Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lauren Schraut's Guided Reading Video

The YouTube video that I chose to watch was titled Guided Reading with Cathie Peters. In this clip, it is discussed what is guided reading. It is when a small group is getting the individualized attention that they need when it comes to their reading skills. Books are picked especially for the group being worked with at the time.
The first teacher that was shown, was doing more of an “after reading” questioning. She was questioning what happened and why it happened in the story. During this part, she allowed the students to give there own input and understanding of the story.
The guided reading group discussed the strategy of looking at the pictures prior to reading the story. This was much like the “Picture Walk” that was used in the video that we watched in class. The teacher shown telling the students that using the pictures to figure out difficult words is very important. Before reading the teacher went through the book and looked at the pictures and the words. She actually had them point to both the picture and the word so they understood that they go hand-in-hand and that you can use picture clues to help you when you are stuck on a word. The teacher made a “looker” for when “looking” at the words. It was a popsicle stick with a large googly eye on the end of the stick. I believe as a young student I would have thought it was cool to be able to point at what I was looking at with a big eye. I am not sure why she had them do it other than the fact that it was cool!
Also, the teacher found words on a class “Word Wall” and they spelled them out with magnetic letters and phonetically went through the phonemes in the word until they formed the correct word.
This video does cover things we talked about in class and saw in the video we viewed as well. It covers information that was given in the readings but not as many strategies that were given in the book.
This video can be found here :

Kaelyn Riley's Guided Reading Video

In this video I found called Modeling Guided Reading FAQ, there were many great questions that any person may have about the system and an actual first grade teacher describing what she uses in her classroom. In this clip, it differed from the one we watched in class, because it looked like she was doing the group reading in a room with just the group she was working with, as opposed to staying in the classroom along with the rest of the class. This may have just been for the video, or it may be their usual practice. She talked about practicing skills and reading strategies in different leveled books. The teacher seems very active, and focused on each child’s needs. She knows their strengths and weaknesses and keeps rigorous data on each student.

            This video also made this system accessible to any teacher, by talking about the simplicity it holds, by using whiteboards, index cards, games, and talking about the strategies. I even looked at the comments below this video and people were saying how thankful they were that someone explained Guided Reading, and feel more confident in using it in their own classrooms.

            Something the teacher talked about in the video was that not only is Guided Reading helpful for the students to get individualized attention and more focused practice, but it also allows the teacher to see where students need more help, and make sure they are in the right group. She said the groups are always changing, based on their needs. She organizes the kids by colors, not by a different name such as a high level and low level readers, so the kids won’t have a stigma associate with being in a certain group. Even in their groups, she does not call them over to the table by the color; instead she calls them by their individual names.

            In the video, the first grade teacher also talks about other centers she has in her classroom, so while students are doing their centers rotations, Guided Reading is one of them, and she said she worked with the students on how to behave and be productive while she is working with different Guided Reading groups.

            This video supported a lot of what we read and what we talked about in class, but this was a great real life example of a teacher putting the system into practice. She has a positive outlook on Guided Reading, and seems to have a well-developed system to help each one of her students.

            If you want to hear what she has to say, check it out at this website:


Kristen W's Understanding of Zone of Proximal Development

My understanding of Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development is that it includes the range of tasks that a child can perform with the help and guidance of others but cannot yet perform independently. It is pushing forward the thoughts and understandings students already have, their actual development level, and reaching a higher understanding of new ideas they have the potential to reach and making them a part of a student’s independent thinking as well. Through this development Vygostsky believes that a student needs scaffolding or taking someone where they are at and guiding them to their potential. It is important as a teacher to realize that every student has a Zone of Proximal Development and needs scaffolding to achieve the best they can. It is also important to know that what you guide them in learning must be in the range of their learning level and that if once they are guided to learn something, they will most likely be able to add it to an independent task the next day or very soon after. Zone of Proximal Development is a way to help students reach the skills that are beginning to form and help to clarify and guide the students into full understanding and application of those skills.
I can connect this to my own learning, because I know a little bit of background knowledge about students and the way they think, but my professors help me to think further and understand fully the different ways children understand what they are learning. A lot of my classes involve the teacher posing questions to further my thinking and challenge me in order to begin doing things on my own. Without the teachers wisdom it would be impossible to learn fully how to be a teacher. One good example of this is writing my own lesson plans. I knew a little bit about lesson plans and had the potential of being able to do them, but in order to be confident enough to finish one independently I needed facts about lesson plans, modeling from the teacher, and examples of actual lesson plans already finished. It is obvious, especially since I experience this myself, that children have the opportunity to understand several concepts, but the best way for them to reach this is to, as their teacher, guide them, model for them, and push them to reach the ability they have the potential to reach.

Kristen's ZPD

My understanding of Zone of Proximal Development is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help. It was developed by Lev Vygotsky and Belarusian. Vygotsky thought that the role of teachers/educators was to provide children with experiences which are in THEIR ZPD, which would encourage and further children’s understandings and learning. One important part about ZPD is that it is not a set chart of understandings that children are at. ZPD is based upon children’s own learning abilities and understandings. Meaning that no children will have the same ZPD.
I have had my fair share of ZPD. It is a very big topic when it comes to psychology and education. In my first psychology at IU we talked a lot about ZPD and what it is and isn't. We also had to find out how the teacher in the classroom that we where in used it and if she did what did she do. Did it work for the students? This assignment that we had to do, allowed us to see just how important it is in a school setting. Children themselves will try and do things that they are unaware off and this shows that even they are aware of what they need to do to learn about new things. Children are always learning new things. ZPD is something that even as adults we do. Especially when we are trying to do new things that we may know little about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vygtosky's Zone of Proximal Development (Emilea Bade)

