my Voki

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Will the Zone of Proximal Distance assist you as a teacher?

The presentation done on Lev Vygotsky by my classmate in our Child Development and Learning Theories class was very informative and helped me.  I have a better understanding of his theory regarding Social Development Theory - Zone of Proximal Development.  I understand better how the theory includes six assumptions and that interaction influences cognitive development in children.  The six assumptions are as follows:
1. Informal / Formal conversation
2, Language / Thinking
3, Complex mental processes begin as social activities
4, Perform more challenging tasks actual development-upper limit- level of potential / proximal development
5. Challenging of max tasks promotes cognitive growth - Zone of Proximal Development
6. Play - stretch themselves cognitively



As a future teacher in childhood education it is essential that I have the understanding of how this theory relates to my students.  Having this information presented during class was very helpful in providing me meaningful understanding on how this will be used with my future students.

An article that connected this theory and how it will relate to my students in the classroom is below:

Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding

Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding
The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is the best known Vygotskian concept. To successfully apply it in a classroom, it is important to know not only where a child is functioning now and where that child will be tomorrow, but also how best to assist that child in mastering more advanced skills and concepts. This is where scaffolding comes in. Although not used by Vygotsky himself, the concept of scaffolding helps us understand how aiming instruction within a child’s ZPD can promote the child’s learning and development.
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) describes the area between a child’s level of independent performance (what he/she can do alone) and the child’s level of assisted performance (what he/she can do with support). Skills and understandings contained within a child’s ZPD are the ones that have not yet emerged but could emerge if the child engaged in interactions with knowledgeable others (peers and adults) or in other supportive contexts (such as make-believe play for preschool children). According to Vygotsky, the most effective instruction is the kind that is aimed not at the child’s level of independent performance but is instead aimed within the ZPD. This instruction does more than increase a child’s repertoire of skills and understandings; it actually produces gains in child development.
To aim instruction at the child’s ZPD, the teacher needs to know not only what the child’s developmental level is at the time, but also what skills and concepts will develop next. To know these, the teacher needs to understand the developmental trajectories for these skills and concepts. Successful instruction within the child’s ZPD also involves making sure that the child will be eventually able to function independently at the same high level at which he or she was previously able to function with adult assistance. Once this is accomplished, the teacher can start aiming instruction at the new ZPD.
Even when children have developed new skills and competencies sufficient to perform a task with adult assistance, it may not mean that tomorrow they will be ready to perform the task independently. For most children, the transition from assisted to independent learning is a gradual process that involves moving from using a great deal of assistance to slowly taking over until eventually no assistance is needed. To facilitate this transition, a teacher needs to scaffold student learning by first designing and then following a plan for providing and withdrawing appropriate amounts of assistance at appropriate times.
In the Vygotskian approach, instructional strategies used to scaffold include (but are not limited to) hints, prompts, and cues given and later removed by the teacher. Scaffolding can also involve orchestrating social contexts known to support children’s learning, such as make-believe play or specifically designed group activities. Scaffolding may also involve introducing children to special tools (such as an alphabet chart) and behaviors (such as private speech or self-talk) that children can use to self-assist while mastering a new skill or concept.

Understanding how Ecological Systems Theory can impact the classroom

The presentation done on Urie Bronfenbrenner by a classmate in our Child Development and Learning Theories class helped me understand his theory of The Ecological Systems Theory.  Having a better of this theory and how it relates to the development of children will be helpful to me as a future educator of children.  The Ecological System Theory is divided into five stages. The first stage is known as the Microsystem.  This stage includes activities and social roles.  The next stage is the Mesosystem.  This stage involves relations that interact between the microsystem.  The third stage is known as Exosystem.  In this stage it involves the relationship that exists between two or more settings of the previous two stages.  The fourth stage is known as the Macrosystem.  This stage includes the characteristics of culture, larger society.  The fifth stage is known as the Chronosystem.  This stage includes changes of self and environment.  Bronfenbrenner is a co-founder of a school readiness program that is a federal program called Head Start.  Gaining this important understanding of his theory and how it relates to children will make me more prepared as I become a teacher.  

