Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Constructionism in the Classroom

This week I explored generating and testing hypothesis within all content areas as it relates to constructionism.  Although many of the resources were geared towards older students than my kindergarteners I am able to find the value in the methodology.  Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn describe six tasks teachers should use to help students create and test hypotheses (2007). 

Here are the tasks along with examples of how I could use it in my classroom.

              System Analysis
Learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin
               Problem Solving
What would happen if a pumpkin fell in the water?
               Historical Investigation
Why do people carve pumpkins?
Create something to make a pumpkin sink
               Experimental Inquiry
Will the pumpkin sink or float?
               Decision Making
How will we know?

By creating this entire problem based unit on pumpkins students would be actively engaged in creating their own individual meaning (constructivism) about pumpkins in a meaningful way.  I would extend this project to a constructionist approach by allowing students to create digital stories to share their findings.  The focus of constructionism is an actively engaged learner creating an artifact representing their learning (Laureate Education, 2011). 

To find out more about constructivism watch this video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGcXj5Kma6E&feature=related

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with       classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. I love how you applied the constructist approach to your classroom and made a table showing some examples that you would use in your classroom to incorporate this approach to student learning. I think takingthe constructivist approach does a tremendous amount to helping students take ownership of their learning and it really gets them involved and interested in their education. I also thought the video you incorporated was a cute video although I think that the makers of the video should have shown a little more with the elementary example that was presented because the only thing that was shown was a role play of a student looking at shapes. There was no indication that there was any group work or communication with other students that would take place, and the same goes for the middle school civics lesson. However, with the high school group they mentioned the use of technology with facebook and blogs to communicate with other individuals. Good post though and great connection to inserting the video. I love your cute background as well! :-)

  2. Leanor, Thanks! I also would have liked more examples within the elementary setting. At times, I have difficulty doing group work with kindergarteners. I'm trying to get better at it. The management of students is very challenging as they have trouble staying on task. I'm assuming this video was made by students in a college course. Cute though!

  3. I agree Melissa. The video was probably made by students in a college course. I think that management is a big reason teachers don't allow more group work and projects in the classroom. I think realizing that a little control will be lost is hard for teachers becasue we want to keep the students in control. Giving them the opportunity to work in groups and projects more causes much more conversation and a louder classroom atmosphere as well as a lot more movement. For me personally, I have a hard time sometimes dealing with that environment. I just feel more comfortable feeling like I have more control. However, I am getting better at it and I think the longer you teach the more comfortable you will get with it as long as you incorporate it a little at a time. I do think that in the long run students benefit more from this approach though.

  4. Melissa,
    I teach in the primary grades, too, and, although I enjoy the course textbook, I am having a hard time envisioning how some of these strategies would work with my young students. The chart you provided is excellent! I am going to create something similar and attempt to plan a project-based unit for our upcoming animals science unit.

    Great post!