Prior to reading this article I had talked about Vygotsky and the zone of proximal development in several of my other classes that I have taken. My understanding of the zone of proximal development before this reading was that it was the space between what a child can do on their own and what they can do with someone to help them. I did have the basic idea of what the zpd was, but reading this article re-enforced some of the details and also presented me with new information on the topic. One of the things that was interesting to me was when he went into detail about the actual developmental level. It was interesting to learn more about this end of the spectrum in zpd. I also really liked the example of the two students who were at the same actual developmental level; however, when assigned a task that they were helped with they had different success rates. These students had the same actual developmental level but they had different zones of proximal development.
One example from my field experience that makes me think of zpd is one of my students, Jacob. Jacob is in first grade and when counting by ones Jacob can independently look at a certain number of objects in front of him and count them aloud. He always counts correctly and gives me the right answer. However, when I give Jacob a starting number and ask him to add more to it he cannot do it without having the visual items in front of him to count one-by-one. However, when I hold up my fingers and help him count them to find the answer he can eventually solve the problem. This shows Jacob's zpd for counting by ones because he can count objects by himself but needs help counting on. As time has gone on Jacobs skills have been developing because he can count on using my fingers more independently each time he tries.

Hannah: Vygotsky and ZPD

I think this article clarified a little about Zone of Proximal Development for me. Now to my understanding ZPD is the distance or the part between what the student can achieve on their own and then the tasks they are capable of completing with guidance. While this article was kind of difficult it helped break down Vygotsky’s idea. The article also mentioned that mimicking was also beneficial for students. If they can “copy” the teacher then there is a chance they can actually complete it on their own after additional instruction. I remember in the first class we started talking about his ideas I seemed to be completely lost and thought I would just move on from it but I am now realizing we talk about him in many classes so I’m glad I’m starting to understand it all a little bit more!
I have found for me right now in almost all of my classes that having the guidance of someone else is very beneficial. Whether it is working in a group or having the professor guide me I’m able to learn and understand more while working with someone else. For instance in our math class we are counting in base 5. When this idea was completely absurd to me at first I have been able to discuss with my group and learn more. Several times I have had slippage as our professor calls it and have been reminded to keep it in base 5. The Zone of Proximal Development is relevant here because its not that I can’t calculate in base 5 it’s just that it is difficult and sometimes need help thinking of how it works.
I also found it interesting what Vygotsky said about a student mimicking the teacher. In my field experience there is a little boy who is really struggling with the math concepts we are doing but I know he is capable. The first time we went over he was able to copy what I did, the next time he still had trouble but he was able to find the answer through guided instruction. The point of what he can do on his own and the point of what he has potential of doing seems to be very wide but I think this might be a good thing. One day he will probably be able to do what he needs help with alone!

Alyson Cotter ZPD

Vygotsky’s theory on the zone of proximal development was much easier for me to understand as I was able to see and use it in the classroom. I was able to use my previous knowledge from what I have learned in other classes to make better sense of the information. Zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the difference between the actual development level and the level of potential development. A child’s actual development is what he or she can do independently, while potential development refers to what a child can do with help. The key for the teacher is to understand just how much support to provide. The right amount of guidance will challenge the child to think, reason, problem solve, and learn. Not enough support will make the task too difficult, and too much help will not allow the student to grow and develop. The teacher, peers, or parents guide learning so that students are able to connect the new information to prior knowledge, and to expand on what they already know. If teaching is kept at what the child already knows, then learning will not happen. When the student is challenged and then supported with the right amount of help, this allows him to develop to his full potential.
When thinking of my own learning experiences, I think of my field experiences. Last Friday, my group of four students was solving a math problem. They were to find how many quarters were in three dollars. One student was able to complete the problem, but needed assistance. I had to guide him by prompting questions and connecting the material to what he already knew. Once he was able to make the connection that four quarters equaled a dollar he was able to solve the problem by drawing a picture and counting the quarters.
Math is probably the best example of my learning and ZPD. If an instructor gives clues to a problem, this leads me to discover a solution. I feel that this is the best kind of learning for me. Without the clues, nothing new is learned. I am unable to solve the problem. With the help I am forced to think, study, and push myself to find a solution.

Courtney Silverstein's ZPD

Vygotsky’s concept of “zone of proximal development” describes a range of what/how children learn. Each child has two zones-actual development which is what the child already knows/can do, and the zone of proximal development is the “range” of what the child can do with guided instruction from a teacher or peers. The child can be guided by an instructor in order to reach understanding of the topic. Once the child can perform or understand the information alone, the zone of proximal development shifts. Now the child’s actual development includes information which was once unknown, and other topics/information become attainable for the child. The idea can be confusing, so here is an example: Let’s say the student is learning how to add more complicated double digit numbers (like 13+18). He has an actual development of knowing how to add single digit numbers. However adding double-digit numbers falls in his zone of proximal development. Using his background knowledge, and the teacher’s use of scaffolding, the student begins to understand how to add double digit numbers. Eventually he will know how to add them by himself. Once he can, this information becomes his actual development and now for example, adding three digit numbers may now be in his zone of proximal development.
ZPD connects to my learning all the time. One subject that this is especially clear about is math. In high school especially, the teacher would explain a new topic and once we could do it on our own, our zone of proximal development expanded. Math is a topic that builds off of itself so it would be important to expand my zone of proximal development often. Also, in college it is still present. Every time I learn something new in a classroom, my teacher is explaining the information to me (guiding me), and then once I understand it I can gain more knowledge that may have been farther out of my reach before. Also, it is prevalent when I study for tests with friends. If we understand different concepts, we can use scaffolding and help each other understand the material and again shift our zone of proximal development. Using the concept of ZPD would be beneficial for children so they can effectively grasp the material taught. If students have a good understanding of material at the beginning, as the year progresses they will be able to use their basis of knowledge to help them understand the new information.

