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Children's ideas in Science

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Harlen (1997) identified various techniques which can be used to enable children to reveal their ideas. These include: - questioning, asking children to draw or write about what they think is happening, discussing their writing or drawing with their teacher and initiating a group discussion. With Harlen's view in mind and considering the class topic of materials being focused on in Science, my partner and I decided to plan a lesson that explored children's ideas of what particular objects are made from and what they were prior to the object they are now. It was felt that in order for children's ideas to be highlighted, visual cues would be beneficial. Harlen (2000:125) supports this and affirms "There are often products or artefacts at several stages of children's activities which all have the potential to indicate children ideas." The use of visual aids did help children respond to the questions asked and assist children develop their ideas. They ensured the children were focused and also ensured the children were kept on task. For one of the examples, it may have proved more effective if the visual objects had been provided for each stage that the object had been through to get it to what it is now. ...read more.


This emphasised the benefit of using writing within a lesson in order to find out children's ideas. Peacock (1997:42) acknowledged that when engaging on a new topic in the classroom it is important to find out "what children already know and believe" When discussing with the children what bread had been before it was actually bread some of the children expressed that bread had been wheat. This proved quite difficult, as what the child was saying was not entirely incorrect. Here my partner and I had to explain that wheat is used to make flour and flour is used to make bread, therefore bread had not exactly been wheat before it had been made into bread, but flour had been wheat before it had actually been flour. If this lesson was repeated, I would either change some of the objects focused on or make bread with children beforehand. In the situation, with what we were faced it was decided that the making of bread would be undertaken as an extension activity so the children could see clearly what the bread had been prior to it being made into bread. Jarvis (1991:3) supports this view and suggests "Practical opportunities are needed to enable children to accept alternative interpretations as well as to confirm accepted beliefs." ...read more.


It ensures that children's ideas can be clarified, tested, discussed and extended and also can dispose any misconceptions. Posner et al (1982) as cited by Dickinson and Flick (1999) highlighted that the recognition of children's ideas is imperative in order for children to develop a conceptual understanding of science content. Through the extension activity, it was possible to show children what different objects have been prior to what they are now. However if it wasn't for finding out about children's ideas beforehand then this may have not been noted. As Anderson and Smith (1986) cited by Dickinson and Flick (1999) pointed out, through results on a school study "children can proceed through school and retain misconceptions about many science concepts." From finding out children's ideas, my partner and I were also able to use the knowledge of the children to help scaffold them to more accurate levels of understanding. Dickinson and Flick (1999) illustrated that through gaining knowledge of children's ideas it is possible for children to develop more accurate understandings of science. Through the school based task it has been highlighted what techniques are beneficial in obtaining children's ideas and the value of using them prior to teaching a lesson. As Dickinson and Flick (1999) asserts "The ability to orchestrate discussions that elicit children's ideas and help children build on and change them, is an important component of effective science instruction. ...read more.

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