Thursday, April 24, 2008

Constructivism: Lesson Ideas



  • Inquiry-based activity - Students begin by asking a question, developing it in-depth and finding a solution using primary sources
  • Defining a concept - Students create their own definitions and rotate around the room using manipulatives to test it. For example, the word might be "propaganda" and they have to decide whether various artifacts are propaganda.
  • Developing a philosophy - Students pose questions, engage in a Socratic Seminar and then create their own Life Philosophy. Or it can be more isolated. For example, students could begin with a higher-level thinking question such as, "What is art?" followed by a discussion of whether it should be beautiful. They could analyze a shoe and a painting, which would then lead into the study of modernism and Dada art. As they then look at real example, they would add to a concept map about modern art and make connections between modern art and other areas of modernism.
  • Using spreadsheets to organize and analyze information. Students can, for example, input statistics on war casualties of various years in comparison to overall population and analyze which wars were the most devastating. In the process, they can make connections to various time periods.
  • Rating technology - Each group reads about a specific technology and spends time researching it. One member of each group then has to stand in front of the class. Students hold pictures of various technology used during a time period and other students have to rate it. They physically move the students from place to place in order to defend their answers.
  • Classroom as a Factory - Turn the classroom into a factory and have students make a picture. As they work, begin using Supply and Demand to move the workers in and out. See if the wages drop and if the workers unite for a union. Afterward, have groups answer questions about the pros and cons of the factories (it could be environmental, economic, political, etc.). Introduce the concept of supply and demand within the context of the activity. See if they can create a solution to the problem.
  • Have students create a metaphor of what is being taught. For example, if the issue is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, have them create a metaphor and then work in groups comparing and constrasting the metaphors. Have them describe the metaphor in a paragraph and describe a new metaphor if there was a solution. (Example: Divorced family and each group marries someone else) Afterward, let the group choose one metaphor and have other groups accuracies and inaccuracies of each metaphor.
  • Post a reading or a quote on a wall and have groups rotate around the reading, adding their own thoughts or questions to the quote. This can be a powerful way to do high levels of reading while keeping it interactive.
  • Civil War Battle - Create a mock battle where students must use trenches, resources, etc. to have a paper fight between the North and the South. In the process, ask students to define which group has more resources, higher population, etc. Ask open questions, such as, "Was it fair of the United States to prevent the South from leaving?" Afterward, have them analyze charts or maps about each side's resources or primary source writings from the time period.
  • Have groups stationed around the room to represent concepts. Have one huge ball of yarn. Each group can then use the yarn to find connections between various concepts, if they can explain how the concepts are related.

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