Let’s recast our Behaviourist scenario for Constructivists. To recap, Mel is a zoo educator assigned to the Creepy Crawlies Pavillion. His director wants Mel to sell baby tarantulas from a recent hatching.
Mel hosts a class of forty Grade 6 students. Many are new immigrants with English as their second language (Shabani, 2010). Their teacher, an educational assistant, and a zoo volunteer are present, so Mel has help. Otherwise, Mel would be unable to run a Constructivist lesson without More Knowledgeable Others to tutor (Taber, 2011). He divides the class into four groups of ten students each. One adult guides each group.
Mel produces a rosy-legged tarantula as the basis for their Constructivist lesson. First, he finds out how much the students know about spiders in general, so he can connect their prior knowledge to today’s lesson and make it meaningful for them (Zone of Proximal Development). What do spiders eat? What is venom? How many legs does an arachnid have, compared to an insect? How many body sections does a spider have, compared to an insect? What are the spinnerets for under the spider’s abdomen?
Mel shows pictures of a brown recluse and a black widow spider, and tells the children these two are the species dangerous to humans. Rosie the tarantula is not very dangerous, so he lets her walk up his arm.
Mel explains how the geometry of Rosie’s web helps her to catch prey. The children engineer spider webs out of pipe cleaners for their hands-on practice. The volunteer explains how spiders help the ecosystem as she shows a Web of Life diorama.
Mel explains the life cycle of spiders and allows the students to examine eggs, egg sacs, spiderlings, and moulted exoskeletons. Now that the students are desensitized, he allows the children to touch some docile adult rosy-legged tarantulas under close adult supervision. The kids draw pictures of the spider life cycle. Their new knowledge is consonant with their prior knowledge (Mogashoa, 2014).
The teacher buys a rosy-legged tarantula for the school’s Science Lab, complete with all the necessary gear. Mel’s director is pleased the Creepy Crawlies Pavillion makes money for the zoo.
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