high school classroom environment that comprises of various features. The senior high schools i.e. grades 9 through 12, provide various comprehensive programs that focus on accomplishments in communication skills, mathematics, physical fitness, word languages, technical and service education, and science. Since the school comprises of 350 class offerings that enable students to select from various disciplines when developing their academic programs. As part of ensuring improved achievements by students, the school has very strict requirements for graduation that ensures post-graduates are better equipped to face future challenges in the competitive working environment.
As previously mentioned, a high school classroom has various features including academic content, educational resources, and educational activities. Under the academic content, a comprehensive curriculum is provided that consists of several academic classes, vocational and technical disciplines, and business and fine arts disciplines (“High School Features,” n.d.). In addition, specific students are offered honors classes for advanced coursework in different areas based on their gifts and talents. Some of the major areas where honor classes are offered include science, mathematics, music and art, and social studies. The educational resources consist of library media services that are made up of library, audio-visual, and television services. These services act as the major educational resources to students for their educational needs. The school also has educational activities through which students are encouraged to engage in programs with positive impacts on the community. Furthermore, interscholastic activities are carried out involving several educational and athletic competitions.
One of the major concepts associated with Vygotsky that applies to the classroom is the zone of proximal development. This concept is described as the distance between the real developmental level based on independent problem solving and the level of possible development. This distance is determined either through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with mature peers (McLeod, 2010). Since interactions with peers are effective ways of developing skills and strategies, teachers use cooperative learning exercises through which less competent students develop with assistance from more capable peers. The main way with which the zone of proximal development is applied in the classroom is through academic competitions and extra-curricular and co-curricular settings where students augment skills learned in the classroom.
In attempts to improve student learning, Vygotsky various ideas and concepts of cognitive learning zones including the zone of proximal development. Since the concept takes place when students can complete tasks independently, it has been used as the basis of different instructional approaches in the classroom. Generally, teachers can use effective instructional approaches depending on the developmental ideas of cognitive psychologists such as Lev Vygotsky to enhance student performance (Blake & Pope, 2008, p.60).
The main idea from Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development concept is that social interaction plays a significant role in student learning and overall performance. This is mainly because social interaction enables students to learn from each other and independently through internalization process that results in deep understanding. Therefore, the most effective instructional approach that improves student learning through the zone of proximal development is based on social interaction. In this classroom setting, teachers use extra-curricular and co-curricular arrangements as an instructional approach to enhance student learning. These arrangements enable students to learn from each other through augmenting skills learned in the classroom and receive guidance from teachers who act as advisors.
Blake, B. & Pope, T. (2008, May). Developmental Psychology: Incorporating Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Classrooms. Journal of Cross-disciplinary Perspectives in Education, 1(1), 59-67. Retrieved from http://jcpe.wmwikis.net/file/view/blake.pdf
“High School Features.” (n.d.). Maximizing the Brilliance of Children. Retrieved from Kenosha
Unified School District website: http://www.kusd.edu/about/senior_high_features.html
McLeod, S. (2012). Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-Proximal-Development.html