Wednesday, September 30, 2009

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.

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