Science in the Primary Classroom

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As believed by De Boo (2000) and Johnston (1996) children learn best through first hand experiences. Having 'hand's on' experiences is therefore crucial as it allows the child to test their thoughts and actually see them in action. This, in turn, gives children clarity to their ideas and develops pre-existing concepts into being modified or replaced. This 'doing' would also make it more likely that the children retain the information that they have discovered for themselves. Kelly (1955) talks about "everyman being his own scientist" and that pupils learn best when they are actively constructing their own learning. 

Dewey
John Dewey rejected the notion that schools should focus on repetitive, rote memorization & proposed a method of "directed living" – students would engage in real-world, practical workshops in which they would demonstrate their knowledge through creativity and collaboration. Students should be provided with opportunities to think from themselves and articulate their thoughts. Dewey called for education to be grounded in real experience. He wrote, "If you have doubts about how learning happens, engage in sustained inquiry: study, ponder, consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence." Although less contemporary & influential, it has inspired several important educational principles such as: * Discovery learning

* Sensitivity to children’s’ readiness
* Acceptance of individual differences
* Learners don’t have knowledge forced on them – they create it for themselves -------------------------------------------------
A common misunderstanding regarding constructivism is that instructors should never tell students anything directly but, instead, should always allow them to construct knowledge for themselves. This is actually confusing a theory of pedagogy (teaching) with a theory of knowing. Constructivism assumes that all knowledge is constructed from the learner’s previous knowledge, regardless of how one is taught. Thus, even listening to a lecture involves active attempts to construct new knowledge. |

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The main activity in a constructivist classroom is solving problems. Students use inquiry methods to ask questions, investigate a topic, and use a variety of resources to find solutions and answers. As students explore the topic, they draw conclusions, and, as exploration continues, they revisit those conclusions. Exploration of questions leads to more questions. There is a great deal of overlap between a constructivist and social constructivist classroom, with the exception of the greater emphasis placed on learning through social interaction, and the value placed on cultural background. For Vygotsky, culture gives the child the cognitive tools needed for development. Adults in the learner’s environment are conduits for the tools of the culture, which include language, cultural history, social context, and more recently, electronic forms of information access. In social constructivist classrooms collaborative learning is a process of peer interaction that is mediated and structured by the teacher. Discussion can be promoted by the presentation of specific concepts, problems or scenarios, and is guided by means of effectively directed questions, the introduction and clarification of concepts and information, and references to previously learned material. arison

 
Traditional Classroom 
| Constructivist Classroom 
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Curriculum begins with the parts of the whole. Emphasizes basic skills.| Curriculum emphasizes big concepts, beginning with the whole and expanding to include the parts.| Strict adherence to fixed curriculum is highly valued.| Pursuit of student questions and interests is valued.| Materials are primarily textbooks and workbooks.| Materials include primary sources of material and manipulative materials.| Learning is based on repetition.| Learning is interactive, building on what the student already knows.|...
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