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childrenÂ’s research center - Turkey

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E-BULLETIN May 2011 issue:6 08


ACTIVITIES IN MAY at CHILDREN'S RESEARCH CENTER We participated in the conference entitled "Young People: Doing and Using Research to Change Schools and Communities" organized by Institute of Education on May 18th and 19th , University of London with two research conducted by the students of Darüþþafaka Schools within the Children's Research Program. Students shared their research focusing on "life at school" and "awareness towards environment" with their peers and academicians from the UK, India and Turkey.

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Research Reports Research Reports Of Students At Darüþþafaka Schools Are Collected A Book. The research topics are very interesting. Some of them are: "What is epilepsy? What are its"What is epilepsy? What are its symptoms?", "How can ice-made igloos keep people warm?", "How do swamps form?", "What do pigeons eat? How should we feed them?", "The perception of 4th and 5th graders towards recreation and having fun", "Why volleyballs and basketball are different from each other?", "Can love help bamboo plants grow faster?", "Are there relatives of dinosaurs among us?", "Why is snow white?", "How does dormitory life affect students in Darüþþafaka Schools?", "What do my friends think about the aliens?", "How many tree species do we know?", "How much do we know about the animals?", "Why did the mammoths go extinct?", "Are our friends sensitive in terms of keeping the environment clean our school?"

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COVER STORY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES AND PERSPECTIVES ON CHILDREN DOING RESEARCH Some Reasons To Let Children Become Active Researchers Doug Springate - England

I was working a few years ago in a local primary school with the teacher of a class of ten year olds where all the children irrespective of ability could pursue a research question after some whole class training in research techniques. Once the children were trained the teacher and I adopted a role of being supportive rather than managing their individual research i.e. the children had complete control over their research question; methodology; and conclusions they made. We only helped and advised when asked. Two of the boys, both from an ethnic minority chose 'Racism in the school' as their topic; another boy chose 'Why do people murder?' I have chosen these two pieces of childled research as examples of important messages for teachers which help explain why I am passionate about facilitating children as researchers.

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Developing research skills bears great importance for children as it enables them to reach the information through questioning and make their voice heard by the adults. Children's experience and culture creates their unique start to the research. In this issue of our newsletter, we present you the experiences of about the studies conducted by educators in England and Norway based on children doing research. Racism in the school

The school like any in England has to monitor all racist incidents by anyone in the school and any reported incidents are taken very seriously and dealt with. In deed all teachers have had extensive antiracism training. What these two ten year old boys showed in their research was that much of the


COVER STORY racism happened under the radar i.e. would not be picked up by adults but would be by children; that children were sometimes scared to tell adults of minor incidents; and that younger children did not understand what racism is. The school was therefore clearly missing a lot of what was happening and needed to re-assess how it was treating this issue and possibly other equality issues too e.g. gender or age.

Why do people murder?

The boy who examined the issue of murder brought his research question to me and my immediate reaction was to try to persuade him that this was a very difficult question and might not be suitable for someone his age. Fortunately I let him explain more and soon realised that this was a central issue for him in his life as he had witnessed two murders in his country of origin and one was of a family member. He had a need to deal with this and not just emotionally but also intellectually. His research helped him and other children to whom he presented his research deal with a contentious issue and shows just how much we need to accept children's ideas and build on them and not ignore issues which they want to explore. In both cases the research was of low quality but was of the highest importance for the school as a whole, for the teacher working with these children and for the

children themselves. We also know from our evaluation with the children that one of the impacts of being allowed to do their own research was to give them confidence to explore their own ideas in a structured and critical way. Teachers are often too quick to take over the child's work and impose topics and methods on them. As Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote in his book 'The Little Prince'

"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."

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WHO IS THE TROLL? Children as co-constructers of knowledge in a Norwegian kindergarten - presented as a learning story about the Troll Liv Torunn Grindheim, Sidsel HadlerOlsen, Modgunn Ohm Bergen University College, Bergen, Norway Introduction TThe Who is the Troll project was part of a 3-year international Comenius project called CARIPSIE (Children As Researchers In Primary Schools In Europe) in which also Hacettepe University and Ari Primary School from Ankara took part (2006-2009). The Norwegian partners were responsible for focusing on children under the age of six. There were many discussions in the international project whether activities by young children can be called research, and therefore the Bergen partners found a way out of these discussions by "renaming" the local project from children as researchers to children as co-constructers of knowledge.1 Kindergartens in Norway are day care institutions catering for the education and care of children from birth to six years of age. The learning processes in the Troll project are situated among peers and outdoors in the woods. The

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children were searching for a male Troll they thought lived in the local woods close to the kindergarten. Trolls are part of Nordic folk traditions and fairy tales. They are a sort of fantasy creatures. They resemble human beings but they may be much larger, and some of them may have more than one head. They are thought to be ugly, dangerous and simple minded. We are inspired by Margaret Carr (2001) from New Zealand and present the project as a learning story. Carr writes that learning has to be considered as more than achieved individual skills. Skills, knowledge, intent, social partners and practices, tools and motivations are seen as an accumulated continuum of complexity in contextual learning. Through what the teacher learned from listening to the children and participating in their project, she scaffolded and expanded their learning. The way children's voices are visualized in our project connects to a mosaic approach which gives a range of strategies for listening to young children's perspectives on their lives (Clark, 2005). This approach is influenced by the hundred languages of children introduced by Loris Malaguzzi in the Reggio Approach to Early Childhood Education in Reggio Emila in Italy (Barsotti, 1998).

