Thursday, March 21, 2013

Unit 3: Chapter 2

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.

 With middle school students (6-8 grade level) the suggested strategies include: assigned reading materials for new vocabulary, terminology used by experts, structured debates, consider underlying meanings of words, and explore nature of words and language. These strategies are all informative and helpful for students to learn the content they should know at their grade level.With the new common core, reading is becoming especially important for students to do in all content areas. It is, however, a little more challenging to accommodate for within the art education classroom. I can achieve this though through presenting my students with short articles or stories about works of art or artists that are influential to the lessons we are doing. First had experiences are essential to help students understand what they are learning in relation to the real world. This will bring in the terminology used by the art experts as well as readings that focus on other areas of our lessons which will incorporate other expert terminology for students to learn and apply in other classes. The structured debates are also an excellent idea, however, I will conduct them in the form of critiques. This way students are free to openly express their views about certain works or artists while other students bring up relative information that applies to the topic as well. In art critiques their is often much debate as people are for or against certain aspects of a work of art. This can be beneficial for the artist to see how they could further improve their creativity and process by understanding both sides of peoples' comments. These critiques are important to help students learn how to articulate themselves and receive positive feedback about their works. In art, your work is never truly private. There will be someone viewing it at some point, so the critiques, or rather debates, about what is working and what is not can really change or enhance the students intentions. Finally, the underlying meanings and exploration of nature of words and language will be useful for students to learn the context in which terms are being used so that they can apply the terms in other uses.


  1. Rachel,

    I enjoyed your comments and ideas regarding ways to incorporate strategies with your middle school students. You have taken these strategies from the book and made them your own and made them perfect for the art classroom. What great ideas! I thought your idea to present short articles on works of art and artists to your students as well as your idea to turn structured debates into critiques for your art class are creative ideas that make these strategies unique and personal to you. I can definitely see these strategies incorporating and fitting well into an art classroom.

  2. I was intrigued by your section on language development in your classroom. As an art teacher, I think it is a challenging task to teach students the language of art. I believe you have many great strategies in mind and I love the idea of having debates. I also love the picture you included on the display cards. Those would look good and be helpful in the classroom!