Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge What Does It Matter - Section 2: Defining Matter


Connections to prior knowledge can help students to internalize a new definition. The term matter is not an easy one to define. It is not as clear as we might think. I asked students to think about if they had heard the term matter before and in what context. Several students ventured guesses based on the word matter, but because it has 2 meanings, most had not heard the scientific meaning. They were connecting to the term matter as in "What is the matter with that?"

Trying to come up with a definition of matter was not easy for the students. It is a term that they have not used scientifically before. When I started with the three objects, students wanted to define matter as the purpose for the objects or as what it could do. They did not automatically generalize from the varied objects to a larger purpose.

One student finally said that matter takes up space. This helped us all to move forward with bringing the definition from a specific object or purpose to a more general definition. This student had made the connection to something he had heard before and then share that with the class. Students can learn from the connections that they make, or that others make to prior learning and experiences.


  Defining A New Term
  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Defining A New Term
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What Does It Matter

Unit 4: What Is It Made Out Of?
Lesson 1 of 10

Objective: SWBAT define the term matter and use it correctly in the scientific format.

Big Idea: It is important for students to develop the vocabulary of a scientist by learning some terms that are used to classify large groups of objects.

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