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Teaching Strategies

Chapter 8 (Student-Centered and Constructivist Approaches to Instruction)
  1. Purpose of Activity: to review constructive learning theory and examine the effects High Stakes Testing on its implementation. (You might want to use this activity at the conclusion of the chapter).

  2. Key Concepts:
    • Constructivism in the classroom
      • Student autonomy and initiative are encouraged
      • Co-operative Learning
      • Utilizing divergent questions
      • Thinking skills taught and used during learning
      • Inquiry Learning
    • Teaching for a high stakes test can affect learning

  3. Begin with this quote:
    • Slavin (2002) believes "that the task of education is not to pour information into our students' heads, but to engage students' minds with powerful and useful concepts" (p.257).
    • Give your class 5 minutes to react to this. Use these two prompts:
      • What do you think Slavin means by this statement.
      • What learning theory do you think he might support based on this statement? Explain.
    • Then have your class "pair-up" with a neighbor and discuss their answers. Call on several pairs to report their answers.

  4. Next, put this graphic organizer where it is easily visible.
    • Brainstorm, using the Before Chart, by asking your students "What is Constructivism?" Have a student share the pen/marker.
    • Next, give your class 15 minutes to re-read pp. 257-264, and 287 of the course text. I suggest you use a technique called Snowballing. The technique is as follows:
      • Group your students in pairs and they work together for 10 minutes.
      • After 10 minutes, have this small group join another pair to form a group of four and continue their work.
      • After 5 minutes, have each group of four join another group of four to produce and group of eight and finish their work.
      • Then have the groups of eight report their findings.
      • You can record the information in another color on the After Chart.
      • Discuss what has been added about constructivism to the After Chart.
    • The grouping looks like this in Snowballing:


  5. Now present this teacher's reflection about high stakes testing:
    • I have been a teacher for 15 years. I know how to teach and like using instructional techniques that build on the needs of my children. I believe that learning should be fun and that I need to build on my children's interests.
    • Now with the amount of testing in the fourth grade, I feel I have limited time to explore topics in depth. Most of the time in the last 6 weeks was just filling in bubbles on test preparation sheets. My class is no longer buzzing with excitement. We now just completing activities that are related to test preparation. I miss the teaching where children discuss and react to interesting topics.

  6. Have your students identify why this teacher is upset. Then tell your students that this type of test preparation occurs in many schools and teachers find that it impacts on their instruction. Please consult these sites for background information:

  7. Revisit your AFTER CHART (See Below), give your students two minutes to jot down the effects of high stakes testing on the constructivist approach to teaching.

  8. Record their answers (you might want to use this format which builds on the charts above). Discuss.

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