With regard to the mystique. I have found the waters mudded, in
teacher ed at least, by the presence of things like the HUGELY
popular software package, Accelerated Reader (a turnkey reading
curriculum) that boasts the teacher feature of printing out each
kid's zone of proximal development based on the kid's performance
inside the software application. CLearly the software publishers know
what's in the teacher ed psych books. Yep I can imagine the
advertisement in my head: "Now with ZPD finder"
Also the unfortunate choice of the English word, "zone," brings with
it the notion of a location, a zone. Teachers tell me they are going
to "move that kid into the zone of proximal development" or get to
"the zone," as if it were somewhere between the 20 yard line and the
goal (the 'red zone,' according to sports announcers).
In searching for a teacher-friendly vocabulary I have used the
"teachable moment"...something all teachers seem to have a native
understanding of and direct experience with. We unpack the teachable
moment, with them thinking of a specific instance, and try to
determine what made it teachable. Inevitably we end up talking about
negotiation and elements that can be labeled as interpersonal to
intrapersonal, and social co-construction. I also like the reference
to time, "moment," as opposed to a place. We also talk about a
"meeting of the minds" in which the minds are differently competent
at the task in question (student-mommies in my classroom are very
useful example providers for this). Where the zone sound like a place
we travel to and which exists outside of us, the teachable moment
already comes with the notion of a jointly produced experience in
time. Yeah, the 'teachable' part is unfortunate, but this seems to
work as a way in to what is often a mysterious concept for my
students at least.
The problem I run into is the students' desire to see the ZPD as
diagnostic/prescriptive (which is what Accelerated Reader seems to
hold onto as well.).
What do you think, Eugene?
here's a snippet from the website:
Accelerated Readerís three easy steps help you continuously guide
students to appropriate books within their zone of proximal
development (ZPD). At the same time, it helps you personalize reading
instruction and intervene with students who need extra help.
Student Reads a Book. The student reads a library or textbook
selection. All types of student reading are monitored, including
guided, paired, literature-based, and textbook reading.
Student Takes a Quiz. AR offers more than 75,000 quizzes on library
books and popular reading textbook series. The quizzes provide
assessment information to help you motivate reading, monitor
progress, and target instruction to accelerate reading growth.
You Get Information. You get easy-to-read reports on the reading
level and comprehension skills of each student to guide instruction
and help the student select more reading materials.
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