Tag Archives: blended learning

For…Um…Vygotski

Jonnie Becker, returning guest blogger, spends her time facilitating an improved vision of science in the minds of the teenage youth attending North Butler High School. A self-determined techie who wanders her way into learning all kinds of new things.

The borage of confused parents has begun again.  As usual, I am pushing the status quo to make revolutionary systemic change in how the students in my room experience “an education.” Sometimes a colleague or two gets curious about what I am up to and why as well as the parents of my students.

Every year at this time (which corresponds to mid-term or 1st quarter grades) I get a lot of questions about why am I doing things so differently than what “everyone else does.”  So, this year I am getting the why are you doing all this e-learning, why is my kid doing a quiz at 11:30 at night, why are you buzzing all over the room without the class focused together?  Needless to say, I am getting a little weary as usual.  So the promise of an in-service day was a needed relief.

Our school is starting the IPI process, and were blessed with a great in-service by Jerry Valentine himself.  (This was not the typical PD day without a take home. It really was good already changing my classroom!) This process trains you to be aware of what kind of THINKING is happening in your room.  The six options break thinking into three ranges: non academic thinking, low order or low on Bloom’s taxonomy, and high order or high on Bloom’s.

Mr. Valentine informed us that the kind of work that asks student to think critically while VERBALIZING with their peers is the best work for growing their minds.  I was instantly reminded of the research of  Lev Vygotski.  My class has been based in the social constructivism principles since I was awakened in 2003. However, this year the platform for this has shifted from just in person to some online learning conversations too.  After having experienced the way a Moodle forum can explode in conversation where you get addicted to see what will happen next, I wondered if Mr. Valentine would consider an online forum environment as equal as a face to face for student to student analytical conversations. Thank goodness one of my colleagues asked for me, because I was too intimidated.

Valentine claimed that online conversations are NOT considered verbalized higher-order thinking situations. The comment was infuriating, and left me curious. How much do we know about the social construction of ideas in a virtual environment?  I would suspect not much, and if so, not in the way that the IACOPI does e-learning. Holla!  I am excited to find a way to show what I believe to be the key.  The real reason why online learning needs a teacher and face to face time.  After experiencing the IACOPI, I have come to understand that you build the human life force for learning when you make a community, a one from a collection of many, that can organically shift power, focus, and progress based on the subtle balances from within the community.   After you have that face to face, you don’t need to have the constant real life feed to create new understandings as a team. You can actually feel the humans with just a few key strokes.  I may argue a forum discussion can be more helpful with a community, because you risk less when you share.

I can’t wait to see how transitioning my students to be a community of learners in both the real and virtual realms.  Could we be doing something so new, that we are the activation that sparks a whole paradigm shift in how we apply and implement learning theory?  Could we be rewriting Vygotski’s chapters in social constructivism?   Someday, they will be referencing the IACOPI!  JUST YOU WAIT!

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