Report: Probing Children's Prior Understandings

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Assignment 1: Report: Probing children’s prior understandings

Value 25%, 1000 words, due April 2

This assignment is an individual task working with 2-4 children. The planning, data collection, and writing of the report is to be done individually. A report is written text using sub-headings and objective statements of findings. You need to include evidence-based claims and avoid terms such as “I believe.. or I think…”. The report should be a stand-alone document with further information in the appendix.

This assignment is based on explorations you will carry out when working with children during a small group session. During this session, you will provide the children with a range of science experiences. As a part of this, you will explore questioning strategies that probe children’s understandings and provide you with insight into their science understandings.

Choose a science topic. Use the website HYPERLINK “http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/education/sci-enviro-ed/early-years/index.php” http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/education/sci-enviro-ed/early-years/index.php

If you choose an activity from another site, please ensure that you can identify the science concepts at the correct level.

Identify and list the concepts that you are probing for. 2concepts are enough to attempt. Be very specific about the concepts.

NOTE – CONCEPTS ARE SMALL STATEMENTS OF SCIENCE FACT,THEY ARE NOT GENERALISED STATEMENTS OF SCIENCE AREAS.

For example, a concept might be: “An electric circuit is a complete, unbroken pathway” – IT IS NOT CONCEPT= “ELECTRICITY”

Select or indicate the activities and approaches that you will use to probe young children’s understandings of these concepts. You need to be able to justify why the activity(ies) is suitable for the age group of the children you are dealing with.

Prepare a variety of question types that you will use or have used in your probing.

The conceptual understandings you focus on, and the probe activities, may be selected from ‘Ideas for Teaching Science: Years P-8’ (Hubber and Tytler, 2005 HYPERLINK “http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/education/sci-enviro-ed/early-years/index.php” http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/education/sci-enviro-ed/early-years/index.php) and adapted for pre-school children. These references provide rich tasks to engage and sustain children’s conceptual development.

The activities should focus on a substantial conceptual understanding (eg. concepts of air, or force, or electricity, or floating and sinking). Use the lesson plan for probing template provided to help focus your planning. This is on CLOUDDEAKIN in the Assessment folder.

You should experiment with different types of activities, for instance a Predict-Observe-Explain activity, or a concept map, a role play, drawings or a written narrative. It is important that you choose a topic for which recommended probes are available. The probes you choose must provide for substantial exploration of the children’s ideas using a play or activity based strategy.

As you undertake the activities with the children you will ask pre-planned questions. Construct questions for your probing activities, taking care to ask challenging questions as indicated by the Categorising Questions sheet. For example, within the topic of ‘floating and sinking’, one may ask questions like:

Does cork float? (this is a closed, subject-centred question).

What do you think will happen if I place this piece of cork on top of the water surface? (this is a productive, person-centred question).

However, be prepared to ask follow up questions on the basis of the children’s responses as they may give you further insight into their thinking.

CLOUDDEAKIN Resources

A range of resources is available on CLOUDDEAKIN. This includes:

Probes of understandings provides a discussion of probes in general as well as examples of probe activities, and their underlying conceptions.

Categorizing Questions DET.

Lesson Plan for Probing.