Courtney Dressler's ZPD

As a teacher, I believe it is so important that educators understand the difference between a student’s actual developmental level and potential developmental level, or that which is supported and encouraged by an adult’s supervision and interpretation. We must admit, standardized and IQ tests can only show so much of a child’s potential. What we should really be aware of is what our students can show us when they are discussion, learning, and connecting information. Take, for instance, an individual who is studying addition concepts throughout his math unit. When given a worksheet comprised of unfamiliar problems, he may hesitate to solve the equations or even fail to complete the activity; this hesitation by one’s self represents a student’s actual developmental level. With a teacher by his side, he may show a different amount of knowledge; the instructor’s prompts and encouragement of using background knowledge may help that same student to make meaning of and solve the solutions at hand. This, of course, is where the Zone of Proximal Development comes into play. Although a child may not be able to explain or incorporate particular knowledge individually, with the help of a more knowledgeable peer he or she may be able to understand concepts that previously seemed in possible, showing his or her potential developmental level. Take, for instance, my educational experiences during my time at Indiana University. In so many different college level courses I have found myself baffled and bewildered by topics at hand; Biology, mathematics, even special education courses; they have all introduced me to new information that I have had difficulty learning and applying to assignments and discussions. This struggle that I have shown throughout my past into my present can be seen as my actual developmental level. The key to overcoming this struggle was asking questions and applying previous knowledge. After showing trouble in certain subject areas, my teachers helped me to find my potential developmental level through engaging discussion and application that helped me to understand new topics and information. As teachers, we must appreciate and accept the Zone of Proximal Development; it allows us to appreciate the difference between what our students can do alone and what they have the potential to do with minimal guidance and encouragement.

Amy Stone's ZPD

Children’s thinking can be thought of in two different zones. The first zone is the actual developmental level, which is the area of a child’s learning process in which they are able to complete problems and understand information independently. The thinking within this level has already been completed and fully developed. The second zone is the zone of proximal development. This is the area between where a child is able to problem solve independently and cannot complete problems at all. This space between their thinking can be scaffold by adult guidance and allows the student to complete the problem solving with help from others. This zone is not the space in which a child is to be taught about new subject but an area where they can gain more knowledge on areas that are not completely developed but are in the process of developing. By understanding the zone of proximal development within each child, as a facilitator of their learning, the teacher can provide scaffolds to help the students develop their thoughts further and solve issues independently that are in the process of budding.

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development can be connected to my own thinking on an everyday basis. There are often several issues that are brought up in lectures that I understand the basis of but not the entire issue. When my peers or professor provides an example or explains the topic in their own words, something clicks to the point where I understand it completely. These are not issues that I have no previous concept about but are topics that I cannot understand independently. As the article stated the information about primates, they have no zone of proximal development. Humans are able to understand information further through imitation of the problems that they have a general understanding of. I think that the zone of proximal development is a very important stage in children’s development that needs to be taken into consideration. By providing students with scaffolding, the teacher is able to further their understanding of topics and allow their confidence to increase because they will be able to problem solve on their own. Constant learning allows the students to awaken parts of their internal developmental components and although learning is directly related to the zone of proximal development, they should never be thought of in equal measure. Every issue within learning has its own relation to the child’s development therefore they cannot be thought of as one in the same. Providing learning opportunities to help close the zone of proximal development is the best way to complete learning of several subjects.

Jennifer Wolff's ZPD

Vygotsky proposes the idea of ZPD, also known as Zone of Proximal Development, where a student's academics should be at the same level as their mental development. By completing tests, children's mental age is figured. It is assumed that what children do are actually doing is compatible with their abilities. Vygotsky uses the example of two students entering school at the age of 10, yet their actual developmental age is 8. This means that these students are on the same developmental age whereas they can complete tasks a 8 year old can. He furthers his explanation with the zone of proximal development by saying that it is the distance between the actual developmental level and and the level of potential development.
After reading this, I thought it was somewhat confusing. However, then I related it back to my experience during elementary school and I think I somewhat understood it. I always had to leave the classroom to work on my reading and speech. I had a lower reading level and speech level compared to my age group. This is why I had to leave, so I could work one-on-one with a specific teacher to get my level back up. Therefore, when learning about ZPD, I figured my actual development age was lower than my potential level of development. I'm not sure if this is a correct example, but after reading the article this is what came to my mind.


The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) according to Vygotsky is the difference between a child’s actual development and their potential development. Actual development is determined by standardized test and potential development is determined by what a child can grasp with the help from a teacher or any other adult. Today’s potential development is tomorrow’s actual development. This was first introduced in educational psychology, P251, by a great teacher Alex Scott. ZPD is good because children can reach the most potential of learning by problem solving with an adult or higher level peer. When I think of ZPD I also think of scaffolding because scaffolding helps children build knowledge. They work off of stuff they already know and build on it to reach new concepts, which is like moving from actual development to potential development.
The concept of ZPD can be seen before preschool. When babies are first learning to talk, they repeat what others say. When learning to be potty trained, they often watch their parents. For the longest time my nephew thought he was supposed to sit down to pee because he followed my sister everywhere and my brother in-law worked a lot and was not around as much. From there the concepts go from life skills into school skills. When a child is learning math and they go home and are working on homework, the parents show them how they learned to solve problems. The children pick up these skills and repeat them, even though math is more advanced in the problem solving techniques than they used to be. I remember working on math homework as a child and asking my mom for help. She tried to help me but just confused me more by showing me how she did the problem because I learned it a different way.
I think we use ZPD while teaching our lessons to the kids on Fridays. When a child does not understand something, often times another child can show them how they did the problem and it is easier for the child to repeat the problem. Some of the kids are more mathematically advanced than the other children and for some children it is easier to understand a problem when another child describes how to do it. This was the case for me in high school in my math class. The teacher confused me on a certain concept, and my best friend helped me study for the test and I was able to get an A because she explained it to me in a way that was easier for me to understand.

