1. The learning theory that best represents me is definitely Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory because I believe that Sociocultural Theory is a great combination of students doing their own thinking and also relying on someone else to bring out higher level thinking that some children are not capable of doing. I will definitely be utilizing Vygotsky’s theory to teach my future students. I think students learn best when hearing it from someone who is near their age, but is a little more advanced when looking at their Zone of Proximal Development, or their ZPD.
2. I believe that students learn best by discussion and group work, and Vygotsky is a very big proponent of learning by socializing. I also believe that students learn by modeling of their peers who are more advanced and have a higher ZPD, more so than by their teachers. Student will be able to learn through their intellectual discussions with their peers, some of which have a higher ZPD, allowing the other students to reach in their understanding.
3. I would be able to support learning using Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory through motivation. Let’s pretend that I had a 4th grade class. One activity I could plan would be to have my students study the planets using a group project, where they would all be at differing ZPD levels, allowing them to challenge each other in their thinking. I would have them make a chart of the planets in the correct order from the sun, and have them write 2-3 facts about each planet underneath or on a separate sheet of paper. I would not give any more instructions than that, and expect the groups to figure out a way to represent the planets. It would not have to necessarily be on a piece of paper. They would be motivated to do this work, however, because they would want to get a good grade (that’s the extrinsic motivation), but the students would also want to accomplish this project because they know that it is a fun way to show what they know instead of taking a paper and pencil exam. They would be able to spend time with their classmates in a very low key atmosphere and be able to find facts that interest them about planets, instead of requiring facts to be about the weight, size, and amount of moons each planet has. That would make the students feel very stuck and there would be no need to have groups made up of students of differing ZPD levels. Student will be able to teach each other about their planet projects, making them feel like what they are learning is important, so they will be even more motivated to learn about planets.
4. The end result of the project would be a formal summative assessment, but because this is a group project, there will definitely be informal formative assessment during this process within the groups. The students, who will be feeling motivated to learn about planets, will be asking each other questions and testing each other as they work on the project. My assessment would be when each group presents their planet project. Because this is a performance assessment, I will be using a rubric. More specifically, I will be using an analytic rubric, because I will be grading them on whether or not they put the planets in the correct order from the sun, if they were able to name the planets, if they gave 2-3 facts about each planet, and if the project, by a class vote, had an overall appeal, meaning if the group did not just through the project together in the last 10 minutes before it was due. Because the groups will be working on this project during class time, I will also be assessing them on if they contributed on the project, as I made clear during my instructions of the project. I will have a rubric on a 1-3 scale, if the student did not do what was expected, if the student did a satisfactory job, or if they did an exemplary job. The students will receive a copy of the rubric as I give out the instructions so they are aware of what they are being assessed on, so there will not be any confusion. Though this is a group project, I will make sure that each student knows that they will be given an individual score based on how much they contribute. This will be an extra extrinsic motivator to make sure each student participates in the planet project.
I am still a little bit confused on equity. I am not quite sure how I can, as a teacher, address and provide an equitable education, especially if I teach in a very diverse community, which is something that I am seriously considering. I have looked at some articles about equity and talked to some of my education friends about this, and I’ve found a lot of cool information, but I am worried that I won’t have enough class time to make sure my class is as equitable as possible. I’ve found actual lessons that would instill equity, but not much when it comes to the day-to-day schedule. I must be missing something pretty substantial, though. Do you have any ideas about how to create an equitable classroom without adding any extra time?