An interesting article that helped me relate how a teacher incorporates this theory in a classroom is below:
link for the full article: Classroom Environment

Implications and Considerations

Classroom environment is a broad term and the research in this area is far reaching and defined in many different ways according to theory as well as practice. Regardless of the definition, there are many important findings from the research as a whole that can impact students' learning and behavior. This is also an area of continued growth in research as changes in technology and social culture alter the dynamics of what is considered classroom environment.
One of these areas to consider is the environment beyond the classroom. There has been debate on the impact of school-wide environment on classroom environment. With an increased importance placed on school-wide performance in order to demonstrate school success in terms of annual academic progress of students, there is undoubtedly pressure on teachers to produce high scores on standardized state exams. This school-wide demand filters to the classroom and is communicated in various ways to students, directly impacting their experiences in the classroom. There is ongoing research to examine the implications of the high-stakes testing for the psychosocial dimension of the classroom as well as how this approach has influenced instructional strategies used by teachers in classrooms.
Furthermore, the definition of classroom environment continues to evolve with the development of online courses and increased use of technology in learning situations. Classrooms are now networked, expanding the environment beyond physical walls, enabling students to interact via email, video conferencing, and blogs. The addition of technology to the classroom has changed the environment, and research is only beginning to consider these new aspects and their impacts on classroom outcomes.
Information gained from ongoing studies of classroom environment continues to impact teachers' knowledge. Learning about factors that may shape students' perceptions of their learning environment, how teachers' actions appear to students, and how changes made to the learning environment may stimulate and encourage learning continue to be of the utmost importance to classroom teachers.

Is there a place for Constructivism in the classroom?

The presentation done on Jerome Bruner by a classmate in a Child Development and Learning Theories course offered me an understanding of his influence on Cognitive and Emotional Psychology and Constructivism.  Bruner's theory of Learning in Education is associated with the term scaffolding.  His theory stated that the mind is active, constructive, and participative.  Constructivism has a beginning stage and develops into mastery by first using representation.  Representation includes enactive which is actively involved; Iconic which is recognize objects; symbolic.  Spiral Curriculum that all a development.  Discovery learning which offers an arrangement of activities to explore; learn by doing.  All people have a predispositioned to learn; learning can happen at any age.  There is a structure of knowledge that allows categorization.  That there is effective sequencing that happens.  Lastly that there needs to be reinforcement to learn.     

An article that furthered my understanding on how to relate Constructivism in the classroom is below:

What is constructivism?
Constructivism is basically a theory -- based on observation and scientific study -- about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know.

In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure she understands the students' preexisting conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and then build on them.

Constructivist teachers encourage students to constantly assess how the activity is helping them gain understanding. By questioning themselves and their strategies, students in the constructivist classroom ideally become "expert learners." This gives them ever-broadening tools to keep learning. With a well-planned classroom environment, the students learn HOW TO LEARN.
You might look at it as a spiral. When they continuously reflect on their experiences, students find their ideas gaining in complexity and power, and they develop increasingly strong abilities to integrate new information. One of the teacher's main roles becomes to encourage this learning and reflection process.

For example: Groups of students in a science class are discussing a problem in physics. Though the teacher knows the "answer" to the problem, she focuses on helping students restate their questions in useful ways. She prompts each student to reflect on and examine his or her current knowledge. When one of the students comes up with the relevant concept, the teacher seizes upon it, and indicates to the group that this might be a fruitful avenue for them to explore. They design and perform relevant experiments. Afterward, the students and teacher talk about what they have learned, and how their observations and experiments helped (or did not help) them to better understand the concept.

Contrary to criticisms by some (conservative/traditional) educators, constructivism does not dismiss the active role of the teacher or the value of expert knowledge. Constructivism modifies that role, so that teachers help students to construct knowledge rather than to reproduce a series of facts. The constructivist teacher provides tools such as problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities with which students formulate and test their ideas, draw conclusions and inferences, and pool and convey their knowledge in a collaborative learning environment. Constructivism transforms the student from a passive recipient of information to an active participant in the learning process. Always guided by the teacher, students construct their knowledge actively rather than just mechanically ingesting knowledge from the teacher or the textbook.

