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NY Teaching Methods

NY Teaching Methods

In recent years the National Science Education Standards ( National Research Council, 1996) have shifted from a traditional text book style of teaching to a more "hands-on" or otherwise known as constructivism. According to the standards, learning science is a process that students do, and not something that just happens to them. The standards are designed to outline what students need to know and understand in regards to science. The opportunity to learn science is given to all students. The interviews that we conducted both reflect two different teaching methods. Each teaching style is an example of how the standards are fulfilled in the class. In order to compare teaching styles we must first understand the differences between consturctivism and traditionalism teaching styles and what they each consist of. Constructivism is a theory about knowledge and learning which is drawn on results from current work in cognitive psychology. The focus is on structuring lessons around big ideas or primary concepts which include a broad range of activities that promote hands-on learning. For example, problem solving, concept development, and construction of learner generated solutions would all be considered key components of the constructivist teaching method. On the other hand, traditional teaching methods consist of teacher-talk and textbook derived lessons. The emphasis is on curriculum proficiency and either right or wrong answers. The interviews we did illustrate the difference between the two teaching methods.

Our first interview was with Jodi Schwedes, a first grade teacher at Jamesville

Elementary School. We first asked her what teaching methods she uses in her classroom.

She said that she prefers using traditional methods of teaching. She believes young

children need structure in order to be successful in the classroom. However, she also

incorporates constructivism in her classroom by using cooperative learning. She finds

that cooperative learning works best in small groups rather than large groups. This is

because children learn more, understand, and pay more attention to the material being

presented. We then asked her what teaching methods she thought did not work. She

believes that there is no single teaching method that doesn’t work; or works best overall. She considers herself to be an instructor, educator, and facilitator in the classroom. She also feels that she can provide instruction in several different ways. On one hand she uses hands on learning to promote successful learning in mathematics, language, and science, yet she uses a more structured approach to other subjects.
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