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How do I apply constructivism in my classroom?
What are some simple ways to get started?
What are some challenges I may face?
How do I assess student progress?
How does constructivism align with state and national standards?
How does technology complement constructivism?
How do I work with my school, the parents, and the community?

How does constructivism align with state and national standards?

State standards and examinations as well as the call for stringent exit outcomes are usually structured on the test-teach-test model of instruction, with each test requiring a highly specific response.

New standards relating to the concept of "performance-based assessment," however, do begin to account for the idiosyncratic nature of learning. Integration of assessment into the learning process is one of the guiding principles of the constructivist classroom. Many school systems have adopted standards in which students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways, including essays, oral presentations, and/or a portfolio of work. (Note: " Assessment, Evaluation, and Curriculum Redesign" and "Teaching to Standards" are two of the CONCEPT TO CLASSROOM Workshops.)

There are now published standards that honor the concepts of constructivist theory. For example, the Center On Learning, Assessment, and School Structure (CLASS) wrote "A Proposed Assessment System: The North Carolina Assessment for the Next Century," which calls for "an assessment system for measuring rigorous, real-world use of knowledge that also would provide better, more timely feedback to students, teachers, and parents." The proposal goes on, "Because of this dual charge, the system of assessment is built upon 'authentic performance,' scored locally against state standards."

CLASS gives many examples and ideas for incorporating standards into a constructivist-modeled activity. Here is an example of a good assignment:

"'What a Find' -- The student is a professor of literature at a local college. A friend is on the board of the local library, which was just burned. All the records about the library's history were destroyed. In the ruins, the original corner stone was found. Inside the corner stone is a collection of literature. The friend feels confident that this collection will be key in determining when the original library was built. The friend asks that the professor identify when the literature was written. In addition, the corner stone is to be reused in the reconstructed library. The student is asked to suggest a collection of literature to be placed in the corner stone that best reflects the late twentieth century in American history and letters."

This activity might meet the following standards:
-- comprehending different genres of books
-- responding to literature
-- participating in group meetings
-- doing presentations

The CLASS assessment system stresses "backwards design" -- looking at what you want the student to know or be able to do and building your curriculum to accomplish that. The UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN HANDBOOK, by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, lays out three steps to do this: 1) identify desired results, 2) determine acceptable evidence, and 3) plan the learning experiences and instruction.

Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
Explanation | Demonstration | Exploration | Implementation | Get Credit

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