Core concepts and practice for the first three years of schooling
A practical guide to teaching the core concepts in mathematics and science to children aged 5 to 8 years, and to integrating information and communication technology into the learning experience.
ANNETTE HILTON is Associate Professor in Science Education at Aarhus University in Copenhagen, Denmark. GEOFF HILTON is a Postdoctoral Fellow, SHELLEY DOLE is Associate Professor and CHRIS CAMPBELL is a Lecturer, all at the School of Education, The University of Queensland. They all have extensive classroom and research experience.
This text provides teachers with tools and guidance about how to adapt teaching strategies to appeal and engage young learners. This is about integrating ICT tools in all areas of the curriculum, not just as a separate subject. The authors have a great deal of education expertise and background knowledge among them. It includes relevant links to curriculum, planning and assessment. There is guidance throughout for each area (Maths, Science, ICT) as their own separate subject area, but also great ideas for integrating ICT, Science and Maths together for inquiry based units. It is now a time to integrate the ICT tools in all learning areas. There are relevant links to current cross-curricular links.
This text particularly appealed to me, as a teacher of Early Years students for over ten years having just returned from a few years on family leave to teach tech savvy students entering school. These students often already have some ability to use ICT tools, such as iPads or iPhones. This text would be great for student teachers at University and Graduate or beginning teachers, as it gives great indication of what to expect in the first years of schooling and how young learners transition to school, particularly in that important first year. As we know, teachers are time poor, so this text can be used as a quick reference, by utilizing the index. This is useful for the reader to be able to find references quickly, for teaching particular areas. The text also includes clear examples, diagrams and pictures.One of the main points for me is teacher reflection about how the integration of ICT tools enhance the learning experience.Thanks for the opportunity to review this text. This will enhance my current teaching practice.
Alyssa Chalhoub, North Fitzroy Primary School, VIC
This amazing little book is jam-packed with great information. It took me a while to come to terms with the tendency to use nouns as verbs, but I’m assured (by someone who is more savvy than am I with information technology) that the terms to foreground something or to overview something are indeed a legitimate part of the jargon. The first chapters look at teaching in the early years environment, and how information and communication technology (ICT) can and should be integrated.
What follows is an incredibly useful breakdown, chapter by chapter, of ways that we as teachers can think about teaching the specific strands or concepts of Science and Mathematics, and how to make ICT integral to lesson sequences. As the authors state, the book is not comprehensive, nor is it prescriptive, but it does provide specific lesson planning and ideas that can be used both off the shelf and as a blue-print for designing further learning experiences. Each sequence of learning across the different strands employs focus activities and then expands to use different ways to develop skills and engage young students. I particularly liked the way that the sequences for Science learning outlined the inquiry skills and representations of scientific literacy for each activity, and the very concrete methodologies of presenting learning experiences for both Science and Mathematics concepts. Both included references to ICT competences where appropriate.
I found myself becoming very excited as I read through the various chapters, and have already begun planning how to incorporate the information and ideas into my practice. Apart from teaching the suggested activities as they stand, I will be using the format to develop lessons/units based on Australian National Curriculum outcomes for Mathematics and Science, and incorporating methodologies from the text for integrating ICT into the children’s learning.Teaching Early Years Mathematics, Science & ICT is a gold mine for any teacher working with young students.
Catherine Whittle, Monash Primary School, ACT
This book focuses on teaching in the first three years of schooling. It is ideal for beginning teachers but it is also valuable for more experienced teachers who want to learn how to integrate ICT into their teaching. There is a focus on play-based learning but the authors also acknowledge the need for teacher-directed activities. I enjoyed their observation that children need to develop skills of quiet observation and respectful listening! Hilton et al. advocate questioning to prompt students to explore ideas. I will be using their suggestion that teachers can make annotations during group discussions to record student’s ideas as an informal, ongoing method of assessment.
The content of the Science strands are covered in some detail over four chapters with suggested activities and teaching points. These units are similar to Primary Connections but I think they are more practical and interesting. In a stand-alone chapter, ICT is integrated into a biology lesson sequence, addressing all of the ICT competencies. Very impressive – and timely with ICT coming on board in the curriculum.The next chapters look at how mathematical thinking can be developed using play-based learning. Each mathematical strand is discussed in the next three chapters, identifying core skills to be developed using a range of teaching strategies. For the Number strand they succinctly describe the development stages of counting and they suggest activities to develop number concepts in a logical way. This is so much better than my current approach to teaching Number and I will be using their teaching sequence in the future.
A separate chapter is devoted to making ICT integral to maths using lessons around Time. Again, the competencies are covered while addressing curriculum content. When I first flipped through this book, I saw some good teaching ideas, using activities I had forgotten about. When I read the book more closely I appreciated the well-structured learning sequences. Next year, I will be confident that I am addressing ICT competencies in my early childhood classroom. My Science and Maths Program will also be more coherent and well-grounded. This is a book to buy!
