Foundations of Constructivism/Case Examples/Chapter 6.4

CHAPTER 6.4: Constructing through construction/ A unit on construction for prekindergarten children

Introduction edit

Each day the students will experience different activities with shapes. For example, eating sandwiches cut into triangles, squares, or rectangles, pizza cut into triangles, and crackers for squares or circles. This uit is intended for a classroom of Early Childhood Special Education Students ages 3–5. All students exposed to this unit have an IEP with goals intended to be met by exposure and experience to different media and content. All children have little or no prior knowledge of shape names.

Course Description edit


Our goal is for students to be able to identify the shapes and where they occur in the environment.


After the teacher reads the story The Shapes of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss and discusses properties of the shapes (square, circle, triangle, and rectangle,) the student will be able to correctly identify each shape. After the teacher shows the student the PowerPoint presentation the students will be able to talk about the shapes and name their properties. After the teacher describes the sahpes and the students receive their shape books, the student will be able to identify the shape and name the characteristics. After watching the iMovie the students will have an understanding of the shapes in their environment and will be able to identify the shapes around them. At the end of the shape unit, the student will be able to walk around the classroom and correctly document at least 3 occurrences of each of the four shapes studied. Teaching Approach:

We use both directed and constructivist teaching approaches. We have to use directed teaching approach in helping the student identify and understand the properties of the shapes. Since they do not have the background knowledge of shapes this is the best approach to use. Once the students begin to understand the shapes, we will use a constructivist approach to let them explore and discover the wonderful world of shapes.

Pass Skills: Pre-Kindergarten

Oral Language

Standard 1.1: Listens with interest to stories read aloud. The student will listen to the story that the teacher reads during the introduction of the unit. This will be done in Objective 1

Standard 1.2: Understands and follows oral direction. This will occur as the students receive directions from the teacher each and every day. This will be done in Objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Standard 3.1: Demonstrates increasing awareness of concepts of print. This will occur when the student reads their Shape Book on Day 2. Objective 3

Standard 3.2: Identifies the front cover and back cover of a book. This will occur when the student reads their Shape Book on Day 2. Objective 3


Standard 1.1: Sorts and groups objects into a set and explains verbally what the objects have in common (e.g., color, size, shape). This will occur when the teacher asks the students to identify the shapes. This will be done in Objective 3

Standard 3.1: Begins to recognize, describe, compare, and name common shapes (e.g.,circle, square, rectangle). This will happen when the student points to the shapes and identifies them for the teacher. This will be done in Objective 3


The students will walk around the classroom and tally every time they see a square, circle, triangle, or rectangle.

Constructivist Principles and Pedagogy edit

The following is research project done in Tennessee where the school district implemented Constructivism into their Early Childhood Program. It proved to be extremely successful, but they had to overcome many obstacles to become accepted by the district. Similar stories are present in SLPS as we try to implement Developmentally Appropriate Practice into our pre-K classrooms and receive district approval.

Quality early childhood programs are well accepted, however, implementation of early childhood practices in an elementary program generally are complicated. The newness of the programs using constructivism brings with it major obstacles that are usually successfully overcome. The three most significant were community acceptance, staffing, and curriculum restructuring. As in most new programs, the fear of the unknown must be overcome. Some parents had previously been aware of quality early childhood programs, however, others needed to be educated. This was accomplished by conducting the previously described home visits during the planning phase. Once the school opened it became evident that additional public relations were needed. Written information was prepared in the form of a newspaper informing parents and the community about the many components of the multiage, developmentally appropriate program. Newsletters describing learning activities unique to each learning center complemented this newspaper. Inviting the parents and community to participate in forums designed to further educate them, including one conducted by a nationally recognized non-graded, multiage specialist proved beneficial. These initial endeavors encouraged parents to become actively involved in the daily learning aspects of the program. The goal, as it was for the schools of Reggio Emilia (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1988), was to create an environment for children, teachers and parents.

Conclusion edit

Proof of overcoming these obstacles was evidenced in various ways. A main indicator of success was the strong student achievement scores of 2nd– 5th grade students. The students have continuously scored above district and state averages, thus supporting the curriculum design. Anecdotal data reported by middle school teachers and administrators found fifth grade students who have moved on to the designated middle school make a smooth transition and stand out as a group of strong academic achievers. In addition, the overall success of the program has been confirmed by outside evaluations including “The National Blue Ribbon Schools” and “Southern Association of Colleges and Schools”. The nationally recognized non-graded, multiage specialist evaluated the design of the program positively. His visit confirmed for many that the multiage configuration was developmentally appropriate for the students. School climate was evaluated formally in 1997 by consultants from the University of Tennessee. The program was rated higher by the parents than any other school that had previously been surveyed. A parent satisfaction survey in 1999 supported the 1997 evaluation by revealing an excellent rating for a consistently positive environment in which children learn. Parent involvement in the school through active participation in the learning process and evaluation of the program increases collaboration and the sense of community. The school received the “2001 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award”. The site visit report concluded with the statement, “This school now enjoys a strong reputation for excellence and should be considered a demonstration school for all districts seeking to build a ‘better way.’” Maximizing early childhood practices by incorporating constructivist principles in this elementary school, enabled administrators, faculty, staff, children, and parents to engage in the collaborative process of creating an environment and program in which all children can learn!

Glossary edit

===References and Resources

===Anderson, R. H., & Pavan, B. N. (1993). Non-gradedness: Helping it to happen Lancaster, PA: Technomic.

Anderson, R. H. (1993). The return of the non-graded classroom. Principal. 72, 9-12.

Barnett, S., & Hustedt, J. (2003). The first years of school. Educational Leadership, 60(7), 54-57.

Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (Eds.). (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs (Rev.ed). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Brooks, J., & Brooks, M. (1993). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (1998). The hundred languages of children. Greenwich, CT: Ablex

Fu, V., Stremmel, A., & Hill, L. (2002). Teaching and learning: Collaborative exploration of the Reggio Emilia approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice-Hall.

Gaustad, J. (1992). Non-graded education, mixed-age, integrated, and developmentally appropriate education for primary children. Oregon School Study Council Bulletin, 35(7).

Gaustad, J. (1994). Non-graded education overcoming obstacles to implementing the multi-age classroom. Oregon School Study Council Bulletin, 38(3-4).

Goleman, D. (1994). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam.

Kovalik, S. (1994). ITI: The model integrated thematic instruction. Kent, WA: Books for Educators. Latest Pre-Kindergarten News. (n.d.) Retrieved June 8, 2005, from

Chapter Quiz edit

1. All children who are exposed to this unit will be Typicall Developing True or False?

2. Constructivism enables children do have which of the following experiences??

   a. Plenty time to have individualized, differentiated instruction
   b. Time to use language with their peers to discuss their findings
   c. Hands on learning to be able to use all their senses to be exposed to shapes
   d. All of the above

3. What obstacles did the school in Tennessee face when implementing Constructivism into their pre-k programs?

4. Describe why Constructivism is appropriate practive for Early Learners?