The audible is the visible

A few weeks ago as part of a tuning in, the children answered a binary question on whether energy as dangerous.

Because  the kids had been on a 2-week holiday and then went on camp, I decided to do a quick diagnostic on what the next learning steps for the unit.

After listening to the first thoughts on this unit, most children had agreed their thinking had shifted since then. But how did we document this? I gave each child a selection of different forms of energy and a black piece of paper. The children were free to organise the different forms of energy however they wanted to in response to the same provocation.

‘Energy is dangerous’

The visuals were only part of the story, voice ended up revealing thoughts that the children might not have written down but could articulate this writing.

This child chose to categorise her information. Her groupings show she has put some thought about how the different forms of energy might be related, she still needs to develop some understanding of the concept of transferring energy.

This child chose to use a continuum – she is moving beyond a yes/no reaction and looking for nuances within the world. She needs to develop an understanding of transferring energy as well.

This child is a second language learner yet the organisation of his pictures and his voice demonstrates an understanding of cause and effect. He is able to show that energy from the sun helps grow the food that humans use to eat.

This child has used a venn diagram to organise her thinking. Through the use of the organiser, she is able to reason with logic to support her hypothesis. She will need extending and I will need to be mindful of her needs as I plan further provocations.

At first glance this child looks like he is still binary in his approach. Yet when you listen to his reasoning, he demonstrates an understanding of energy transfer as well as the different forms of energy.

This child has also organised her thinking using a Venn diagram. She has made a connection back to the Unit of Inquiry into Earth Forces last year and also has a group of for forms of energy sure isn’t sure about yet, in particular potential energy so we will need to further develop this understanding.

These examples were shared with the class to show different ways for the children to organise their thinking beyond the reaction – they will further help the children to develop their home learning logs.

As a teacher this data is invaluable. For the purposes of this unit this mid-unit reflection gives me a picture of the children’s understanding of the following concepts:

  • that energy has different forms
  • that energy is transferred from one form for to another
  • that some materials can conduct and others can’t

Rather than leaving this assessment until the end of the unit, the students and I can use the data to further inform the learning in the class.  A couple of take aways

  • Understanding comes in different forms – the layout of ideas, writing and speaking a picture of where the child is at. In the age of technology we need to be making better use of this.
  • Collecting data doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. This reflection took about 15 minutes.
  • Small provocations can yield big results in understanding if you take the time to really listen to the children’s thinking. 
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