The whole idea behind constructivism is to encourage the learner to take charge of her learning. This is something that both Piaget and Vygotskiy encouraged (albeit in obviously different ways). BY encouraging learners to own the learning process, they engage more deeply with the information and take the time to create their own neural connections, rather than having a streamlined set of connections provided for them. (When connections are provided, they don’t engage as deeply, and the learning is less permanent.)
As a future teacher of business and technology, I have a set of subjects that inherently hands-on and a constructivist approach is very natural. Still there are methods to follow to ensure the projects and activities I develop will best engage learners and empower them to stimulate their own learning.
The 5 Es model of instruction was developed to help constructivist activity design. I apply it to a lesson about the three forms of business and how each affect the liability and tax status of individuals.
The lesson plan is linked here. (Viewing the lesson plan may be critical to understanding the explanation of how the 5 Es are followed.
1. Engage – use a question, problem, or authentic situation to engage students in learning.
This engage comes form the opening hook where we discussed Steve’s sandwich shop. What ownership form does Steve (a student-aged person who wants to open business) choose based on the goals he has (low taxation, full control of his business)?
2. Explore – provide resources for the students to explore the topic
Rather than following the lesson plan provided, having six stations around the room of brief explanations of each business type (each type is repeated at two stations). This allows for discussion of the following questions:
- What tax advantages does this business form provide? and to whom?
- What liability advantages does this business form provide?
- Are these the combination Steve is looking for?
- Which businesses you know follow this business form?
3. Explain – invite the students to explain what they have learned, guiding the discussion and helping to correct misconceptions
After doing the stations, we bring the students back together and discuss what they have learned. A brief review of each business type, ensuring to hit all the points in the discussion sections of the lesson plan is critical.
4. Elaborate – design an activity in which the students elaborate on the topic by finding connections, creating products, finding solutions, etc.
The activity, where students use Skittles as money that is to be taxed or seized in the case of liability provides this elaborative activity. By interacting with other students who represent people suing their company, they better understand liability. By having to pay taxes to the government (represented by the second pair), they should come to better understand how individual and corporate taxation work.
5. Evaluate – invite the students to self-evaluate on their learning and the learning process
This is provided as the summative online quiz in the lesson plan.