The exploration of child and adolescent development and Medina’s Brain Rules (20014) has been extremely interesting when considering the implications for the classroom. Some of the main ideas I have taken away so far through the discussions and readings on nature vs. nurture, biological development and cognitive development as they relate most directly to a classroom setting are student potential as it relates to nature and nurture, the process of development each students is experiencing, constructivism in the learning environment and strategies to improve memory. Each of these offers me great insight into providing a learning environment for all of my students to be successful with the traits and knowledge they already bring to class.
One of my classmates shared a testimony about her experience with realizing potential. She described her experience in a familiar setting, a Swedish language class that she took in college. Since she had already experienced learning the language in high school she appeared to be the smartest student in the class, yet she attributes her appeared academic superiority to having an environment that was already familiar with. Since she had a personal connection to the course, the environmental factors or nurture itself is what allowed her to fulfill her potential. She then suggests that creating an environment for students which allows them to bring in personal meaning and connection to concepts is one way that students can be nurtured to their highest potential. Not only does this have a great connection to developing memory through meaning, it has important implications for enhancing student potential (Medina, 2014). As I mention in my discussion post on this same prompt as shown in figure one, Pressley and McCormick (2007) encourage teachers to enhance the nature or biological factors students bring into class by providing them rich learning experiences to learn and grow in. As my classmate suggested, the environment itself can be that rich experience if it is something students are already familiar with.
Another way to provide rich learning experiences is through constructivism teaching strategies. As mentioned in the module 3 presentation constructivism allows for both social and individual knowledge construction by using problem-solving, activities, concepts, exploratory learning, collaboration, and reflection strategies in the classroom (Baliram, 2015). These strategies help with the assimilation and accommodation process outlined by Piaget as students organize, store, and likely change their knowledge (1983; as references by Pressley & McCormick, 2007). Constructivist learning has an important place in the classroom as it helps students make personal meaning of what they are learning and connect it to their own experiences. Again, this is something that can help them to realize their potential.
Pressley and McCormick (2007) also provide great insight into the world of cognitive development as presented by Piaget. The implications of cognitive development are important because teachers need to challenge students appropriately, stretching them just beyond what they believe they are capable of (Baliram, 2015). Piaget stresses providing academic rigor and challenge that is appropriate based on the student’s developmental stage and this is something that can be done with differentiated instruction (Pressely & McCormick, 2007; Baliram, 2015). I hadn’t really thought of differentiated instruction and its relationship to cognitive development before. I always thought that differentiated instruction had to do with reaching out to all different learning styles, but now I understand more that it has implications beyond that. Differentiated instruction helps to meet students where they are intellectually, not just their preference for learning.
So far the most important big idea that has been considered for this course is the way memory works. Medina (2014) offered insightful best practices such as spaced out repetition, providing an engaging hook, finding meaning, and elaborate rehearsal. Although these are not new to me, they are important reminders for when I am writing lessons and they have a deeper meaning now that I can see the implications of the brain play out in the classroom. One of my favorite reminders is in regards to direct instruction: that it is a valuable tool in the classroom, but should only last as long as the students are old (Baliram, 2015). One of the greatest take-aways is the importance of finding meaning within the context of what is being taught when it comes to memory and recall and how easily that can be done by creating a constructivist learning environment.
If I were to connect these key ideas to a program standard, I would connect it to both instruction and differentiation. Constructivism is a research-based instructional practice that I believe meets the needs of all students because of the emphasis on collaboration and individual reflection. Students are able to learn about what their own ideas through conversation and are able to critique those ideas based on the input provided by their peers. They are also able to connect personally with the material through individual journal reflections and think about their learning process through that same format. Differentiation is one of the key ways that student’s individual cognitive development can be met. It can help to reach students appropriate capacity and push them beyond that capacity thus realizing a new potential.
Baliram, N. (2015). Cognitive Development the Stage Perspective: Jean Piaget [PowerPoint Slides and Vialouges]. Retrieved from: https://vialogues.com/vialogues/play/23437/
Baliram, N. (2015). EDU 6132 – Module 4 [PowerPoint Slides and Vialouges]. Retrieved from: https://vialogues.com/vialogues/play/23437/
Pressley, M. & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for ediucators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.