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Reflection on Constructivist Theory in a Blended Learning Environment

Reflection on Constructivist Theory in a Blended Learning Environment

Author: Katie Hou
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In this lesson, learners will consider of Marzano's Lesson Desing Questions: Design Question: What will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge? And reflect upon their own lesson design expereince with PBL or Constructivist Lesson

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Hello. Thank you for joining me today to talk about reflection on constructivist theory in a blended learning environment.

Today, we'll be able to answer the following essential questions. Why is it important to intentionally design lessons? How can I use Marzano's design questions to reflect on my lesson design? What is Plus/Minus/Delta, and how can it help me with reflection?

Let's review really quickly what PBL, constructivism and blended learning are. PBL is the extended process of inquiry in response to a question, problem, or challenge. It is carefully planned and monitored by a teacher who facilitates it, and it's based off of constructivism.

Constructivism, if you remember, is that students learn by constructing their own meaning. It's learner-centered and inquiry-based. Both of these approaches are rigorous and allow for student choice. And the teacher acts as facilitator in both of these.

We also have blended learning. Remember that blended learning is a combination of traditional classroom and online learning. This might look like face-to-face driver, or it might look like online driver. Blended learning can still have PBL and constructivism incorporated into it, and that's what we're going to look at today.

We're going use Marzano's lesson design question as our basis. And the design question we're looking at is, what will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge?

There are three elements in particular we're going to look at. One is organizing students for cognitively complex tasks. Another is engaging students and cognitively complex tasks involving hypothesis generation and testing. And the last is providing resources and guidance.

So this is our adapted lesson plan. We have a PBL lesson plan, and the objective is that students will read and translate Shakespeare. They will prove their understanding by creating a way to help other students understand Shakespeare. And students will work in small groups. Students will generate ideas and hypotheses, and then test these in the small groups.

This should look a little bit like the different lesson plans we've been reviewing throughout this coursework. The wording has changed slightly to incorporate all the different types of blended learning environments.

Plus/Minus/Delta is a really quick way that we can reflect on our learning. Plus is just what worked well, minus is what did not work well, and delta is my plan for improved. So we're going to look at Plus/Minus/Delta for the different blended learning environments.

So for face-to-face driver, I have a plus as providing resources. For face-to-face driver, the teacher was able to serve as a resource. I also had the classroom resources and online resources, because in a face-to-face driver classroom, it might look like a 1-to-1 classroom or a BYOD. Another plus was organizing students for cognitively complex tasks. The teacher was able to intentionally create groups based on strengths and weaknesses.

A minus is providing guidance. Because I'm a teacher and I'm driving the class, I'm acting in a leadership role by instructing, rather than providing guidance And sometimes, in this sort of situation, the student can rely too much on pleasing the teacher than on their own inquiry. Another minus is engaging students in cognitively complex tasks involving hypotheses generation and testing. Some engagement is lost, because there was little student choice.

My delta is that I want to take on more of a facilitator role, and I want to allow for more student choice.

Rotation is where the student moves from a regular classroom to the online lab. Since they spend time in the regular classroom, a lot of the pluses are the same. Providing resources and organizing students for cognitively complex tasks are a plus, because I see the students every day. But providing guidance and engaging students is a minus still. So I've got the same goals. I want to take on a facilitator role and allow for more student choice.

Flex. I have a new plus in the flex category. This is engaging students in cognitively complex tasks involving hypothesis generation and testing. And the students are more engaged in a flex classroom than in a rotation classroom or a face-to-face classroom, because students have the freedom in an online setting to make and test their different hypotheses.

A minus, though, is organizing students for cognitively complex tasks, because in a flex environment, most classes are taken online. So the teacher has a hard time getting to know the students and can't really make groupings well.

Delta is that I would use online resources, such as message boards, to form the groups I would also take a lot of the data that's collected from online resources to learn what my students' strengths and weaknesses are to organize those groups.

Online lab-- this is where students are learning in an online lab that's inside the school. A plus is providing resources, because the resources are unlimited when you're using online lab. It's also engaging students in cognitively complex tasks involving hypothesis generation and testing. Students are engaged, because they have more freedom in an online setting to make and test hypotheses.

A couple of minuses are organizing students for cognitively complex tasks. Again, it can be difficult to organize when most courses are taken online. Providing guidance-- since the classes are online, there's little guidance from a live teacher. And providing resources.

So for delta, we're going to use online resources such as message boards to form groups, and we're going to use online resources such as meeting spaces or Skype to conference with students.

Self-blend is where students are taking classes in a normal classroom setting, but then they can supplement their learning by choosing different online courses. So again, for a plus, it would be providing resources and providing guidance, because we do have that live teacher. And another plus is engaging students in cognitively complex tasks, because students are more engaged because of choosing their coursework.

A minus is organizing students. It's difficult when students are choosing their supplemental courses. You may not know what students have similar interests. So you're just going to, as a delta, try to be more intentional about noticing what students have what similar interests and grouping those students together.

Online driver-- this is where the student chooses the courses, and they're taken online, not even in a traditional school. They can still have check-ins with the teacher, though, and those check-ins provide a couple of pluses. They provide guidance and provide resources as pluses.

For minuses, organizing students is difficult, as is engaging students. It can be difficult to engage students in this sort of environment, because it's not necessarily the topic that students are going to choose to want to study. So we have to find material to help keep them engaged. And that's a delta here. What is the engaging material, so that we can retain student interest?

Let's reflect. What pros and cons do you foresee with using Plus/Minus/Delta in your classroom?

So today we talked about, why it is important to intentionally design our lessons. It's important because depending on the different blended learning environment you have, there's going to be a variety of plus and minuses that we need to take into account. And we need to come up with game plans for keeping the students engaged and to keep the learning occurring.

We also talked about how we can use Marzano's design questions to reflect on lesson design. We can use Marzano's design questions by rewording those different elements into questions and looking at how they play out in each of the different blended learning environments. And we talked about Plus/Minus/Delta and how we can use that to help with reflection. Again, that's just a really quick way to jot down what worked and what didn't, and how we're going to fix it.

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thank you for joining me, and happy teaching.

Notes on “Reflection on Constructivist Theory in a Blended Learning Environment”

Overview

(00:00-00:21) Introduction

(00:22-01:11) PBL, Constructivism and Blended Learning Recap

(01:12-01:37) Marzano’s Lesson Design Question

(01:38-02:05) Adapted Lesson Plan Review

(02:06-06:15) Plus Minus Delta applied to Blended Learning

(06:16-06:28) Reflection

(06:29-07:26) Conclusion

Additional Resources

Danielson Framework for Teaching

This site is dedicated to the Danielson Framework with specific suggestions for reflection aligned to the framework. In particular, you may find the link, Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, a helpful resource as it provides strategies that you can use as you engage in your own reflective practices.
http://danielsonframeworkforteaching.weebly.com/reflecting-on-teaching.html

A Framework for Good Teaching: A Conversation with Charlotte Danielson

In this post on the Education Week blog, Danielson speaks about the importance of reflection to improve teaching practice. Through the conversation, Danielson connects strategies for reflection with improving instructional strategies.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2011/10/a_framework_for_good_teaching_a_conversation_with_charlotte_danielson.html