Constructing Knowledge with Technology
Constructionist learning theory is the belief that people contstruct their own knowledge by building artifacts. In a constructionist classroom, the teacher is a facilitator and motivator of learning by providing students with options to choose topics of interest to them, to work collaboratively, to construct authentic artifacts and to provide opportunity for rich feedback. Educators have long understood the value of hands-on learning experiences. Technological applications can provide students the opportunity to explore and discover while making connections and creating their own artifacts.
When teaching my third grade students about various graphs, I usually have them learn by constructing their own graph. So I thought, why not add some excitement to the project by using real life technology? First, I give each student a box of Valentine hearts candy. Students are asked to hypothesize how many hearts there are of each color. Once a hypothesis is made, students open their boxes to reveal if their hypothesis was correct. Students then create a spreadsheet document using Excel and enter their data. Students can then quickly convert their data to a variety of graphs, and see the results instantly. They can determine how accurate their hypothesis was. When given engaging, real world experiences, students increase their problem-solving ability, improve their research skills, and work collaboratively as they apply skills and knowledge (Orey, 2001). As sixth-grade teacher, Lynda Donovan (Laureate, 2009) said, “The future is technology. Our job is to prepare them for jobs that haven’t even been developed yet.”
Web resources, interactive gaming and simulations can be “incredibly engaging learning environments, resulting in increased motivation and retention of learning” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p.213). Students have more of a vested interest when they build projects that suit their own interest and abilities. A perfect example of the excitement generated while creating projects with technology, is the class wiki my third grade students are designing. In the initial stages of creating the wiki, students are working in cooperate teams to design and create a page for our wiki. Students are learning how to add text, graphics and edit. They are also experimenting with the wiki at home. They come into class asking if they can add their own page to the wiki.
Check our wiki out at http://b28stars.wikispaces.com/
Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Constructionist & Constructivist Learning theories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Ed., Inc.
Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.