Constructivism in Practice

Just as our resources pointed out this week, students learn best by showing what they know.  This form of doing is a project based learning.  As a third grade teacher, I enjoy providing my students with performance task and projects to allow them a chance to develop a deeper understanding of the standards that we are currenlty addressing.  However, in the state of Georgia, third grade is considered a “critical year” in which students must pass certain portions of our state high stakes test in order to advance to fourth grade.  I strongly feel that students learn best by doing especially because doing helps to promote long term memory of skills and standards.   However, in my classroom I often find myself incorporate some form of testing that does not meet this mold simply because I feel that it is also my job to teach my students strategies to show what they know on a multiple choice test since they will have to be able to do this at the end of their third grade year.  Since research is currently proving, and has been proving for several years, that a project based approach is very effective in education, I feel that many states should revisit how they assess student performance and consider something more along the project based lines. 


About kellycbrock

I am a third grade teacher in Georgia. I am interested in learning new and exciting ways to help meet my students needs and keep education engaging for them.
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4 Responses to Constructivism in Practice

  1. Ryan Hansen says:

    You know, Kelly, I don’t think you are incorrect in teaching how to take a test. My daughter is in third grade right now and I know it is a very critical year for our district, too. Taking tests are a part of life, if you think about it. I give tests to allow kids in my yearbook classes. It helps weed out the ones that are not qualified. I know several of the jobs in my area that give tests to their potential employees.

    In our profession, I believe we have to do the best with what we have been given. If you can squeeze in some projects when you can, then the kids will do better on the tests. My daughter doesn’t come home talking about the cool multiple choice test she took, she comes home showing her artwork or reading a story she wrote.

  2. Allen Bryant says:

    Project Based Learning is great when it works. I TRY to teach mathematics at the high school level, and let me tell you that the learning tasks that the state of Georgia has put out for us to use can be rather complicated. I would say that less than 25% of my students get anything out of the tasks. Math is complicated enough, and the application of it is even more rigorous. The other problem that I have with actual projects is that some kids run with it while others simply do nothing. I’ve had some great projects over the years where students were able to express their depth of knowledge of the material, but they are severely out numbered by those who do not understand how to apply what they’ve supposedly learned. Hands on learning is an effective practice, but I believe that math is different from every other subject.

    • Ryan Hansen says:

      I deal with some kids doing really well with the assignments/projects and others not doing anything every day. There came a time when I had to realize that my “urging” had just become nagging. If a failing grade does not motivate, then I can’t help them. I give warning slips, I hold individual, private conferences with the student, I call parents. After I’ve done all that, then I can’t do any more. Of course, in my classes, I have time to do this as I lecture for about 45 minutes the first day of the unit and then give them a week to a week and a half to complete their projects. It would be hard to do that in math when the pace is so … rigorous.

  3. kellycbrock says:

    You are very right. We use the Georgia frameworks to help plan some units but I agree the tasks are often way above their heads. In the school where I teach I have a hard time doing projects because many of my kids come from low income homes and do not have materials necessary to complete them. I struggle with finding mutliple days to do such projects as we have so many standards that continue to get more and more rigorous. I am one that believe that a mixture of teaching styles is crucial in an effective classroom though, so I try to incorporate this type of learning when I can.

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