Findings and Insight:
From my observation, I found that when students were working in the computer lab planning and discussing their projects, and solving their problems, they were deeply involved in the learning. Sometimes they were so serious that they did not want to leave the computer lab when the period time was over. I had never seen such situation when the lessons had been conducted in a teacher-centered environment.
In the first quarter, since I was not sure how the constructivist learning approach applied to my classroom, and I was afraid that the student-centered approach to education would not work well for my students, my plan for the first quarter projects carried out was based on a hybrid of student-centered and teacher-centered method. I taught students the new vocabulary and grammar points, and asked them as a small group to teach their classmates what they understood, and present their culture research with a multimedia program in the class. I was surprised to find out from their reflections that they preferred to be allowed to include the new vocabulary and grammar in their own learning and construct their own knowledge.
One student suggested the following:
"My only suggestion would be to allow us to research a new topic rather than the one we have just covered. The information covered in our projects was simply a review and it did not teach anything new to our classmates. Perhaps we could individually study one of our future chapters. Within our small groups we could spend one or two weeks studying the chapter and preparing the presentation. Then we could spend a week using our presentation to teach the chapter to our other classmates. This would allow us to expand our knowledge rather than simply review it. It would also give our classmates an incentive to pay attention to our project because we would be teaching them new information.”
Another student said the following:
“Besides the cultural aspect, this project did not require us to acquire different knowledge than we had before beginning of the project. The content in our project is basically a repetition of what we learned in class. Instead of teaching the classmates more about the Chinese language, we just re-presented the facts that they already knew.”
The student suggestions have proved my initial assumption wrong, and helped me understand where I need to modify my future plan to increase learning. They demonstrate student's motivation for student-centered constructivist learning. I realize that technology supports a shift toward more student-centered classrooms, with students engaged in more challenging work, taking more responsibility for their own learning, and engaging in collaboration with their peers.