Based upon the theories of developmental psychologist Jean William Fritz Piaget, instructional delivery teaching methods are based upon the specific learning stages of children. As young students progress through the learning experience, each learning stage differs from the others as the degree of complexity increases over time. Ideally, children taught under these theories are provided with hands-on classroom assignments which students may be able to do physically while experimenting with them. Piaget operated under the belief system that children would learn best if allowed to approach learning from a playful perspective and that reasoning skills follow in natural progression.
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Piaget's learning theory contains four developmental stages. Ages two and under comprises the sensor motor stage; the pre-operational stage involves ages two to seven; ages seven through eleven represents the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage is for ages 12 and up. Theoretically, knowledge of all four stages is required in order to effectively apply the Piaget theories at various classroom levels.
Classrooms that support Piaget theorems generally demonstrate, through their design, the various different stages of child development at various study levels. Recognising that children will continually attain new skills, classrooms should contain various schemes to reflect this. For example, the classroom environment would be appropriately geared quite differently for a middle school class than one at the preschool level. Classrooms are structured to accommodate the needs of a range of students within a particular level.
Cooperative Learning Exercise
Using a social context, a teacher could assign students to a partner to learn about a certain subject and how to work in a cooperative group. Students and partners could create their part of an activity, such as a piece of artwork that would be added to a grouping on a wall. The wall would represent the group as a classroom project. The nature of this kind of activity demonstrates the sharing of information, which can be a key component of learning.
Active Learning Exercises
The active learning technique assists students of all levels in transferring information for enhanced learning. Transfer can be realised through a variety of types of exercises. For example, for younger students aged two to seven in the pre-operational stage, try a lively and creative matching exercise to teach students about some of the complex vocabulary descriptions for visual sensory. Make note cards with the names of various objects in the room. Have the children match the names to the objects in a timed exercise to make it like a fun game.
Board games like Clue could be used by students aged seven through eleven in the concrete operational stage. As they make educated guesses about which suspect perpetrated the crime, they will also be addressing which weapon could have been used and where it is located. Older students aged 12 and over in the formal operational stage might also be able to work toward developing a logical strategy for hypothesis testing and actually solving the mystery efficiently on that basis.
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