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Stage A
rBook Workshops: Deepening Background and Content Knowledge
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Science is a long way from figuring out every intricacy of the human brain, but one thing seems pretty clear-- t

he more you know about something, the easier it is to learn more about it.

The process is really a lot more complicated than I can explain (or that you probably want to hear about), but it works something like this:

  • As you learn, your brain makes connections from different groups of neurons , building a schematic web for that subject area.
  • When you encounter new knowledge or skills, your brain accesses the existing structure and build out from what is already there.
  • So having a broader web to draw on and build out from makes it easily to make new connections. 

This means that anything we can do to deepen our students' knowledge about a subject will make it easier for them to think about. This should, in turn, make it easier for them to pick up on and apply the vocabulary and comprehension skills we are trying to teach them. Simply put, it gives them the scaffolding they need to build upon!

We can think about this as two separate things: Building Background Knowledge and Increasing Content Knowledge, but they both amount to the same thing. The only real difference, though, is when we do it. Background knowledge is provided before instruction, content knowledge is implemented while engrossed in the unit. In either case, we are bolstering the information provided in the workshop videos and readings in order to give our students a firmer, deeper grasp of the things we're covering.

Here are two quick examples...

Building Background Knowledge Before Starting Workshop 1:
1.  Prior to beginning our "Fires Out of Control" workshop, I display a map of all the fires burning in California. We discuss the number of fires and the possible implications for the people and wildlife in the area.
(Here's the link I used, cutesy of C.A.gov:  http://www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps) 
2.  I then play the students a few brief videos about the fires. 
(Here's a link to just one, curtesy of CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/09/us/california-wildfires/index.html) 

This was done over the course of one day (whole and small group), but it could easily be extended by using sentences starters to frame more structured discussion and by adding additional sources.

Deepening Content Knowledge After Reading Workshop 5, Story 1:
 1.  We completed "King Tut's Tomb" yesterday. Today, we are going to begin watching a discovery channel special about the Valley of the Kings.  The special called, "Journey Through the Valley of the Kings," should help cement some of the things we've been talking about over the first few days of the workshop.  It shows the tombs, discusses how they were built, and discusses some very interesting historic and religious facts about the time period. 

Here's the link, curtesy of the Discovery Channel and youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-wnHDsNdIE.

This video is fairly long (at over an hour, it will take us two classes to watch and discuss it), but I feel it is well worth the time required because of its quality.  Of course, there are many other videos to choose from if you don't want to spend so much class time viewing a single source. 

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