As a high school teacher I have to be a facilitator-guide and a sage who imparts knowledge. I believe that teaching and learning are creative and very social.
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The following are some of the ways I incorporated cognitive principles to my classroom, through metacognition ( schema) , rehearsal , elaboration ( activating prior knowledge) , note taking , verbal learning ( Paired- associate , serial , free-recall) , and analogies. Students now a day has a very short attention p, as a teacher I have to become eclectic. In the constructivist classroom the teacher becomes a guide for the learner, providing bridging or scaffolding (mediated learning), helping to extend the learner's zone of proximal development.
Constructivist theory relates to Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, social interaction helps the student learn. The student is encouraged to develop metacognitive skills such as problem solving skills and reflective thinking. The self-sufficient learner is essentially motivated to generate, discover, build and enlarge their own framework of knowledge. In my classroom I observed and applied constructivist through cooperative learning, discovery learning, self- regulated learning and mediated learning. I will start my class by pre-assessing my students, to check their prior knowledge (cognitive theory of elaboration).
If my students are having difficulty remembering what they learn from previous classes, than I will start scaffolding. I will give the students prompts, so that the prompts will trigger their short term memory (working memory). The prompts will give them a foundations and than they built on it and hopefully becoming independent learner. Mediated learning is applied in my class, I will show them how to perform a lab and than they will mix chemicals on their own. Their product or conclusion should be similar to my expectations. Another method that I applied in my classroom is cooperative learning.
According to Vygotsky’s, students working with their peers will allow them to think out loud (private speech) and work in a thinking zone where they are comfortable at. If some of my students understand a concept that I am teaching I will break my class in groups. In each group, each member is at different cognitive level and they will assist each other. They will discuss, check each other understanding and see the concept from a different point of view. Another method that I utilized is “Group Investigation”. Each group will pick a topic and they will discuss, learn about that topic and than present on that topic.
One of the methods that I incorporated cognitive theories is through verbal learning. In my class, if we encounter a lesson or word that is hard to remember we will associate it to another word. For instance, when we covered the Periodic Table students will associate the elements symbol to its name by using an image (Paired –associate learning through imagery). Another verbal learning is memorizing the elements name in alphabetically order or based on their weights, if in alphabetically order they will create a name or sentences based on the first initials of the elements (serial learning through initial-letter strategies).
But the most effective way that I noticed in my class is free- recall. They will memorize the elements or body system in no particular order. Another example how cognitive is incorporated in my class is repetition, practice and elaboration. My students’ will practice a week before exam while other will practice a day before the exam. If my students want to benefit from what the practice they have to practice (study) everyday (distributed practice) rather than cram study. Elaboration is when they have to paraphrase. They will take a concept and than translate it to their own words, to check their understanding.
When they are paraphrasing they also visualize what they are paraphrasing, because Paivio’s theory of memory stated that to retain something it has to be verbal and visual (dual- code). Graphic organizer is another technique that I applied in class; this allows the students to retrieve prior knowledge and applied it to their current classwork. There are a lot of techniques, for examples note taking, underlining, analogies, summarizing etc. But if the students are not using this techniques and the teacher is not incorporating different techniques the student will be limited.
In conclusion, both constructivist and cognitive theories go hand in hand. There are different types of memories short term and long term (flashbulb, semantic, episodic memory) but for these memories to be activated there must be some stimuli that will trigger the activation. To retain the information the student has to use mnemonics (different memory strategies) but if information is meaningful it will be a schema in the brain. To trigger the working memory teachers should scaffold or student becomes self-regulators
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