Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

After reading the chapter in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works book I discovered some great examples to use in my science classroom, but also found many ways in which, “Generating and Testing Hypotheses” share common themes with the constructivism theory (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).
            There are many kinds of generating and testing hypotheses, but the one that stuck out to me most of all was the experimental inquiry section because I am 5th grade teacher solely responsible for teaching all the students the science curriculum.  My days are filled with science phenomenon explanations and inquiry tasks. Many students struggle not with the questioning and hypothesis part of inquiry, but with the conclusion writing section and pairing it with their data.  One way in which the book talks about producing data tables and graphs is by using spreadsheet software, like Excel (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  One of the biggest projects that my students will prepare this year is a science board for our school’s science fair. This idea of creating a science board goes along perfectly with the constructivism model that says students need to create an artifact (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). Our school’s science fair will also be part of the Super Science Symposium that our PTA puts on towards the end of the year. At this event we have volunteers from the community come in for a night to go over different science concepts with all of our students and their families. One of the ideas that I have for this year is to have the 5th grade students present their science boards to other students and their families as part of the final project requirements. This way, students will not only create an artifact, but also have to talk about it and answer questions about it to other students and their families. These science boards will contain printouts and graphs that the students make on the computer based on their results and data. In this one project students have learned many valuable lessons about creating and showcasing their knowledge in an organized manner.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. I agree with you, students can do so much more with technology than we could have done when we were in school. What’s interesting is that students would mess up with one number and their entire table would be incorrect. Now students can detect errors almost immediately making findings more accurate. Students can also compare online data with their finding this is preparing students for the twenty first century because they will have to make predictions based on past information.

    During the course of this week I decided to make my grade six students create a power point presentation on parts of a map. After which they would upload it to their wiki sites. I have never seen my students more excited each and every child was actively engaged in what they were doing. They were also excited that people all over the world would be able to view their presentation. I was also fascinated with how creative my students are; the pictures, information method of presentation was nothing but professionally done.

    Students today have the world at their fingertips.

  2. You hit the nail on the head because i am finding that students are having trouble with the conclusion. When i introduce a problem solving activity, i go over and over what the project is about and what is expected at the end. When students are asked at the end of the project about different aspects of the challenge, some say i don't know, or that was stupid or even that was easy. I am finding that if i constant review and remind them throughout the project then more of them will be on the same page at the end. We test their prototypes at the end and i tell them that i expect a portfolio of sketches, drawings and ideas. For some it is very hard to hang on to that stuff for the remainder of the project.

  3. Syuenw:

    You bring up a great point about technology helping students not get stuck or consume too much of their time if they make a mistake. A computer can quickly find and fix their mistake. That Powerpoint project sounds like a great end-of-unit assessment.


    In writing or in science students struggle to make sense of everything that came before it. I try to scaffold writing a quality conclusion throughout the year by using simple science experiments with a few variables so students start learning how to interpret the data and communicate whether their hypothesis was supported or not.

  4. Yes I am sure students will do will do very well if they get something like that for an end of unit assignment. Too often we rely on written assignments to prove understanding. Some students get nervous during exams and blank out. If students were evaluated based on something that they create that would help them a lot because they would be in their comfort zone, I have a little boy in one of my classes who get anxious every time he has an exam. He is an extremely bright, intelligent student who does well at every task given. He has one minor problem however; he gets sick when he has exams. I think there should be away for students to get around written assignments once they show evidence of understanding.