Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Freshmen with Constructivism

Recently, I have been having a difficult time with my 6th hour freshmen; things are turning around slowly but surely, but it made me think of some things. I have tried to make the classroom environment theirs as much as mine. I gave them freedom to determine some of the class expectations and to give them a voice in their learning. These are great kids, but there are some who haven't bought into the school mentality yet. What I wonder is, are freshmen capable of a constructivist method in class? I find that just inexperience, immaturity, and the fact that skill base is so low, that even if I try to get them to create meaning, they have a difficult time. Everything is hard for fresh! I am helping them in that process because I can't just turn them loose and say go...but I'm not sure they are old enough for that kind of thought and thinking process yet.
Now, it is something we can teach and try to bring out of them, but it's nowhere close to the level it could be. I guess I feel that I highly overestimate my students abilities sometimes and maybe I expect too much, thus leaving me frustrated; I suppose that's better than the latter. But I feel like kids should have some of these skills coming into high school; and truly they DO NOT. I am having to teach things that were basic skills (like common literary terminology and thesis statements) that they either didn't learn or forgot. Then, when I ask them-what matters to you? What do you think? What are you seeing? How does that make you feel? What questions do you have? How can you relate that to real world applications?-most just stare blankly, like they have nothing to say. I know this is a lesson in patience for me, and I haven't given up on them. But, essential thinking skills lack within these students, and they only look at what is on the surface. Trying to get them to think for themselves is something that is new to them-I don't have all the answers, I don't want to provide all the answers. I have made it known that I want them to dive into the literature, or text we are reading, and find what matters to them for their own purposes. Sometimes, constructivism fails me in this regard. Like Brett Favre, I can lead my team down the field so many times, but nothing works if their is no one behind me to receive or catch. Sometimes I throw interceptions. Nice analogy, eh? But that's how I feel sometimes. Anyone seeing similar problems? Don't get me wrong, I am still pushin'-but when we want to place emphasis on students' learning and getting them to think of their learning differently, there are problems surrounding this method. I have to hold a lot of hands, as I should at times, but I feel like I'm carrying a lot of the weight most of the time. I also speak in terms of MOST of my freshmen. There are some students who are extraordinary, and can learn wholheartedly with this method. I'd like to hear what you guys think!

2 Comments:

Blogger Karl Fisch said...

As we talked about in our session today I think we just have to keep on working on it. That it may take time - in some cases, a lot of time - but that in the end it's what's best for them and will pay off. Keep reminding yourself that we're only about 7 weeks in and that they will get better - they will respond to your trust in them and passion for learning. As Brad said, keep fighting the good fight.

8:57 PM  
Blogger m_exton said...

Are these kids used to such an approach? If not, it takes an awful lot of time to reach some and undo what has gone on before.

12:13 AM  

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