Tag Archives: sustained shared thinking

Questions to Encourage Sustained Shared Thinking

beachcombing

To be perfectly honest I hate that in my profession they keep inventing new buzz words for age old ways of working and interacting with young children.  It feels to me that it is a way to make some feel superior in their understanding to others.  If you don’t quite get what it means it is quite likely something you are already  naturally doing, but without giving it a name.

‘Sustained shared thinking’ occurs when two or more individuals ‘work together’ in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate an activity, extend a narrative etc.

Both parties must contribute to the thinking and it must develop and extend the understanding. It was more likely to occur when children were interacting 1:1 with an adult or with a single peer partner and during focussed group work.  The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project (2004)

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If you are engaged with a child’s play, if you are working together, listening and sharing ideas, if you are helping a child to understand something, you are likely engaged in sustained shared thinking.  Imagine blowing bubbles for a toddler, they watch the bubbles and watch you blow them.  As the bubbles blow away, the bubbles pop and the child continues to look for them.  You might blow a bubble onto their hand so the child can feel it pop or show them how to pop it with their finger.  The child engages in a new game, popping the bubbles for fun. This is sustained shared thinking.

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I often see questions asked about suitable activities to promote sustained- shared thinking.  Any open-ended, creative activity will lend it self to sustained shared thinking – the key is the level of engagement and nature of interaction between teacher and child. Also any genuine discussions you have with the children when you are learning from one another and discussing in depth opinions, thoughts and ideas are examples of sustained shared thinking.  Take time to listen and understand what the children are thinking, before jumping in with our own ideas.

putting on lid

It might be helpful to think of these questions.  If you can use these questions in your interactions with the children then you will be engaging in sustained shared thinking.

 

Elaborating

That’s really interesting, can you tell me more?

Re-capping

So you think that…..

You started with…..

Offering own experiences

When I was little I thought that….

I like to listen to music when I am busy.

Clarifying ideas

So we think that the sugar will dissolve in hot water?

I think I understand let me just check what you said.

Suggesting

Can I show you another way?

How about if we try this?

Perhaps we need to think about it?

Reminding

Don’t forget that you said the sugar would dissolve in warm water

Let’s just go back to what you did/said/thought.

Encouraging

You thought really hard about where to put the door, now where could you put the windows?

Speculating

If we try this what might happen?

What other ideas might work?

Are there any other possibilities?

Do you think the 3 bears would like Goldilocks to be their friend?

Asking Open Questions

How did you…?     Why does this…..?   What happens next?

What do you think?  Where would you?

Offering Alternative Viewpoint

Let’s pretend we are…… What might we do?

Perhaps Goldilocks didn’t think she was being mean when she ate the porridge?

Disclaimer: these questions came from training delivered by North Somerset early years team but may originate from another source.

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How to Teach Preschool Science

I don’t make assumptions about what my children will learn from an activity.  I don’t presume that they will learn anything, I’m happy if they are absorbed and having fun.

Sometimes a simple activity can unexpectedly become a rich learning experience full of questions and discoveries. These for me are precious moments. I have recently become aware that the simplest craft activities lead us unexpectedly into an exploration of scientific concepts. For example,we recently acquired a movie reel canister, perfect for paint rolling .  I gave the girls a small box of marbles and small balls (a ping-pong eyeball and a golf ball) and a few pots of paint. The discussion that ensued was interesting.

paint rolling

 Child 1 : 5-years-old    Child 2 : 3-years-old.

eyeball

Child 1: The eyeballs go much slower.  I think because the eyeball is bigger it goes much slower but the marble is smaller so it goes faster.

Child 2: It’s too sticky

Why do you think it is sticky?

Child 2: Maybe there’s too much paint.

golf ball

Child 1: This one is not as sticky as the other one but it is much bigger.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t put as much paint on.

What makes the 2 balls different?

Child 1: One is bumpy and one is smooth…………..but that would make it slower.

It gets stuck and the other one goes really fast.  Maybe the material it is made from is sticky but now that we don’t have as much paint on, it goes fast.  Perhaps the paint sticks to the material and stops it slipping and sliding.

Maybe because the golf ball is hard it doesn’t stick to the paper, maybe the paint doesn’t like it and slips off.

When we went to wash the balls we checked to see which would float.

Child 1: The golf ball and the marble sink and the eyeball floats.  This one floats because it is all filled up with air.

Child 2: This one sinks because it is bigger…………………….. but what about the marble, that sinks?

Child 1: It is because it is heavier.

The connection between the mass of the ball and how fast it travelled did not register but there are many other projects we can explore to help them work it out.

These incidental science experiments happen a lot. There was the time I left an empty milk carton outside and they turned it into a tap by inserting a straw. The girls decided they needed to find a way to turn it on and off. Further experimentation helped them work out how to get the tap to drain all of the water.  My role as teacher was not to give them the answers but to ask questions like ‘How could you make it better?’ What could you use to…? or what would happen if…?

tap science

Having open-ended materials readily available makes it easy for them to instigate projects .  This week, I put pieces of foam in the water table soaked in bubble mixture and showed them how to squeeze the foam to make bubbles.  I knew my eldest would love this.  She had another idea, taking a piece of plastic tubing she blew into it creating lots of foam. The children’s ideas are always the best! She asked me for test tubes and filled them with  bubble mixture and opened her own beauty parlour with potions that made your hair soft or skin younger.

foam bubbles

 

In the TED talk, Science is Play , Beau Lotto views Science as a way of being. He explains,

“We normally walk through life responding. If we ever want to do something different, we have to step into uncertainty…. Science lets us step into uncertainty through the process of play.”

