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Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were two influential psychologists with a clear developmental goal, to show the world how knowledge can grow in a young mind, to an adult mind. Piaget was mainly focused on realism approaches and logical thinking ideas and models. Piaget, the creator of cognitive development has been able to coin a lot of knowledgeable tools that can certainly be applied to classroom experiences. The tools that can be applied are organization, accommodation, conversation, activity and goal-directed actions.
Vygotsky was known for this theory on Sociocultural theory, which is for children to behave and think through interactions in society. Like Piaget, Vygotsky has been able to label a lot of classroom theories that could most certainly be applied to a modern-day classroom experience. His theories include cultural tools, co-constructed processes, collected monologues, private speech and zone of proximal development.
First, we will discuss Piaget’s theory of organization. Piaget applies to the behavior of a child and how a child may have thoughts coherently in their minds. For example, if an infant, encounters something they want to hold and see, they cannot clearly organize these behavioral patterns. Moreover, if an older child sees something they want to hold and see, they have a higher-level structure to do both. Age certainly ties into effect, regarding what a very young child can do, compared to an older child.
Organization in a classroom is arguably very important, especially if one is teaching a pre-kindergarten or a kindergarten class, you must understand your students limit and what needs to be addressed. Organization requires a lot of multi-step lessons; for example, you want to announce to your class, “Wash your hands, it is time to put your games and toys back in the toy chest, if you finish your math activities, please see me for another.” If it does not come automatically to one self in a classroom, do not give up, through positive reinforcement and a proper approach, organization will come easily.
Accomodation is one of the most important functions that a classroom can certainly have and require. Piaget believed that accommodation was alternating one’s skills or ideas to process new information and new experiences through schema. Accomodation is also a step, a teacher must be comfortable applying as one to one with students. They may not understand a concept, so the presentation requires a more natural approach. One may want to try a fascinating example of how a young child may view certain elements.
A young child could already have an existing schema for dogs. For example, because a child may have this schema already ingrained, the child is aware dogs have all four legs. So, if a teacher takes their class on a class trip to the local farm and points out to a cow, the child may confuse the two because they both have four legs. Schemas are taught more, once the child knows not that everything with four legs is the same animal. Innovative ideas evidently fit into concepts and beliefs to accommodate a student towards critical thinking.
Through conservation, Piaget defines logical thinking and reasoning. Let’s just say, a teacher is giving a lesson on water to a class. The teacher has a pitcher of water and two cups, the teacher than pours water into both cups. A child may assume that the cups, may have water than the pitcher. By doing so, students can see, process and think about situations as others may see them.
In a classroom, conservation is a successful tool because through mastery of basic knowledge, a teacher can move forward using reasoning and identity. With a water example that the teacher presented to the class, the identity is presented to the child that everything has stayed the same. Finally, through using identity, reasoning, is applied through the student’s functions and applications to use basic thinking to determine answers.
Activity in a classroom setting is arguably one of the top most important tools an educator could use. Activity applies to young children in grades as low as Pre-School through first grade. Piaget believed that the schools should create entirely new information for children to maintain, and not to repeat what others have done. This in turn is true because, using understanding and sense is essential for a young child to use towards educational growth.
A few activities an educator may assign to a child to focus on could be in how many pre-school and kindergarten classes are equipped with a mock store. At this store, students can bake and sell pastries and often at times pretend to make a cookie or a cake. By doing an activity like this, they may view it as fun, as it should be, but children are working with Piaget’s method. They are using his method to operate such a task, which requires handling money, taking control of inventory, and management skills that enforcing positive behavior.
Piaget believed, that Goal-directed actions is a classroom tool that not only applies to the teacher, it applies to the student also. It deals with organization and the sensorimotor stage. For instance, if a child has a box of crayons in a plastic tub, and the assignment is to color a rainbow, a young child in pre-school and kindergarten class may have trouble and some frustrations opening the plastic tub, whereas an older student in first grade will have a basic knowledge of understand of getting the desired colors and not to get frustrated.
