Monthly Archives: May 2010

Constructivisim in practice

Seymour Papert says’ constructivism puts the students in a position where they will use their learning’ (edutopia, 2010). I totally agree on that. Students when engaged to constructivist projects, they are energised, focused and challenged. And this leads them to understand the subject matter better.

I remember the day that I was so frustrated working on my technical drawing project in college. My professor showed us how to draw the cross section of a house. I asked a couple of questions, tried to get it from my peers, nothing worked. I went back to my dorm room and buried my head in books, still nothing. I gave my family a call that night complaining about how difficult it was that day. My dad who was an architect told me to go t the supermarket and buy a slab of cheese and experiment the concept by cutting it into different sizes and shapes and record my findings. Then he said when I felt ready draw the cross-sections. You know what? It worked so well, I had A for all my drawings that semester.

And knowing this in first hand that freely experimenting and constructing knowledge leads us to effective learning, I encourage my students to do so. The projects that I lead are all based on inquiry based and they support constructivism. After playing in the nearby pond, all students get the idea of a tadpole. Catching a tadpole and keeping it in the classroom and observing it everyday, they construct their learning on our current unit of inquiry ‘cycles’. They can tell you about their hypothesis and through their observations they have their conclusions and this leads to them learning effectively. When you ask these students 20 years later, they will remember the day they spent by the pond and how they took it back to school, named it and it turned out to be a frog.

Resources:
Edutopia, 2010. retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-overview on May 27,2010.

Cognitivism in Practice

I am cognitive. We are all cognitive.
This week as a part of my masters course, I am experiencing cognitive learning styles. In this post I will use some of the techniques that I practiced this week. I will start with note taking.
Note taking: I have been taking notes since ever. I thought about the first time I took notes. Who taught me how to take notes? Did I have to study about this? I spent nearly 20 minutes or so to figure out how I learned this skill. and I found it! I learned how to take notes from my mother’s shopping list. Every time we were to leave for the supermarket, she had this list of notes with her. On the notes it said dry cleaning elif (my winter coat), bank payment (all the bills of our house plus me and my sisters’ ballet classes fees, etc. I recall my teenage years sitting alone in my room with a locked door and a ‘go away’ sign on my door knob, writing down on a piece of paper the question’ Who am I?’ and ‘Where am I going to?’. if you don’t believe me I will find the diaries in July and send you pics of them. They will be Turkish but I do not think you care. In high school I had to take notes on my dad’s speech about me living abroad and my mom saying ‘ if you want to travel so much, go study in another city’. I used both notes, went to another to study in university and long after graduation, {it was not that easy) I stated living abroad. To summarize all the notes I took in my early years of life effected my experiences and led me learning a million things and these teachings stayed with me for a long time.
Ohh what was I saying… Himm virtual field trips… I love the idea and kids love the idea,too. What a neat experience, is not it? Going and visiting other places and having experiences in the comfort of your classroom. No doubts about losing a student in the zoo or catching cold on a rainy day. Just joking… But again I think all we need to keep in mind is that technological tools are just tools that alllow us to have neat experiences and enhance our students’ and our learning.

P.S. I used a website called the spinscape for creating a mindmap. I really liked its features. I got upset when they limited my access after a week’s trial period. I would have made my map artsy but the features were closed, luck!!!

You can find my map here: http://www.spinscape.com/app/spinscape.jsf?map=28721

Reinforcing Student Learning

Our resource book gives us some examples of using Microsoft Excel for reinforcing student effort (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007). In early years I do not support the usage of technology in terms of computers and software to be the tools of reinforcement. I think it is very artificial and it does not support an effective learning strategy. I strongly support the idea of learning through play. And I think computer games and software are better tools to make learning happen. They are fun, attractive and easy to integrate units and most of all great reminders. As an example, a couple of weeks ago as a part of our unit of inquiry ‘ From field to table’, I introduced my students some cooking games. Now if you ask them, they know how to make a delicious sandwich and they know how to make cheese just by playing a couple of games.

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