I have done were in groups and I found them very difficult to manage. Hopefully, overtime my techniques for group projects will improve.

  2. Andy says:

    At the end of each year in Grade 5 we undertake a PBL type project called the Exhibition. It is very involved and I have found over time that I have needed to create a process book to guide the students through process. Breaking down the process into meaningful or focused parts that every group needs to follow helps us manage these projects and is an enormous help. My book is here http://hkaexhibition-2010.wikispaces.com/Journal

  3. Christina O. says:

    Megan,
    Your graphic novel project sounds great. I bet students love that! Some of the math applications we do are “real-life” problems and students work to figure them out and present their thinking and findings. I would love to try a more cross-curricular type of project this year so if anyone knows of great third grade “starter” projects, please share.
    Christina
    p.s. Andy, I am very impressed with all that you accomplish in your fifth grade class!

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