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Using What We Know: Applying Piaget's Developmental Theory in Primary Classrooms.

David Elkind, the recognized psychologist who wrote this video, illustrates his Piagetian-based views on the learning environment and principles of sound practice with visually rich glimpses into three exemplary classrooms: a year-round California inner-city classroom where five languages are spoken, a rural California multigraded (1st, 2nd and 3rd combination) classroom and a suburban Massachusetts classroom where four languages are spoken. Several theoretical concepts predominate in these settings; i.e., the classroom environment should be a continuation of the outside world, clear rules and expectations are the starting point for effective instruction, fluency precedes accuracy, children process information differently at each stage of development, and horizontal elaboration precedes vertical integration. All three classrooms integrate children with special needs for a portion of the day. Class size ranges from 20 to 32.

In addition to advice on cooperative learning, linguistic diversity, class size, multiage grouping and other instruction-related concerns, Elkind addresses three areas of particular interest to teacher education students and beginning teachers: discipline, parent conferences and assessment strategies. He observes that discipline needs to be seen "as an attitude of competence and self-confidence rather than a set of techniques to maintain order." Stressing the significance of that attitude, he compares children's feelings toward insecure teachers with the discomfort adults feel when they doubt the competence of their pilots, dentists or doctors. He notes the importance of working with parents, presenting a three-way parent conference that includes the child, and advocates assessing the child's work through portfolios and teacher notes.

This beautifully photographed and quick-paced video contains a "Free Willy" spirit in its beginning and ending sequences. The children perform in a musical production about "Humphrey the Humpbacked Whale" who got stranded in the rocks of San Francisco Bay. They sing a woeful, but beautiful, song that lingers with the viewers, as will, we hope, Piaget's important observations about children's learning and Elkind's wise advice.
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Author:Stanford, Beverly Hardcastle
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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