Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Invisible Reader

The following is a quote from Louise Rosenblatt's The Reader, the Text, the Poem that first sparked my interest in constructivism and reader-response theory:
"Throughout the centuries, it becomes apparent, usually either the book or the author has received major illumination. The reader has tended to remain in the shadow, taken for granted, to all intents and purposes invisible. Like Ralph Ellison's hero, the reader might say, 'I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.'"
I think students tend to check out when they feel "invisible" and that constructivist teaching can be a powerfully illuminating tool. I'm curious as to what we're doing in our classrooms to emphasize the "visibility" of our students, and what we can do for those students who sit passively in the shadows. In other words, how can constructivism help us "see" our students?

8 comments:

  1. I think that constructivism helps our students become more than shadows in the classroom so that they are responsible for their learning rather than merely sitting back and being fed information. One great benefit of the constructivist theory is that students are finally in the driver's seat along with their teacher. To me that is one of the empowering parts of blogging. It allows for those students whotypically chose not to participate in classroom discussions to become an active participator through their blogging.

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  2. I am planning on using the new technology to videotape students so I can add a videostream to my blogs. Let parents see their engaged students! Seriously, what a wonderful question, Kristin. I too, wonder what we each are doing. It would help to even just have a brainstorming session to genderate a working list of the ways we engage our students. Some of the ways I've heard teachers share: journal writing and sharing, literature circles, fishbowls, socratic seminars, visualization of text, experiments, and real-world applications.

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  3. One thing that I did the other day with my freshman was had them create their own form of assessment from the text for a specific section. It seems like a simple tool but it allowed the students to pinpoint what they thought was important and it gave them the persective of the teacher/ evaluator instead of the student. They were constructing their knowledge and then were asked to explain/defend why their answers were the "right" answers to their assessment. If a student disagreed with their "right" answer they were asked to prove or convince that student why the thought the answer was right. It brought on a great discussion and had everyone involved.

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  4. We certainly have a number of students here who are passive, and just let school happen to them. With constructivism, they are less allowed to be passive, and can then see that they do have control over the end result.

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  5. Teachers who are engaging and who provide opportunities for students to participate are the light the eliminates shadow. By creating an atmosphere where students are expected to participate, it is difficult to be invisible. Even in our own group, there seems to be invisible students. Hopefully this is only because they are still not sure of where we are going as a group. But what does it say if teachers are invisible students? If we are not participating, how can we honestly expect our own students to all participate?

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  7. In constructivism teachers act as guides for learning. Students are not allowed to be passive, they actively construct their own knowledge from experiences.

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  8. Many students are shadows in the room because of a lifetime of experiences. The difficult part for some whose confidence has been shattered by prior experiences is accepting that they can be more. Constructivism will help them more than old school methods, but some will not be ready to accept the responsibility this places on the them.

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