A Videative Demo

This is a special video presentation called a videative. To experience this presentation as it is intended, read through the text below and click the hyperlinked words to automatically play the accompanying video segment.

This video demonstrates how a three year can clearly teach a peer. It also demonstrates how our observation can shift from finding skills that mark standards to finding the story that reveals the child’s cleverness. The story more fully captures the child’s cleverness. Thereby, the story serves as better data to establish the quality of the school itself.

Watch each segment of the full clip by clicking on its "Watch segment" link. After each segment you can read what the children are most probably trying to do and how they are using their intelligence to do it.

(To purchase your own copy of the continuous clip, scroll to the bottom of this text box.)

Here is what the children say in segment 1:

Justin: I will I will teach him.
Max: I have this.
Justin: This is not yours.
OK. Now watch this. I do it.
Hold on to the bag and…. pull.
And then it works!

Watch segment 1

Justin establishes his role as the teacher so that Max will allow him to give a demonstration. Max wants Justin to solve the problem of his stuck zipper and offers his bag to Justin.

Justin says, "This (bag) is not yours." Justin wants Max to know that even though he is not using Max's bag, the demo will still be instructive because they have similar bags. For the moment Justin is "teaching" and not simply closing the zipper on Max's bag.

To assure that Max watches the key actions, Justin says, "Hold on the bag." This is exactly what Max was not doing. Justin understands the importance of counter resistance to anchor the loose fabric.

Here is what the children say in segment 2:

Justin: I will show you how to do it.
You hold the zipper and do this.
Now I'll show you how to do it.
I'll - give me the bag and I will
show you how to do it.

Watch segment 2

Justin understands that he is not simply closing the bag, he is giving a demo, thus he frames it as such with, "I'll show you" and he breaks the action down. This reveals Justin's awareness of Max's perspective as a listener.

One wonders why Justin shifts his demo to Max's bag. Here Justin is both showing Max how to zip such a bag and solving Max's problem with the stuck zipper.

And notice how Justin does not simply take Max's bag. He frames this action as a "just for now" use so he can show Max how to zip. If he had just taken Max's bag, Max might have been upset. Or perhaps Justin wanted to alert Max to watch and not simply relinquish the bag.

Here is what the children say in segment 3:

Max: It's hard.
Justin: Yeah.
Max: I want this.
Justin: That.
Max: I want this.
Justin: No.

Watch segment 3

By saying, "It's hard" Max is telling us that he blames the zipper, not Justin. Justin agrees. He is also telling us that he can identify a strong effort, even though the zipper does not move.

Max is probably referring to his bag when he says, "I want this," but Justin thinks Max wants the beads (already in his hand). Justin is confused, so he asks for clarification… "That?" Max understands that Justin is confused so Max points to the bag that Justin has.

By saying, "I want this" Max probably means he wants his zipper fixed. Justin quickly says, "No" probably meaning, "I am still working on yours."

Here is what the children say in segment 4:

Justin: See.
Max: Yeah.
Justin: Yeah, I did it.
And, and, I did it to Max's zipper.
Teacher: You did.
Justin: Yeah.

Watch segment 4

When Justin succeeds, he calls out to Max to confirm the success by looking at the result. Justin most likely realizes that zipping Max's bag was a greater success because it was harder to close than Justin's bag.

Justin wants to compare work on his bag with work on Max's bag. Perhaps he realizes that he was performing a demo with his bag, but he was solving a problem with Max's bag.

Here is what the children say in segment 5:

Max: Let's goooo!
Justin: And mine it works. See, mine works. Watch this. Mine works. And Max's doesn't work.
Teacher: Well, it worked when you did it.
Justin: Yeah it worked.
Teacher: Yeah.

Watch segment 5

Max realizes that he has been helped, but he probably did not learn how to close the zipper. And it would be too much to expect Justin to ask Max to try on his own or too much to expect that Max would want to try once his problem was solved.

Once again Justin wants someone to acknowledge that he has solved the problem. He focuses on how his bag worked but Max's did not. Why does he put it this way? Perhaps he is thinking, "Mine was easy; Max's was hard. But I figured if I could make mine work I could make Max's work."

So what is the story that relates these components into a clever use of Justin’s intelligence? Justin wants to help Max learn to solve the zipper problem on his own. However, it is not clear that Justin thinks about Max’s thinking, even though it is clear that Justin thinks about Max’s attention. Justin does not check to see if Max understands the way to zip the bag. Also, it seems that Justin himself shifts to the practical issue of closing Max’s bag instead of the more general issue of instructing Max for the future. When the clip is understood as a story, we learn more than a list of skills. We learn how Justin appropriated these skills to reach his objectives, objectives that sometimes changed to meet the immediate situation. We also learn a few things that Justin could understand better. And with that idea in mind we can now discuss the role of the teacher.

Here are two implications for practice. In some future episode, the teacher can be prepared to help Justin reflect on the difference between paying attention and learning. The teacher might suggest to Justin that they ask the learner to try on his own.

Or the teacher might simply put into words these two different perspectives: teaching and fixing. “Oh, Justin would like Max to learn how to zip.” and “Wow, it is hard. Now you are just trying to fix the bag.” Sometimes a declarative sentence, not a question, is all that is needed to help the children reflect on the intentions behind their actions.

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