Constructivism is also often misconstrued as a learning theory that compels students to "reinvent the wheel." In fact, constructivism taps into and triggers the student's innate curiosity about the world and how things work. Students do not reinvent the wheel but, rather, attempt to understand how it turns, how it functions. They become engaged by applying their existing knowledge and real-world experience, learning to hypothesize, testing their theories, and ultimately drawing conclusions from their findings.

The best way for you to really understand what constructivism is and what it means in your classroom is by seeing examples of it at work, speaking with others about it, and trying it yourself. As you progress through each segment of this workshop, keep in mind questions or ideas to share with your colleagues.


Bruner - Learning Theory in Education | Simply Psychology

Is there a place for Montessori Theory of Education in every classroom?

The presentation that a classmate did in our Child Development and Learning Theories class on Maria Montessori provided me information about the Montessori Method of Education.  This presentation discussed how Montessori did observational research on how children learn through exploration that they do naturally on their own.  She observed that the child’s interests create a learning environment for them to develop and grow naturally.  She felt that children need to be respected and held to the highest level.  Her observations found that there are four planes of education.  These planes are divided into the following age groups: zero to six, six to twelve, twelve to eighteen, and eighteen to twenty-four.  That a sensitive period exists that allows children to absorb numerous amount of information that they learn from.  The education method uses materials that are designed with correction of error to support children have proper learning outcomes.  


This method of learning is important for me to understand as a future teacher of children.  The use of manipulatives in the classroom will provide such corrective learning of error that Montessori’s theory of Method of Education represents.  

An article that suggests how to incorporate the Montessori Theory of Education into a classroom that I felt would be helpful as a teacher is below:
Learning Materials link for full article

Montessori Learning Materials

Montessori Educational Materials
You might see a 4-year-old boy forming words using 3-dimensional letters called “the movable alphabet.” A 2½ -year-old may be sitting by a teacher, ever-so-carefully pouring water from 1 tiny pitcher to another. Several children kneeling on the floor may be intently struggling over a puzzle map of South America.

Montessori Materials Are Appealingly Designed

Throughout the room, children will be sorting, stacking, and manipulating all sorts of beautiful objects made of a range of materials and textures. Many of these objects will be made of smooth polished wood. Others are made of enameled metal, wicker, and fabric. Also available to explore are items from nature, such as seashells and birds’ nests.
How can a preschool-aged child be trusted to handle fragile little items independently? Montessori teachers believe that children learn from their mistakes. If nothing ever breaks, children have no reason to learn carefulness. Children treasure their learning materials and enjoy learning to take care of them “all by myself.”
Montessori teachers make a point to handle Montessori materials slowly, respectfully, and carefully, as if they were made of gold. The children naturally sense something magical about these beautiful learning objects.
As children carry their learning materials carefully with 2 hands and do their very special “work” with them, they may feel like they are simply playing games with their friends—but they are actually learning in a brilliantly designed curriculum that takes them, 1 step at a time, and according to a predetermined sequence, through concepts of increasing complexity.

Ingenious Dressing Frame

Each learning material teaches just 1 skill or concept at a time. For example, we know that young children need to learn how to button buttons and tie bows. Dr. Montessori designed “dressing frames” for children to practice on.

