Zone of Proximal Development

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Subject: [PD 6108] Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 10:53:08 EST 2011

Yesterday, we reviewed the eight principles that self-regulated learners practice and explored the role of metacognition a bit.

1-"Experts acquire and maintain skill through consistent and long-term engagement with domain-relevant activities, deliberate practice, and corrective feedback."
2-Experts "notice features and meaningful patterns" that are missed by less experienced learners.
3-"Content knowledge.is organized around core mental models.that reflect deep understanding"
4-Experts use metacognitive skills
5-Knowledge is "tuned and conditionalized" and an expert knows when and in which contexts to apply the skills.
6-"Experts retrieve and execute relevant knowledge and skills automatically" so they can focus on harder tasks with less stress.
7-"Experts approach tasks flexibly, so they recognize when more knowledge is needed and take steps to acquire it while monitoring progress."
8-Experts "Retain domain-related skills through adulthood" within standard/expected losses in speed and endurance related to aging.


Today, we focus on the report's findings about how to keep students interested and challenged but not so challenged that they feel overwhelmed.

TUESDAY: Teaching in Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Vygotsky's 1986 concept of ZPD on 4-6 states that "learning goals, materials, and tasks.should be sensitive to what the student has mastered and be appropriately challenging-not too easy or too difficult, but just right." I call this the Goldilocks theory-presenting material not so easy that we bore students but not so hard that they feel stupid or inadequate; at both ends of the learning spectrum, we risk losing students. The report highlights the need to offer multi-leveled "explicit teacher-managed code-focused [reading] instruction," and this reinforces virtually all the research to date: low-level readers must have targeted instruction by educators who know how to teach using multi-sensory approaches that often should start at the phonemic awareness level, programs such as Lindamood-Bell and Orton-Gillingham (LMB/O-G).

  • Does your center offer multiple levels of reading instruction even though such instruction is labor intensive and requires a serious commitment from adult learners?
  • How do you reach low-literacy learners if you do not offer a multi-sensory, accelerated and intensive reading program?
  • What strategies do you use to reach our varied student populations to avoid boring them or overwhelming them? (some examples might include a "Guided Instruction" for 1:1 work, volunteers who work with one student or a small group of students on very targeted skills, offering leveled courses--ABE/GED/College Prep/Word Power [for very low-literacy students-this would be an LMB or O-G based course], and technology classes that invite more creative applications of core skills)


Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator
Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:
Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6109] Zone of Proximal Development and digital learning tools
From: David J. Rosen
Date: Tue Nov 29 13:22:40 EST 2011

PD Colleagues,

The topic for today's discussion is Vygotsky's concept of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Chapter four addresses this on pages 6 - 7.

ZPD has always made a lot of sense to me: a teacher or tutor is asked to find a level of difficulty that is not too easy (because there would be no challenge) and not too difficult (because the challenge might be overwhelming and therefore discouraging). To do this, the teacher needs to know what that is for each learner. That means knowing what each learner's level of background knowledge is for a particular topic, and also what level of difficulty would be in the zone for that learner. No problem if you are tutoring one learner; a huge problem if you have a large class of students.

I find intriguing the Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research authors' idea that computers may offer a solution to this problem.

The United States Common Core Standards for reading and writing have adopted the ZPD principle by proposing that text assignments push the envelope on text difficulty, as reflected in Lexile scores and other text characteristics, but not too much beyond what the student can handle.

Consider this instructional design:

1. With a short, initial reading assessment a learner is asked to select from a group of perhaps five reading passages that have a range of lexile scores the one that seems about right: not too hard, not too easy.

2. The computer- (or Internet-) based learning system has for each learning goal or objective a wide selection of readings, each with its lexile score coded.

3. Dynamically, the computer chooses readings with the right lexile score (one level higher than that chosen by the learner) for each learner.

This design is possible, for example, for adults who use the Learner Web. It is also possible, using the Learner Web, to dynamically match readings (or other learning resources) based on a learner's interests and learner-assessed level of background knowledge. There may be other computer-assisted learning systems, as well, that have this capability.

Learning involves being proficient with the tools needed to complete the tasks to be mastered and so requires practice with using tools. Tools can be anything from a physical tool (pen, computer, textbook, graphic organizer) to more abstract tools—such as the appropriate lexicon of a particular domain or knowledge of how people in a domain construct written arguments or literature. Chapter 4 - 3.

