Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"If you build it, they will come!"

I love that quote from Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. I think it is true of anything. Living outside of Detroit is not such a bad thing. Our sports teams are legendary, just not all in the right direction. So, the owners of the Lions (NFL for you non-football folks) thought they should build a new stadium, Ford Field. If we build it, they will come (to learn how to play?). That didn’t work, but the Field is beautiful, see for yourself here.

The same is true about teaching in a constructionist classroom! If THEY build it, “it” will come (to them.) It is a great theory because the kids are immersed in the artifact they are building; but we have to get them to build it! I teach science, so building things is an easy way for me to teach, if you can call it that. I give instructions, over and over and over, and hand out the instructions, with plenty of additional copies for those lost, and then I coach and cheer for my team to build. More times then not, I get a decent turnout of the project artifacts being created. The other great thing about science is the hypothesis! I do not teach my kids the scientific method; I completely submerse them in it. I teach around inquiry (Pitler & Hubbell, 2001) which is a founding component of the hypothesis.

Now that January is on it’s way out (yeah, can you believe it!!), my students have finally figured out I will not be solving their problems or giving direct answers to every question. They must search and test their own theory and get back to me with the result. It is a nice feeling to round that base! Using technology to gain insight, gather information, and work towards the creation of artifacts and knowledge are a dream. Some days, that is a pipe dream because of the lack of computers and internet for my students, both at school and home, but I keep trying to round the bases. Some days we hit singles, but others we get the homer! And so, they build those artifacts and keep learning and connecting the dendrites into permanent long-term memory. Guess I believe in constructionism, for “If they build it, they will come (to know it.)”


  1. Marie,

    I loved your connection to the movie The Field of Dream to the constructivist theory. I can completely see you point. I teach fourth grade and one of our GLEs (Grade Level Expectations) in science is to create a working simple circuit. This is my favorite science lesson each year because I enjoy watching the students build their own circuits. It always amazes me to see how creative they get when it come to creating the simple circuits. In the end, the students understand that they must have a complete circuit for the light bulb to turn on. This is just one of the many ways I use the constructivist theory in my classroom.


  2. Victoria~they get it when they create it. I have also found the less instruction given and more facilitation used, they better the outcomes. It's just like your circuits, they turn on their own brains just like the light bulb!

  3. Orey tells us that social constructivism is collaborative learning engaged in creating artifacts and conversing with others. He goes on to say that conversation can help one understand and that context and culture are critical in constructing knowledge and understanding of the world around us. The social learning theories intertwine nicely with the cooperative learning strategy that focuses on students interacting in groups to advance learning.

    Technology is a critical tool in implementing group learning and collaboration. It provides a structure for students to work together in completing projects and to communicate from where ever they might be. Some resources that support cooperative learning are Google docs, wikis, and voice thread. Also, there are resources available to help students organize information for their project-public bookmarks such as delicious and shared calendars such as Google calendar, Pitler tells us “technology allows students to collaborate on projects without the constraint of time or geography” (Pitler, 2007, p.153). Technology is a great tool for providing anytime, anywhere learning. It provides a means for students to communicate through various means such as Skype that allow students to communicate and create a project even if they are in various places. Cooperative learning allows students to communicate so they can learn from one another and create together. Through cooperative learning activities, students stay actively engaged in learning therefore supporting life long learning.


  4. Retta~
    All great choices. I have used each technology application you mentioned, except voice threads, throughout a school year; some, like google docs, are becoming favorites of the kids.

    Pleases fill me in on the voice threads! How do you use them, and what informatuon do you require?

  5. Isn't it frustrating when you have ideas that center around technology and you are held back because of its availability? I can't really complain because I have it better than most, but it is frustrating none the less. I also teach science and most of the activities that we do can be done in the science lab without computers. One project that we do is to make "cell pizzas" at the end of our unit on cells. Kids love it and it seems quite effective.

  6. Marie,
    You made me smile. I love your analogy to the Field Of Dreams. You are so right, the students will remember what they did hands on more than they will ever remember a worksheet.
    I was at a 1st grade conference this past Friday and the one speaker said, "Dittos Do Diddly!" Thanks for making this theory more understandable with your analogy!