Introduction and Background Information of the Children
Our school encourages children to learn through play and experiences that are holistically, creative, and technologically. Teachers are believed to have the potential to help children to stimulate their development to the fullest with appropriate resources and environment. Children will co-construct their knowledge, bringing in their own identities and strengths can be nurtured to be self-directed and capable learners.
These are some information about the children:
Ann is three years old. She is staying with her parents. Her mother is from America while her father is from United Kingdom. The family enjoys going to the park.
Kate is two years old. She is Singaporean and has been attending school since she was an infant. She is the only child in the family.
John is two years old. He stays with his mother who is a Chinese and his father who is an Indian. John is a cheerful boy and likes to take the bus.
Rogoff three lenses of approach (Fleer, Jane & Hardy, 2007) were used on the analysis on each of the observations and will be expanding further with various theories and pedagogies.
Analysis of Observation 1
Ann had just come back from her holidays in Mexico. She had been sharing with me about the garden at the grandparent’s house at Mexico. Thus, Ann may have involved in watering the plants with her grandparents. In a study by Robbins & Jane (2006), it is mentioned that interactions with grandchildren is not just enjoying their moments together, but it is also seen as a key to gain knowledge about their natural, physical and technological world that exist or created within themselves. Families who support children’s learning and studies have acknowledged that the learning happens between home and school benefitted the child and their families (Robbins, 2012). From the observations, it has shown that learning has occurred between school and home. Appetizing
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From the observations, Ann had brought her knowledge back to school. She wanted to water the plants when she saw the watering can at the sink. Time was given to her to be engaged in filling up water and watering the plants along the classroom. The school environment has brought in incidental science. In my context, we have field and plants around the school to further enhance the school atmosphere. The rich green space has contributed to the incidental science which brought in nature more explicitly (Fleer, Gomes & March, 2014).
In this observation, the nature of the interactions and interpersonal relationships is between child and adult. Because of what Ann saw what Miss Jess is doing, Miss Jess provided her the opportunity in science and technology. While learning has occurred when there are interactions, it has also shown that the thinking level is moving from intermental to intramental as the children progressively internalise, reflect on and transform their understanding (Robbins & Jane, 2006).
To improve the global environment in school and for us, taking action is needed (Mackey, 2012). Through observing what Miss Jess was doing, Ann felt that she should play a part in contributing to the environment. It is also reminded that when children’s rights are honoured, they take on the responsibility to improve conditions to shape their lives and as well as others (Mackey, 2012).
Ann was able to relate to her previous experiences she had in watering plants at her grandparents’ place at Mexico. Vygotsky argued that children’s experiences set the foundation for higher cognitive thinking when children develop every day or basic concepts (Fleer et al., 2007). Watering the plants may have occurred at her grandparents’ place have led to Ann’s understanding that plants need water because they are thirsty.
Ann was actively involved in the experiences. She took the responsibility of the need to water plants. Mawson (as cited in Robbins, 2012) reasoned that children do bring in prior knowledge of technological knowledge and understand and this does not have to be recognised or facilitated by teachers. Mawson also advised that while educators have to identify children’s real interest, educators also must have enough knowledge to support children’s interest effectively (Robbins, 2012). From the observation, Ann has shown strong interest in gardening and she has brought in her prior knowledge about watering the plants in school.
Analysis of Observation 2
In this context, the children were given sufficient time to engage in sustained shared activity. Kate was given time to use spoon to scoop the ice to using pouring ice using the bucket. This relates to the school’s culture where children construct their knowledge, and they are competent and capable learner.
The school also encourages children to have the resources for children to explore. According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective, he stressed that the environment is made up of immediate settings, as well as the social and culture context such as home, school and workplace (Rogoff, 2003). The school where Kate’s parents have enrolled her in have given her a direct impact on her in her learning. This has provided her the opportunity to have the experience in exploring ice in the school setting.
Kate may not have exposed to ice prior to her previous experiences, thus, this is something new to her. Her interactions with peers have added to her curiosity of exploring with ice. Kate was privileged to be given the opportunity to be in this setting as she entered the school.
Apart from her personal experiences in learning science and technology, Kate also gained knowledge from her peers. Kate observed her friend picking up the ice and mentioned, “Cold.” She experienced it herself and said the same thing too. Communication, cultural tools and other symbol systems bring in cultural and historical heritage and children learn to use these tools to interact and draw on the experiences of others (Robbins, 2007). In this observation, Kate acted to be the follower as she uses her friend as her model and modelled after her friend’s actions and words.
