Reading about behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism can put a person to sleep, who doesn’t enjoy reading articles about learning theories. I guess I fall into that category. I did however learn through this article, which camp I live in. After 20 years of teaching, I could most relate to the theory of constructivism as described in the excerpt below.
Constructivism assumes that learners are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Instead, learners are actively attempting to create meaning. Learners often select and pursue their own learning. Constructivist principles acknowledge that real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms which emulate the “fuzziness” of this learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning.
via elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. by George Siemens
I don’t like teaching in chaos or “fuzziness” but I often do allow my students to “select and pursue their own learning” to help them to prepare for a life-long learning. I think so little of what we [teachers] say in the classroom makes a difference. What students remember the most are those who “inspired” them to pursue their own paths and taught them how to know where to look for information when they need it.
Landauer and Dumais (1997) explore the phenomenon that “people have much more knowledge than appears to be present in the information to which they have been exposed”.
This quote made me think of a website that I recently visted and then I watched a demonstration of a classroom teacher, teaching her students how to read for understanding by making connections from prior knowledge of self, others, and other literature. The website was to Into the book, http://reading.ecb.org/teacher/strategies.html. The teacher read a paragraph from an article or book and then asked students if they could make any connections in the following three ways: 1) text to text 2) text to self 3) text to world. She would then read some more, and then stop again to allow students to make connections in their discussion time as a group. Using this method of making connections, the students were then assigned to read something and to write in their own journals the connections that they made while they were reading the information. This could also be applied to student blog pages, so that other students could read and share each others comments and experiences, to build more connections.
Into the Book/ Making Connections as seen on YouTube
I agree that we all have a lot more knowledge than we realize because we can pull from not only our own experiences, but also from the experiences of others, and from the things that we have read. This reading strategy is an excellent example of how elementary teachers today can implement the “design of the learning environment” from Connectivism theory.