Zone of Proximal Development

While reading about the zone of proximal development, the details tend to muddle up what seems to me to be a very basic and natural aspect of learning and developing as individuals. It seems almost strange that people would have a hard time recognizing and accepting Vygotsky’s position because it’s such a part of everybody’s learning process. While the article begins with children at a preschool level, I think it’s easiest to see the ZPD at work in infants. Though babies’ brains are rapidly taking in information there is very little they can actually do themselves (that’s why they have parents!). The only way toddlers learn is by observing and repeating, or using assistance to complete a task. Kids constantly mirror their parents and develop language simply by listening to the examples around them.
For instance, think about how a child learns the parts of their face, such as “nose”. First, the parent points to his or her own nose and says the word. Then, they may take the child’s finger and put it on their own nose, repeating the word. Eventually, the child learns that pointing to that spot on his or her parent elicits a certain desirable action (think very upbeat voice, smiling face). From that point, the parent may take the child’s finger, place it on his or her nose, and give the reaction the child is used to from the aforementioned activity. Ultimately, the goal is to get the child to point to his or her own nose and say the word. Before any modeling or assistance from a parent, the child would never just point to his or her parent’s nose and expect a response. But that doesn’t mean the child is not capable of it, they just needed some guidance to make the activity meaningful.
In my own personal experience in the classroom I have used this modeling/assistance with students to engage higher level thinking. Just last week we did an activity with putting cubes together. At first I just told them the point of the activity, “put your cubes together any way you want so that when you pick them up, they stay together.” Upon viewing the expected confused expressions, I elaborated, “Make some kind of design, any kind you want, but all of your cubes have to be stuck together.” I then began putting mine together, and feeling comfortable and confident that they knew what to do, the students also began.
The ZPD is an essential part of understanding how students learn and what they are capable of. I think it is especially important because, as educators, we need to be aware of how much, or often times how little, we are stretching our students thinking to provide new insights and capabilities.

Lauren Flaspohler's ZPD

Vygotsky’s idea of Zone of Proximal Development is a widely known and used in education. I first heard of Vygotsky and the ZPD in my educational psychology class. My understanding is that the ZPD is what the student knows with help from the teacher or other helper. If a student can do something on their own it is below their ZPD. If a student can’t do something even with help, it is above their ZPD. If a student can do something with a little help from the teacher or someone who knows the information, then that is in their ZPD. What the teacher is doing is providing scaffolding. This is a big part of Vygotsky’s philosophy and his idea of Zone of Proximal Development. Without scaffolding, ZPD would not be what it is. A student’s ZPD is what they know with scaffolding from a teacher. The ZPD is what Vygotsky felt that teachers should be basing their lessons on. Teachers should create challenging tasks for the students so that they have to work a little to figure everything out. Students should need help from the teacher for the lesson to be effective.
I feel like teachers used lessons in my ZPD all of the time and still do in college. Always at the beginning of the semester when I get a syllabus for a class, I see it and think that I will never get through all of it. However, the teacher breaks it up into projects that I can do and provides help for the projects as well. Also I feel like when I was younger and just beginning to write, scaffolding was used for ZPD all the time. We would brainstorm with the teacher’s help at first. Then we would write, do peer reviews, and then submit a final draft. Writing was always in all of our ZPD because as we would get better, the teacher would add something else that we would have to include in our writing or something that would need to be fixed. Also we would be working with others so we would have peer interactions which are something that Vygotsky strongly supports as well.

Alex Nabolotny ZPD

My understanding of Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development goes as far back as my Educational Psychology class that I, like most of my classmates, took freshman year. Zone of Proximal Development is the difference between what a child understands and can accomplish on their own and what the child needs assistance with in order to accomplish a task. The "zone" in the Zone of Proximal Development is the area where the student is challenged to accomplish something on his or her own without any assistance. I remember learning this and being so confused at the idea and trying to learn about ZPD through a picture of some sort. The key idea in regard to ZPD is scaffolding either by the teacher or even through peers. Often, it can be that peers learn best from each other due to the fact that their individual thought processes might be similar. When I first learned about this idea of ZPD and teacher assistance I was worried that the student might depend on the teacher too much. I figured the student could always be stuck in the zone of constant assistance and never experience learning on their own. However, as I started my field experiences I gained a better understanding of how it works. For example I was in a third grade classroom and the teacher would have individual meetings with her students to gain an understanding of how they were doing with different subjects. If any one seemed to be struggling she would schedule times to help them with their work. This worked out well for her class because once the students met with the teacher; they would have a greater understanding and as a result were more confident in class. I have also seen this idea applied to myself. Throughout some college courses I have had to go in and meet teachers for extra help on topics I did not understand. I think Vygotsky’s ideas are true for all grade levels, which is why I think as future educators it is important to understand his theories clearly. As a teacher it is necessary to provide that help for your students. It not only helps them learn, but it also helps you and your student form a relationship making them more willing to come to you for help or participate during class, making them more active learners.

ZPD (Leanne Putterill)

When Vygotsky was first introduced to me, I had a hard time understanding the practicality of his ideas. After some field experiences, personal reflection, and more research on his ZPD ideas, his theories make much more sense to me. Essentially, the zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual developmental level (that which he or she can do independently) and and the level of potential development (that which can be accomplished with assistance). Vygotsky sees that there is a difference between skills that are fully matured and those that are in the process of maturation. This makes total sense when I think about my own learning and understanding. There seems to be a continuum of understanding that consists of basic knowledge all the way through the ability to teach it.

There are a few ways that we experience potential development with assistance. This can be through scaffolding from a teacher or through group work. The basic idea consists of constructive learning. When we have assistance or we are exposed to new ideas, we tend to combine that information with what we already know, or at least are in the process of knowing.

This relates to my exposure to field experiences. I have been a student for most of my life, but when looking at entering a career as a teacher, I need to have a different viewpoint. This specifically relates to writing lesson plans. I have been a participant in lessons, so I have some exposure to the idea. Now, I have to take the next step and be the creator of a lesson. Through guidance from teachers and working with other students, I have become much more competent as to how to write and implement a successful lesson plan. With the assistance from other more experienced people, I'm in the process of moving from my actual developmental level and to my potential developmental level.

