Friday, August 19, 2011

Activating Prior Knowledge in Science

Today Mr. Mayher (who is co-teaching seventh grade science with me) has been helping the students remember science concepts they have learned in the past. The students were asked to identify as many things as possible from a picture. From there the discussion leads to all the science concepts that were represented in the image.

I was amazed to hear how many connections students made between the image and science concepts. This is a great way to use anticipatory set to reactivate your students memories.

Yesterday I reviewed three different ways students can take notes. They are familiar with the traditional method where the notes are highly structured into an outline. (I like to call this type of note taking as Formal notes.)

I introduced them to Cornell note taking which is still structured, but it adds the use of a graphic organizer which can help many students as well as a place to reflect on the notes. As you know, I believe reflection is the most valuable step in the learning process.

The third note taking strategy is mind mapping (also called webbing). Mind mapping allows visual students to  see connections and relationships. It is also pretty useful for kids that like to draw and make things.

Finally I introduced them to the power of pictures. Marzano identifies drawing pictures as a "powerful way to generate nonlinguistic representations in the mind." Basically, pictures make powerful memories, especially when you draw them yourself.

It is important to point out that there is no reason why a student could not mash-up two or more of these strategies to create a note taking method that works best for them. I would love seeing my students using all of these tools based upon the needs they encounter as they continue to learn throughout the year. 

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