Self regulation and perhaps joint educational activity

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Fri Apr 29 2005 - 17:41:53 PDT

The following fragment of a fieldnote from an undergrad working in a local
5th Dimension is not typical in that the child wants to do her homework, all
it, in order to have time to do more of it. In a self-reflection that
follows this fieldnote,
the undergrad writes that the child reminded her of herself at a younger age
and she
regrets, for herself and the child, that she did not play more.

Although not typical, the fragment appears to me to provide an interesting
example of
something like scaffolding and, less ambiguously, the child's implementation
of a
self-regulation strategy that is a useful cognitive/affective instrument.

What do you think?

 T first got out a blue sheet of problems about calculating volume. She went
through the first couple problems very quickly and then explained that in
her class they got to choose between yellow (easy), blue (medium), and green
(hard) sheets of homework. I asked her if she wanted to give the green one a
shot so she took it out. The problems involved calculating the volume of
non-standard shapes. When T first looked at the problem she said she didn't
know how to find the volume of those shapes. So, I covered different pieces
of one shape with my hand to show her that the big shape could be broken
into smaller shapes that she could find the volume of. She understood so we
got to work. At first T was unsure about what to do when she wasn't given a
dimension, but after I showed her one example of how to find the missing
dimensions she could figure out the rest. The only other issue we came
across in finding volumes was understanding which sides of a triangle were
the length and height. I explained that we had to use the edges connected by
a right angle, not the slanted hypotenuse. When we finished this sheet
Tsmiled and admired her work for a while and then took out a whole
packet of
problems. This packet had 13 pages but it wasn't due until the following
Monday. Nonetheless, T wanted to finish as much as she could. Most of these
pages she had no problem with and breezed through. One issue we had was that
she would often apply multiplication rules, like two negatives equals a
positive, to adding problems. However, as soon as I pointed out that
something wasn't right she would catch her mistake. T constantly checked how
many pages she had completed and eventually made a box for every page on the
front cover and would color in the box when she finished the page. One page
that we spent a while on had problems about percents such as "30 is what
percent of 80?" Each problem was worded a little differently and thus you
really had to understand the terminology and how to work with percents. My
way of solving these problems was to set up two fractions (with one being
something over 100) and cross multiply to find the missing number. I
explained this system to T and then we went through each problem by putting
each given number into one of four slots in my system. At first we would
talk it through together and then I would write it down, after a couple
problems T asked to do it herself and got it correct. Soon we had finished
the entire packet and T's dad came to pick her up. When she left it was

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