Using video reflection over science talk to become a better SciTalker
One of the best ways to improve your ability to lead exploratory talk is to watch and reflect your own dialogues yourself!
Looking through this website, you have probably seen that we introduce a number of different theoretical approaches, example videos and tasks where you can learn and reflect over what it is important to think through in conversations about natural science with small children. In this module we present different tasks you can do to try out and practice different elements of the science talk. While it might feel uncomfortable watching and listening to yourself on video, we know that watching yourself on a video and reflecting over the way you talk and act is one of the best ways of being more conscious and aware of your strengths and points for improvement. Here are some comments from students participating in SciTalk:
I have become aware of the importance of being conscious and attentive when the child asks a question; that is the best way to take care of children’s curiosity
(Second year kindergarten student)
Listening to yourself on video means that you really ’criticise‘ yourself. You notice everything that is said and done, and this helps you raise your awareness. At the same time, you clearly see which opportunities you miss and which ones you manage to grasp
(Second year kindergarten student)
In this task we ask you to make a film or an audio recording of a more or less authentic conversation with a child where something scientific is the topic. It can be an unplanned situation, occurring when you are out in nature, or you can choose to facilitate an experiment or something that you think the child will find interesting.
Rules and ethics if you are going to film children in this task
- The children (and parents) must be informed about the purpose of the filming.
- You need permission to film from the parents and the children themselves, if they are capable.
- The film should not be shown or published anywhere, not even for your fellow students. For that kind of use, you need extended permission (GDPR).
- After the filming, transcribe a chosen part of the dialoge that is suitable for answering the task. After that you must delete the film.
What you need to think through
- You need 1–4 children that want to do a science experiment or go for an exciting walk outdoors. You must be allowed to film them, even if it is only for your own purpose. If this is difficult to do in the kindergarten or school, you could make an appointment with parents of children in your circle of friends or family.
- You need to point out an aim or purpose for the conversation. If you want to go for a walk outside, you need to think through some possible topics that can occur, but in the same way be open to what the children are interested in and for unexpected things to happen. In a planned indoor experiment, for instance, that involves making a volcano out of baking soda, you need to think through the age of the child, and at what level you want to introduce the scientific content. What do you think is suitable for the child you are working with?
- Don’t write a script of what you want to talk about. Dialogues with children are way too complex to be planned beforehand. However, you can prepare by looking through the videos concerning inquiry, observation, types of talk etc. on this website. Try to think through what is relevant for the activity you are planning. Think through how different aspects of the way children express themselves sensory and verbally, can be included in conversations.
How to proceed
- When the science talk starts, or in the minutes before, you start filming (using a video camera, your phone, or a different camera). Turn it off when you consider that the talk is over.
- Find a time where you are alone and have time to watch the video. Choose a sequence of 1–2 minutes where you consider there is something to reflect over, regarding science talk, and write a transcript of this sequence.
- Write a text where you reflect over the following points:
- Find at least one passage in the conversation where you mean you are facilitating further exploration. Explain how your way of talking, acting, and understanding body language is contributing to that.
- Find one passage where you mean the possibility for further exploration is lost. Explain what you think may be the reason for that. Make sure you study both the way you talk, how the children talk, and how body language is being used.
- Formulate two sentences where you say something you learned about yourself, or what you want to be more aware of in your next science talk.
- Go together with your fellow students or colleagues and explain what you have observed and reflected over in your video. Ask for comments. Do they have other perspectives?