One of the most cited theories of human development is that of Swiss biologist Jean Piaget. After reading about Piaget's basic assumptions (p. 27-32) look with particular attention at the stage of child development you would like to teach. How might you accommodate those students who have not yet developed to this stage?
As an elementary education minor, I plan to teach children ages 7-12, which lies within the concrete operational stage of Piaget's theory on child development. During this time, children can demonstrate logical and concrete reasoning. Children are becoming less egocentric and are more aware of their surroundings. They are also learning that their inner thoughts and feelings are very unique and others don't always understand or share those feelings. Students that have not yet reached this stage and are still in the preoperational stage base their thinking on intuition rather than logic. These students will have a difficult time grasping complex things such as time, comparing, cause and effect, etc. I will have to be sure to give more one-on-one attention to these students when teaching the complex concepts. I may also modify their assignments to best suite them. For example, when teaching complicated material like time, I'd be sure to use visuals and incorporate creativity into the assignments because these things cater to children in the preoperational stage.
The other most cited theory of human development belongs to Russian developmentalist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotssky's theory of cognitive development leads us to expect greater diversity among our same-aged students than Piaget. Given these two influential theorists' ideas on cognitive development, how might you accommodate students who are not yet working at the level of their peers?
I feel as though the best way to accommodate these students that are different levels would be to do whole class peer tutoring. Peer tutoring is a great way to address students at all levels. It also encourages socializing with peers, which Vygotsky expresses is very important to a child's development. I would also be sure to differentiate my instruction and assessment so my students are in the least restrictive environment.
Theories in educational psychology promote the idea that language plays a critical role in cognitive development. Examine Table 2.2 (p. 51), paying particular attention to the age range that you are interested in teaching. Consider how you might incorporate or adapt the strategies presented for use with your own students.
Because language plays such an important role in a child's cognitive development, I will be sure to include a word wall in my classroom. I want my classroom to be a print-rich environment so it will have labels throughout the room, posters expressing content and ideas, and a classroom library. My students will also have very rich imaginations so I will be sure to include things like reader's theatre which makes reading fun and creative.