Having seen my own understanding develop from a basic knowledge to an implementation, I can see how the zone of proximal development is an applicable idea. Being aware of what is needed for this formation, I hope to be a more effective educator in the future.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development

The first time I heard of Vygotsky was my freshman year of college in my Educational Psychology class. We spent large amounts of time discussing the difference between Piaget and Vygotsky and the way they beleive learning happens for students. Vygotsky's theory of zone of proximal development always seemed very straight-forward for me. That is until I read our article for class. Even so there are some things that seem to be the basics for ZPD.

To me the basic idea is that every child can learn as long as its within their knowledge base to do so. The process of measuring a students ability not only measures what they already know, but what they are capable of knowing in the future. However what children are capable of knowing is not always reached alone. Students need scaffolding from their teachers, family, friends, and peers to help them reach what is in their "zone of proximal development".
This idea to me as a future teacher seems broad but reasonable for classroom understanding. I think its particularly important for teachers to know where each of their students stands on a certain subject, whether it be math, science, or reading. In doing so they are able to develop lessons that extend their zone of proximal development. This can happen in one day or over a long period of time. One day a student might need many sources of scaffolding for an activity, and by the end of the week are sucessfully conpleted the same activity by themselves. From what I understand about Vygotsky this makes the former new information now something the students know, and then makes room for more information that they can recieve scaffolding on. A process that can be repeated over and over.
For example my freshman year ZDP was something I have never even heard of, but as it was introduced to me it became something that was in my own zone of proximal development. Over time through scaffolding of my teacher, my peers, and other resources it has now become something I can describe.

Kate Neal and Vygotsky

Like many of my classmates, most of my information and understandings regarding zone of proximal development (ZPD) and Vygotsky originate from P251 (Educational Psychology course) that I took over 2 years ago. The concept of ZPD was difficult for me to grasp in the beginning. However, after it being mentioned several times, I am beginning to become more comfortable with the entire concept. Zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual development level of independent problem solving and the level of development a person has with guidance from peers or an adult, according to Vygotsky. In other words, ZPD is the gap between what a learner can accomplish independently and what a learner can not do, even with assistance. The actual zone in zone of proximal development represents a place where the learner is challenged enough and may be frustrated without the guidance of someone who is more advanced. Along the lines of assistance, scaffolding is a good way to guide a student. Scaffolding allows the learner to build on to their knowledge. So, what a child needs assistance doing one day, he or she may be able to do it alone the next day because of the guidance they have received.
Thinking back on my experiences with zone of proximal development, the concept makes sense and I can see where Vygotsky was coming from when he invented his theory. I, like most learners, have an easier time learning with the help of others. With others around, I am able to feed off of their ideas and they also prompt me. On the other hand, my independent level of development places more strain on me due to the fact I have no one to cue me on my thoughts and ideas. I am on my own as far as independent development is concerned.
As a future educator, I need to be aware of the present stage each of my students is in and know what comes next. The theory of ZPD will be extremely beneficial for me to use to instruct my students, whether I will be teaching in a general education classroom or a special needs classroom.
Vygotsky’s theory on zone of proximal is very interesting and can be very hard to understand. Vygotsky’s approach to learning is one that is unique. He believes that you must have the understanding of a child’s actual development and a child’s development that they are in the process of learning. A child learns when they are in engaged in meaningful activities. The Zone of proximal development is the difference between what a child already knows and what they can learn with assistance. It is important that as educators we look at both a student’s actual development that is obtained in testing and also provide learning opportunities and support for all students to maximize the zone of proximal development. For example, in a 1st grade classroom you will have many students who are at different levels of learning. It is important that when teaching a subject such as addition, the teacher provide multiple supports: visual aids, lectures, and/or worksheets for all students. This support provides the guidance that is needed for a student to achieve their zone of proximal development. When I relate my own learning to the ZPD theory the subject of math comes to mind. In the topic of math, there is only so far I can go before it is necessary for me to have the guidance or support that I need to do complicated math problems, i.e., calculus. When I finished my math career in high school, I was in pre-calculus. Therefore, being challenged in an area of higher math such as calculus, I would need support by the instructor in order to complete it. It took work to get to this point. I would not have been able to go so far in math without the proper development problems and assistance from my classmates. That is also important when teaching others. As an educator it is important that I provide the guidance and support for all students that will be in my classroom. Without the proper guidance for the student’s development, the student will not have the opportunity to link their actual development (which is information that they know) with the new and exciting concepts that await them in their educational experience. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal development is just one of the theories that allows educators to further understand the way we as humans learn and grow.

ZPD, Vygotsky. McVey

My understanding of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development is that every person has two limits to their understandings of concepts. The bottom limit is all of the skills that he/she can apply independently to things around them, these are the concepts that the person has mastered and fully understands. The higher limit of understanding is the things that a person can accomplish when he/she is collaborating with others either in a group or with a teacher/mentor. The space between these two limits is the ZPD, and within this area is where students make the most meaningful and permanent progress. The ZPD for everyone is constantly changing as we acquire new skills and become more independent of others. The high end of the ZPD is a good predictor of where the person’s understanding will be in the future.

A good example of ZPD is how many schools teach subjects, when I first learned about many of the psychological theories related to education and child development, they first seem to be overwhelming and confusing. These theories are then covered and reviewed in classes the following years. As I learned more about these theories, I moved from an understanding that was very basic and shallow at the first introduction, to a deeper an more independent understanding of the topics. In other words I was able to apply these ideas to the things happening around me in field experiences and any other time that I spent around children.

With the ZPD, children’s learning isn’t based necessarily on grade-levels, but on finding out where the child stands, and working from there. The ZPD is more about helping the child improve within his/her capabilities rather than stretch them beyond any hope of understanding. Actually, the ZPD really illustrates that if a child is taught at too high of a level too quickly it will not help their learning at all, they will be unable to build on their prior knowledge because they haven’t built it up to a level high enough to even understand the concept with the aid of others. It is extremely important in this theory to try and keep the child as close to their highest level of possible functioning as possible so that they are always challenged, yet are not discouraged by not being able to comprehend a concept at all.

