Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Activating Schema

Good readers and writers--well good learners in general, bring a "backpack" of prior background knowledge to school each day along with the backpack that holds their lunch, homework, and so on.  This knowledge is what has been coined the "fancy-smancy" term schema by Piaget.  We all know that what children learn is based on their adaption to the world as we present it through books, inquiry-based learning, read-alouds and technology.

Assimilation occurs when our young learners use their background knowledge to learn something new.  Accommodation occurs when the background knowledge doesn't fit in the right way so things have to be adjusted.  We do this through reading all the time.  It's our job to explicitly teach our young readers this skill.  

Since the best ideas I get are often the ones I learn from other teachers, I saw this idea from Erica's Ed-Ventures (check out her blog by clicking HERE) and had to use it.  Here's her photograph that was my inspiration.  She used this anchor chart to activate her students' schema on bats.

I decided to type up these headings for myself because my first and second graders are well into our Weather Unit, specifically studying about rain.  We discussed our background knowledge to kick-off our study.  We did some science experiments, and I read aloud several books on rain.  My favorite book is Down Comes the Rain by the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out series.  All of these are AWESOME, by the way.

Here is what our Schema Map looked like.  Notice in these two pictures how we started to move the stickies along as our schema was assimilated and accommodated--what a powerful visual to trace our learning.

The possibilities for these headings are endless, and I'm sharing them with all my followers by clicking HERE.  Enjoy and please share how you plan to use them by leaving me a comment--share the love!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thanking Those in Our Armed Forces

Each year in honor of Veterans Day, I read a few of my usual readalouds including The Wall by Eve Bunting, Pepper's Purple Heart by former Miss America Heather French Henry and Veterans Day by the Rookie Read-About Holidays Series.


More importantly, my kiddos do their parts to thank those who served in our Armed Forces by making Veterans Day cards.  We mail them to a local Veterans Hospital, The Soldiers' Home.  I was so happy to be able to continue this tradition of mine in my new school with my teaching partner and the kids we share.  The words on the cards are so heart-felt and inspirational I wanted to share some.  The Veterans in my family, my Uncle Lenny and my NoNo would have been proud of our first and second graders.

Dear Veterans, Thank you for helping keep our country safe
and free.  We love you.  We appreciate you keeping our
country free.

Dear Veterans, You guys did a great job when you were fighting!
Thank you for keeping our country safe and free.  We love
you guys!
Thank you for keeping our country safe.  I love you.

Dear Veterans, Thank you for saving us and helping us.
We love you so much and we are celebrating Veterans Day
just for you guys.  But thank you for helping us.

Thank you Veterans for making our country great!
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