Our youngest children are full of uncertainty so they are naturally questioning things all of the time. Isn’t that the foundation of science? Our skill as teachers is not to feed them the answers but to give them the tools to make their own discoveries. Do we need to plan specific science lessons? Isn’t science and discovery the very essence of childhood?Children don’t call it science, they call it play and in play they work things out for themselves.

I love this quote from the American Scientist article entitled ‘Science as Play

When I grew up, every kid put in some serious sandbox time, and it often involved building (what seemed like) complex sand structures around which fantasies were composed and competitions took place with neighborhood kids. The organic chemistry labs (at Yale during the junior year) were fun in the same way. We constructed molecules and competed with each other in the class on speed and yield. We mixed things up, and chemical transformations took place. We separated, we isolated, we analyzed. The odors were pleasant, and the physical process of working with our hands, as with sand, was satisfying. The biweekly organic labs became the high points of my week. By the end of the year, I knew that I wanted to be an organic chemist, as I realized one could play in the sandbox for a living. (Joseph B Lambert)

Playing in the sandbox for a living? ‘Isn’t that what I do?

 

 

 

Outdoor Play: More Fun with Ice – Winter Pirates, Icicles and Little Scientists.

ice decorations

Ice Ornaments and Icicles

A few weeks ago we filled up my baking tins with water  that we coloured with powder paint and dropped all manner of things into them.  Shells, berries, leaves, sequins, buttons and even a stone were placed inside to make ornaments for our tree.  The weather unfortunately instantly became warmer, so we had to wait some time before they were ready to hang.  Even then,  only the top layer of ice had frozen and within an hour of hanging them on the tree they had melted.  We also discovered that if you colour water with powder paint it separates once it begins to freeze, so most of the ornaments were not the lovely colour we had hoped for.

The girls have been peeking outside every morning to check if there is any ice.  This week they were rewarded with below freezing temperatures.  The ice ornaments were finally ready!  We hung them on the tree.  The sun was shining and the tree stands in the sun until mid afternoon.  I wasn’t sure how long they would stay this time as ‘plop’ one fell down from the tree.

Let’s put it by the door. That’s in the shade – it might make a nice present for Father Christmas.

Ice ornament
A present for Santa

As we went inside I asked the girls to watch the ornaments from the window.

They are melting.

How do you know?

They’re wet and they’re dripping down.

What do you think will happen as they melt?

I don’t think it will fall off the string because the string is attached. It will just melt and the floor will be wet.

When we went out later there were more interesting observations

Look this one has holes in it.  It might break not melt.

melting ice ornament with holes

Can I touch one?

Yes sure.

child touching ice
It’s cold and wet.

Within an hour or so the tree was in the shade and the temperature was beginning to drop. We noticed that the drips were starting to turn into little icicles.

icicles

The girls thought this was really cool and the next day even more so when we saw large icicles had formed.

icicles

They rushed outside to feel them, touching them gently so that they didn’t break off.

A Winter Pirate Treasure Hunt

The weather was so cold that during the late afternoon I sneaked into the garden with a jug of water and some pirate coins.  I put the coins in various containers and poured a little water on the top.

In the morning I invited the girls on a pirate treasure hunt. First they needed to make a map.  I had some coffee stained and singed paper that in true Blue Peter fashion I had prepared earlier.

Next they needed their pirate toolkit:
A hammer
A spoon
A pot of pirate sea salt

pirate toolkit
Ready Mummy

Out they went and quickly found coins. The hammers were their first choice. They weren’t very successful so then they tried the salt. They found that if they used the spoons and the salt they could gradually get down to the coin and hook it out.

pirate treasure hunt
Got it!

This could take ages, if we got a jug of hot water it might be quicker.

We were talking about the sea salt later in the day.

How do the pirates get salt from the sea?

Good question.  The salt is in the water so how do you think they could get it out?

I don’t know.

Shall we try it?

Yes.

Little Scientists

What do we need to do to make the salt disappear into the water?

We need to dissolve it

How? Do you remember how we made jelly dissolve or the sugar water we make for the hummingbirds?

We put hot water on it. Let’s be scientists and do an experiment.

The girls helped to stir the mixture until all the salt had dissolved. We poured the mixture into a pan and put it on the stove.

What happens to water when it gets cold?

It turns to ice

What about when it gets hot?

I don’t know.

Watch. What can you see.

steam

steam

If I put this spoon over the steam what can you see on the spoon.

It’s wet – water.

Yes the water is turning to steam. Now look what’s happening in the pan. What do you think the white stuff is?

salt distillation

I don’t know. Is it steam. 

No. The water has gone now so what is left?

salt.

salt

We had another idea for an experiment.  If we put the salt back in water and then left it outside would it freeze?

We will find out tomorrow.

Linking to :

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