Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Shapiro, B. (1994). What children bring to light: A constructivist perspective on children's learning in science. New York: Teachers College Press.

Bonnie Shapiro says that when we teach science, we are asking children to accept initiation into a particular way of seeing and explaining the world, to step around their own meanings and personal understandings into a world of publicly accepted ideas. The primary purpose of this book is to help teachers develop new insight into the learner's experience of science learning in schools. She introduces the idea of constructivism and its value as an alternative to traditional views of learning and reviews the literature on children's science learning, specifically with regard to the topic of light. The book reports on case studies of children in a fifth-grade classroom as they learn about light. She develops the idea of a personal orientation to science learning that places the learner, not the curriculum, at the center. Some of the themes she elaborates on are the view of self as a science learner; views on the nature of the relationships, roles, and responsibility of the teacher; the meaning of "getting help"; images of science and scientists; and ideas about the nature of phenomena. She concludes with a discussion of the implications of her study and an understanding of constructivism for science teaching practice that builds on learners ideas and actions in science.

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