As much as is possible, the philosophy of learning in room 15 follows the tenets of constructivism. In general, constructivism's central idea is that human learning is constructed, that learners construct new understandings using what they already know. Learners come to learning situations with knowledge gained from previous experience, and that prior knowledge influences what new or modified knowledge they will construct from new learning experiences.


Learning is active as opposed to passive. Students learn by doing instead of observing. Passive education is extremely inefficient, for it fails to engage the student within a given subject. In constructivist environments, learners confront their understanding in light of what they encounter in new learning situations. If what learners encounter is inconsistent with their current understanding, their understanding can change to accommodate new experiences. Learners remain active throughout this process: they apply current understandings, note relevant elements in new learning experiences, judge the consistency of prior and emerging knowledge, and based on that judgment, they can modify knowledge.


The role of a constructivist teacher is to be a guide for the learning process. The teacher provides students with opportunities to test their current understandings and build upon those understandings. Constructivist approach to learning emphasizes authentic, challenging projects. The teacher's role is not that of an expert, but instead one of a facilitator. Teachers also encourage and design experiences to utilize group interaction. The interplay between participants in a learning experience help students become explicit about their own understanding by comparing it to that of their peers. Conceptual growth comes from the sharing of various perspectives and the simultaneous changing of our internal representations in response to those perspectives as well as through cumulative experience. All of this takes a good amount of time.


Some of the basic tenets behind constructivism are:


Constructivist learning environments provide multiple representations of reality.


Multiple representations avoid oversimplification and represent the complexity of the real world.


Constructivist learning environments emphasize knowledge construction instead of knowledge reproduction.


Constructivist learning environments emphasize authentic tasks in a meaningful context rather than abstract instruction out of context.


Constructivist learning environments encourage thoughtful reflection on experience.


Constructivist learning environments support "collaborative construction of knowledge through social negotiation, not competition among learners for recognition."


Room 15's classroom environment takes into account the following concepts in order to successfully implement constructivist activities:


There is encouragement and acceptance of student autonomy and initiative.


Terminology such as "classify", "analyze", and "create" is used by the teacher.


There is an allowance of student responses to drive lessons, shift instructional strategies, and alter content.


Students are encouraged to engage in dialogue, both with the teacher and with one another.


Encouragement of student inquiry exists by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask questions of each other.


There is a pursuit of elaboration of students' initial responses.


Students are engaged in experiences that might engender contradictions to their initial hypotheses and then encourage discussion.


Wait time is allowed after posing questions.


Time is provided for students to construct relationships and create metaphors.


Students' natural curiosity is used as a prime motivating factor.


In constructivism, guided instruction is implemented that puts students at the center of the learning process, and provides guidance and concrete teaching whenever necessary. If one wants to learn how to ride a bike, s/he doesn't pick a book on bicycle theory - s/he gets on the bike and practices it until it is right. That is the root behind constructivism.



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