Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chapter 3

(3.1) Personal and social development can have a major influence on both individual student learning and the learning environment as a whole. Identify a case from the CSEL guidelines* that you would like to address in your paper. Then, examine the possible developmental factors that could be influencing your target student(s) or classroom in the case study.

You engage your third grade students in cooperative learning activities at least twice a day, changing heterogeneous group members once every four weeks. You have agreed upon routine procedures that your classroom community uses within their small groups, including the roles and responsibilities of group members. Lately you have noticed that one small group always seems to have difficulty grasping material and completing their project in an acceptable manner.  You observe this group carefully and find that Lisa seems to be the catalyst for their problems.  She gets angry with others if she does not get the job she wants and refuses to do her part in contributing to the group’s learning.  She constantly interrupts others in her group.  She does not pay attention when her group prepares for class presentations. 

While looking at Piaget's basic assumptions, he assumes that "Children are active and motivated learners", meaning they are naturally motivated to learn how to live in and adapt to their environment. My first thought is that Lisa is not motivated in this group, which is the cause of acting out.

Although Lisa is in 3rd grade and probably around 8 or 9, she seems like she may be still be operating in Piaget's preoperational stage, which lasts from 2 to age 6 or 7. I think this because Lisa does have language skills, clearly, since she gets angry with her group and interrupts. But, Lisa seems to be experiencing preoperational egocentrism, which is an inability to view situations from another person's perspective. Since Lisa gets angry when she does not get the job she wants, it tells me that she is not able to see why people are getting assigned jobs and that sometimes you do not always get your first pick. I would also assume that jobs are under a rotation, so Lisa may not be able to understand that rotation.

 Looking at Vygotsky's theory,  he states that "Complex mental processes begin as social activities and gradually evolve into internal mental activities that children can use independently. To Vygotsky, many complex thought processes have their roots in social interactions. Since Lisa is having such a problem socially interacting with her peers, I would say that she is not gaining the full potential from this interaction and potentially not developing these complex mental processes.

One of Vygotsky's main areas of interest is the zone of proximal development. The zone of proximal development is an area where students participate in tasks that they can accomplish only with some assistance and support. Since this group work is something that is more independent and group oriented with less teacher support, I would say that as of now group work is something that is out of Lisa's zone of proximal development.

(3.22) Check out tables 3.1 (p. 75), 3.2 (p. 83) and 3.3 (p. 91) with particular attention to the age ranges you are interested in teaching. Identify your personal favorite ways that an educator canpromote a child’s sense of self, perspective taking, and moral reasoning skills

Table 3.1 gives suggestions for encouraging a sense of self in different grade levels. I chose to focus on the grade level 3-5. Personally, I really like the suggestion Focus students' attention on their improvement over time. I think that showing children progress and improvement really encourages them. A great way to do this is keeping a portfolio and tracking progress in a kid-friendly way.

Table 3.2 talks about perspective taking and theory of mind at different grade levels. Again, focusing on grade levels 3-5, I liked the suggestion As students read literature, ask them to consider why various characters might behave as they do. There are so many fun ways to incorporate this into a classroom, such as acting out or giving a writing prompt. Considering others' perspectives is such a important skill to develop.

Table 3.3 give suggestions for promoting moral reasoning and prosocial behavior at different grade levels. There were many suggestions for grades 3-5, but my personal favorite includes: Explain how students can often meet their own needs while helping others. I really like this suggestion because students need to realize the importance of helping others and the way that it benefits them socially, emotionally, and morally. A great example of this is when an older class, say 3rd grade, goes and reads to kindergartners. Given this scenario, as a teacher it would be important to tell the 5th graders that it will help them become better readers as well as benefit the kindergartners.

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