The frame removes all distractions and simplifies the child’s task. The child sees a simple wooden frame with 2 flaps of fabric—1 with 5 buttonholes and 1 with 5 large buttons. His task is obvious. If he makes an error, his error is obvious.
Built-in “control of error” in many of the Montessori materials allows the child to determine if he has done the exercise correctly. A teacher never has to correct his work. He can try again, ask another child for help, or go to a teacher for suggestions if the work doesn’t look quite right.
Materials contain multiple levels of challenge and can be used repeatedly at different developmental levels. A special set of 10 blocks of graduated sizes called “the pink tower” may be used just for stacking; combined with “the brown stair” for comparison; or used with construction paper to trace, cut, and make a paper design. The pink tower, and many other Montessori materials, can also be used by older children to study perspective and measurement.
Montessori materials use real objects and actions to translate abstract ideas into concrete form. For example, the decimal system is basic to understanding math. Montessori materials represent the decimal system through enticing, pearl-sized golden beads.
Loose golden beads represent ones. Little wire rods hold sets of 10 golden beads—the 10-bar. Sets of 10 rods are wired together to make flats of 100 golden beads—the hundred square. Sets of 10 flats are wired together to make cubes of 1,000 golden beads—the thousand cube.
Montessori Educational MaterialsChildren have many activities exploring the workings of these quantities. They build a solid inner physical understanding of the decimal system that will stay with them throughout school and life.
Later, because materials contain multiple levels of challenge, the beads can be used to introduce geometry. The unit is a point; the 10-bar is a line; the hundred square a surface; the thousand cube, a solid.
Montessori learning materials are ingeniously designed to allow children to work independently with very little introduction or help. The students are empowered to come into the environment, choose their own work, use it appropriately, and put it away without help.

Include Multiple Intelligence in the classroom...

The presentation done by a classmate in a Child Development and Learning Theories class that discussed Howard Gardner was very beneficial for me.  As a future teacher understanding Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence is going to provide me with ways to reach each student that I will teach.  The Theory of Multiple Intelligence is divided into seven groups.  They are verbal / language, logical / mathematical, visual / spatial, bodily / kinetics, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential.  Those learners that are verbal / linguistic love to tell stories, are highly verbal, good at writing, enjoy reading and doing research.  Those learners that are logic / mathematical learn best doing math, orderly and structured activities.  Those learners that are visual / spatial learners do well with recalling information from pictures and doing puzzle mazes.  Those learners that are bodily / kinesthetic learners are coordinated during physical tasks and enjoy moving around.  Those learners that are musical enjoy singing and playing instruments.  Those learners that are intrapersonal do well with fairness and working independently.  Those learners that are interpersonal learners are good leaders, motivators, and acquiring friendships.  Those learners that are naturalist learners are observant of their surroundings and adjust and adapt well in different situations.  Understanding the seven groups of intelligence will help me as  teacher to understand how to present lesson so that I can reach each of my students so that they will gain the information that I am teaching them.

An interesting article that I found to help relate how to incorporate the Theory of Multiple Intelligence in the classroom can be found below:

How can MI be used to support students?

Supporting students both behaviorally and academically begins with meeting their needs. By developing lessons that draw on a variety of different intelligences, teachers can hope to better meet the needs of many more students than through one method alone. Think of this: If you were asked to do a task that was interesting and that you had confidence you could complete successfully, how might you approach it? What kind of attitude do you expect you’d have toward the task? You would probably feel pretty good about getting started and you most likely would be able to work until completion without incident. Now, think of being asked to do a task that you had little hope of completing, given your skills and talents. Would you approach it with the same enthusiasm? Would you be able to stick with the task without distraction? Most people would answer these questions, “probably not.” Think about how many students are faced with the second scenario on a daily basis. It must be very frustrating and is likely the cause of many of the behavior problems we see in schools.
We can illustrate the successful use of MI in the classroom by going back to “The Breakfast Club” characters. In the movie, the characters were asked to write an essay explaining who they think they are (Hughes, 1985). This task uses the strengths of verbal-linguistic intelligence and is something that Brian, “the brain,” is comfortable tackling. However, the other four students are not remotely interested in completing this assignment and the group spends the day off task, vandalizing school property and participating in several questionable behaviors. What if each student was to complete the assignment in a different way? Claire, “the princess,” would likely enjoy the essay if she could do a video essay of interviews with her fellow classmates. This activity would use her interpersonal intelligence, which has also allowed her to be successful in social clubs and popular with her peers. Andy, “the athlete,” might be able to express his sense of self by giving a demonstration of how he is able to defeat an opponent in wrestling. He could explain how he uses strategy and specific moves that he can perfect due to his bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to be the champion he is. Allison, “the basket case,” demonstrates visual-spatial intelligence, so she might feel more motivated to show who she thinks she is by producing a work of art. Finally, Bender, “the criminal,” also demonstrates verbal-linguistic intelligence and interpersonal intelligence, but he is a student who might need a bit more motivation to complete the task. His teacher might ask him to give a speech on who he thinks he is not, allowing him to use his verbal strength and also maintain his need to be different. These examples would likely spark greater interest in the students and might have kept them focused on the given task.
Of course, it is unrealistic to think that every teacher can individualize every lesson for every student. In a typical class, there will be several students who demonstrate strengths in each of the areas of intelligence, so allowing students to work in cooperative learning groups, either mixing different intelligence types or clustering them, depending on the assignments, may be a successful strategy for teachers. Another option might be to offer two to five choices of activities students can do to demonstrate their mastery of the content. This would allow teachers less time for preparation and grading assignments, but would still allow students to tackle their work using their natural skills. Finally, teachers can develop lessons that incorporate several different strategies, allowing students to gain some comfort with the work at different stages of the class activity. Most people have strengths in several different areas of intelligence, so they will be able to feel successful using a variety of strategies. While thinking about differentiating lessons in these ways may feel like additional work for teachers, the alternative may cause more work over time. By allowing students to successfully show what they know, teachers can avoid classroom disruption and minimize reteaching, creating a more productive classroom environment for all.

