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All teachers have a unique way of performing their instructional duties. They are each different and have multiple personalities with which to get the job done effectively. One teacher may do better, for example, conducting a more hands-on classroom, while others will be much more effective in a more traditional, back to the basics classroom. What your professor seems to be wanting you to study here are two main approaches to teaching reading: The constructivist view and the explicit instruction viewpoint. You may one day even be asked if you consider yourself constructivist or an explicit instructionalist. Let's look at the different aspects of each:
1) Under this theory, teachers adhere to the viewpoint that learners 'construct' their own understanding of the world and their environment. To do this, we all experience things and then we reflect upon those experiences.
2) If something new is encountered in the classroom, we have to balance that with what we already new in order to 'construct' a new understanding of the material.
3) The constructivist approach tends to use such teaching methods as experiments and real world problem solving (see my further notes on possible activities and assessments to follow). After completing these activities, the teacher would then guide the student to verbally reflect upon what they have just learned and what their understanding of the material is.
4) Constructivist teachers are constantly encouraging their students to ask questions, and to question themselves. In other words, the student is encouraged to wonder why the activity is important and to try to place it into context with all they have learned previous to this date. When I was in my own teaching preparation program years ago, it was explained to me like this: Constructivism is like a child building blocks. One block builds upon another. Each block relies on all the other blocks placed previously in order to know where the new block will fit into place. Similarly, this is what knowledge is like. Everything in reading, mathematics, science, etc. builds upon other material. We just have to figure out how it fits within the context of what we already know. Once the student discovers this, real learning takes place. That is really the essence of constructivism.
5) Under this approach, it is important to remember that the teacher is still the center of the classroom, but instead of merely 'instructing' students, they are seen more as a guide. Rather than simply answering a student's question for example, the teacher will often ask a question ...
The expert examines constructivist and explicit instructions on teaching reading.