The Zone of Proximal Development is something that I can even see in some of my schoolwork, when parts of the class are focused on things I already have a good grasp of, I tend to feel as if I am wasting my time and sometimes “check out” of the class. It is important that teachers really take a vested interest into the actual level of their students’ development, rather than just teaching to grade-level. In many classrooms there is a wide range of skill and ability levels, and when the teacher knows these, he/she can better serve every student by providing extra support or slowing things down for those that may be a little behind their peers. Also making sure to introduce more challenging concepts for those children that have surpassed their classmates’ developmental level will keep them “checked in” to the class and interested in participating.

ZPD (Alex Lew)

I know the Zone of Proximal Development to be the difference between what a person can accomplish on their own and what they can accomplish with the help of another person. The first time I was introduced to this concept was in my Educational Psychology class and at first I was very confused about the topic. However, it has been mentioned in nearly every single class I have had since then and by seeing numerous examples the idea has become clearer. The article for this class was very confusing and if I had not already had some concept of what ZPD is it would have been difficult for me to follow the author’s ideas. One idea I think is crucial to growing a child’s ZPD is scaffolding. This idea is another that was confusing at first but I now see how important it is in a child’s educational experience. Lastly, I also understand that although it is most commonly a teacher that helps a child reach their ZPD I also think another child who is more advanced in that certain area can help scaffold a child as well.
I know that growing up there were experiences where the teacher used the ZPD and scaffolding to assess my learning as well as teach me. One time I remember specifically was in fourth grade in regards to long division. The teacher would show the whole class how to do a problem, then she would meet individually with us and have us do a problem. She was able to see how much we understood and could do on our own and be able to help us when we needed it to finish the problem. Also in college ZPD and scaffolding have been used. Before my M-201 class this semester I had no idea how to write a lesson plan, but through discussion, meeting, examples, and templates my instructor has helped my ability to write lesson plans grow immensely.
Overall, I think Vygotsky’s ideas were very valid and still relevant in the classroom today. I think that ZPD can also be very helpful when assessing children with disabilities as it gives a teacher insight into what a child knows and allows the teacher an opportunity to focus on what they do not.

Hickeye's ZPD Understanding

The ZPD is the difference between a child's actual development level and the ability they are able to perform at with modeled or explained instruction. This is always a very interesting subject to look at. I have not noticed the importance of this concept until my observation/guided small group teaching began in M201. In M201, we are required to mold the young mathematic minds 3-5 students in 4th and 5th grades. We also observe the classroom when the students divide up into, what they call, “passions”, where students have the ability to fulfill an interest for approx. an hour.

During our small group teaching sessions, we as teachers must prepare a lesson that follows the required curriculum for the week. What we all quickly learned after week one was that although these students were labeled as 4th and 5th graders, there was a much larger range of mathematic abilities in the classroom. When working with my group, I noticed that they all performed on a low 4th grade level when doing the initial math interview. I did not aid, explain, or model, how to complete the problems initially. Instead I watched and asked them to explain their personal reasoning and their answer with the group. Since the first week was only the initial interview, where very little information was being taught or explained, I would categorize that experience as the actual development level.

The second week the students were asked new questions. I first let them try to solve the problem on their own. If they had trouble with the problem, I would either model or repeat the question with a hint in how to solve it. Finally we would share the answers amongst the group members. One student accomplished all of the problems, with accurate solutions, with little to no help. Since my help was not needed, the student was not being challenged at the appropriate level, or during the interview, it was not an accurate representation of her actual development level. One of the other students had many questions that I guided him through. The next question became more easily understood by the student because of the modeling the student remembered from the first problem. This shows the students ZPD. He had a large ZPD because of the amount of knowledge he was able to apply in a very short amount of time. The third student had a very small ZPD. Even with additional guidance and modeling, the student was only able to solve a handful of the problems given to him. This shows that although students may be in the same grade and classroom, that does not mean that their learning ability is the same.

Kelly Reeder-Vygotsky

My understandings of Vygotskiy’s Zone of Proximal Developments stems from the P251 class I took my second semester sophomore year. In this class I was taught that there are many different stages in which a child begins to understand new information. It is important that their educator is aware of their present stage, as well as the intended knowledge present at that particular stage. Through these stages, it is easier for their educator to know how far along they are with the information they understand. I have always thought that using this method was very beneficial for teachers, as well as their students. Once an educator is able to understand which stages their students are in, they are able to move forwards with providing them adequate material to advance in their knowledge.
A way in which I have experience the different stages in Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development occurred right around middle school. My teacher assigned us to write a report on our favorite president. During this process we were to create a rough draft and have our peers evaluate and correct our work. Once we had made adjustments we turned in our rough draft to the teacher. After our teacher looked over our work she gave us feedback on how well we wrote, what we could do better, as well as corrected the errors we missed. I am not exactly sure on how many drafts we turned in, but I remember receiving my work back a few times to be corrected. The procedure seemed to take forever, but after completing this report I became a much better writer. Without being asked to think about the ways in which Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development I would never have related the work I did in middle school to strategies I have been taught in college. In doing this I now know that some of these actually work!
Some of the different techniques I found while writing my report I often use today in some of my classes. By resubmitting my work many times I was able to advance to a new stage of Proximal Development. Since I plan to teach special education, these stages may vary immensely. Trying to bring these techniques into my classroom may be difficult at first, but once I fully understand how to implement these techniques into my class, I believe it will be very beneficial for myself, as well as my students.

