Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Importance of Prior Knowledge

So we are really emphasizing test prep this week (and yes, I hate that those words are coming out of my fingers!)--our standardized testing will take place all next week. Our administrators purchase practice tests that we've been using. I think they are a little outdated, here's one of the questions from the practice test booklet:

I think this is a perfect example of how prior knowledge could be the sole reason a child understands a concept. Not only did my kiddos not know what a walkman was, but when I explained that it was a device where you could listen to cassettes, the next inevitable question was "what's a cassette?". Could they use strategies and figure out the answer, possibly. I can tell you right now, most of them chose the stereo system-something they may have actually seen before. We also had a question asking them to identify the snowsuit which living in Texas they definitely have no prior experience with. 

So I'm in a meeting today where we are talking about next week's Hour of Code. I was very hesitant to commit to doing activities with this in my classroom because I know very little about it. I see the blog and Twitter posts, I know it's happening, but I couldn't envision how I would do it. Well, our speaker is talking about how one little mistake in the code could mess up a program and I have a bit of an epiphany!

I was a teenager in the 80's when personal computers were just really starting to get popular. We had a TRS-80 and a book of programs where we would type a list of like 100 commands and then we could play hangman or checkers. I was coding before it was even the new trend, who knew! So now that I've made that connection, I'm much more confident in going ahead and trying to explain it to my students.

It's those connections to your own experiences that can really bring learning for us!


  1. I have to admit I don't know what hour of code even is. Good thing I'm not teaching it.

  2. You know it's big with those techonology people! Our district is pushing it pretty hard. We do our testing next week every morning, so I thought it might be a good brain break activity to do in the afternoons.