Eric.ed.gov – Talking Science in an ESL Pre-K: Theory-Building with Realia

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What is realia and theory-building? Tim Kinard and Jesse Gainer explain that when students explore using “realia,” they are not just being exposed to abstract concepts or text on a page, they are using “real-life” objects to build understandings of the natural world while they builds vocabulary about it. Handling and discussing real-world objects (acorns, pine cones, flowers, bones, antlers, dirt), in both the first language of the students, as well as a second language learned in school, builds vocabulary quickly as students engage in meaningful communication with scaffolds bridging first and second languages. The use of “realia” and other visuals are one way to provide ESL students opportunities for meaningful communication in English. Creating strategic partnerships that pair ELLs with native English speakers is another effective strategy that provides both groups the opportunity to interact and learn from one another. When students learn through explorations, not by directly being told about or shown the concepts–and in a group setting with real-world, everyday materials and ideas–they are “theory-building.” Increasingly, the very young have been found to build sophisticated theories when they are able to build them through real-world, experiential knowledge and conversation. The idea that theory-building among peers in their first languages can create deep understandings about science, math, society, literature and other topics can be a very hopeful idea. Therefore, when pre-K teachers provide students with many of the keys to success in schooling by hands-on practice, in the out-of-doors, which builds on prior knowledge, and exercises home languages, these teachers are offering opportunities for practicing “realia” and theory-building skills.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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