Monday, January 25, 2010

Background Knowledge

When we plan lessons, teachers always think about what background knowledge children will bring to the subject. Oftentimes, I expect my students to have very little background and scaffold my lessons to help them create background knowledge through some sort of an experience. Today, one of my students, Marco, came back from a very long (way too long) hiatus in the Dominican Republic and brought in a brochure from a resort in Punta Cana. It was a very appealing laminated fold-out brochure with beautiful pictures of the beaches, pools, a bowling alley, restaurants, hotel rooms, a spa, etc. Marco wanted to share the brochure with the class, so I briefly put it up on my white board and asked the students what kind of activities they thought children could do at this resort. The students successfully identified the beach, the pool, and the bowling alley, but could not articulate the activities one could do. They looked perplexed. One student pointed to the picture of the spa and said that you could get a massage with hot rocks. Several other kids agreed and they all wanted to talk about massages with hot rocks. I was perplexed at this point. Apparently my students know all about hot rock massages but can't express "swimming, splashing, sunbathing, bowling, relaxing, etc." I honestly have no answers to this one. My students are almost all low SES and qualify for free lunch. I guess I learned never to assume to know about their experiences based on their SES status and also not to hold back on showing them everything I can about the world.

1 comment:

Launa Hall said...

What a great point. Background knowledge is something I should not assume, but also not underestimate. Thanks for the reminder.