I wonder if anyone is concerned, as I am, that we do not spend enough time in professional development introducing teachers to useful learning tools, especially computer-based and online learning tools, helping them to help their learners use the tools well, and to integrate these tools with other classroom activities. If so, what should we do about this?

David J. Rosen
djrosen123 at gmail.com


Subject: [PD 6110] Re: Zone of Proximal Development and digital learning tools
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 14:08:46 EST 2011

"I wonder if anyone is concerned, as I am, that we do not spend enough time in professional development introducing teachers to useful learning tools, especially computer-based and online learning tools, helping them to help their learners use the tools well, and to integrate these tools with other classroom activities. If so, what should we do about this?"

David raises a very important question and concern-the fact that computers have much better adaptive qualities than in the past, and with this feature, computers can ascertain an individual student's ability level and hone in on it with appropriate reading passages, math problems, and writing questions/exercises. Certainly, states need to help adult educators become more proficient at using adaptive technology and to supply centers with modern computer labs.

Is your state helping its adult educators to use this technology, and if so, how are you using it with your students?

Stephanie Moran
Guest Facilitator


Subject: [PD 6115] Zone of Proximal Development
From: Robben Wainer
Date: Tue Nov 29 15:54:20 EST 2011

Hello,

In depicting the zone of proximal development, we understand that a student may be asked to answer a question, and then to reply with a question of their own. We understand learning as perception that requires a control over the stimulation of a learning response. At times we may be asked to lead the discussion to the topics of proof, or to synthesize how we ascribe meaning from cognitive skills to what our thought process may represent. Then to understand this theoretical interjection as a synthesized form of the value in responding to challenges, still perhaps with some anticipation of it's delivery. This is why we feel the zone of proximal development is very visual and conforms to the environment, as an internal assessment of developing logical reasoning from motives that work in unison with both internal and external perception.

Thank You,

Robben Wainer


Subject: [PD 6120] Re: Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 09:46:21 EST 2011

I think this is one of the toughest challenges of our job.

I'm afraid code-based instruction is next-to-impossible to come by in these parts. I have a fantasy of starting a tutor training program using Susan Barton's OG-based materials, and suggesting that students try it out *especially* if they suspect they might have some gaps in their own skills. (I taught O-G intensively at The New Community School for five years. It's good stuff, but hard to sell for so many reasons, especially the perception that it just takes too long, and that pervasive mythological "fluent word-caller with low comprehension skills.")

However, a lot can be done without O-G. We encourage students to use our technology so they can have text read to them, and gradually this is becoming common enough (on mobile devices, etc) so that it's easier to get to *and* regarded as a convenience rather than a Special Accommodation For STupid People. Our teachers also teach active reading very explicitly, so students are much less likely to look at the pages and hope they figure out enough from the discussion to get by. There's a fair amount of text analysis that gets down to the word level, so students pick up patterns and their reading does improve. Yes, I still cringe when it's painfully obvious that a little training in the sound-symbol patterns would open so many doors (like the student who couldn't spell "haven" and didn't believe the spelling... until I explained that no, it wasn't "heaven," it was like "ra-ven" but with an "h.")

Just as memorizing formulae out of context is a mistake in math, it makes sense to learn the code in context, too. My other fantasy is putting together a program to teach students to use Dragon Naturally Speaking... and gosh, we'd do a lot of practice reading passages aloud into that mic and making sure that what it said matched the text. (There was a product for kids that did this, but I think it didn't go far.)

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Center for Academic Success
Parkland College
Champaign, IL


Subject: [PD 6133] Re: Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Wed Nov 30 15:59:27 EST 2011

Susan-- I am aware of some successful efforts to teach struggling adults to read using the Kurzweil Reader. This system reads--and now records-- for students so they can hear while they read. It reads whatever is scanned into it and will highlight key parts of words, phrases, sentences, etc,. as needed. It has been very helpful to those who find the decoding part of reading confusing initially. It also helps those who are dependent on sounding out and cannot get to the "blending" part of reading-- whole word reading.


Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.
Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties
118 Village Road
Steuben, ME


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