Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Using Technology to Support Contructionism

“ Constructionism is both a theory of learning and a strategy for education” (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001).Constructionism suggests that new ideas are most likely to be created when learners are actively engaged in building some type of external artifact that they can reflect upon and share with others. The whole contructionist idea is to have learners involved in the total process of planning, building, sharing, evaluating and reflecting on their work. The role of the teacher is to become the facilitator, providing clear expectations, constructive feed back and fair assesment. Through constructionism students build knowledge that is personal and meaningful.

With contructionism in mind how does this week’s reading “Generating and Testing Hypotheses” in Using Technology and Classroom Instruction that Works, relate to project- based learning. The authers, Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski state that testing hypotheses in an inductive or deductive manner can be generated through six tasks; systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, inquiry and decision making (2007). Lessons based on contuctionism theory have several of these tasks embedded in the lesson. Having student make a conjecture using prior knowledge and then testing and evaluating their conjectures is a skill that students need. Students also need to take any new information learned in the investigating stages to go back to their original hypothesis and make another prediction.

In geometry class one of the first concepts I teach is inductive and deductive reasoning. Conditional statements, “If: then” help students understand logical reasoning. As a geometry teacher I was anxious to see what on-line tools I could use to challenge my students. I spent a lot of time playing around with the catapult at, Although I am not a physiscs teacher my knowledge of angles and parabolas helped me hit the target. Gizmos found at was very helpful to understanding how technology and interactive software can help students to learn to make hypoteses, test and evaluate, then make a new hypothesis until a thorough understanding is met. I can’t wait until we reach a concept that is covered in gizmos.

ExploreLearning.(2010). Retrieved from

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March, 22, 2010, from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Sytina, J. (1998) SPECS. Retrieved from


  1. Nancy,

    One thing I found intriguing about Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, and Malenoski's (2007) chapter on "Generating and Testing Hypothesis" was the fact that students can formulate and test hypotheses in just about any subject area. I was always one to view projects with a hypothesis as science projects. I teach health and physical education so the authors' statement really got me thinking of ways I can apply the constructionist theory in my classroom through the use of technology. I always enjoyed class projects where I had to create something. These were also the classes that I learned and remembered the most content.

    You mentioned about having your students experiment with an online catapult. I think one project based activity you could have your students complete in geometry would be to build a miniature catapult or even an activity where students would have to calculate angles to complete a certain task. Even though this does seem more like a physics project, being that the students are still calculating angles they would be learning their math content. I remember in one of my physics classes in high school we had to calculate the angle at which we could release a marble down a miniature slide so that it would hit and crack an egg. I will never forget it because my partner and I (who is now my husband, believe it or not!) were the only ones who were successful because all of the other groups forgot to calculate the extra inch on the ledge of the table where our slide was attached. Maybe this seems too complicated for a math class, but for those who struggle learning angles, an authentic project may help them understand musch better.


    Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun! I love math and if I was in your class I know I would have had a great time. In college I forget the name of the program but it was a computer program that we used but it was during my foundations of geometry class that we used it. We had to create shapes with specific angles that would prove or disprove a theory.

  3. My favorite thing about constructionism is the depth of knowledge that is developed throughout the thought process necessary for the completion of the compelling product. Technology is a great tool to support this line of thinking. When I was in geometry, I loved if and then statements. I found this ehow video and thought of your class. I know you wouldn't program your sheet for planning a wedding, but it may be a non-intimidating way to reinforce the concept of if/then.

  4. Math is not a strong subject for me, but I think I would really enjoy this concept! I would love being in your class and working with the technology.