Monday, September 10, 2018

Strategies for Habit 2 Activate Background Knowledge

Our brains are wired to make connections.  I often describe students' brains like sophisticated filing cabinets and each file is cross referenced with multiple tags so that content is well connected.

When planning lessons it is essential to structure content so that students can make connections; educators call this activating background knowledge.  Students need to see, experience the connections to make meaning out of new content.

I collected a few strategies - some tried and true, some new ...

Stimulating Interest; Developing Curiosity

Building knowledge, making connections through vocabulary

Scaffold learning
How do you activate background knowledge?

I started delving into Teaching Numeracy: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking this week.  The introduction caught my attention because I spent a chunk of my career in elementary school.  There, much attention is given to teaching reading strategies to students like fix up strategies, thinking strategies, making connections and more.  Authors Pearse and Walton take those ideas and apply them to math.

Yes, the book is written primarily for K-8 teachers.  But strategies can often be applied to a wide range of audiences and I want to make connections from the book to my high school class!

Pearse, M., & Walton, K. (2011). Habit 1: Monitor and Repair Understanding. In Teaching numeracy: 9 critical habits to ignite mathematical thinking. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press. 


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  2. You have so many fantastic ideas for promoting deep thinking in your math class. I am also such a believer in students noticing and wondering as they learn to think and act flexibly with numbers, topics, and concepts. I like to challenge them to notice the strategies I use to ..... during my think alouds. I think it keeps them in the game. Then, I have them huddle up, share the strategies they noticed me using and I create an anchor chart from our discoveries. We use these anchor charts as a resource throughout the year.
    I am so glad I discovered your blog!!

    1. Hi Margie - enjoying your book! Glad you are visiting the blog! I hope to finish noting thoughts about the other habits soon!

    2. I am totally enjoying your blog. We are so on the same page with our philosophies. Critical thinking is critical thinking. If we use the same strategies that promote deep conceptual understanding across content areas, how much better off our students will be!