Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter 8 Development and Learning

   Learning and appyling Piaget's theories are, in my opinion, invaluable tools. The basic understanding of students brain and cognitive developmental stages and are very important. It makes my job challenging when teaching kindergarten and then fifth grade. Reason is not an available choice for a kindergarten student whereas giving a class of fifth graders a choice in the classroom might just save your sanity. Also teaching using abstract thinking at a young age might not be an option. Reasoning and abstract thinking starts becoming apparent in students at about fourth grade. So is thinking out of the box even an option before the third grade?

   After doing a little extra reading on Piaget I discovered this brain game website...


  1. Response: We are of course both music educators so we have some common understandings about how students learn. In my career I have had to go from teaching Kindergarden general music one period to 5th grade band and then the next period to High School band only to return to 3rd grade general music next. As a result I have seen how cognitive development differs as students age. I have also seen the agony of students who because of some disability do not age mentally the same as they age physically. It is a challenge as you are aware of but Piaget is one I also have found helpful in understanding how to structure class activites.
    I have also learned that I teach best when students are above 2nd and 3rd. My personality and abilities relate best when students have matured both cognitively, physically and socially above those age groups. That is the advantage of having taught K-12 during day one finds out where they fit best into the picture.

  2. Shannon, I agree with you that the theories of Piaget are invaluable when it comes to understanding students and how they develop. It seems as if there are so many stages to learn and switching grades while teaching can be difficult. Once we are accustomed to one age group and their development, it is hard to change the way we think. I started off my career teaching 7th graders and the last grade I taught was a combination of all high school grades in the same classroom. That was very difficult because I had to learn how to teach several cognitive levels all at the same time. I have found that my young nieces and nephews (3-5) have thought outside of the box for all sorts of creative outlets. Most of the time if they can’t do something they want or something stands in their way, they find some pretty interesting and creative ways to get around it.

  3. It is important to understand Piaget's theory when teaching students. I do believe if we understand the stages and can identify them in our students we have a better chance of reaching them. What I find in teaching is some teachers do not understand why students cannot perform certain tasks that the state says they should be able to. Teachers need to understand that developmentally some students cannot process information like others, and their lessons need to account for that.

  4. Piaget's stages "should not be equated with ages" (pg 338). Third grade is a "gray" area where a class could represent mid-preoperational to early concrete operational where abstract thinking is developing. Because of this, teaching with abstract thinking should not be discarded. However, you shouldn't go too far "out of the box" and be prepared for some students to not be cognitively ready.