A Headful of Theory and a File Full of Notes: Gagnon and Collay, Constructivist Learning Design

This was the gloriously free weekend when I was going to tie up two lesson plans, two theoretical accounts, and find the Peer Observer Assessment Template.

As it is, I have two lesson plans, a couple of documents retrieved from my IMG_20151206_221509Teaching Artist short course, no notes on a book that I realised was not going to help me; and notes on an entire book – one that I chose from a publishers’ catalogue:-

Gagnon, George W., Jr. and Michelle Collay, Constructivist Learning Design: Key Questions for Teaching to Standards (Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin Press, 2006.

As regards the Constructivist Learning Design, it was excellent.  Indeed, since the co-author is a music teacher, I was sure I was with kindred spirits.  However, the subtitle betrays a slant that I hadn’t expected: it was primarily aimed at American schoolteachers teaching to standards and set curricula.  Moreover, to make the book have general appeal, there wasn’t really any music input apart from a final chapter on incorporating dance.  (Ask my Traditional Music students to DANCE their collaboratively reached conclusions at the end of an hour’s seminar? No, I don’t think so!)

Nonetheless, if I wanted a breakdown of how constructivist learning works in practice, then I was in the right place.  I took fairly detailed notes until I reached the point where I felt I was going to have too much material to take in, let alone use.

The other book would be useful to someone interested in the psychology of learning, but it wasn’t going to tell me anything about how to teach, so after dipping into the initial chapters several times over the past couple of weeks, I finally put it aside:-

Carey, Benedict, How we learn: the surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens (New York: Random House, 2014)

So far, so good.  I haven’t written up my theoretical accounts, but my teaching plans are looking quite convincing.  A glitch with my favourite referencing software, Mendeley, used up an hour or two yesterday – to my annoyance – and of course there was all the usual domesticity, and a leaky roof after Storm Desmond.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t complete all I’d set out to do.

So, let’s see if I can find my Peer Observer Assessment Template, then I’ll call it a day.

 

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