Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

a crayon out of her mother's hand and saying, "I want to draw it myself." Interestingly though, Shamia took ownership over defining and applying computational ideas in a way that is not typical of many children in school, particularly children of color.

As described earlier, Bob Moses points out the need to provide children of color with mathematics learning experiences that support rather than undermine their confidence in their abilities to work on challenging math problems. Shamia's "rainbow learning" experience presents a clear example of a child rising to the challenge of working to understand computational ideas that are new to her. There are also indications from this story that the espoused African-centered nature of the learning culture at Paige was involved in supporting Shamia's confident approach to solving her problems.

Reflecting Papert's views of constructionism, Logo was a successful tool for fostering Shamia's engagement and allowing her to find her own way to think about the rainbow. Turtle graphics provided her with a way to assert her own way of thinking about how to make her rainbow and to understand new ideas in the process of constructing all the parts of her rainbow.

The fact that Shamia is learning in a school environment where her interests and cultural heritage are recognized and respected is congruent with Moses' message and presents a unique opportunity for learning research. With the intention of supporting her learning needs as an African-American child, her teacher creates a learning environment filled with expectations that she can figure out a complex problem (like the rainbow), support for her work on her problem, and respect for her assertion of ownership of her strategy. Her story shows how this environment offers opportunities to explore resonances between the ways that mathematical ideas are embedded in work with Logo and the ways that mathematics learning is emergent from the pedagogy within an African-centered school. Her story is one of many from this school that help to make a case for including analysis of cultural diversity and sociocultural context within both research and practice of constructionism.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This chapter is part of an ongoing thesis research study of children's learning at Paige Academy with constructionist technologies from a perspective that includes sociocultural context as an element of knowledge construction. This chapter would not have come together without the help of Mitchel Resnick. I thank Joe Cook, Seymour Papert, and Eleanor Duckworth for their constant encouragement and support for telling the stories of children at Paige. Special thanks to the students in Group 3 for their hard work and inspiration. I also thank the National Science Foundation (Grant 9153719-MDR), the LEGO Group, and Nintendo Inc., for their support of this research.

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Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Acknowledgments 8
  • Part I - Perspectives in Constructionism 8a
  • 1 - A Word for Learning 9
  • References 24
  • 2 - Perspective-Taking and Object Construction 25
  • Conclusion 32
  • Acknowledgments 34
  • References 34
  • 3 - Elementary School Children's Images of Science 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Conclusions 62
  • Acknowledgments 64
  • Acknowledgments 65
  • Appendix B - Image of Science Interview Guideline 65
  • Part II - Learning Through Design 70a
  • 4 - Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact 71
  • Conclusion 93
  • Acknowledgments 94
  • References 94
  • 5 - Electronic Play Worlds 97
  • Conclusions 119
  • Acknowledgments 121
  • References 121
  • 6 - The Art of Design 125
  • Foreword 125
  • References 158
  • 7 - Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks 161
  • Introduction 161
  • References 172
  • Part III - Learning in Communities *
  • 8 - Social Constructionism and the Inner City Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal 175
  • Introduction 175
  • Acknowledgments 204
  • Appendix - Statistical Data About the Four Corners Neighborhood 204
  • References 205
  • 9 - The MediaMOO Project Constructionism and Professional Community 207
  • Conclusion - Constructionism and Virtual Reality 220
  • Acknowledgments 221
  • References 221
  • 10 - A Community of Designers Learning Through Exchanging Questions and Answers 223
  • Introduction 223
  • References 239
  • 11 - They Have Their Own Thoughts 241
  • Introduction 241
  • Conclusion 251
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • References 253
  • Part IV - Learning About Systems 254a
  • 12 - New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking 255
  • Introduction 255
  • Acknowledgments 266
  • References 267
  • 13 - Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Concluding Remarks 290
  • Acknowledgments 292
  • References 293
  • 14 - Ideal and Real Systems 297
  • Introduction 297
  • Analysis and Conclusions 318
  • Acknowledgments 322
  • References 322
  • Author Index 323
  • Subject Index 329
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