Saturday, September 1, 2007

Constructing learning experiences that push students into new levels of learning

I have a couple of things that I have been thinking about off and on for the past week that I wanted to get out, reflect on and maybe get some feedback

I am a constructivist...duh...I don't think it would be possible to expect students to use technology on all levels and stagesof learning and not be a constructivist! I believe learning is a process. I love my students to do projects as a learning tool and I like those to be meaningful to them. The problem I am running into is that student have forgotten how to be creative by the time I get them. So, I ask them to do a project and leave it pretty open and they just sit there....and complain that they want to know what it will look like. So I kept a few student examples of projects that my students did last year to show these students but, I threw them away!

In my experience working as a "camp counselor" at the Rec. Center I have found that when we did crafts the teens would look at my example and copy it! I don't see anything fun in that. Yeah they had fun doing it, but they lacked the spark and excitement of coming up with something that was truly theirs. So, I began only giving them general instructions and materials. The end results were way better than any example I could have given them. I've transfered this idea into my class projects and they don't like it! They want to know what the time line or poster or powepoint should look like. I always tell them "what ever works for you, what will help you learn this better?"

They hate it! But I believe that real learning comes from creating something that is important and meaningful to the matter what shape the teacher likes a time line to be.
However in the future I plan to do the following to make the transition into creativity easier for my students:

1. Be very clear about the learning result I expect at the end
2. Be very clear about the time they have available to them
3. Spend a day at the beginning of the semester making sure all students are aware of their learning and personality style so they can fit these projects closer to them

This article
from The Journal discuss the inherent need for education to move to constructivism with the advent and prevalent use of technology EVERYWHERE. It discusses the use of technology in language learning classroom. I find it easier to learn a language when I converse in it, not just working in a workbook and writing phrases that are outdated an no one will see? What about having our students write for real purposes, in real language---then would we increase their proficiency? I guess I'll see at the end of this year after my students have spent the semester blogging about their learning experiences. They are pretty rough now, but they are taking them seriously.

1 comment:

Stewart said...

I've often thought of this "lack of willingness to be creative" as the passive vs. active learner. Math gets abstract in high school and you can't reguritate steps that a teacher gave notes on. You have to think critically for each problem and know what to do in what order. They just stare at me. Or the ones who want to get a good grade complain and get frustrated. I see this very clearly as the passive vs. active learning styles. Have they always been passive and we are asking them to make a leap that they aren't aware of? If so, how do we really get them to understand the difference of passive vs. active learner? Are their ways to build up to it? I have never taken an educational pysch. class, so I'm curious what others have to say.