1 The Troll Project has illustrated learning as contextual and constructed in a primer academic publication in New Zealand Research in ECE Journal, vol. 13/2010


Finding out about the Troll as a learning story We structure the presentation of the project by the five sequences of a learning story: taking an interest, being involved, persisting with difficulty or uncertainty, communication with others and taking responsibility (Carr, 2001). Taking an interest To illustrate the start of the project, the teacher told this story: One day the whole group of 17 children was visiting the woods. On their way into the forest Jon told Tom: Today I will look for the treasures of the Troll. I am sure it is hidden in a cave. The children and I brought warm porridge for eating outdoors. After finishing the meal Jon, Tom, Mia, Marie, and Sonja asked for permission to go and look for the Troll and his treasures. They asked me to join them. When we came back to the kindergarten, the children were very eager to tell the others about what they had done in the woods, and that they were certain the Troll had hidden himself. A few days later we visited the woods again, and the same proposal came up: Let's go and look for the treasures of the Troll. The children's curiosity about the Troll was awakened, and also the

teacher took an interest and she established the project. The children had several questions like Does the Troll exist? Who is the Troll; how does he live, look like and behave? What kind of treasures does he keep? The children became very involved in the project and kept the interest for two years. Being involved Being involved is closely connected to various dimensions of social identities (Carr, 2001). The five children in our group reflected identities to their community which kept their interests in various ways. They all were Troll experts, friends and the oldest in the group. We also found individual social identities as the frightened one and the brave one. Their ways of participation were closely connected to their identities in their community of peers and in the kindergarten as a whole. As they were involved in various ways, and participated in various ways, their learning also differed, connected to more than individual skills. Persisting with difficulty or uncertainty The children met several challenges in their search for knowledge about the Troll, like: How to deal with the fear of the Troll? Tom put it this way: I was frightened. It was like someone touched me and suddenly it became

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much colder. I wanted to go back to the kindergarten at once. Communication with others in any of the hundred languages of children The children had oral discussions. These photos were taken when the children and the teacher were looking for traces from the Troll in the woods. Marie, Sonja and Mia ran towards a stone and eagerly discussed and examined it. The children also made drawings of the Troll: Taking responsibility The teacher told this story to illustrate that the children took responsibility for each other and the project One day the children and two adults were in the woods looking for tracks from the Troll. They found some sticks placed in a way that seemed to be the start of making a bonfire. Sonja: Oups, I think we interrupted the Troll when he was making a bonfire Jon: He must be quite nearby - I think he left only a few minutes ago. Teacher: Why do you think the Troll would make a fire? Mia: I think he will make a barbeque. It was cold, foggy and rainy, and we had to walk in line - there were so many trees in the woods. It was very exciting and scary. To start with none of the children wanted to be the first in

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line, then Mia said: I am not afraid, I will go first. Deeper into the woods even Mia hesitated, and then the teacher took her hand as they continued walking in line further into the woods. Mia took responsibility, supporting her scared friends. After a while the support from the teacher was comforting, but the teacher did not take over, she joined her and empowered her and the other children to keep on with their exciting work. The teacher provided some help; a hand to hold, and assisted the children to reach their self-chosen goals. There was no need of adult praise or evaluation. The children were motivated and excited by their findings and experiences. What can be learned from this case? Most of the children said that they learned much about the Troll: what he eats and how he eats, that he is large, catches colds and turns into a stone if the sun shines on him. They also said they had learned to spot tracks from the Troll. In addition they analysed the tracks from the Troll, and made a unique book that showed their view on who the Troll is. The children concluded from various discussions: i.e. if you want


the Troll to exist, it exists and if you do not want it to exist, it doesn't. Sonja: I have learned that there is no Troll, and that he has never existed. From the children's discussions of what they had learned and the construction of the case the teacher interpreted that the children had become more conscious of themselves as learners. They had also experienced to be part of a community of peers, to persist with difficulty and uncertainty, to expand their ways of communication with others and to show the ability to take responsibility for each other. In addition they had learned about cultural treasures of fairytales and Norwegian traditions. Through this joint project they created friendship, mutual respect and willingness to help each other. An ethical issue is the fright, and the thrilling experiences that might seem like scary adventures for children. Children seem to be attracted to this kind of excitements. Playful interactions where fear is combined with excitement are frequently observed in kindergartens. Usually children who do not choose to be a part in such play show signs of uncertainty and fear. The children in the Troll project were in command of the frightening

situation. It is of great importance for teachers to know that play can appear to be amusing and self chosen, but might still be scary and forced on the child (Sutton-Smith, 1997). The visualization of the learning processes underlined the importance and the complications of scaffolding in line with the children's interests and ways of communication. The context is also of major importance in this learning approach. This was a playful, imaginative, scary and humoristic project taking place in the woods, which the teacher respectfully followed up. Children as active participants in a community seem to construct new knowledge whether the teachers want it to happen or not. If teachers are aware of some of the complexities of learning, these processes can be influenced in an ethical and educational way.

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REFERENCES Barsotti, A. (1998). Skapende kommunikasjon i Reggio Emilia. Oslo: Pedagogisk Forum. Carr, M. (2001). Assessment in Early Childhood Settings. London: Sage Publications. Clark, A. (2005). Ways of seeing: Using the Mosaic approach to listen to young children´s perspectives. Clark, A., Kjoerholt, T. & Moss, P.: Beyond listening: Children's perspectives on early childhood services. Bristol: The Policy Press. Grindheim, L.T.; Hadler-Olsen, S.; Ohm, M. (2010). Who is the troll? Children as Active Learners Presented as a Learning Story about the Troll from a Norwegian Barnehage. New Zealand Research in ECE Journal, 13, 71 - 86. Ministry of Education and Research (2006). Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergarten. Oslo: Akademia. Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The ambiguity of play. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press University Press.

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As it gets warmer, we can see more and more clouds in different shapes. Let's observe them and learn their types and characteristics!


childrenÂ’s research center - Turkey


Children's Research Center-Turkey E-Newsletter Issue May 2011