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Participant Quotes
"We were expecting to gain a few tidbits on teaching, but we left with strategies that have the potential to change the culture and attitude of our school forever."
...4 Teachers from Brooklyn College Academy, grades 9 - 10

"Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share in this awesome learning experience."
...Math Teacher, Cape Coral, Florida

"This conference was the best educational experience I've had since I left college. I've been to seminars, clinics, and all kinds of workshops, but this conference was more value than anything I've experienced. In the past week, I reflected more on my teaching practices than I've ever done since I began my career."
...Teacher of Middle School Science, St. Lawrence County, New York

"I was awed by your effort to make each person at the conference feel valued."
...Middle School Teacher, ELA, State of Delaware

"We had an amazing experience at the conference!"
...Social Studies Teachers, New York City, New York

"I want to say how much I enjoyed the week. The level of learning just continues to rise every year!"
...Staff Developer, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"Our team became a cohesive group of educators that truly have the kids at heart. We are going to really try to get together on a regular basis to discuss and encourage each other with things learned at this conference."
...Elementary Teacher, St. Lawrence County, New York
Definition Theory Strategies Misconceptions

Constructivist Strategies for the Learner Centered Classroom
1. Anticipation (assessing prior knowledge) ­ A statement is made.  Students may accept or reject the statement.  They have to stand behind why they accept or reject it, although their thinking may change by the end of the activity.

2. Topical Barometer ­ allows students to visually show (or rate) where they are on a spectrum.  Students then discuss why they are where they are on the scale (i.e. disagree, agree, strongly agree).

3. Think-Pair-Share ­ On the clock, focused questioning.  The students think about what they are told.  They get with a partner and discuss the topic.  They then share their thoughts with the group.

4. Word Splash ­ brainstorming and prior knowledge.  A word of phrase is put on the board.  Students each comment on what the word means to them.  It could be a personal comment or a synonym.

5. Devilís Advocate ­ taking the opposite view or side of a topic or issue to encourage a higher level of thinking.

6. KWL (KWLH) chart ­ what the students Know (prior knowledge); What the students Want to know/what they wonder (questions about the topic); What they Learned; How they found it (H is added on some charts).

7. Focused free-writing (Quick write) ­ Uninterrupted period of time (2-5 minutes) to write about a topic that is chosen.  This follows a "think aloud" ­ which is like a think-pair-share.

8. Graphic Organizers ­ Students are involved in making them!! Concept map, timeline, web, KWL, 4-square, t-charts.

9. Jigsaw ­ (across curriculum) ­ students break up into groups.  Each group learns about a topic.  They then teach other groups the information that they learned.  Each student then joins another group, teaches what he studied and learns from the others.

10. Carousel ­ 5 or 6 topics, each on a piece of newsprint, are put on the wall or different areas of the room.  Students are put in groups of 3 or 4.  Students get a small amount of time to write about the topic.  They write all they can about the topic in the allotted time.  They cannot repeat what someone else wrote.  It can be used as an anticipatory set, to assess prior knowledge, or to review a topic.  An added touch is to play music and stop the music when you want the students to carousel to another sheet of newsprint.

11. Play-Doh © - Students construct a model using Play-Doh ©.  It can be about different cultures or geographical regions.

12. Bag it ­ Students are broken into small groups.  A passage is given about different components of a topic.  Each group chooses a component within the passage.  The groups collaboratively decide which clues can be used to describe their topic (i.e. the Thirteen Colonies ­ each colony is a separate component within the topic).  Each group will put the clues to their component in a paper bag.  The others will try to figure out which component the clues are for.  Each group rotates to each otherís clue bag.  The lesson finalizes by the groups revealing which components they gave clues for.

13. Modeling ­ teachers and students model the lesson (guided practice).

14. Literature Circles ­ (across curriculum) small or whole group ­ The students are engaged.  Each person gets a role: Designer (illustrates); Line Catcher (finds interesting parts or passages ­ things that stick out); Link-maker (makes connections to the world ­ text to text, text to self, text to world); Reporter (summarizes the information); Wonderer (thinks "outside the box" ­ is the what if? person).

15. Surveys/Questionnaires ­ Students make a product on a given topic.

16. Newspapers/Photo Album ­ Students make a product on a given topic.

17. Thinking about thinking (meta-cognition) ­ How did you get the answer?  Not everyone thinks alike.  The students think about how they learned something and what a good strategy is for them.

18. Visual aids (to aid memory) ­ (i.e. Boston Massacre ­ Charlieís group) ­ Students have to design their own visual aid in order for this to be a constructivist strategy.

19. Mnemonics ­ Students make their own mnemonic to help them remember something (i.e. roy g biv ­ the colors of the rainbow).

20. 2 stay ­ 1 stray ­ Activity is completed.  1 person looks at other groupsí work.  2 people stay and explain their groupís work.

21. Rubric ­ a grading system that lists all of the criteria to achieve the grade which one desires.  All expectations for the work are known.  A rubric is most effective when students are involved in constructing the rubric before an assignment is started.

22. Checklist ­ students help make a checklist, so all criteria is known for an assignment.  A checklist provides a visual to help students achieve success.

23. Portfolio ­ a compilation of studentsí work samples to represent the work that they have completed throughout the year.  The students choose the work samples that are included in the portfolio.

These strategies were compiled and edited by a team of professional educators, from the Crown Point Central School District, working at the 2002 summer constructivist "Design Conference on Teaching and Learning," at St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. The team included Jeanne Gabler, Charles Harrington, Silke Huntington, Micheline Sawanec, Rhonda Speshock, Shane Thelan, and Patti Wolf. Facilitators were Sandy Latourelle and Elaine Rice.


Definition Theory Strategies Misconceptions