Home' Teacher : August 2010 Contents LOOKING INTO PRACTICE 19
Teaching a pre-Prep class can sometimes be
difficult, especially when trying to present
Level 1 concepts.* I'm often looking for new
ways to engage the children so they remain
focused long enough to develop understand-
ings and benefit from the work being pre-
sented. One way was to engage the children
by using things that they could easily relate
to, such as their toys.
Towards the end of term three, I was
doing a unit of work on pictorial graphs as
a way of presenting information. The chil-
dren were encouraged to investigate such
things as eye colour and favourite ice- cream
flavours, and they enjoyed doing this activ-
ity. When I transferred their findings to a
picture graph and attempted to discuss the
results with them, however, I realised that
the children felt lost.
I asked them to use the graph we had
made to identify the most com mon eye col-
our. Their responses? 'I like blue eyes, my
mum has blue eyes.'
'Where are we going to put Mitchell's
eyes? He's not here today.'
The children enjoyed placing their ice-
cream flavours on the class graph, but when
I asked them to use the graph to identify the
most popular flavour, their responses were,
'I like rainbow ice-cream. I have that at the
'I can see strawberry and chocolate ice-
'My mum buys me an ice-cream when
I was disappointed that the children
couldn't use the graph in the way that I'd
hoped. It was possible, I thought, that the
concept was too advanced and should be
revisited later in the year, but I also won-
dered whether I might use motion graphs.
I'd been introduced to motion graphs
in workshops at the Monash University
Science Teaching and Learning (STAL)
professional development program, spon-
sored by Melbourne's Catholic Education
Initially, I hadn't been able to understand
what Greg, the STAL facilitator, was talking
about and my response was that a motion
graph activity would be far too complex
to implement even with primary classes. It
was, I thought at first, definitely a secondary
school science activity.
Motion graphs with pre-Preps?
I have to admit that in trialing this graphing
technique in my classroom I really didn't
think I would have much success, but I
really wanted to help the children develop
their confidence in reading graphs and
further develop their ability to follow the
instruction of 'forward' and 'backward.'
When I showed the children a motion
graph I knew immediately that they were
interested. They were all sitting up looking
at me -- no one was lying on the floor hold-
ing their head up, no one was calling out, no
one was interrupting. I was amazed. Maybe
there was hope.
For teaching aids I used a metre ruler
and a toy car that one of the children had
brought for show and tell. This was a real
tu rning point. They loved the car. All eyes
were totally focused on that toy car. The
children then took turns to read the graph
and demonstrate the movement depicted in
the graph, through the use of the car.
Success! I'd captured their attention and
they were with me. Usually my children will
only sit for a matter of minutes before los-
ing interest, but today they worked right up
until the lunch bell. They all sat so patiently
as they waited for their turn to move the car
along the ruler.
Wow, I thought afterwards. I couldn't
believe the motion graph activity worked
so well after thinking initially it may be too
complex a way of reading graphs.
Taking things further
Feeling full of confidence, I decided to
broaden the use of the graphs to ascertain
the children's understanding of the ideas.
The next day, I drew a variety of motion
graphs and asked the children to work
with a partner to present a story to match
the graph they'd been given. The children
began eagerly and once again, stayed on
task. The only problem was, I needed more
The children couldn't wait to get hold of
the car to present their stories. I was very
surprised and pleased with their explana-
SUSAN HARRISON EXPLAINS HOW A METRE RULER AND A TOY CAR LED TO REAL LEARNING
BY CONNECTING CHILDREN'S PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH ABSTRACT CONCEPTS.
Links Archive July 2010 September 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page