What resources are available to help with using MI in the classroom?

Because MI theory has gained so much support in the field of education (Almeida, et al., 2010; Koong & Wu, 2010; McCoog, 2010; Shearer, 2009; Shearer & Luzzo, 2009; Small Roseboro, 2010), there are many print and online resources designed to help teachers use MI in the classroom, such as the following:
This is just a small sampling of sites. For teachers who are interested in using MI in their classrooms, spending some time searching for lesson plans, MI inventories or quizzes, and other reading may be a good place to start. At the very least, finding ways to encourage students to use their natural intelligences will make lessons more productive, students more successful and the classroom a more positive environment for everyone.

Grasping Cognitive Development

The presentation that my classmate did on Jean Piaget offered a helpful summary on his contribution to child development regarding his theory of Cognitive Development.  It was explained how this theory expressed that development occurs in a gradual, orderly manner.  During the stages of development changes in the mental process become more complex.  That there are critical periods that happen and that if learning doesn’t happen during these critical periods that it never will.  As a future educator of childhood education this presentation was very helpful for me and allowed me to have a better understanding of cognitive development and it’s importance.    

An article that provided additional information about cognitive development and how it relates to the classroom that I found beneficial is below.

Classroom Interpreting

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development refers to the student’s understanding of concepts and the ability to think and reason. While language stimulates cognitive development, language sophistication influences cognitive abilities. The ability to interact with others while using language helps students develop cognitive skills. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing have the same capability for cognitive development as do students with normal hearing.
The educational interpreter plays a vital role in a student’s cognitive development. Most interpreters are able to use language to communicate concepts that are simple or often used. However, a skilled educational interpreter must not only understand the concept of cognitive development, he or she must also be able to handle the complex task of using language to communicate concepts that are new, abstract or difficult.

Core Standards

The following core standards were used by EIPA Diagnostic Center experts to develop EIPA Written test questions regarding cognitive development:


  • A Piagetian approach to cognitive development assumes that cognitive development is independent from language development.
  • Information enters the mind to stimulate cognitive development through perception of sound, visual information, speech, and touch.
  • Cultural background affects cognition by helping to define what we know, what is important, how we approach new tasks, how we interact.
  • Socialization is an important aspect of cognitive development.
  • Play has an important role in cognitive development.
  • Teacher’s questions can require different levels of abstraction in terms of cognitive skills.  Taxonomy:  Demonstration of knowledge; Comprehension; Application; Analysis; Synthesis; Evaluation.
  • Organizing a text spatially may help a student organize the text cognitively.
  • Cognitive organization helps students store and remember concepts.  Providing students with repetition allows them to see patterns, parallels, comparisons, and similarities, which all help them learn.
  • In terms of cognitive development, students learn when there is a conflict between what they think and new information that they receive. Often this causes the student to accommodate, or to modify a cognitive scheme, based on new information.
  • A cognitive scheme is a cognitive structure that organizes information, making sense of experience. Students develop schemes in many different domains: motor, language, thinking, social, etc.
  • Students interpret the world and experiences in terms of their cognitive schemes, which have been developed based on previous experiences.


