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2016-03

The Teacher’s Role in Children’s Cognitive Construction
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This semester, the grade one students of Huamei International School’s GIA program wereintroduced to their science course. Ms. Briana MacLellan was happy to see the students’ high interest leveltowards the subject. Completing new tasks and learning new knowledge alwaysbrings along interesting challenges.


Science can be considered a complex subject with many newvocabulary terms for students to remember. Throughout this course, our goal isnot to simply pass along the knowledge to students, but rather help studentsconstruct their own understanding through their experiences. Finding ways oftransferring the learning from the teacher to the student can be a challenge,but we have made it a goal this semester.


Ms. MacLellan started the first unit of science with anoutdoor science class. The grade one’s were paired up with students from Mr. John Bayne’s grade three class for extra encouragement, andtogether they explored the environment in search of living and non-livingthings.


Before heading outside, we had a discussion about what wealready knew about living and non-living things.  Students had lots of insight and enthusiasmabout their existing knowledge, but now had to differentiate between living andnon-living things in nature, and what basic needs of a living thing are.  Throughout this activity, Ms. MacLellan and Itook on the role of supporters, in hopes of students coming to their own findings.


Cognitive construction (also known as constructivism) wasfounded by one of the most influential psychologists, Jean Piaget. The basicidea of his theory was that knowledge could not be passed on to students byteachers, but obtained and constructed by students themselves, under certainsocial or environmental backgrounds, by utilizing support or material frompartners or teachers. This theory has been a hot topic for educators and haslead to countless discussions on the aim of education.


We are pleased to say our students did very well with thisself-driven, learner-centered activity, and it has encouraged us to continueusing cognitive construction in the first grade curriculum.

(SuHuizhen studied English translation and interpretation in Guangdong Universityof Technology. She is an English teacher in the Primary School.)


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