As a teacher for the secondary stage, I believe that using constructivism approach is the best one in teaching despite that mostly I use mixed approaches as cognitivism and behaviourism which depend on the nature of the lesson and the kind of activities suit to its content.
Constructivism is a learning theory or educational philosophy that many educators began to consider in the 1990s. One of the primary tenets of this philosophy is that learners construct their own meaning from new information, as they interact with reality or others with different perspectives.
Constructivist learning environments require students to utilize their prior knowledge and experiences to formulate new, related, and/or adaptive concepts in learning. Under this framework the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator, providing guidance so that learners can construct their own knowledge. Constructivist educators must make sure that the prior learning experiences are appropriate and related to the concepts being taught. (http://en.wikipedia.org )
I like and agree strongly with Jonassen (1994) proposal that there are eight characteristics that differentiate constructivist-learning environments, I really try to apply them into my classroom:
1. Constructivist learning environments provide multiple representations of reality.
2. Multiple representations avoid oversimplification and represent the complexity of the real world.
3. Constructivist learning environments emphasize knowledge construction inserted of knowledge reproduction.
4. Constructivist learning environments emphasize authentic tasks in a meaningful context rather than abstract instruction out of context.
5. Constructivist learning environments provide learning environments such as real-world settings or case-based learning instead of predetermined sequences of instruction.
6. Constructivist learning environments encourage thoughtful reflection on experience.
7. Constructivist learning environments" enable context- and content- dependent knowledge construction."
8. Constructivist learning environments support "collaborative construction of knowledge through social negotiation, not competition among learners for recognition."
Jonassen's eight characteristics would be supported by both social and cognitive constructivists. There is, however, a difference in the emphasis these two strands on constructivism place on each of those characteristics. (http://viking.coe.uh.edu/~ichen/ebook/et-it/constr.htm)
How do I apply constructivism in my classroom?
Principle 1. To pose problems that are or will be relevant to the students.
Principle 2. To structure learning around essential concepts.
Principle 3. To be aware that students' points of view are windows into their reasoning.
Principle 4. To adapt curriculum to address students' suppositions and development.
Principle 5. To assess student learning in the context of teaching. (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/exploration.html)
THE TECHNO-CONSTRUCTIVIST IN ACTION
In the ongoing dialogue on public education, teachers have no greater tool of empowerment and efficacy than technology used constructively with students.
Techno-constructivists are as many and as varied as the assortment of whole language teachers or effective school models we have seen over the last 20 years. But here are wonderful examples of the kinds of activities techno-constructivists undertake in their classrooms:
They create collaborative online projects that involve students in long-term problem-solving and product-generating tasks that utilize Internet resources and a variety of digital communications.
They implement lesson formats that are conducive to the utilization of both technology and constructivist methodologies, such as the Web quest, which has taken off in popularity among teachers. (See The Webquest Page or WebQuest.org for endless materials.)
They take students on virtual field trips around the universe, through human body systems, within animal colonies, back in time -- all by simply using their Internet connection and a projector.
They provide virtual simulations of real-life experiences that can be easily integrated across the curriculum.
They promote information literacy through online activities that require research and evaluation of digital information.
More than anything else, techno-constructivists willing allow their students to completely immerse themselves in the affordances of technology. They allow their students to see the connections they can make using electronic mail, Web sites, multi-user environments, databases, spreadsheets, publishers, word processors, and more, and they support them and help them successfully complete their tasks. (http://www.educationworld.com)
Technology in My Constructive Classroom
There are various types of technologies currently used in my classrooms. Among these are:
Computer in the classroom: Having a computer in the classroom is an asset to any teacher. With a computer in the classroom, teachers are able to demonstrate a new lesson, present new material, illustrate how to use new programs, and show new websites. I sometimes use CALL in my classroom despite the fact the we donââ‚¬â„¢t have a well prepared language laboratory at my school. I prepared my own myself by a laptop, speakers, internet connection, and overhead projector.
Class blogs and wikis: There are a variety of Web 2.0 tools that are currently being implemented in the classroom. Blogs allow for students to maintain a running dialogue, such as a journal, thoughts, ideas, and assignments that also provide for student comment and reflection. Wikis are more group focused to allow multiple members of the group to edit a single document and create a truly collaborative and carefully edited finished product. I have my own BlogSpot to contact my students at anytime. There is specific checking time for their new assignments and uploaded files.
Wireless classroom microphones: Noisy classrooms are a daily occurrence, and with the help of microphones, students are able to hear their teachers more clearly. Students learn better when they hear the teacher clearly. It helps me to no longer lose my voice at the end of the day.
Wireless Internet Network:
I have my own internet network to accesses into some websites, having online tests or worksheets, using dictionary online, Google, search engine and different kinds of multimedia.
Mobile devices: Mobile devices such as clickers or smartphone & ipads or Galaxy Tab can be used to enhance the experience by providing the possibility for me to get feedback & also to contact students in urgent cases. I have my own class chatting group to announce and send important head news of the course as checking the blog for new uploads or duties. Also, I check the attendance list by using my iphone by using special App application for teachers. I use the i-notes to record the most important ideas of the course and students.
Interactive Whiteboards: An interactive whiteboard that provides touch control of computer applications. These enhance the experience in the classroom by showing anything that can be on a computer screen. This not only aids in visual learning, but it is interactive so the students can draw, write, or manipulate images on the interactive whiteboard. We have 2 interactive whiteboards at my school so we move to those classes when needed them.
Digital video-on-demand: Replacement of hard copy videos (DVD, VHS) with digital video, which eliminates the need for in-classroom hardware (players) and allows teachers and students to access video clips immediately by not utilizing the public Internet.
Online media: Streamed video websites can be utilized to enhance a classroom lesson (e.g. United Streaming, Teacher Tube, YouTubeââ‚¬Â¦..etc.)
Online study tools: Tools that motivate studying by making studying more fun or individualized for the student (e.g. Study Cocoa).
Digital Games: The field of educational games and serious games has been growing significantly over the last few years. The digital games are being provided as tools for the classroom and have a lot of positive feedback including higher motivation for students.
E-drills & exercises:
I have my students practise e-drills & exercises by using special software as Macromedia Flash & PowerPoint presentation and others.
I mostly use online tests beside paper based tests by accessing into www.easytestmaker.com . Also, I let my students practise online worksheets in the class and at home.
Social Communicative Groups:
I have my own chatting and discussing group as Facebook, Twitter & WhatsApp with my students. We discuss the difficulties, projects, and homework and class activities. We have specific chatting discussion hour to communicate with each other.
I have my class email to exchange emails & e-homework with my students. I also contact their parents and send their reports by email.
Digital Camera Documentation:
I usually ask my students to take photos and videos of events and things related to our lessons and present them in the class. It is very nice to show the classmates our own experiences, places we visit and so on.
i-books & e-books:
We use ebooks and ibooks in the lessons instead of using the actual paper book and all students have their own copies of those books & e-notebooks.