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Activating Prior Knowledge in the Classroom

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Lori is a 9th grade math teacher at a small middle school that serves a farming community. She has worked at the school for 5 years and has learned that it is a community that thrives on three things: family, farming, and football. Every boy growing up in town has aspirations of varsity football glory, but most will end up spending their lives working the family farm. Walking into her third period class on the first day of school, she finds herself faced by 15 rambunctious teenagers. Even scarier, 12 of them are boys. As she begins the year, Lori wants to grab her students' attention by providing an engaging introduction to the practical value of math. Her first unit of the year introduces the adding and subtracting of fractions and she wants to build on the knowledge her students already have acquired, both in and out of school.

1. Give an example of a specific strategy that Lori can use to activate the prior knowledge existing in her classroom and steps she can take to implement it.
2. What other resources might Lori use to gain a further understanding of the existing knowledge base of her students?
3. How might she combine what she knows about her students and the community with her unit focus (fractions) in a way that immediately engages the class?

https://brainmass.com/education/motivation/activating-prior-knowledge-classroom-520513

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1.Give an example of a specific strategy that Lori can use to activate the prior knowledge existing in her classroom and steps she can take to implement it.

Lori must activate prior knowledge by engaging the students with protocol analysis as an ongoing cognitive lab that uses a qualitative approach enabling individual students to complete items through discussion while verbalizing their thoughts. In these discussions the teacher has the ability to deduce students' prior knowledge of test items and objective items by having the students disclose their understanding of the items created by the teacher. Some examples that would be applicable for a class of students whose interests are football and farming would be fractions that use farming criteria or football criteria. The students' ability to complete these assignments and discuss how they effectively obtained the answers will give the teacher an understanding of their prior knowledge.

2. What other resources might Lori use to gain a further understanding of the existing knowledge base of her students?

Lori can use several other important resources such as prior teachers, administrators, and even parents of the students to develop a greater understanding of their knowledge regarding math and fractions. School records are protected and only accessible to students and their families, but upon request, teachers may ask parents for permission to view how students in her class previously performed in math courses. She can also engage her colleagues to ascertain their assessments of the children that were taught by her colleagues prior to entering her classroom.

3. How might she combine what she knows about her students and the community with her unit focus (fractions) in a way that immediately engages the class?

Students that have established interests such as football or farming can receive instructions and lesson plans that incorporate these interests into the questions and assessments. Using fractions to add and subtract equations that are filled with information about these two interests. This will make the questions resonate with the students because it will appeal to their interests while also allowing them to learn how to add and subtract fractions.

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