Vygotsky’s theory believed that learning occurs first on interpersonal level, followed by socio-cultural engagement (Robbins, 2007). After the interaction with May, Kate has internalised and gained knowledge about ice and did her pouring of ice using different tools. Cultural-historical theory arising from Vygotsky theory also identifies that the activities which individual and peers are engaged are repetitively changing and developing in mutually incorporated ways (Robbins, Bartlett & Jane, 2009). Children will be able to carry out such independent thinking and then transform these thinking to their own purpose ((Rogoff, 2003). Thus, after Kate’s interaction with May, Kate was able to internalise her own thinking and further work on her exploration.
Through the personal lens of Kate, she has understood the use of using various tool provided to scoop the ice. She may have gained these experiences from her daily life. For example, she may have used the spoon to scoop rice from a bowl during lunch time, thus, in this case, she has used it to scoop rice. Another item which she may have experienced using prior to this scenario would be the cup. She might engage in water play previously and used the cup in pouring.
Kate has developed a foundation of her cognitive skills. It is evident as she has moved from using a spoon to scoop, then to using a cup and lastly the bucket. She went through the processes of being innovative and new technical skills to transfer the ice into different containers. She has investigated how the tools worked and which worked best for her.
Analysis of Observation 3
John is privileged to have large outdoor environment and outdoor materials for him to explore. Thus, the environment has provided John the opportunity to explore pushing a ball using a tricycle. He has learned a new way to travel the ball instead of using hands or legs. There was also sufficient time for John to explore. Instead of directing him of what he should do, opportunity was given for him to find out how he can use the tricycle to move the ball forward. As learning occurs within the context of play and on-going activities, and appropriate needs and wants, it is noted that children do need extended time for them to revisit and construct knowledge (Robbins et al., 2009).
In this case, John was asked to participate in construction activities requested by the teacher like moving the ball with his tricycle. Some technology activities have an objective to meet and their attention is usually drawn to technology sensation and the physical artefacts within the school environment itself (Robbins et al., 2009).
The nature of this interactions relationship is between a children and adult. The shared understandings which appear to exist is that John agreed to bring the ball back by using his gestures and verbal communication. John’s interest in figuring to bring the ball using his tricycle is supported by me. From the support, he has built up his confidence by working on the ball travelled by the tricycle despite several failures. Children thinking skills can be rich and purposeful. It was evident that children are able to hold conflicting views at the same time (Robbins, 2009). John
Based on Vygotsky’s ideas, he commented that learning happens initially before an individual engaged with another in an activity (Robbins, 2009). Vygotsky (as cited in Robbins, 2009 p.80) mentioned, “Through others we become ourselves.” Apart from interaction, we should also look into other languages and tools which make learning more meaningful.
Through his personal lens of John, John has understood the ability to use his feet to propel and therefore he is able to understand the use of the tricycle and added on his thinking skills to move the ball. This has transformed his thinking skills to a higher order during his participation. John has also shows enthusiasm in moving the ball with the tricycle after a few attempts. The perseverance becomes obvious for the children when technology is incorporated of what children can do and is situated in a meaningful context (Fleer & Jane, 2011). John’s curiosity in moving the tricycle has captured the relationship between the child and their environment which is reinforced in preschool by teachers (Fleer et al., 2014).
The teaching approaches that have been observed in the three observations are reciprocal and discovery (Fleer et al., 2007). In observation one, reciprocal teaching approaches were observed. Cultural historical context has taken into considerations. A research done by Robbins (as cited in Fleer, Jane & Hardy, 2007) displays that it is important to understand the context which the children develop their ideas; then gaining deeper and authentic view of the social nature of scientific learning rather agreeing to the statements made by children.
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In observation two and three, discovery approach was observed as I placed the ice, buckets, cups and spoon in the classroom environment to Kate to explore whereas John found a new way to transport the ball with the tricycle. In this learning context provided by the teacher, the children will decide which they would like to find out; through playing with these materials, they develop an experimental foundation (Fleer et al., 2007). I was view as a classroom resource from this discovery approach; the children are empowered to gain knowledge and skills from a range of resources (Fleer et al., 2007).
Through these observations, it is shown that children are surrounded in rich scientific and technological context, both at home and in school. They discover new things and ideas and it is important for teachers to bring in the opportunity to connect these scientific concepts together, making it relevant in their everyday lives, through the appropriate pedagogical approaches. Using Rogoff’s three lenses as an analytical tool, has shown that the lenses are interrelated; how the child has participated and changed, collaborated and interacted on contextual and cultural settings (Robbins, 2009).
In addition, teachers who attempted to increase their knowledge in science would have more confidence in supporting children’s learning through stimulating interactions that nurture high-level thinking skills (Robbins, 2012).
Fleer, M., Jane, B. & Hardy, T. (2007). Science for children: Developing a personal approach to teaching. (3rd ed). Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Pearson Education Australia.
Fleer, M., & Jane, B. (2011). Design and technology for children. (3rd ed). Frenchs Forest NSW: Pearson Australia.
