Northern Drive to St Lucy

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Comments on poem, "Constructivism in the Classroom"


Let’s replace old strands with those that are new;
Coach students to be good, and to construe;
Teaching facts alone is no guarantee
Students will learn concepts, we must agree;
Use topic webs to stimulate the brain
To receive knowledge and it will remain.

Student-centred learning, it must remain;
Cooperative learning is not new;
But too much chalk and talk will dull the brain;
Lectures alone make it hard to construe;
On this matter, educators agree;
Interactive learning we guarantee.

Students’ involvement we must guarantee;
Direct teaching can no longer remain;
Nor seating charts for students we agree;
To replace worn-out techniques with the new
Constructivism, so students construe;
And learn from teaching that rouses the brain.

Thematic teaching webs enrich the brain;
Are also planning tools to guarantee,
That those concepts taught students will construe;
The knowledge gained in their brains will remain;
These progressive ideas are nothing new;
Lesson planning is vital, we agree.

With this paradigm shift you will agree;
All parts of the body support the brain;
No regurgitating facts old or new;
Concepts transfer and learning guarantee;
And on-going assessment will remain;
Quick feedback will help students to construe.

Portfolios help students to construe;
Technical teachers on this do agree;
Visit their classrooms for a while remain;
Their demos and designs stir up the brain;
Attention span becomes a guarantee;
Thus, John Dewey’s ideas are nothing new.

That, self-growth will remain when modes are new?
How can we agree to a guarantee?
Teachers must construe ways to stir the brain;

(January 2002)

Genre:    Social Commentary           
Form:     Sestina
Tags:     Barbados White Paper on Education Reform, Constructivism, Edutech 2000 Master-plan, envoi,
             student-centered learning, interactive learning, instructionist, topic webs, thematic teaching, portfolios,
             on-going assessment, lesson planning, cooperative learning

“Constructivism in the Classroom” is in the form of a sestina. The sestina has a fixed form since it adheres to the rules governing fixed form poetry. These rules state that there must be a specific name and specific number of stanzas identified, and which is the embodiment of a highly structured arrangement on meter, rhyme patterns, and or topics that define a poem. The prescription for constructing a sestina poem is as follows: The poem must consist of six, sexain stanzas and a concluding terset envoi. The end words of verses in the first stanza should have an identifiable rhyming pattern and should appear as end words in the remaining five stanzas in a successively rotating order. Then, they again appear at the middle and at the end of the verses of the concluding envoi in the form of a terset.

“Constructivism in the Classroom” has an evolving rhyme scheme aabbcc established in the first stanza and is structured along the fixed form rules applicable for sestina poetry as follows:

The end word (remain) of the last verse in first stanza recurs as the end word (remain) of the first verse in stanza 2;

The end word (guarantee) in last verse of the second stanza becomes the end word (guarantee) of the first verse in stanza 3;

The end word (brain) in the last verse of stanza 3 becomes the end word (brain) of the first verse in stanza 4;

The end word (agree) in the last verse of stanza 4 becomes the end word (agree) of the first verse of stanza 5;

The end word (construe) in the last verse of stanza 5 becomes the end word (construe) of the first verse of stanza 6;

The concluding envoi

The end word (new) in the first verse of stanza one becomes end word (new) of the first verse of the envoi; the end word (remain) found in the last verse of stanza one becomes the middle word in first verse of the envoi;

The end word (guarantee) found in the third verse of stanza one becomes the end word of the second verse of the envoi; the end word (agree) found in the fourth verse of stanza one becomes the middle word of the second verse of the envoi;

The end word (brain) found in the fifth verse of stanza one becomes the end word of the third verse of the envoi; the end word (construe) found in the second verse of stanza one becomes the middle word on the third verse of the envoi as shown below:

Stanza 1
Let’s replace old strands with those that are new;
Coach students to be good, and to construe;
Teaching facts alone is no guarantee
Students will learn concepts, we must agree;
Use topic webs to stimulate the brain
To receive knowledge and it will remain.

That, self-growth will remain when modes are new?
How can we agree to a guarantee?
Teachers must construe ways to stir the brain;

A tercet is made up of three verses. An envoi is the concluding verses or postscript of a poem.

This social commentary poem written by Paterika Hengreaves, an Erdiston Teachers’ Training College Tutor’s (Emeritus) is in response to crucial aspects of the reform process in the Barbados educational system. The educational reform initiative was spear-headed by the Barbados Ministry of Education Youth Affairs and Culture in collaboration with Erdiston Teachers’ Training College as far back as 1990 at a time when new technology insinuated itself into more and more aspects of the lives of all Barbadians. The need to train and to retool teachers in both the elementary and secondary schools for the 21st century became a top priority with the implementation of EduTech 2000.

In assessing the “EduTech 2000 Masterplan for Barbados it is worth noting that educators consider education reform the key corrective to Barbados contracting economy and ailing society. The Barbados Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture’s (1995) White Paper on Education Reform and EduTech 2000 Master-plan constitute the blueprint to education reform in Barbados. The five year plan for EduTech 2000 started with the introduction of information technology, pedagogical changes, and changes in the curricular foci. The document outlines the specific objectives of EduTech 2000 as being:

To increase the efficacy of the teaching/learning process by encouraging teachers to utilize available technologies in their classrooms;

To  prepare students for life in a technologically-advanced society by ensuring that all students who leave school in the 21st century have good knowledge of, and adequate skills in the use of information technology.

The pedagogical objectives in EduTech 2000 report relate to conceptual, curricular, teaching, and learning strategies. The suggested aim is to transform the educational system from one that is “instructionist” towards, one that is constructivist. Hence, the task confronting teachers using traditional teaching methods was how best to turn this technological intrusion into a powerful tool for teaching. Teachers were cognizant that traditional ways as applied to the teaching-learning process had outlived their usefulness and they increasingly looked at those benefits that the philosophy of constructivism brought to the teaching learning process in a world driven by modern technology. Authorities in education saw the need and implemented educational reform goals for national development. Thus the training and the retooling of teachers shifted to constructivist theories of learning in classrooms. The focus among teachers in the school setting shifted to that of teaching strategies which make information meaningful and relevant to students, where students have ample opportunities to discover and apply ideas themselves and consciously use them in their own strategies for learning.  Constructivism involves a change in the relationship and culture of the traditional classroom. Under the traditional method (instructionism) the role of the teacher is to manage and convey ”expert” subject-matter information to the student, but under constructivism, the teacher manages and facilitates active and generative learning in an environment that is intellectually challenging; the student collaborates rather than listens; the classroom is interactive and student-centered rather than teacher-centered; and rather than standard objective tests, the student engages in performance tasks and criterion-referenced exercises. The new reform curriculum emphasizes the importance of socializing students for the acquisition of a basic set of social skills, especially those relating to “adaptability,” “self-discipline,” “self monitoring,” and “team work.”

The implementation of EduTech 2000 in the school system of Barbados inspired the creation of this poem written in the form of the Sestina. The imagery in the poem highlights the various ways constructivist teachers utilize when teaching in 21st Century classrooms. 

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Haiti Under Rubble from 7.0 Earthquake

Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

First Caribbean Bank Account--2645374-- Cheques can be written to: HELP #2645374

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