Anne Gray, Glen Huon Primary School, Crabtree TAS
With the controversy surrounding the federal government’s ideas about introducing specialist maths and science teachers into primary schools to lift performance in these areas ( http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/the-federal-government-is-considering-making-primary-school-teachers-subject-specialists/story-fngqim8m-1227188015321 or http://bit.ly/science_maths_specialists) it is timely to review these new TR books designed to help K-3 teachers teach maths, science and ICT build confidence.
With many young children entering their first year of “big school” able to use a tablet and perhaps a mobile phone, they have an expectation that they will continue to use technology to explore the world around them and satisfy their endless curiosity. Similarly, the concept of separate compartments for specific subjects (silo learning) is unknown to them and so the underlying philosophy and purpose of this book is that science and maths and ICT should not only be integrated but explicit connections be drawn between in-school and out-of-school learning so it all becomes a seamless whole. Even though each area is given its own section so the big ideas and important concepts that are common to curricula across countries, it is their interconnection which is important. There are suggestions for how to link each section to the other curriculum areas but teachers will doubtless identify others according to the needs, interests and abilities of the students in their care. There is a deliberate balance of theory and practice and ideas and strategies are not overly-prescriptive so they can be readily adapted to the individual situations of the teachers implementing them.
Both the key strands of maths and science are further divided into sub-strands which reflect common curriculum divisions (for example, maths includes sections on number and algebra, statistics and probability, and geometry and measurement) and then each strand is followed by a section focusing on how ICT might be embedded, including selecting the appropriate resource. This is so much more than choosing a drill-and-skill app that does little to extend learning. The authors are well qualified to write such a guide – Annette Hilton is Associate Professor in Science Education at Aarhus University in Copenhagen, Denmark. Geoff Hilton is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Shelley Dole is Associate Professor and Chris Campbell is a Lecturer, all at the School of Education, The University of Queensland. According to an Australian Science Teachers Association survey, “the majority of primary teachers felt quite inadequate in addressing or teaching science”, and “many primary school teachers self-report a lack of confidence [in teaching maths]” according to the CEO of AAMT, so a new book such as this should be a welcome addition to the tool kits of all the early childhood teachers in your school.
Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, Cooma NSW
Now that children generally arrive at school already being able to use iPods, tablets and computers, teachers need to have the skills to meet them “where they are at”. Unless technology is used in the classroom, some students will be less likely to engage. Teachers need to be confident and skilled in the use of ICT, able to make it part of the curriculum and not simply use it as a stand-alone lesson. The Maths and Science curriculum is broken down in this book to the various strands or subjects and the links between them are clearly identified and explored. With chapters on biological, chemical, earth and space science and physical science and Mathematics being separated into number and algebra, statistics and probability, geometry and measurement and time, the whole Maths and Science curriculum is covered by this document. As much as specific lessons and links are provided, there is scope for teachers to adapt the ideas to match their own purposes or tasks. As a teacher librarian, currently working for a day a week in a middle school classroom, with maths and science being among the lessons I present each week, I wish I was in an early years classroom to use specific lessons documented in these pages. It is so easy to follow! The layout of the book makes it easily accessible and possible to simply dip in and out when looking for specific topics and ideas. Teaching points, classroom examples and assessment tasks are readily available and easy to use. Reading the “About the Authors” section, it is apparent that all four are well qualified in their fields and have produced a handbook for all teachers, whether graduates or simply those whose skills in ICT are limited. This would be a useful resource in any school.
Jo Schenkel, Pilgrim School SA
This practical resource is a great addition to any primary teacher’s professional resources. Focusing on the first three years of schooling, this guide outlines the core concepts and teaching practices for the areas of mathematics, science and ICT. The authors have done well to create a practical guide that links all three areas in a cohesive manner suitable for primary school teachers. The theoretical knowledge is outlined for each key area to ensure teachers comprehend how student understanding develops between the ages of five and eight. Real classroom examples are also provided, which is particularly useful for graduate teachers and also for more experienced teachers, looking to see how the activity would work in the classroom. The use of photographs, diagrams and concise information is really valuable for time-poor teachers who can quickly refer to specific parts of this book when needed.
Teachers could use this reference book when planning units of work each term to ensure that the areas of mathematics, science and ICT are successfully taught and integrated. The advice on how to determine whether an ICT task is appropriate for a class is also particularly useful. The planning and reflection template included in Chapter 1 could also become an integral part of planning and assessing a unit of work.
Overall, this is a useful resource for teachers who are looking to gain a deeper understanding of how to best facilitate rich learning experiences in these key areas. This book assists teachers in how to successfully incorporate ICT, science and maths whilst making learning fun for students.
Kathleen Temple, Yarrambat PS