Contexts for Learning: Sociocultural Dynamics in Children's Development

By Ellice A. Forman; Norris Minick et al. | Go to book overview
the repetitive nature. However nothing in the program motivates the use of economical repeating formulas for two-step Ponds.
10.
There are two possible two-step Ponds for the type of reanalysis represented by Figure 5.3, where the first and the last steps must be in the same direction. The pattern for these Ponds would be straight lines -- vertical or horizontal. A Pond that was just a long line could be reanalyzed; for example, a "right 3, right 2" formula could be reanalyzed as "right 2, right 3" or "right 1, right 4," etc. The second type of reanalysis, represented in Figure 5.4, requires that the first and last steps be of opposite directions, so that the frog backtracks; a few limited two-step cases can be produced within the constraints of the program. They would also be straight lines; for example, given a chain of four hops down, the formula "down 4, up 2" could work, even though in practice the execution would stop when the "ending point" was reached at the end of the "down 4" step.
11.
Even nongenetic task analyses cannot applaud the original menu sequence as a matter of going from easier to harder, gradually adding more difficult elements of the task. The two- and four-step Ponds can be seen as related along an easier-harder dimension; the patterns to recognize and represent become longer, and most fourstep Ponds enable the users to add an element: attention to repetition. However, the easier-to-harder progression is broken by the three-step Ponds, which require reanalysis, making them more difficult than all but a few of the four-step Ponds rarely encountered by users.
12.
In our contexts, where handwritten notes and models are used as auxiliary means, the turn-taking could involve the use of these artifacts as well.
13.
Sometimes the formulas of experts are wrong, and there can be new information given by the slow frog splashing into the water; but experts treat their errors as "slips," as a mistyping, a miscounting, or a misperception, not as a misunderstanding about the particular problem or the general class of them. The new formula is entered speedily, accompanied by as much declaration of certainty as was the first. The "higher order" formula can organize the "lower order" counting, keypress, and vision skills; and it can provide a monitor for such skills during the execution phase ( Vygotsky, 1978, Chs. 3 and 4). For novice groups, these "lower order skills" display no such organization; each in turn assumes a major role in the interaction and is laboriously monitored as it is being done.
14.
For example, faced with the problem (described above) of children counting lily pads instead of hops (having a "sense" discoordinated. with the meaning the program relied on), we used role-playing to enrich the contexts that could generate a different sense. The solution turns the table on the notion "computer simulation." We simulate the computer program's scenario. That is, we arrange some "props," (e.g., chairs) to represent the lily pads of the current Pond problem showing on the computer screen, assign someone the "role" of frog, and have others act as a "Greek chorus" chanting the count as the acting frog hops from chair to chair. As we "simulate" the computer program, there is ample opportunity to discuss (and make salient) the difference between counting hops and counting pads. These contexts can externalize the discoordination an individual is experiencing and provide occasions for reflection and social negotiation toward coordination.

References

Austin J. L. ( 1962). How to do things with words. New York: Oxford University Press.

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