group project

Investigating Child and Adult Ideas about "Educational Materials"

Working in teams of 5-6, students will investigate how adults and children think about the learning potential of one commonly accessible material artifact (or set of artifacts). To complete this assignment, you will need to talk with or interview adults and children about the material(s) you are investigating. Based on your observations and interviews, you will prepare an oral report and a web site that includes the following:

-A profile of the material artifact you have chosen, its history, variation, distribution, etc.

-Vivid examples of the material artifact in use

-A synthesis of adult ideas about the educational value of the artifact

-A synthesis of children's ideas about the educational value of the artifact

-An assessment of whether the child and adult perspectives you've investigated are consistent or inconsistent with specific course readings

-Your own assessment of the pedagogic potential of this artifact

You will work on this assignment for about six weeks.  Your team will make an informal oral report on April 21st and complete your team web site by May 12th.  In both the oral reports and the web site you are encouraged to use photographs and audio or video recordings as well as text.  To facilitate your team's work on this project you will be given a web site template.  You can build your team web site by filling in the fields on the template or you can create your own  design from scratch. Your complete web site should also describe your data sources and provide a list of "credits" for the work of individual team members.

After your web site is completed, you will write a brief (300-500) word report that describes your contributions to the project and summarizes what you learned from these efforts.


Lego Demo



Preparing Files for the Web

Uploading Files to Your Site


individual project

A Documentary Account of Learning in the Material World   

Write a vivid, clear and detailed account of a child's learning episode (or episodes) that was shaped substantially (for better or worse) by specific materials and artifacts. You can use any of the "materials" examined in the course, along with a lot of other materials that we are not reading about: e.g. food, weapons, art supplies, natural environments, machinery, animals, cameras, sporting equipment, etc.  The document you prepare can be based on observations of children to whom you already have access or on a retrospective investigation of your own childhood or that of a family member or friend. For whatever learning episode you choose, be sure to provide some answers to each of the following questions:

-What was learned and how, by whom, with what expectations and implications, etc.?

-How can you characterize the context(s) in which the learning occurred?

-What kinds of materials were involved, where'd they come from, where'd they go, etc.?

-What other people were involved and in what way?

-What parallels or contrasts does the episode provide relative to specific course readings?

-Under what circumstances might or might not other children learn something of value from interacting with materials similar to those you have described?

As models for this kind of report take a look at the articles in the course readings by Hubbard, Greenfield, deMarris, Wagner, Mechling, Saxe, O'Connor, or Dyson. The Herndon book is also full of chapters that do pretty much the same thing: e.g. A Kite, Creative Arts, Return of the Hawk, the Dumb Class, the first half or the last half of The Stream of Life, the Pony Express of the Silver Screen, Reading in Your Native Land, The Price of Amphibians, etc. NOTE: If you want, you can use photographs, audio recordings, or video recordings, in putting together your term project, but you will need to prepare coherent, orienting text as well.


Writing Rubric