Fleer, M., Gomes, J., & March, S. (2014). Science learning affordances in preschool environments. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 39, No. 1, Mar 2014: 38-48
Mackey, G. (2012). To know, to decide, to act: The young child’s right to participate in action for the environment. Environmental Education Research, 18(4), 473-484.
Robbins, J. & Jane, B. (July, 2006). Intergenerational learning: Grandparents supporting young children’s learning in science. Paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference of the Australasian Science. Education Research Association, Canberra, ACT.
Robbins, J. (2007). Young children thinking and talking: Using sociocultural theory for multi-layered analysis. Research Online, 1(1), 45-65. Retrieved from ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=llrg
Robbins, J. (2009). Analysing young children’s thinking about natural phenomena: A sociocultural/cultural historical perspective. Review of Science, Mathematics and ICT Education, 3(1), pp. 75-97.
Robbins, J. (2012). Learning science in informal contexts: The home and community. In Campbell, C & Jobling, W. (Eds) Science in Early Childhood (pp.94-112). Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Robbins, J. Bartlett, J. & Jane, B. (July, 2006). Children’s technological and scientific thinking in block play: A cultural-historical perspective. Paper presented at 40th Annual Conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Deakin University, Geelong Australia.
Rogoff, B. (2003). Development as transformation of participation in cultural activities. In the Cultural Nature of Human Development. In B. Rogoff, The cultural nature human development (pp. 37-62). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Date: 12 August 2014
Child’s Name: Ann
Plants need water!
Washing hands is very important as part of our health and hygiene. After outdoor play, I brought Ann to wash her hands at the sink. When she was about to wash her hands, she saw a watering can in the sink. It was actually Miss Jess who brought the watering cans out as she wanted to fill up with water for the toddlers to water the plants.
Ann stood by the side observing Miss Jess’s actions. Miss Jess asked, “Would you like to water the plants too?” Ann nodded her head shyly as she took the watering can from Miss Jess. She turned on the tap and began filling it up with water. I stood aside and asked, “Why are you filling up with water?” She replied, “I water the plants.”
Ann turned off the tap and walked towards the planters nearby. She began watering the plants. She then walked towards the plants near the school gate and began watering the leaves. I asked, “Why are you watering the leaves?” “They need water.” She replied, “They are thirsty.” She continued watering the plants.
Date: 13 August 2014
Child’s Name: Kate
Ice Cold Ice
After snack, I brought in some ice for the two year old children to explore. With some buckets filled with ice, small plastic cups and spoons, the children began using the spoon to scoop the ice from the bucket and transferred to the plastic cups.
While the children were focused scooping the ice, one of Kate’s friend accidentally dropped an ice. She then used her hands to pick up the ice and put it back into the cup. I asked her, “How do your hands feel?” “Cold!” she replied with closed to her body and pretended to shiver. Kate was observing her friend’s conversation when the incident happened.
Kate then used a spoon to scoop ice from a bucket to a plastic cup. Once the plastic cup is full, she poured all the ice into another bucket. She also felt the ice with her hands and said, “Cold.” And put the ice back into the bucket. She also pretended to shiver after saying it.
Instead of using a spoon, she then held the cup and scooped the ice from the bucket. I was amazed by the way she used the cup to scoop for more ice. I commented, “Wow Kate, you used the cup to scoop the ice!” Kate pointed to the cup, smiled and said, “Cup.” Few minutes passed, when I turn and looked at Kate, she was pouring the ice from one bucket to another bucket. This time round, I was astonished! She managed to find the fastest way to transfer the ice.
Date: 4 August 2014
Child’s Name: John
I moved the ball with my tricycle!
Our school believed that the environment is the children’s third teacher. Thus, we have a large outdoor space for children to experience outdoor activities. The toddlers were having outdoor play in the morning. They were engaged in blowing bubbles, ball play and tricycle. While I was kicking balls with a group of children, one of the balls rolled under John tricycle. It seemed stuck. John was using his both feet to move the tricycle realized the ball went under his seat. He looked at me, waiting for me to say something. I asked him, “John, can you help to bring the ball back us?”
So, he stood up and wanted to remove the ball from his tricycle but it seemed stuck. He went back on to his tricycle, bend down to attempt to get the ball but he still could not. With a few attempts, he realized that the ball moves along when the tricycle move! He used his both feet to propel and the ball moves forward. He was laughing, enjoying the moment as he moved along with his tricycle and ball.
John transported the ball back to us with his tricycle. I was surprised by his actions. “Thank you John, you brought the ball back with your tricycle!” I said. “I like the way you used the tricycle to fetch it back, it was interesting!” I added “You are welcome!” John replied. Thereafter, John went to get a ball and began transporting the ball using the tricycle that he rode on.
- Loo Si Hui
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