Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Importance of Background Knowledge

One of the keys to helping students learn is to make sure they build a strong base for new information. Last summer, my friend’s son built a stone garden in my yard. First, he put down a layer of stone, checked to see that it was level, and then added sand and gravel to make the ground under the stone was even so that the first row would completely level. It took him much longer to do the bottom row than the top three rows. He explained to me that if the foundation isn’t right, the entire garden wall would be flawed. This is also true with learning.

For our students, the foundation is the knowledge they already have about a topic. To effectively teach students something new, we need to know what they already know or think they know about a particular concept. In some instances, they have knowledge that is incorrect, and we need to address their misconceptions in a way that leads them to understand the concept correctly. 

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