A younger child may have such issues with the plastic tub, because they have not yet been exposed to their senses, especially their motor functions. Open the tub to access the crayons, grabbing the proper crayon colors and finally coloring, have not yet been ingrained in a classroom physically. This can be ingrained both physically and through motor by a teaching giving a demonstration on how to open the crayon tub. The teacher can approach this as being very confident, yet patient to the students to fully understand how to use their motor skills.
Vygotsky developed cultural tools, which were technical tools used to help guide students through their education. Cultural tools play a massive impact, especially in modern day teachings. Computer use can be interactive, students can do something different than a general style of learning when you associate the technical world. Teachers have interactive educational games that can include learning and get the students to be active while embracing and educating young minds.
With cultural tools, every single students’ culture can be addressed in the classroom. There are tools for each culture that can be incorporated in a daily lesson. Some examples can be online spreadsheets, websites that offer different languages and activities that can help assist students. In a classroom, the educator could have a very positive experience with how far technology has become accessible to classrooms.
Co-constructed processes help students interact and negotiate verbally to create rich understands and to solve problems. A few provided examples of the co-constructed processes could involve a teacher and a student interacting through examples, especially if their language is not developed quite yet.
An example in a classroom could be if a young child loses their favorite pencil. The student may be in distress and very anxious. The teacher could say, “Where did you lose it? Where was it last?” The student may reply with an answer such as, “I don’t remember.” It is up to the teacher now through the tools of co-constructed processes to start listing familiar spots where the pencil may be and suggest ideas such as, is the pencil on the floor underneath your desk? The student can look on the floor where they may sit and see their missing pencil. Once you achieve this, it is easier for the child to process thinking and use strategies instead of simply relying on others.
Collected monologues in young children was a concept Vygotsky proved to be accurate. Collected monologue deals with children having conversations amongst themselves as they play. This occurs often, especially for children in pre-school and kindergarten classes. Often, teachers usually have “centers” which are different area’s in a room that pertain to activities. For instance, one center can be dress-up, another center could be for painting and another center could be for imaginary cooking.
While incorporating “centers” in a classroom is very great for positive and social interactions, quite often students do not engage in conversations when they do these activities. They at times mingle to themselves and only approach other students when they are approached first. For collected monologues to function in a classroom, the teacher needs to implement social interaction in a light and positive way.
The teacher could go around the room and have the students talk to one another about what they are doing. Than the teacher could say, “Alright boys and girls, talk to your friends and be social.” For children at a young age, telling them to be social will build confidence and engage ideas with those around them.
Private speech, on the other hand is a bit different, because it includes their thinking and talking through actions. Often at times, the child mimics their parent or guardians’ tone and voice to repeat words such, as “Yes” or “No.” Let’s just say a young student sees a button on the classroom wall that reads, “For Evacuation Use Only” the student may be tempted to push it, but a prior experience at home where their parent or guardian may have said, “No” when they were about to press a button, could have aspects of their private speech processing in their minds and only know from experiences how to behave.
This could be applied in a classroom because the teacher can give resources to the students in making the right decisions and to help shape their minds to do right. The teacher could show examples and model appropriate behavior, so the children know what is right and wrong and how to behave. With younger children, it becomes increasingly difficult, but at such a young age they require assistance to help them make proper decisions.
Zone of Proximal Development is a concept that was created by Vygotsky that requires that the child needs structures, hints, reminders, assistance in memorizing steps and instructions and encouragement to keep doing better. Using this concept is a great skill for a teacher to certainly implement in a classroom setting. If a child feels like that they have a support system in a classroom, especially someone who can motivate them and aid with instructions and encouragement, then they will strive to do better as they reach adulthood. This tool can also help teachers with what the student knows, and what the student does not know.
For example, this could be applied in classrooms of all ages, but an example could be regarding a student who does lacks confidence. They could have problems at home and trouble in school. The teacher may be aware of the student’s shortcomings and could easily provide such as, “You are very smart, do not give up, you are great.” By doing something as easy as this, that only takes a few seconds can really make the student do well.”
Finally, both Piaget and Vygotsky have created a lot of beautiful concepts that not only help students in amazing ways, it also helps teachers too. By using these simple concepts and demonstrating them well you are on a right path to becoming an excellent educator for your students.
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