1. One of the most cited theories of human development is that of Swiss biologist Jean Piaget. After reading about Piaget's basic assumptions (p. 27-32) look with particular attention at the stage of child development you would like to teach.
The other most cited theory of human development belongs to Russian developmentalist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development leads us to expect greater diversity among our same-ages students than Piaget. Given these two influential theorists' ideas on cognitive development, how might you accommodate students who are not yet working at the level of their peers?
With middle school students cognitive development will be somewhere on the same level but also all over the place at the same time as students are all individual thinkers and creating their own views and perceptions about the world around them. While most students should be at the Formal Operations Stage (p. 32) there are different levels at which students may be throughout this stage. At this stage students can think about concepts that have little or no basis in concrete reality (p. 32). Students recognize that what is logically different from what is true in the real world. They are not able to separate imagination from reality. I believe that Piaget and Vygotsky's theories are well applied to each other and they should not be looked at as one or the other, but rather together as a collaboration for better understanding students needs. Students appear to have greater diversity among their same-age peers, I agree with Vygotsky in that. Since students are at a higher stage of cognitive development they are all thinking differently about the same things. Taking the information that Piaget has said about the stages of development and then applying them to how Vykotsky views a relation between peers, will help teachers better teach students and know the cognitive levels they are on. This will allow us, teachers, to better group our students to learn from one another. So, while most students are doing A, B, and C. High achieving students will be able to do A, B, and C plus D. Low achieving students will be able to do only A and B, not only only A. Special needs student will be able to do some combination of A, B, and C or just one over the others. It is important that as the teacher, I am aware of these different levels. By grouping students together that are on different levels of learning within the Formal Operations Stage, they can work with each other to grow in their knowledge together and help each other see or understand something in a new way.
2. Theories in educational psychology promote the idea that language plays a critical role in cognitive development. Examine Table 2.2 (p. 51). Paying particular attention to the age range that you are interested in teaching. Consider how you might incorporate or adapt the strategies presented for use with your own students.