Week 4 Memo
Russ & Sherin, Greeno & Hall, Ginsburg
The Russ and Sherin article focuses on how teachers can conduct interviews of students to effectively gauge their ideas about science topics. This approach can help teachers decide what students know and are comfortable with and what should be focused on more during a specific unit. An important quote to remember when thinking about student interviews is, “In interviews, teachers want to uncover student ideas, not change them” (Pg. 20). Effective student-thinking interviews seem to include three steps: contextualize the concept, probe student responses, and seed new ways of thinking. They go on to suggest the questions should be asked in a familiar context to the student. Then students should be asked to clarify and explain their responses. Finally, you should ask students about related cases or cue additional information about the topic. Keys to a successful interview include: think of meaty questions for the interview, anticipate student responses, and select the students you will interview as individuals or in a group.
The Greeno and Hall article aims to discuss the importance of representation for students, specifically learning with and about representational forms. Greeno and hall suggest, “Forms of representation need not be taught as though they are ends in themselves” (Pg. 392). From this they imply that forms of representation should be, “Considered as useful tools for constructing understanding and for communicating information and understanding” (Pg.362). Representations are often newly constructed for a new situation, so learning to construct and use representations in different and effective ways is extremely useful. Greeno and Hall encourage that students don’t just learn different representations because that is what the teacher said should be used, but rather learn to apply these representations to their activities at work and outside of school. This drives home the point about representations being applied and used as tools, not just as an end in themselves. The article goes on to give a few examples of how these ideas can be used effectively. They sum it up nicely when they write, “We believe that educational purposes are better served if students are involved in activities in which they learn to construct versions of representations flexibly and to participate in discussions in which conventions of interpretation are developed” (Pg. 367).
The Ginsburg chapter gives a detailed layout of some important guidelines that should be followed for conducting a clinical interview. He uses the phrase that conducting a clinical interview is not a cookbook because there is no one recipe to follow. The process of clinical interview seems to be very fluid; the nature of the interview depends on many factors and is continuously changing. The chapter is broken down into subsets including: preparing for the interview, recording the interview, establishing and monitoring motivation, assessing thinking, establishing competence, and determining learning potential. A key take away from this chapter is that an interviewer should view the child as an active constructor of knowledge and assume the child is “engaged in an attempt to construct a view of the world and means for dealing with it” (Pg. 117). Another important idea is creating trust between the interviewer and student. Finally, don’t ask leading questions, but rather ask for justification of how the student came to the answer.
The common themes of the articles seemed to be about thinking and communication. Greeno and Hall focused on representations and how students should use these forms as a way to express what they are thinking and how to communicate it to others. Russ and Sherin focused more on conducting student-thinking interviews to uncover students thinking and communication processes in regards to a specific unit. This helps the teacher understand where the students are at and create a more effective lesson plan. Ginsburg focused on the clinical interview process and how this can help uncover different students ways of thinking and communication. The Greeno and Hall article connects nicely to modeling and the importance of constructing effective representation. The other two articles also connect to modeling by requiring students to answer questions and explain the reasoning behind what they believe, compared to a scantron test where they are either simply right or wrong. I really like the idea of the student-thinking interview and I think that is a great way to gauge what students actually know and can explain. This seems like a great way to help create a successful and meaningful lesson plan. I think it would be helpful to see a clinical interview and someone actually do one. I am concerned that if I were to conduct one from only reading that chapter I would probably miss a lot of things, especially because the process is so fluid.