"IT'S A THING TO MEASURE THINGS": LEARNING ABOUT MEASUREMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER EDUCATION IN PORTUGAL
1 Polytechnic of Viseu, School of Education and CI&DEI (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Aveiro, Polytechnic of Viseu and CIDMA (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:A Lesson Study (Lewis, 2002) about length measurement in Early Childhood Education was developed collaboratively by students in initial Early Childhood Teacher Education as part of their practicum. Although Lesson Studies are commonly used for in-service teacher education, there are studies that consider it for initial teacher education (Baptista, Conceição, & Ponte, 2020; Bjuland & Mosvold, 2015; Cajkler & Wood, 2016; Fernández, 2010; Leavy & Hourigan, 2016; Marble, 2012; Merichelli & Curi, 2016). An essential dimension in the education of future teachers is the development of their ability to learn from pedagogical practice, and Lesson Studies have the potential to serve as a context for this process (Cohan & Honigsfeld, 2007; Sims & Walsh, 2009).
The students from the Master's Degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education were organized into three groups. Each group included four students that were placed in different Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings and, therefore, worked daily with up to 25 children from 3 to 6 years old. All groups planned together. The same “Lesson” was developed in three ECE settings and data was collected so it could be discussed in terms of:
a) children’s knowledge about measurement revealed in actions and discourse, and
b) features of the planning that were aligned with ECE Pedagogy.
The second cycle of planning, implementation in the other three settings, and reflection was developed after the analysis and discussion of cyle 1. After the second cycle, reports were prepared by each group.
The planning was based on listening to children as well as on valuing play as a means to understand children's knowledge and experiences. These principles are coherent with the perspective on Mathematics and its Didactics reflected in the Portuguese Curricular Guidelines for Early Childhood Education (Ministry of Education, 2016) and offer children opportunities for meaningful learning (Thiel, Severina, & Perry, 2020). Methodologically, the Guidelines take as a starting point the interests, experiences, and daily life of the children. The teacher should find ways to observe and reflect on those, and then offer diverse and challenging experiences and help children to reflect and discuss them to support the construction of mathematical ideas. In terms of content and learning expectations, the Guidelines present four blocks for mathematics: numbers and operations; data organization and analysis; geometry and measurement; and interest and curiosity in Mathematics.
In this paper, we present results from the data recorded in the reports prepared by the students: participant observation records of the 125 children (corresponding to 6 groups) during the activities. The planning started with making available length measurement tools so children could play freely and then, after a large group conversation, it was suggested that children use the tools in role-playing situations connected to real-life situations.
Children focused primarily on measuring as finding a result and measuring as an action associated with jobs or professionals. Most children mentioned home as the context where the tools were familiar. The diversity of experiences highlights the importance of home-school communication for mathematics (Bishop, 2016) and the relevance of play as an arena for children's complex understandings to be shared. Strict didactical sequences for measuring were perceived as disregarding that complexity.
Keywords: Early childhood education, teacher education, lesson study, mathematics, measurement.