Christie Caron ZPD

Prior to reading the assigned Vygotski reading, I was very familiar with similarities and differences between two very opinionated theoretical positions. Vygotski and Piaget, both constructivists, agree upon the notion that social interactions are critical for understanding that music communicates mood. The theorists would first design a curriculum that incorporates group work, discussions, and activities within the lesson. However, arguments arise upon how these social groups are formed. Vygotski, argues that one’s actual development does not determine learning, instead, pulls learning along. He feels that there is a gap between the child’s actual development level, and the potential developmental level, this gap can be filled with assistance from adults, more capable peers, and cognitive tools that students can use to make difficult tasks easier.
My way to describe my understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development is to envision a lesson that which students cross the distance between their actual developmental level and the potential level of development that one could reach under adult modeling. For example, many children do not think very hard into subjects or meanings behind certain school content areas. Typically, children like music because it is fun to dance and sing to, but do not think of the instruments or meanings behind what the artist is trying to communicate. Children have an idea and may be in the process of understanding; yet, this concept has yet to mature, thus, identifying music comprehension as a function of the zone of proximal development. If a teacher wanted to help students reach a higher level of understanding of music, Vygotski would advise teachers to present learning strategies that will help the students comprehend how music communicates mood to scaffold and push the child to reach higher thought processes. The teacher acts as a mentor in a large group discussion involving students of all developmental levels, prompting the class to talk themselves through this difficult understanding. The teacher encourages children to express when and what kinds of music they listen to and how that music makes them feel. Vygotski would mix groups of all developmental levels, creating challenging tasks that promote maximum growth. Through this peer discussion, the higher level kids explain their thoughts to help the developmentally lower level students understand, ultimately, forcing the higher level students to re-examine and reevaluate their own ideas, modifying them if necessary. Students would hold discussions and move from a state of equilibrium, understanding the reading through their own past schemes, then through scaffolding, the groups used either assimilation or accommodation to surpass disequilibrium and reach a new, higher level of equilibrium that promotes the development of a more complex thought. The students had a desire to reach an understanding and they moved back and forth between a state of balance and imbalance which forced the students to construct a new scheme or accommodate existing schemes (equilibration).
I find Vygotski’s theory of the “Zone of Proximal Development” very interesting. This zone is a gap between a child’s actual development level and the potential development level attainable with assistance from adults, more capable peers, and cognitive tools that students can use to make difficult tasks easier. Challenging tasks promotes maximum cognitive growth that can reach this “gap.” The zone of proximal development utilizes a mentor that scaffolds, pulls the learner along to reach a higher level of development, and aids the learner in achieving new knowledge. Teachers must provide opportunities to engage in adult-like activities, allow students to learn through play, have students work in small groups to complete difficult tasks, present some tasks that students can perform only with assistance, provide cognitive tools that students can use to make difficult tasks easier, and encourage students to talk themselves through hard tasks, and act as a mentor. These implications all increase the ability of the student to cross the “gap” and reach a higher developmental level.
I learned in previous classes that there are four basic needs that influence motivation and well-being. One must feel relatedness, have self determination, strive for optimal level of arousal and have self worth. Without these, motivation is hard to achieve. To help increase motivation, teachers must be sure classroom expectations are clear and consistent, work to build meaningful relationships with students, break large tasks into smaller goals to help optimal arousal, promote mastery learning, evaluate student work soon after the completion with clear feedback, allow students to have some control over their learning, design projects that allow students to share their knowledge with others, and highlight ways learning can be applied in real life situations. Through the reading from Mind in Society, I learned that the gap of potential learning one day, will be a task developed into the actual developmental level another day. Moreover, with assistance the student can bridge the gap and reach a new developmental milestone and complete the task individually next time.
I grew up in a family of six in a three bedroom split level, thus, I was always surrounded by family and friends that influenced my learning which developed into the life around me. With two older brothers and my parents, I imitated nearly everything they did. Similarly, my youngest brother was only 2 years younger than me and needed a lot of attention, specifically during my peak learning periods between the ages of 4-8. This left me to imitate my brothers. I would watch the same T.V. shows, listen to the same music, play sports with them, and read the same books. This pushed me to advance in my level of development. As I grew older, I excelled in reading, math, and was the lead cross country runner in the state. These successes are a tribute to my surrounding social environment which awaken my own internal developmental processes when imitating my brothers, and diffusing my own independent successes.

Rachael Matchett

My understanding of the zone of proximal development is this: it is the space between which a child completely understands the concepts of what they are learning and the extent to where they need a teachers help. I first learned about the zone of proximal development in my psychology class a year ago. It was very confusing at first, but after some examples were given, it was easier to break down. However, I think that this article did a poor job of giving the exact definition of the zone of proximal development. Had I not known about this concept before, I would have been completely lost. The authors did a good job though when it came to giving the example of the two twelve year olds and how one has a mental development of an eight year old and the other has the mental development of an eleven year old. When looking back on my academic past, I can remember specific times where the zone of proximal development was highlighted. When I began first grade, I was about six or seven years old. I would say that my mental ability was around a five or six year old. I did not struggle with school; I just was not as advanced as a second grader. I often copied my classmates when they did something funny or an action that was liked. At home, I was more of the leader since I had two younger brothers. I would notice that they would copy my actions sometimes. When it came to simple tasks though, I would need help from my parents. I could not cook anything on my own. If I wanted to make anything, my parents would have been right there to guide me. When I was fifteen I was learning to drive. I knew all the rules for the road, but when it came to driving alone, I was not capable. My zone of proximal development would have been the space in between driving independently and not driving at all. I struggled in math when I was this age too. I was a sophomore in high school and I very much needed as much help as I could get. I was in a lower math class then all of the other students. So my real age was fifteen, but my mental abilities were about thirteen or fourteen. My zone of proximal development was much different than all of my friends.

ZPD Applying To Teaching

The Zone of Proximal development to me is the gap between what a child knows and what he or she may not know. The difficult part of this to understand is how to continue that knowledge better. The child learns from the teacher and models them until he or she can do them on their own without assistance.

