Anthony D. Fredericks, professor of education at York College, York, PA, is the author of over three dozen children’s books, six of them published by Dawn. With the recent publication of Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders, and Creepy Insiders, he has created dozens of activities, literature extensions, and lesson plans available for free online that solidify learning. Here he explains why they are so important. A link to them follows.
School science programs are traditionally designed to give children lots of information, have them memorize that information, and then ask them to recall the information on written tests. That approach may be a significant reason for students’ less-than-enthusiastic response to science, because that type of instruction does not allow for the active involvement of students in their own learning, nor does it allow children opportunities to think creatively about what they are learning.
Yet, teachers and parents intuitively know that when students, no matter what their abilities or interests, are provided with opportunities to manipulate information in productive ways, learning becomes much more meaningful. This is a process approach to learning – an approach which provides students with an abundance of projects, activities, and instructional designs that allow them to make decisions and solve problems. Through this approach students get a sense that learning is much more than the commission of facts to memory. Rather, it is what children do with that knowledge that determines its impact on their attitudes and aptitudes.
A process approach to science is one in which children do something with the concepts and generalizations they learn. It implies that students can manipulate, decide, solve, predict, and structure the knowledge of science in ways that are meaningful to them. When teachers and parents provide opportunities for students to actively process information – particularly information related to nature (or old rotting logs) – then learning becomes more child-centered. This results in attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs that the natural world can be actively explored and personally investigated – and that the environment, both near and far, is full of incredible learning possibilities…along with a whole lot of fun!
Click to download Dr. Fredericks’ process approach suggestions for Around One Log. Also click on “Teachers/Librarians” and “Downloadable Activities” to access activities for Dr. Fredericks’ other books as well as those by other Dawn authors.