To Edmund Marek and Ann Cavallo, the learning cycle is more than a classroom strategy; it is a philosophy of education—a model of instruction that can promote critical thinking and meaningful learning. It places students at the center of their learning experiences, encouraging them to engage in explorations, form new understandings, and relate those understandings to other concepts. The book describes how the learning cycle, originally founded on Piagetian theory, elucidates several theories of learning and development, including Ausubel's theory of meaningful learning and Vygotsky's social constructivist theory. The learning cycle is advanced as a model for teaching not just science, but all subject areas, providing a basis for thematic and integrated instruction.
Perhaps the most important feature of the book is the usable learning cycles it presents. Designed for kindergarten through sixth grade, they cover the life, earth, and physical sciences. Additionally, learning cycles are used throughout the book to illustrate concepts, theories, and scientific processes. Interdisciplinary learning cycles and learning cycles for mathematics, language arts, and the fine arts are also included, along with sample learning cycles for middle school teaching.
The book itself is a learning cycle. It invites you to explore your own ideas about teaching science, to construct the relationships between the nature of science and the nature of the learner, and ultimately, to expand these ideas into practical classroom applications.