Using Narrative to Build a Content Base
Teaching content-rich subjects (primarily science and social studies) is especially challenging in the early grades. Young students almost always have at least some experiential base to bring to bear, but their prior knowledge about topics addressed in these subjects is usually very limited. Furthermore, this limited knowledge base is mostly tacit (not organized or even verbally articulated, and perhaps never consciously considered), and it often includes many misconceptions. Consequently, unlike teachers in later grades who usually can begin stimulating new knowledge construction by making connections to an already-established knowledge base, primary teachers often are faced with the task of helping their students to develop and begin to integrate an initial knowledge base in the domain. This requires taking little or nothing for granted, teaching (in some respects) as if the students know nothing at all about the topic.