On the very first day I walked into the eighth grade math class in Garry Middle School, a small, skinny,
cheerful student bounced his way over to me and introduced himself, “Hi, are you a foreign student?”
had a chance to respond, he rambled on, “My name is Jake (changed his name for confidential reasons), or you
can call me Bob when I get in trouble.”
Then he bounced right on by.
I later came to find out that this special
student is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
As I observed Jake three days a
week for the next couple months, I learned about Jake as a student and as a person.
We will take an in-depth
look at Jake’s cognitive development and language as it relates to the cognitive theorists, Piaget and Vygotsky.
Then, we will explore Jake’s personal, social, and emotional development, as well as his learning abilities and
Lastly, we will look at the motivational factors and behavioral management strategies that help to
create the best learning environment for Jake.
According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, there are four factors that interact to influence
changes in thinking: biological maturation, activity, social experiences, and equilibration.
There are also four
stages of cognitive development, one with which Jake identifies best, the Concrete-Operational stage.
concept, “problem of the match,” also relates to Jake in the classroom. Firstly, at a ripe age of 13, Jake is in a
crucial time of biological maturation.
Many biological changes are occurring that influence the way he views
people, himself, society, and in turn is changing his way of thinking.
From my observations, he is highly
interested in the opposite sex and his actions reflect his desire to impress.
The second factor, activity, is evident
when he learns from acting on the environment.
For example, the teacher planned a hands-on class activity
where the students make little paper boxes out of graph paper and fill the bottom with one layer of little square
The students then count the number of cubes for one layer and calculate how many little cubes it would
take to fill the entire box and then they’ve figured out the concept of volume. Since Jake is a visual, hands-on
learner, this activity was highly beneficial for him. The third factor, social experiences involve the interactions
with people around us (social transmission) and what we learn from it.
Jake is a very social person and feeds off
approval of his peers.
He learned that when he makes loud, wise comments, the class laughs and he enjoys that
type of attention even if it makes the teacher upset for disrupting her lesson.
He desires to be funny and cool.