What do you remember learning during your K – 12 experience? You might cringe a bit as nostalgic memories come to mind….. Now think about what you learned academically during that same time period. If you’re like me, most of what is remembered is attached to some type of positive (hopefully) engaging learning experience. Those memories have stood the test of time for some reason. Educators understand that teaching is a process of making personal meaning. Those “personal meaning” experiences were most likely created by teachers who planned interactive lessons that engaged students.
I may be in familiar company, but I assume some learning experiences have left my memory banks altogether. Here’s a brief list of what I remember:
- Working in groups with other students – collaborate group assignments
- Interactive projects that were presented in class
- Concepts learned in school were tied to school / community based projects
- Using technology in some form to create projects
- Using games to learn
Even though it’s been many years since my K-12 experience, surprisingly, I still remember the concepts associated with the instruction. From what I remember, most of what I enjoyed (or decided to actively learn) during my K – 12 education was generated by teachers who utilized some version of Constructivist teaching theory. Constructivist teaching has been in the news recently, specifically in education circles. In fact, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has been quoted to have an opinion regarding Constructivism in the classroom. You can find his opinion in the second paragraph of this article. Despite recent media coverage, Constructivism is still valued by educators and is utilized in many classrooms around the world. Not one tool, even Kahn Academy, will improve the education system overnight. I think most educators would agree that how the curriculum is communicated is one factor, among many, that impacts student learning. If utilized correctly, Constructivist teaching strategies can be a terrific tool, enabling teachers to developing engaging lessons that improve student learning.
Additional Resources on Constructivism can be found below.