Topic 3: Identifying Teaching Styles


Changing Role of the Teacher

Reflect on your teaching style.

    To what extent do you prefer to direct the learning activities in your classroom?
    To what extent do you guide your students to direct their own learning?
    To what extent do state tests control how you teach?
    To what extent do you use learning centers?
    To what extent do you use small group instruction?
    If you use small group instruction what are the other students doing?
    To what extent do you use a lecture method?
    How do you know what your students have learned, and what they understand as a result of the learning 
    experiences you've provided for them?
Read Meaningful, Engaged Learning from the NCREL Web site.

Children are natural learners. Preschoolers acquire language and motor skills at a rapid rate. Most three and 
year olds will proudly tell you how smart they are. Yet when students enter school we begin to see students who
struggle with learning, and who each year become less and less interested in learning and more and more
disruptive. Schools are supposed to inspire learning, to motivate students to want to learn, and to provide rich 
resources and tools that enhance the learning experience.

Traditionally the teacher has been the imparter of knowledge. As a profession, for generations we have followed
a model in which we either tell the students (lecture) what we want them to know, or we assign chapters in a
book that tell what we want them to know. Consequently text book publishershave had great control over 
educational content. In this model publishers provide "Teacher's Guides" and learning is scripted by others. 
We then test students to see if they have acquired the "facts" that have been presented and grade them on 
a bell shaped curve. Then we move on to the next topic. In this model technology is seen as a tool for drill and 
practice or to test comprehension.

The Constructivist model requires us to engage our students in the learning process. The teacher becomes the
facilitator of learning who guides and points students to appropriate resources and information. Learning is no
longer the memorization of facts for a test with scores recorded and compared on a bell shaped curve so that some
students are excellent, some are failures, and most are average. In this model students at the bottom end of the
curve lose their self-esteem and consequently their motivation to learn. In the Constructivist model learning is 
continuous, and concepts are revistied in a spiraling curriculum. All learners move form what they currently know 
and understand to the next level on knowledge and understanding continuously throughout their lives.

Take a look at the examples below. On the left the teacher imparts knowledge to the student. The student is tested
and scored placed on the bell shaped curve. In the Constructivist model both students and teachers are life-long 
learners. The teacher becomes the facilitator and learning is constantly assessed and reassessed by both students 
and teacher toward the goal on constant learning as in the Formative Assessment model below.

Reflect on the extent to which your students are engaged in learning.

Integrating Technology into Your Classroom: Overview of the Tools

Now reflect on what technology tools you have available and how you are currently using them.
    What technology tools to you have available to your students?
    How do you currently use these tools with your students?
    Do you feel these tools are being used to increase student learning?
    How do you think you could better use these technology tools to better improve student learning?
    What constraints do you have when it comes to integrating technology into your curriculum?
    How do you think you can use the technology that is available to your students to engage them in learning?
Next, Take a look at these sites and see if you can find a project, unit or lesson idea that is similar to the one you are planning Make a bookmark list of any projects, units, or lessons that you think you can use or adapt.