Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Prior Knowledge: The Missing Pieces to the Big Picture

Memory Lane

I remember little things my dad taught me, such as how to color like a pro and to button up from the bottom.  Whether he knew it or not, those little tidbits held more insight than just their literal meanings as helpful hints.

Find the Flat Edge Pieces

My dad and I would put puzzles together, and his advice was to find all the flat edge pieces first.  This way you could put together the frame and have starting points for filling in the rest of the puzzle. 

Just like I always draw a crayon outline inside the lines of the picture and color evenly in the same direction, I  begin each puzzle by finding the flat edge pieces.

The Big Picture

I have a vision, although not as clear as the one printed on a puzzle box, of our educational journey's destination.  All the tiny pieces are jumbled up inside my head and in my notes.  

Over the better part of the last decade though, I have been sorting through those pieces to find the flat edges to build a frame for our Big Picture Puzzle.  

Those flat edge pieces are the prior knowledge we need to have in order to fill in the rest of the picture.  

A Simple Strategy

After I find the flat edges, I like to sort my puzzle pieces by grouping ones with similar attributes.  It's a given that I will find entire sections of the puzzle this way, and simplify the process.  

This method works, and I use it consistently.

I use memorization as a simple strategy to acquire prior knowledge, and build the outer edge of our Big Picture. 

Math Fact Memorization

Math fact memorization is essential to forming connections from the math category of our Big Picture Puzzle.

Here's why:  

  • By doing the work initially to memorize the basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, we are eliminating extra work later on when we are trying to focus on more abstract mathematical concepts. 

  • The kids get an academic confidence boost from knowing the answer.  This creates a positive association with math and learning in general.

  • By learning how to learn when they are practicing and reciting math facts, the kids are learning a basic skill that will carry them not only through math, but life in general.

Warning Label

Memorization should be used wisely.  It is not a universal tool.  It is best used on essential information with the intent to make learning more efficient.

Children need to comprehend and make connections, and the purpose of memorization is to create reference points to connect with.  

Class Discussion

Share some parental pointers you remember from your childhood in the comments.

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

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