Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Fulcrum Institute Development Team


Note: Much of this lesson revolves around examination of a video interview with a young student named Alisha, in which she discussed her ideas about why spoons of different materials with their ends in water felt colder or wamer to the touch. Unfortunately we are unable to release the interview for open access. You may nevertheless find it interesting to view some of the other materials.

How can I probe children's thinking?

Children’s existing knowledge and prior experiences shape the way they make sense of their classroom science experiences. One important role for formative assessment is to reveal students' understanding of a concept prior to an investigation. A window into a student ’s available knowledge helps you answer the question: What are this student's ideas related to the understanding goals? The answers to this question will guide your lesson planning.

This session sets the stage for you to learn how to gain insight into the ideas of one child. This week you have an opportunity to become familiar with some research in children’s thinking about heat and temperature, analyze an interview with a child, and begin thinking about how you would conduct your own heat transfer interview.

You may find yourself wondering "But I can't interview every child I teach." By working with one child, you have the luxury of concentrating on the questioning and listening skills, essential for formative assessment, in a quiet setting. In Session 13, the focus will shift from probing the ideas of an individual to working with a whole class.

Understanding Goals

  • Understand how to collect and interpret evidence of children’s thinking

What You need

  • Your teaching journal

Session Resources