In this post we are going to bring Piaget’s idea of developmentally appropriate education into the English classroom because we believe that what he claimed can be really beneficial for students.
The main educational implications of Piaget’s theory are the following:
1. A focus on the process of thinking and learning, not just its final products. This means that instead of simply checking for a correct answer, teachers should emphasize the student’s understanding and process they used to get the answer.
2.Emphasis on children’s self-initiated, active involvement in learning activities, I.e. student-centred learning. In a Piagetian classroom, children are encouraged to discover themselves through spontaneous interaction with the environment, rather than the presentation of ready-made knowledge.
3. Act against speeding up children’s development; Piaget referred to it as the “American question” which is “How can we speed up development?”. His belief is that trying to speed up and accelerate children’s process through the stages could be worse than no teaching at all.
4. Acceptance of individual differences in developmental progress. Piaget’s theory asserts that children go through all the same developmental stages, however they do so at different rates. Because of this, teachers must make special effort to arrange classroom activities for individuals and groups of children rather than for the whole class group.
Some of the main features of activities based on Piaget’s theory are:
–The use of concrete props and visual aids, such as models and/or time lines
– Facilitate learning by using familiar examples to explain complex ideas
–Present problems that require logical analytical thinking, “brain teasers” are a great way to incorporate this!
Relevant approaches and activities to carry out in the classroom
- Review and revision activities
Reviewing is a highly recommended habit to refresh the contents students have already gone through and to try to help them how to learn to learn. In addition, this kind of activities will help students feel more comfortable with old material and will give the teacher the opportunity to combine topics which may have been studied separately.
- Class vocabulary bags
Vocabulary bags is a good technique to group and to learn vocabulary related to different semantic fields.
Example: Name the objects and classify them according to if they’re technological or not.
- Problem based learning (problem solving)
This approach is based on the problem exposure. Students conduct the research based on theories, concepts and various scientific principles. There are four steps to follow:
1st To identify the problem.
2nd To collect the data.
3rd To analyse the gathered data.
4th To draw a conclusion or possible conclusions.
Watch this video called Problem Based Learning in Middle School.
- Analysis and discussion of language and topics (inductive approaches)
- Discovery learning
Discovery learning is aimed to develop a research competence and to improve the learner’s appreciation towards science. It is more focused on the learning process rather than in the product. What is more, this approach is designed to increase the student’s learning skills, including how to ask questions and how to evaluate strategies.
- Cognitive strategies
Cognitive strategies are one type of learning strategy that learners use in order to learn more successfully. These include repetition, organising new language, summarising meaning, guessing meaning from context, using imagery for memorisation. All of these strategies involve deliberate manipulation of language to improve learning. Classifications of learning strategies distinguish between cognitive strategies and two other types, metacognitive strategies (organising learning), and social/ affective strategies (which enable interaction).
- Project based learning
Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.
For further information you can watch this video on PBL.