---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 15:41:35 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Multiple recipients of list <email@example.com> Subject: constructivism in methods courses
My name is Dan Hirschhorn, and I am starting tomorrow to teach a secondary methods course for the first time in a few years at Illinois State University. I will be teaming with Roger Day in the teaching of the course.
First of all, if constructivism is correct, then no matter what or how we teach the students will a) come in with some previous constructs of what it means to teaching mathematics and b) fit the activities and information of the course into those constructs or try to create or modify their constructs to assimilate new ways of thinking. This is true whether we lecture or use groups.
On the other hand, if we just lecture, then we get no idea into the constructs that the students have upon entering the course. Plus, we are uncomfortable lecturing anyway.
Ultimately we have to role model what we believe to be effective teaching because we feel that it is effective teaching. Does teaching mathematics require different pedagogies than teaching methods? I am a firm believer that it does because I am a firm believer that you start with content before choosing how you wish to teach that content.
In mathematics, you start with a piece of content and then think: is there an activity which will help students understand the content? Does the new content connect with previous lessons or previous years' knowledge? Does technology help illustrate the content?
There is some content that we want as part of our methods courses: planning lessons, talking about assessments and evaluations, setting goals, looking at mathematics as a teacher instead of a learner ... . We also want to know what the students think about these issues coming into the course. Or if they are thinking about them at all.
Tommorow is the first day of class. At the end of the day, we are going to give students a typical 1st year teacher schedule with simply the course title of 5 courses (2 or 3 preps), number of students in the class, and grade level. There are 4 different schedules we are creating A, B, C, D. They will get the following instructions:
Congratulations! You just got a job! You will begin teaching on Monday, August 28th, 1995. Your teaching assignment is printed on the reverse side of this card. 1) What are your initial reactions to this schedule? 2) What questions do you have concerning your classes? 3) What more information would you like to plan these courses? 4) What problems in teaching these classes do you anticipate? 5) What decisions will be of top priority as you prepare for the semester?
They will come into day 2 of the class with 2-3 pages answering these questions and then we'll split them into groups of 4 to discuss.
We are hoping to get at some of the conceptions that they enter the class with, and we may revise the syllabus depending on what the students think is important vs. what we think is important.
Anyway, I'm happy to report on this and other things I notice as I teach the course through this list.
--- Daniel B. Hirschhorn | ISU Mathematics firstname.lastname@example.org | 313 Stevenson Hall (309) 438-7849 | Normal, IL 61790-4520