Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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.

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