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SWON News: The Low Down

The Expert Generealist

Thursday, August 06, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Racheal Mick
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  • STEM knowledge starts with bare basics
  • Incorporate STEM into storytime
  • Get local schools to use more library resources

    How would you like to be a contestant on Jeopardy tonight? We'll fly you out—no, there's no time to study or prepare—and give you a new suit to wear. Oh and this show will be broadcast live. That doesn't sound like fun? You may not feel ready for Jeopardy, but your knowledge of the world is actually amazing. If a kid starts talking to you about amphibians or planets in the solar system or momentum, you know something about all those things.

    What I'm talking about is background knowledge, and it's a critical part of learning. Part of what sometimes makes kid logic so funny is the gaps they have in background knowledge. They know you have to cook a turkey before you eat it, but should your cooking temperature be 69 degrees or 500 degrees? Should it bake for 10 minutes or 6 hours? They don't know enough to make an educated guess.

    Making educated guesses starts with education. If the same kid who guessed 10 minutes to bake a turkey can switch off the annoying notifications on your smartphone, it isn't because they were born with innate smartphone abilities. The notion of a digital native is a bunch of hooey. Kids learn technology the same way they learn to cook: observation, practice, instruction, and so forth.

    We don't need to be Jeopardy-winners to be able to teach background knowledge. If we can get better at explaining the basics, we'll have done a great deal to help students prepare for long-term learning.

    • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

    STEM starts in storytime

    Children's storytime is a great setting to start building STEM knowledge, and you don't need to dedicate entire programs to STEM to be effective. Create opportunities to bring STEM concepts into the conversation, and you'll be building the background knowledge students need to continue their learning.

    We'll put this into practice at SWON's "Strengthening STEM in Everyday Storytime." Join Saroj Ghoting, an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and national trainer on early literacy for a full day of training. She's teaching this program twice: October 27th in Dayton and October 28th in Cincinnati. Don't miss your chance to attend.

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