Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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.

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