It was a typical Monday for Mrs. Otter, after lunch she had her usual 3 classes. Water was the first group, Nets the second and Earth the third. Before she would begin class, students had to follow the agenda for the day. The agenda is located at the front of the board and it tells the students what they will need for the class. Once the students are seated quietly, Mrs. Otter points out the incentive chart; a listing of each group’s name. If the students follow the criteria for the incentive chart, they will receive a sticker. The group with the most stickers after a month will receive a reward.
The lesson plan for the day is analyzing the characteristics of a hero/heroine. The first and third group for the afternoon had the same lesson plan. Building upon the homework from the night before, students in the class are asked to share what they wrote for their characteristics of a hero/heroine. After about half of the students read their characteristics to the class, Mrs. Otter pooled their characteristics into a main concept. She thanked each child for sharing and placed a sticker on the incentive chart for class participation.
She then handed out a sheet of paper and asked students to pair up and develop a list of 8 characteristics of a hero/heroine. The reading for the day was the story of Gilgamesh. Mrs. Otter read the story aloud, however due to time constraints the students were not able to list any hero characteristics for Gilgamesh. Eventually the students will write an essay comparing their characteristics of a hero/heroine to Gilgamesh. The second group for the day was Nets, this group works through the Connecticut Mastery Test’s (CMT) practice math workbook. The first lesson for the Nets group was estimating.
After Mrs. Otter explained estimation, the class answered a few examples. Students were called on to answer and explain the examples. The next step was to do an individual example. The example called for rounding the price of three supplies purchased $2. 89, $1. 94, and $ 11. 74. The example stated Tann paid with a $20 bill, and only received $1 change. Next it stated, “using estimation did Tann receive the correct change”? At that point in class, I circulated the room offering help to those students in need. A student named Rachel asked for my help, she could not grasp the concept of rounding.
First I tried to talk through the reasons we round up. However she did not understand, so I had to write the figures down and show her why we would round each number. After I she rounded the numbers I gave her the figures to add orally, “Rachel what is 12+5? She gave me a blank stare, after I wrote 12+5 = down she told me the answer is 17. Upon the sharing of answers I noticed many students failed to answer the question correctly. Vygotsky, Skinner, and Piaget are the three most appropriate theorists for this particular day in Mrs. Otter’s classroom. Mrs.
Otter’s lesson exhibits Vygotsky’s theory of the social nature of learning. When the children in the class shared their homework with the class, they created a social scene for learning. Children were able to listen to each other and compare their classmates’ characteristics to their own. Once the children paired up they were utilizing the notion of the “zone of proximal development”; two children with similar IQ or in the same Piagetian stage may challenge or stimulate each other into learning. (58) The math lesson also exhibited Vygotsky’s theory. When Mrs.
Otter asked me to circulate around the room, some of the students might have learned by imitation. This is when interaction with adults or peers in a cooperative social setting gives the children the opportunity to learn. (59) The students also utilize the theory of imitation through their group work. Skinner’s theory of learning is best supported through the “incentive chart”. Students will perform better when they want to gain rewards. In this case she is uses the “incentive chart” to gain class participation, good behavior and as a result more valuable learning environment.
This technique is recognized as “shaping behavior via reinforcement”. (28) This technique is also present when Mrs. Otter, rewards the children with a simple thank you for sharing or gives the students a pat on the back for a good answer. The final visible theorist in this lesson is Piaget and his stages of development. In working with Rachel, I noticed that she was still in the “preoperational stage” (ages 2-7). Regardless of her being 11years old, she hasn’t reached the stage of “concrete operational”(ages 7-11). She needed the construction of a concrete physical situation to answer the word problem.
She will eventually fully develop into the “concrete operational” stage, and be able to do similar problems with an abstract focus. In this situation, Rachel isn’t the only student to be in between Piaget’s second and third stage of development. Other students had similar problems, which may be validated due to their status in Piaget’s stages of development. In conclusion, Mrs. Otter’s lesson contained more than three theorists. Having the presence of a variety of learning theories is important in a classroom. Students also have different ways of learning, so the more theories present in a lesson the more students a teacher reaches.