Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Do I Teach?

I can't remember the exact time when I became a constructivist teacher. I think it just happened as I began to realize the importance of the learner being intellectually involved in her/his own construction of meaning. It probably started when I was teaching my fourth grade students all those years ago at Sefton Park Junior School in England. Over the years I have found that, regardless of age, the individual learner has to be involved in the learning process.

I can teach but my students do the learning. As a teacher, my task is to structure the learning experiences so that all the students in my courses have the opportunity to construct meaningful connections between what they already know and the new meanings they are creating. Sometimes this means modifying what you already know and understand and sometimes it means just extending one's existing ideas.

I also believe, and I have come to this realization more recently, that my students must have a voice in their learning. In all my classes, both graduate and undergraduate, an important part of the learning process is for students to be able to talk about what they have prepared for class. Each student's interpretation of the reading, the eCollege activity, or their public school classroom experience provides a different but important perspective on the topic of the class. Being able to acknowledge and accommodate these different perspectives is a valuable learning experience on so many levels.

The picture is byPhoebe Green, a student in my Teaching Math and Science class last year who managed to cultivate several vegetables including this bean from the 15 Bean Soup beans we planted during one of the science classes. This is a great activity to teach 4th grade students.

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