I’m a little embarrassed but I would like someone to explain schema to me. This is not something that has been presented to us during inservice in my district or in classes that I have taken recently. Can someone give me a clue?
It is kinda hard to understand and especially teach it. The way I understand it is that it is your knowledge (what you already know about a topic). When you learn more about something you think about what you are already know and then you connect the new information to your schema.
I know in second grade we teach it as the thoughts in your head. When you read a book and you make a connection (text to self/ text to world/text to text) you are connecting it to your schema.
I don't know if that is totally correct, but I hope it helps.
In the district I taught at for 6 years "schema" was the big "it" term that everyone was expected to use in k-2. I am one who doesn't like to jump on every new bandwagon that comes our way and I did not introduce the word to my students because I didn't feel it was necessary. Text-to-self connections, text-to-text connections, and using background knowledge worked just fine for me.
Why teach students to use a word that 90% of the population (and no, I don't have a study to give me this percentage!) would not use or know the definition of (read the definitions on google, I don't think they are ones you would use with your students). I asked just about everyone I know (even other teachers) and they were not familiar with the word. But "background knowledge" was easily defined.
The other thing that bothered me was that after 2nd grade, teachers did not use the word. In fact, if you asked any teacher higher than 2nd grade to define "schema" they couldn't!
Sorry to go on rambling, the word just brought back horrible memories from a place I never want to go back to!
I have a big poster with a picture of a brain and it says, "Schema: It's what's in your brain!" Throughout the year we add post it note chains to it to show what's in our brain. For example, right now, there is a post that says: It's everyone you know. And then attached to that the kids brainstormed people-- familiy, friends, community helpers, teachers, etc... Beside that we have: It's all the places you've ever been and beside that is says: It's everything that has happened to you (lost a tooth, car accident, wedding, had a fight, sleepover, etc...)
As the year goes on, we add things that are more difficult for them like: It's all the books you've ever read (different authors, genres, etc..). One of the most importatnt things we can teach is that every thing that happens to you everyday and every book you read either CHANGES or ADDS ON to your schema. When you pick up a fairy tale book, your schema is going to tell you that it will probably start Once Upon a Time, and end with a happily ever after. If you pick up a Jon Sciezka book, you're schema will tell you that it'll probably be funny. This is a really important thing for readers to know about themselves.
To show how your schema changes or adds on:
I use the file cabinet analogy too. I make a big brain, cut it out and tape it on three sides to a piece of paper. Sticking out of it, I put files. I tell the kids that your brain has millions of files like those, and when you need them, you take them out.
In the winter, I make one of them say, Snowflakes. (good topic b/c they are motivating and kids don't know too much about them) They tell me everything that's already in their brains, and I write them on post-its (whether they are correct or not) and stick them in the file folder. Then, throughout the next days, we read lots of non-fiction books on snowflakes. If we learn something new, we either add it in the file or we start making a chain. If for example, the kids had said before that snowflakes have 6 sides and we learn that some can have eight, then we stick that post it note to make a change. That means our schema is growing. If we are reading and we realize that that one of the things we thought is actually incorrect, we move it to a spot in the file folder that is labeled, Misconceptions. I teach them that your brain is doing this all the time while you are reading and living.
We do those schema charts in social studies and science and at the end of the year, kids make them on their own to study things they are interested in.
You make me want to switch to first grade, just to teach with you. Your teaching is always just wonderful to read about. Best practice (and beyond!) all over the place. Innovative, creative, VERY carefully considered--your kids are just so, so lucky.
I was searching schema and just so happened to come across your messages about the topic! I am very intrigued and actually was wondering if you had any suggestions or ideas about teaching comprehension (schema and connections)? I am doing my student teaching this year and am about to take on my 2 week guided teaching unit on reading. Any suggestions would help! Thank you!