  • Students often need support to learn new concepts in terms of contextualization, breaking down concepts, etc. Effective support can include practice, repetition, and experience which aide in generalizing a concept.
  • A student’s ability to repeat a concept does not mean the student understands it. Students can memorize language without understanding what it really means.  When a student can answer questions spontaneously about the concept, or can show that he understands, there is better evidence that the student has learned.
  • Understanding a concept and being able to talk about a concept are not the same. Being able to talk about a concept often helps a student understand it.


  • The goal of education is for students to acquire thinking skills, not to just memorize facts.
  • Students are like little scientists, trying to explore and figure out how the world works based on what they see, do, and hear.
  • Students learn a great deal from exploration, making mistakes, and self-correction.
  • Behavioral approaches to learning propose that positive behavior can be increased by the use of positive re-enforcers. Negative behavior can be decreased by the use of punishment or withdrawal of privileges. Strict behaviorism does not recognize the active cognitive construction on the part of the student.

Future classroom hopes and dreams

Video link

My future classroom, my teaching philosophy and some insight to how the theorist of Child Development and Learning Theories will influence me as a teacher

Is Constructivist practice happening in the classroom?

Field work # 10

Observe your FW classroom (or give examples from the previous visits) and determine what elements/principles of constructivist practice you would see.

Jot down your observations and reflect on the findings in your blogs.

A specific example of constructivist practice observed in the classroom during my fieldwork would be when I observed the students doing research on a project.  Each student was assigned a country to report on. They could gain information by any means that they had available to them.  Some decided to use the computer to find out information about a their assigned country.  While others used magazines and books.  Some focused on foods and clothing in their country.  Some decided to do a collage to report on their country while others  choose to do a paper sharing what they learned.  Allowing the students different ways to express their findings is an example of a constructivist practice.   

What helps you remember?

Field work # 9
Interview your teacher and students:
·         Ask both your teacher and students, what helps them remember the concepts, new material.
·         In what subject students quickly remember the material and why.  The teacher explained rereading the information and taking notes helps to grasp concepts of new material.  This method is good for history.  When attempting to learn new concepts with Math or Science it is best to do the activity or problems multiple times to gain an understanding of the concepts.   When I asked the students that what methods they used some suggested that making flashcards to learn new vocabulary words helped them.  They agreed that when trying to learn new math concepts that it helps to do many different examples to gain an understanding of the concepts.    
·         What they would advise you as a beginning teacher to learn to do to help them remember the information better.  They suggested showing different ways of doing the same thing would probably be a good way to help them learn concepts.

Compare the answers of the students with those of the teacher. Provide your insights in the blog and be ready to share in class.  Both the teacher and students are using a variety of techniques to learn new concepts.  Some overlap one another while others did not.  Having different methods and way of learning the concepts seemed to be a theme since that was a suggestion on how to teach the information so that it could be learned in general.

Is there a place for bribing in classrooms?

Field work # 8
Imagine yourself being interviewed for a teaching position. During your job interview, the principal asks, "A teacher last year got in trouble for bribing students with homework exemptions to get them to behave in class. What do you think about using rewards and punishments in teaching. What will you say?"
Think over the question and share your insights in your blog. Support your answer with behavioral theory principles and arguments.

I would explain that I completely agree that there is no place in education for bribing.  That I do agree with 

using rewards and punishment in the classroom.  There is research based evidence that supports B.F. 

Skinner theory on Operant Conditioning.  When used correctly this theory offers a teacher many positive 

and negative reinforcers, punishment and extinction methods to motivate and control the students behaviors 

in the classroom.  There is significant distinction between bribing students and offering them a reward or 

punishment and I understand the difference completely.