H2 – Honor student access to content material.
In my opinion, Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory is applicable to the classroom in so many ways that we could dedicate a week-long workshop to the discussion. Vygotsky argued that a learner must be considered in conversation with their personal culture at an intersection with the culture of the school, in order for effective learning to occur (Pressley and McCormick, 2007). A few applications of this sociocultural theory in the classroom are: differentiation of communication style to promote access for minority students; the use of scaffolding to support a child’s constructivist learning within their zone of proximal development; and encouraging children to use developmentally appropriate tools of speech to efficiently execute academic tasks.
Second-Step is a researched based curriculum for helping primary students to attain social/emotional literacy. The first unit of the K/1 curriculum is devoted to helping children develop skills for listening and following instructions. Recently, I taught a lesson that introduced the concept of self-talk as a tool for success in school. Self-talk is a strategy of repeating the steps for a task quietly to oneself as a way to retain and focus. It occurs to me that we are explicitly teaching students to use Vygotsky’s third stage of speech, called egocentric speech. In Second-Step the teacher team provides scaffolding that supports students to integrate a strategy into their repertoire. The teacher team models, and acknowledges the use of a strategy often until the students begin to use this strategy independently. In addition, a home link page is sent home with each weekly lesson to enable the family to integrate these tools as well. I observed this scaffolding technique to be successful with the K/1 students integrating self-talk into their process of beginning a task after about two weeks. Second-Step teaches skills for academic success with consideration of the social culture of school. In addition, the approach of scaffolding is Vygotskian in nature. When children are taught strategies for accomplishing academic tasks, the teacher is honoring the students’ access to content material. Self-talk is one of many tools that we teach to children in our program as a means for access to academic growth. I hope that by offering a variety of strategies, and using formative assessment to ensure that these strategies are serving all students’ learning needs we are providing greater access to education.
Pressley, M. & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: Guilford Press.