Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vygotsky Takes a Seat

Kimberley from First in Maine is hosting a little book study of Catching Readers Before They Fall.  Click on the above graphic to read her thoughts on chapter three.  Mine are below.

Chapter Three:  Vygotsky Takes a Seat in Our Classrooms
What I loved...

The work of Vygotsky and Zone of Proximal Development are nothing new to me, but I'm still challenged by them.  

(p. 32)

"Oftentimes in classrooms, students who are expected to complete tasks that are out of their reach will become very frustrated and confused.  Similarly, students asked to constantly work within their ZAD using skills and strategies they have total control of become bored and take on little or no new learning."

How I connect this learning to my teaching...
Teaching is quite a balancing act.  Keeping kids from hanging out too much in the ZAD or in the Out of Reach area is a challenge.  Both can be equally frustrating for kids and teacher alike.  This means that I need to know where my kids are at.  Knowing their frustrations as well as their strengths will help me provide the right types of support so they can find their way to the ZPD as much as possible.  Using discernment in regards to their behavior is important too.  Sometimes their actions are cries for help when what I'm expecting of them is too easy or too hard.  Vygotsky gives us much to think about.

Thanks again Kimberley!

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  1. You said it well by saying that teaching is quite a balancing act. It takes a lot of effort to know our students well and where they are at with their learning, but so, so worth it! I know you work hard at this balancing act!
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Lori, it's not an easy thing to pull off. I'm still learning how to be better at this.

  2. You are so right - teaching IS a balancing act - how to keep challenging those higher kids, and reach those who might be struggling. And ack! their behaviors can be a cry for help. How often have I ignored that, when I know in my heart what the problem is?
    I also like what Lori said - it's an effort to know your kids - but worth it!

    1. Sara, teaching isn't for pansies, huh? It's hard work and not easy to get them into the ZPD as much as possible. If we could pull that off, I wonder if we'd see fewer behavior issues? Hmm. Lots to ponder. Thanks for pondering with me!

  3. I find it challenging to keep ALL students learning. I've thought that I tended to reach out more to the struggling readers, but I think that is because they have needed more scaffolds. I hope the freedom of choice and independence has given my gifted readers wings!

    1. Jenny, I hope the same thing. Yes, it's hard to keep them all in their ZPDs.

  4. Really KNOWING our students is so important. Where is each child's zpd, what does their behaviour mean, how much support is needed. Teaching: master balancers only need apply.