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In this section, we have provided you with the following tools to help you acquire professional development credit for this workshop. If you are interested, we suggest that you print these items and discuss them with your administrator.


Concept to Classroom: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning

In this section of the workshop, participants examine the theoretical framework behind constructivism, the differences between constructivist practices and traditional practices, the history of constructivism, the research supporting the application of constructivist theory in the classroom, the benefits and criticisms of constructivism, and the expert behind this workshop.
    1. What is constructivism?
      a. Participants examine constructivism as an overarching theory that can incorporate a number of teaching practices.

    2. How does this theory differ from traditional ideas about teaching and learning?
      a. Participants examine how constructivism taps into and triggers students' innate curiosity about the world.

    3. What does constructivism have to do with my classroom?
      a. Participants examine how the teacher functions more as a facilitator who coaches, mediates, prompts, and helps students develop and assess their understanding.

    4. Expert interview
      a. Participants examine a video clip of Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, an educational theorist, constructivism advocate, and this workshop's content expert, answering questions about constructivism.

    5. What is the history of constructivism, and how has it changed over time?
      a. Participants examine how the concept of constructivism has roots in the Socratic dialogue, Piaget and Dewey's theories of childhood development, and Progressive Education.

    6. What are some critical perspectives?
      a. Participants examine some of the charges that critics level against constructivism.
    7. What are the benefits of constructivism?
      a. Participants examine the multiple benefits of constructivism in relation to student learning.

In this section of the workshop, participants view some concrete examples of constructivism in the classroom and school and examine programs and activities that illustrate constructivism.

    1. In Classrooms
      a. Participants examine three videos which demonstrate a particular constructivist technique in action -- the strategy of academic controversy.

      b. Participants read a transcript of a classroom simulation in which student delegates present and debate their political viewpoints, learning how to negotiate a compromise resolution.

      c. Participants read multiple transcripts of students conducting science experiments and constructing knowledge about various scientific concepts.

    2. In Schools and Projects
      a. Participants examine Web sites of schools and projects that incorporate aspects of constructivist theory.

    3. At the Discover Lab
      a. Participants examine going on at the Discover Lab, run by Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, Ed.D, this workshop's content expert.

    4. What Do Constructivist Lesson Plans Look Like?
      a. Participants examine lesson plans that illustrate constructivist teaching and learning opportunities.

In this section of the workshop, participants have many opportunities to analyze what they're already doing well in the classroom, as well as to explore new techniques they can add to their teaching repertoire. The following questions will be addressed:
    1. How do I apply constructivism in my classroom?
      a. Participants examine five ways in which the constructivist approach can be applied in the classroom.

    2. What are some simple ways to get started?
      a. Participants examine twelve strategies that allow the teacher to use a single trial curriculum unit that she/he is already teaching to begin to see the potential for students' knowledge creation within that trial unit.

    3. What are some challenges I may face?
      a. Participants examine the challenges in relation to the role of the teacher, the role of the student, and the role of the school.

    4. How do I assess student progress?
      a. Participants examine how teachers and students can construct a rubric to assess student progress.

    5. How does constructivism align with state and national standards?
      a. Participants examine the published standards that honor the concepts of constructivist theory.

    6. How does technology complement constructivism?
      a. Participants examine how computers offer a tremendous amount of information, tools for creativity and development, and various environments and forums for communication.

    7. How do I work with my school, the parents, and the community?
      a. Participants examine how adopting a constructivist pedagogy encourages every member of a community to become a learner.

In this section of the workshop, participants have the opportunity to test out ideas about constructivist learning in the classroom. In particular, this section provides a framework in which they can develop their own constructivist lesson plan.

    1. Key Principles
      a. Participants examine the 5 guiding principles of constructivism that are applicable at all levels and stages of learning.

    2. Three Constructivist Design Models
      a. Participants examine 3 constructivist design models that can be used as a general framework for many kinds of constructivist activities.

    3. Step-by-step Lesson Planning with Prompts and Tips
      a. Participants try building a lesson plan themselves using one of the three constructivist design models.

For a complete listing of all the books, articles, Web sites, and videos listed as resources for this workshop, please see http://www.thirteen.org/wnetschool/concept2class/resources.html.

Brooks, J.G. and M.G. Brooks. IN SEARCH OF UNDERSTANDING: THE CASE FOR CONSTRUCTIVIST CLASSROOMS. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1993.

Copple, C., L. Sigel, and R. Saunders. EDUCATING THE YOUNG THINKER. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1984.

Darling-Hammond, Linda, et al. EXCELLENCE IN TEACHER EDUCATION: HELPING TEACHERS DEVELOP LEARNER-CENTERED SCHOOL. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association School Restructuring Series, 1992.

Dewey, John. EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION. New York: Macmillan, 1938.


Duffy, Thomas M., and David H. Jonassen. CONSTRUCTIVISM AND THE TECHNOLOGY OF INSTRUCTION: A CONVERSATION. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Association, 1993.

Forman, G., and F. Hill. CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY: APPLYING PIAGET IN THE PRESCHOOL. Monteray, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1980.

Forman, George E. THE CHILD'S CONSTRUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE: PIAGET FOR TEACHING CHILDREN. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association, 1983.

Fosnot, Catherine Twoomey. CONSTRUCTIVISM: THEORY, PERSPECTIVES, AND PRACTICE. New York: Teachers College Press, 1989.


Kamii, Constance. EARLY LITERACY: A CONSTRUCTIVIST FOUNDATION FOR WHOLE LANGUAGE. Washington D.C.: National Education Association Early Childhood Educational Series, 1991.

Vygotsky, L. S. THOUGHT AND LANGUAGE. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1962.


Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
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