Professional Development for New Middle School Teachers to Use Constructivist Pedagogy in the Block Period

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Virginia Tech


In the 1980s and 1990s, publications like A Nation at Risk and Prisoners of Time were highly critical of the American public school system. In response, school administrators reviewed their master schedules to evaluate how time was scheduled and the majority of them chose block scheduling to secure longer, uninterrupted periods of instructional time. Upon implementing block scheduling, schools noted a need for a change in pedagogy. Constructivist teaching, shown to be effective with multiple ages, has become a preferred pedagogy for elementary and middle school teachers during a block period. The review of literature includes a description of the forces behind block scheduling and provides a background of constructivist theory and teaching practices based on the writings of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Combining constructivist teaching with block scheduling creates an environment conducive to young adolescent learning; however, properly preparing teachers through professional development is key to effective implementation. The purpose of this action research study was to facilitate the professional growth of new teachers by providing job embedded professional development opportunities that were grounded in constructivist practices and demonstrated to be effective with young adolescent learners while teaching in a block period.



Professional Development, Constructivism, Block Scheduling