I think that this is vital in understanding when you are a teacher because it could help us in having the student become the best learner that they can be. One example that I can think is that I was a soccer coach for a time to nine and ten year old boys. At first they did not want to take me seriously because I was a girl, but I scaffold first their idea that a woman can play soccer, but that I showed them things that they could not do yet, such as juggling. After showing them repeatedly over a couple weeks of practice, the boys did not need me to model how to lift the ball anymore, they could do it themselves. Some still looked at me for guidance, but when I said start juggling they did not need me to model for them.

Looking at my own learning, I can see where my teachers had applied this method. Mr. Hansel my fourth grade teacher was teaching us how to find the area of a triangle. I remember area very vividly for some reason and I remember that we caught on to the triangle pretty easily. However, he started to mix area with fractions, and that took many days for me to be able to apply the concepts I learned when using whole numbers to fractions. I remembered Mr. Hansel had to constantly help me through by showing me models or prodding my thinking along by asking questions.

My biggest concern is that of almost every subject so far, how to apply it to a classroom of twenty six students. Not everyone is going to be at the same level, and while I can see how some of my elementary teachers did achieve that, I always doubt if I will be able to. I think that ZPD is something that is important to a classroom, but one of the hardest to think about on a individual basis and thinking of it on its own.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zone of Proximal Development (Jayne Royal)

In terms of what the zone of proximal development is I believe that it is the gap between what you are capable of learning and what you actually learn. I believe that the theory of proximal development deals with the fact that you have a mental age as well as an actual documented age. When thinking of zone of proximal development I think of it as children can only know so much at one time. As they grow older their mind allows for more information to enter their mind. When learning in school (especially in elementary school) there were always those kids that things seemed to come easy to. They didn’t seem to even try that hard and would always receive A’s on everything they did.

During the week I work a nursery school with children ages two to six. In Indiana it is not required for children to attend preschool or any schooling prior to elementary school. As you can assume, the day care often has trouble attracting parents to send their children to their school. One thing that they really emphasize at the school is that the children learn socially and that they learn through play. I think that this is very important and relates back to the zone of proximal development because the children are introduced to basic skills such as reading, writing, and math long before elementary school ever starts.

In my own learning, I remember I really struggled with reading when I was in the first and second grade. No matter what teaching strategy was used or how interesting the books were, I just could not get the concept of reading down. Maybe it was because I was not yet at the right mental age for that to happen. Math came easily though. I was exposed to a number of things so I do not know what the excuse really was in terms of why I struggled so much.

My question is how do you help with a child’s zone of proximal development? Is there a way to help them reach the next required level? If exposed to enough things will they surpass their peers and do exceptionally well in school? As a teacher, I want to make sure that all my students reach their full potential. If one of my students is struggling because they are not on the same developmental level as everyone else how do I fix that?


The first time I was introduced to Vygotsky was in my P-251 class last year. We talked a lot about the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) and his ideas on learning. ZPD basically talks about what a child knows vs. what they don’t know. It also talks about the different stages a child goes through in order to learn new information.

In the classroom we are constantly trying to help children expand on their knowledge. We as teachers are constantly teaching the students new material as well as build off knowledge that they already have. As a teacher it is important to use ZPD in your class because it is very useful in identifying where students are in their learning and how much more you can do for them to help them grow.

I never thought about how much of these practices were implemented into daily teachings. When I would do math homework in 5th grade my teacher would circle the problems we got wrong on the homework and hand it back to us. She would have us take them home and try and correct what we did wrong. During our morning exercises she would walk around and check our corrected problems. If we had questions she would answer them and if we still had problems wrong she would have us stay after school or during recess. By doing this she was helping me and my other classmates learn from our mistakes so we could further our knowledge in math.

I think once I become a teacher I will definitely stress to my students that it is okay to ask for help. You don’t want them to feel like they can’t come talk to you when they don’t understand a certain topic. If you don’t establish that in the beginning it could hinder how far they go along in their knowledge and understanding of new topics.

Sarah Spitz's Zone of Proximal Development

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development is complicated to understand. To simply put it, however, the Zone of Proximal Development is based on knowledge a student already has. Taking the previous knowledge of the student and applying it to other things helps to explain the Zone of Proximal Development further. Also, in talking about the Zone of Proximal Development, it important to note that it involves teacher assistance. When using the Zone of Proximal Development, a teacher must see what a student already knows and then continue in teaching something new. In order to do this, the teacher must use scaffolding techniques to teach the student. The teacher must assist the student until the new subject is mastered.

I feel that I will use the Zone of Proximal Development in my classroom. I agree that students should use their previous knowledge to learn and understand new topics. It is important that students apply what they already know to new things. I feel that as a teacher, it is also important to help students until they fully master whatever they are learning. I will use scaffolding in my classroom so that students understand new ideas fully. I will assist my students in this way when they need extra support.

I feel that as a student, the Zone of Proximal Development was used with me mostly in math. I had a math tutor from 8th grade to freshman year in college who used this theory to help me learn and understand math. Without the scaffolding techniques of my tutor, I would have done very poorly in math. It was the tutors assistance and patience every step of the way with me that helped me to succeed.

Jen Shearer Vygotsky

I first heard the term Zone of Proximal last year in P251. Zone of Proximal Development is the difference between what a student can do with help and what they can do without help. When a student is doing something with help from an adult or a teacher they learn often by example and through guidance. I think that we experience ZPD with our professors more often than we notice. One class that I think it is especially evident is in our M201 class. This is a field experience class and we meet with our teacher and he guides us through our lessons and helps us to solve problems we have with different children and different learning strategies. We have time after our field experience to discuss with him what we saw that day in class and what can be learned from it.
All throughout elementary school I think we experienced ZPD everyday and I think there is a lot that can be learned through working and collaborating with people who understand a topic more then ourselves. I experience this everyday at work. I am taught how to do different things by my boss everyday. He is an expert horse trainer and he lets me experience things for myself and then comes and shows me a better way or more efficient way of doing something. I enjoy learning things from him because he lets me figure out how not to do something before he shows me how to do something. He likes to see what I can do but then is always there for me when I need him. I think I remember a lot more when I learn this way because I learned through experience.