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  1. Teaching with the Constructivist Learning Theory

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    What is the best method of teaching to use?

    One of the first things a teacher must do when considering how to teach students is to acknowledge that each student does not learn in the same way. This means that if the teacher chooses just one style of teaching (direct instruction, collaborative learning, inquiry learning, etc.), the students will not be maximizing their learning potential. Obviously, a teacher can not reach every student on the same level during one lesson, but implementing a variety of learning styles throughout the course allows all the students will have the chance to learn in at least one way that matches their learning style.

    Much of the material used to educate students at grade levels beyond primary school is largely text and lecture based, which have significant limitations. While reading is a very important learning mode, not all students learn effectively from reading. Some students respond better to visual and audio stimuli of lecture but often get lost in the material or lose interest in the presentation. In this type of a learning environment, students have limited opportunity to ask questions or may be uncomfortable asking a question in front of the class. It is well known that many questions go unasked.

    How do students learn best?

    Before we answer this question, ask yourself, “How do I learn best?” For example, do you learn better when someone tells you exactly how to do something, or do you learn better by doing it yourself? Many people are right in the middle of those two scenarios. This has led many educators to believe that the best way to learn is by having students construct their own knowledge instead of having someone construct it for them. This belief is explained by the Constructivist Learning Theory. This theory states that learning is an active process of creating meaning from different experiences. In other words, students will learn best by by trying to make sense of something on their own with the teacher as a guide to help them along the way.

    Since all sensory input is organized by the person receiving the stimuli, it cannot always be directly transferred from the teacher to the student. This means that a teacher cannot “pour” information into a student’s brain and always expect them to process it and apply it correctly later. For example, think of a time when you were taught something in a lecture-type class. Then contrast that against a time when you had to prepare to teach someone else something. You will probably agree that you learned the material better when you were preparing to teach the material. This is because you constructed the knowledge for yourself.

    Below is a list of different methods of learning. The percentages listed represent the average amount of information that is retained through that particular learning method. Note what method produces the highest retention rate.

    1. Lecture = 5%
    2. Reading = 10%
    3. Audiovisual = 20%
    4. Demonstration = 30%
    5. Discussion Group = 50%
    6. Practice by doing = 75%
    7. Teach others / immediate use of learning = 90%

    It should also be recognized that a person’s prior knowledge may help or hurt the construction of meaning. People’s prior knowledge comes from their past experiences, culture, and their environment. Generally prior knowledge is good, but sometimes misconceptions and wrong information can be a hindrance. Sometimes time must be spent correcting prior knowledge before new learning can occur.

    Suggestions for Teaching with the Constructivist Learning Theory

    • Encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative.
    • Try to use raw data and primary sources, in addition to manipulative, interactive, and physical materials.
    • When assigning tasks to the students, use cognitive terminology such as “classify,” “analyze,” “predict,” and “create.”
    • Build off and use student responses when making “on-the-spot” decisions about teacher behaviors, instructional strategies, activities, and content to be taught.
    • Search out students’ understanding and prior experiences about a concept before teaching it to them.
    • Encourage communication between the teacher and the students and also between the students.
    • Encourage student critical thinking and inquiry by asking them thoughtful, open-ended questions, and encourage them to ask questions to each other.
    • Ask follow up questions and seek elaboration after a student’s initial response.
    • Put students in situations that might challenge their previous conceptions and that will create contradictions that will encourage discussion.
    • Make sure to wait long enough after posing a question so that the students have time to think about their answers and be able to respond thoughtfully.
    • Provide enough time for students to construct their own meaning when learning something new.

     

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  2. Tips For Dealing With Challenging Behaviors

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    Children with challenging behaviors can be very difficult for the teacher and hard on the other children in the program. These ten tips will hopefully help in reducing some behaviors, keep the teachers from pulling their hair out and benefit the continuity between home and child care. Stay Calm when dealing... Comment
  3. Five Phases of Professional Development

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    The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory has developed a research-based professional development framework that promotes ongoing professional development and encourages individual reflection and group inquiry into teachers’ practice. In practice, the five phases overlap, repeat, and often occur simultaneously: Building a Knowledge Base.The purpose of this phase is to acquire... Comment
  4. Tips for Teachers

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    Rely on good researchPromote the adoption of reading instruction programs in your school that are based on sound research and that provide all children with explicit, systematic instruction in phonics and exposure to rich literature, both fiction and nonfiction. Push for good professional developmentInsist on high quality instructional strategies that... Comment
  5. Twenty Tips on Motivating Students

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    Few teachers would deny that motivated students are easier to teach, or that students who are interested in learning do, in fact, learn more. So how do teachers motivate their students? Here are some practiced, tried-and true strategies to get (and keep) your students interested in learning. Know your students’... Comment
  6. Be a Pro-Change Teacher

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    Many teachers (especially experienced ones) suffer from what I call “change phobia.” And if not carefully monitored, even new teachers can be inflicted with this the career-ending disease. What is “change phobia” you ask? It’s exactly what you may think it is; it’s an unhealthy fear of change. As teachers,... Comment
  7. Go for Your Teaching Goals

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      by Professor Joe Martin Here’s a question, “Do you know how advertisers get us to buy things?” Is it by creating a desire for it? Is it by creating fear of not having it? You’re right in both cases, but a more subtle way that seems to be more... Comment

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