Sunday, March 4, 2012

Schema, Schema, Schema

You know in college when we learned about Jean Piaget... I liked his ideas.  I even hoped at one time to be able to go take a class in Ireland and Scotland centered around his ideas but that didn't pan out.  However, I'm embarrassed to say that it wasn't until 9 years into my teaching career that it actually clicked for me... why his ideas were so important.


Jean Piaget is the grandfather of this term.

Prior Knowledge,
Background Knowledge,
What ever you call it
Schema is the foundation for ALL learning.

Whether you are talking about learning your ABC's or Quantum Physics.
It's all based on Schema.

See, we can only learn something if we have a bit of knowledge (or hook to hang it on- Or Folder to put it in)

Click below for an example. Follow these directions, no cheating...
1.  Read the paragraph.  Do NOT scroll down and look at the image or you'll ruin it. :)
2.  What is the paragraph about?
3.  Scroll down and look at the image.
4.  Reflect.  How did that picture help you understand the paragraph?

Schema Glog

See, I told you.  If you had seen that photo first the paragraph would have made sense the first time you read it.

We want to teach kids through relational (many) connections to their experiences (or other hooks in their brain.)  If you go back to the glog and click on the word "schema" you can learn more about it. (There's even a clip of my favorite math guy the late John Van de Walle speaking about making connections in math.)

 Also, clicking chart-stand graphic will take you to a psychology glog with a little slide show about how children learn.  Neat stuff... And it makes so much sense.

We also know that engagement is important to learning... SCHEMA, again folks.
If I cannot connect learning to something you know or care about, significant learning will NOT occur.

Another confession:  I used to think we only activated schema at the start of the lesson then I could continue to teach my heart out.

Ugh, wrong again.
That's why kids need to reflect through out the lesson.
Why, you wonder... Picture this.

You are sharing a story with young children (or lesson, or giving directions, or anything, really...) what happens?

Student 1: "Mrs. B that reminds me of the time my brother fell down."
Student 2: "Oh, Mrs. B I fell down once and broke my arm."
Student 3: "My dog had a broken leg when he got hit by a car."
Student 4:  "My Dads car tore up."

Sound like a familiar carpet time to you?  One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is to get kids to STOP reflecting on their schema.  So really, if you think about this when planning your lessons, giving kiddos time for reflection throughout the activity can really help students to activate their own individual schema about the topic you are studying.  (It's important to remember because our experiences are always unique... so is our schema.)

The other thing I'm just learning is tied to schema is also exemplified  in the conversation above.


Saying things out loud helps them to connect to schema.  I mean, I have always let my kids talk out their learning, pair share, triads, whatever you call it.  But its just now making sense to me as to WHY they have to do it.  They are processing and sharing their schema...  (Which leads to QUESTIONS and Wondering... Agh... That will be another blog soon.)

So, I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I just now really connecting to what a great idea good 'ole Piaget was on to with Schema... I had kids make connections since my first year in the classroom.  (Although at first I only taught it as a thinking strategy in reading- How awful is that?) But I never saw the BIG PICTURE that schema is a part of EVERYTHING.

But you know, in college I probably didn't have enough (any) teaching experience to fall back on.  So, what I was learning and studying was not yet meaningful to me.  I thought it was sorta interesting but I didn't have the experiences (or SCHEMA) to attach it to yet.

Here's one of my favorite pictures of Piaget.

Interesting tidbit.  Did you know Piaget began developing his theories on how children learn while giving the IQ test to young children while working with Simon of the Binet-Simon IQ Tests?   He noticed that kids of a certain age all had the same wrong answers and was curious about the pattern.  

1 comment:

  1. I love this and you are so, so right. Activating schema is SO important for our students! The glog was a great addition.

    Jamie at 2nd Grade Stuff