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In and out of the Zone of Proximal Development

The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the state of understanding between a person's actual experience and their potential development. Development is gained through by being in both teaching and learning roles.

In learner-centered teaching it is important for teachers to maintain authority in the classroom, since they are responsible for the evaluation and student learning, while allowing students to become independent by having a more active role in their learning. Similarly, Mulnix highlights the importance of learner-centered teaching where the students have control over their own learning process in What My Cadaver Dog Taught Me About Teaching and Learning.

Teaching is also learning: if a teacher just “deposits” information into their students, for them to then regurgitate this information in a test setting, it would not allow for the co-learning of both the teacher and students.

Intelligence comes from environmental and social influences through one’s development, rather than from predetermined genetics.

Dialogue points:

Students learn through conversation and activity: group activities that align with teaching material encourage thinking and learning.

Allowing students to model examples and teach each other provides a social experience and application for learning.

Behaviorism is learning through the formation of habits in response to environmental stimuli. Learning and development occur at the same time in response to stimuli.

“Exercising” the mind like muscles, using techniques such as memorization, may lead to limitations on application abilities and higher level thinking.

Prolepsis is the prediction of one’s development before the individual has become internally aware of this development.

Scaffolding is a metaphor for education: instructional support is analogous to the

building frame, allowing for access and support, while the subject matter fills out the spaces.

ZPD is not a linear ascent but waves of up and down: the down, or backwards development, is a restructuring step for the next developmental wave of learning.

Role play allows a child to act in a mature way, as they pretend or play the role of an adult, and therefore allows the child to practice skills before internalizing and developing the knowledge.

Internalization is the reorganization of information in a way that makes sense to a person in order for it to become knowledge; externalization is the ability to then explain this information in one’s own words. Three stages of learning language:

1. Identity - reading text while internally playing the role or taking the identity of the writer.

2. Discourse acquisition - mastering identity of the author using “tools” such as questions and answers, emotional expressions and other applicational activities in a learning environment.

3. Authoring - presenting or performing the information in a form of art in front of

a real audience, truly becoming the author externally.

Mentors can’t teach art, but they can create an experience which allows the student to become inspired and/or learn creativity on their own.

Dynamic assessment uses many different kinds of tests to make sure the content has been both internalized and externalizer in the ZPD. Often this includes a pre-test which can be used to clear up confusion before a post-test. In the class I’m mentoring, I will be holding a review class where we use practice questions, or pre- test, to see where the students are having the most trouble with the information. Using this dynamic assessment method we can talk through the problems and clear things up before their midterm test.