One of the approaches to education discussed in one of my classes was Constructionism. This is the idea that students create mental models to help make sense of the world around them. It’s a form of discovery that is student-centered, affording learners the freedom to create in relation to the content taught. Often times, we think of constructionism only taking place in Science labs or some of the Trades classes offered at school. Well, I’m here to tell you that this type of learning can actually take place in the English classroom, as well. We may have to be a little more creative, or think outside of the box, but Constructionism can take place in practically every classroom.
What I love the most about this method of learning is the freedom it offers the students. When they truly get into the project, you can see their eyes light up, their excitement increase, and their voices get louder. 🙂 This is SO exciting to watch. Discussions that follow as students present their end products last a bit longer, become a bit more animated, and tend to take on a different form than simply the same old written responses to prompts. I’ve used this in creating body biographies of characters in novels or in the construction of personal logos by students. It’s interesting how students tend to take on a greater sense of ownership and pride when presenting their work.
Attached is a picture of one of the models a student made when creating a shelter out of sticks and grass. Freshman reading Lord of the Flies learned very quickly just how challenging building a shelter from outdoor resources really is.