In my readings on constructivism, email conversations with various psychologists, and discussions on this newsgroup, it seems that every time I think I am getting close to coming to grips with a constructivist classroom I find myself confronted with smoke and mirrors. If everyone is a constructivist, what distinguishes it from traditional practice? I am not speaking now of the _caricature_ of traditional practice, but traditional practice as done by teachers who are well-versed in their subject matter and who incorporate a variety of strategies and techniques in their teaching style. Let me expose some of my techniques and specify which I think are constructivist and which I think are not. This way we have a target to shoot at.
Constructivist Practices: ============================== Problem of the Week write-ups.
Quarterly Portfolio of written work with a page of self-assessment
student presentation at the board of their attempt to solve problems introducing new concepts
cooperative group work on non-routine solid geometry problems
continual emphasis on reasonableness of answers ====================================== Non-constructivist practices ======================================
students required to memorize 19 formulas over a year's time for mental math
students required to memorize the pythagorean theorem, vertical angle theorem, and the 180 theorem
continuous practice of mixed problem sets over the course of a quarter or semester
explicit teaching of concepts
use of mnemonics (SOHCAHTOA, PEMDAS)
70 percent of grade by examination each quarter, 30 percent quizzes (6 a quarter), 40 percent tests (3 a quarter).
feedback to students to help eliminate procedural bugs =============================================================================
So what do the constructivists in the audience think?