Identifying prior knowledge in science Christine Howitt
Warm crayons • What knowledge did Crayon Boy bring to the task • How did he obtain that knowledge? • What does this example tell you about children’s thinking?
Children’s thinking is ... • Dynamic • Rich and complex • Creative • Imaginative • Meanders • Contextual • Explanatory • Shared • Deliberate • Reflective
The nature of children’s prior knowledge • All children have vast amounts of knowledge based on their experiences with the world • They are NOT an empty cup or sponge waiting to be filled with your knowledge • Children’s ideas are usually strongly held • These ideas are sensible and coherent views from the child’s point of view • There are many commonly held ideas • Many of these ideas are at odds with current scientific views
The starting point • Children’s prior knowledge should be the starting point for all science topics • Use the first lesson to find out what the child already knows (or does not know) • From here, adjust planning accordingly
Methods of determining prior knowledge • Each table has a different activity to determine children’s knowledge in relation to science • Follow the instructions inside the folders • If you finish early swap with a different table • Different methods • Drawing • Classifying • Concept cartoons • Whole-parts relationships • Compare and contrast
What do all of these methods have in common? • Engaging the child • Working in groups • Encouraging discourse (talk) between children • Listening to other’s ideas • Building on social constructivism
Other methods of determining prior knowledge • Group discussion • Brainstorming • Concept maps (class, group of individual) • Children’s talk (between children only) • Questioning • TWLH • Think, pair, share • Writing answers to questions • Test
Remember! • The most important single factor in teaching science is what the learner already knows • Determine this … … and teach accordingly!