It’s time for kindergarteners and first graders to start their second expedition of the year! While it would be easy to tell students what they will be studying for the next 4 months, it’s more exciting to build wonderment among the students. This revealing process of students learning about their new expedition topic is called a BBK or building background knowledge.
BBKs typically have 5 components; a mystery piece, activating schema, common text, expert text/video, and revisiting the mystery piece. Throughout the process, students will think about our guiding question for our 3-week case study: why is soil important?
To spark students’ interest, we showed them images of different things that live in soil, without telling them what the images were. These images ranged from a spider to bacteria to nematods! Students drew what they saw and took creative guesses as to what each image might be. Eventually, they discovered we would be learning about SOIL! The discovery excited and surprised students and led them into the second BBK component of activating schema.
We wanted students to think about what they already knew about soil. They were given a blank piece of paper, a red colored pencil, and had 5 minutes to draw or write as much as they could about soil. Their range of knowledge spanned from knowing “soil is brown” to “soil is where flowers and crops grow”.
On day 2, we wanted to level the playing field for all students by reading a common text. This was a simple text about soil that all students could access. Once students were done listening to the text, they went back to their paper and drew or wrote the new information they learned about soil. We began documenting the questions students had about our topic—most of which will be answered during our case study. The forth component of our BBK led us to watch an expert video about soil, which helped deepen their knowledge. Once again, students indicated their new knowledge by drawing if writing about it in a third color.
Once students had information about soil in three different colors, they put their papers on display and participated in a “gallery walk”. Students observed the work of their fellow classmates. Students shared with the crew one thing they learned through their observations.
The final component of our BBK allowed students to share their new knowledge about the mystery piece—the different things that can be found in soil. This slow reveal process allowed students to become curious and excited about our new expedition topic! I can’t wait to watch their curiosity and excitement grow even more as we enter a new phase of our expedition!