Publication 7512

Brooks J. G. & Brooks M. G. (1993) In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria VA. Fulltext at
Excerpt: In this book, you will read about five overarching principles evident in constructivist classrooms. • Teachers seek and value their students’ points of view. Teachers who consistently present the same material to all students simultaneously may not consider students’ individual perspectives on the material to be important, may even view them as interfering with the pace and direction of the lesson. In constructivist classrooms, however, students’ perspectives are teachers’ cues for ensuing lessons. • Classroom activities challenge students’ suppositions. All students, irrespective of age, enter their classrooms with life experiences that have led them to presume certain truths about how their worlds work. Meaningful classroom experiences either support or contravene students’ suppositions by either validating or transforming these truths. • Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance. Relevance, meaning, and interest are not automatically embedded within subject areas or topics. Relevance emerges from the learner. Constructivist teachers, acknowledging the central role of the learner, structure classroom experiences that foster the creation of personal meaning. • Teachers build lessons around primary concepts and ‘‘big” ideas. Too much curriculum is presented in small, disconnected parts and never woven into whole cloth by the learner. Students memorize the material needed to pass tests. But many students, even those with passing scores, are unable to apply the small parts in other contexts or demonstrate understandings of how the parts relate to their wholes. Constructivist teachers often offer academic problems that challenge students to grapple first with the big ideas and to discern for themselves, with mediation from the teacher, the parts that require more investigation. • Teachers assess student learning in the context of daily teaching. Constructivist teachers don’t view assessment of student learning as separate and distinct from the classroom’s normal activities but, rather, embed assessment directly into these recurrent activities.


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