Monday Musing: Funds of Knowledge

Dec 1, 2014 by

We ALL have funds of knowledge.  They are all different based on our own rich experiences, interests, and upbringing.  Our students have their own unique funds of knowledge too.  Are we doing a good job accessing those funds?

Traditionally, classrooms have been like ATM’s where the teacher handed out their funds of knowledge.  Unfortunately, this is still the case in many classrooms around the world.  One of the best things about technology is that we can allow students to share their own funds of knowledge during class via back channel chats, discussion boards, hashtags on Twitter, and project based collaboration.  Some of the best, most valuable lessons I have ever learned have come from students while in class.   When we allow them to share their own rich backgrounds and interests as well as supporting their search for new knowledge in class via the internet, our collective funds of knowledge rise.  When we limit the class to our own knowledge, our funds remain static.

We cannot limit our students learning to our own knowledge.

This is not easy to do at first because it requires being vague, giving up  control and allowing students freedom to learn.  But, I challenge us all to think creatively about how we can do this in our content areas.  Can we have them research an objective or standard before we start the unit?  Students will begin the lesson with background knowledge.  Can we ask them to tie the instructional content to something in their own life and not accept “I don’t know” as an answer?  Students are forced to think creatively and critically about the relevance of topic when it is connected to their lives or funds of knowledge.

One of my favorite things about technology is that it allows students to find new information rapidly AND to share their own funds of knowledge in multiple ways.  I am constantly working on encouraging my students to do this in class.  And, when I do a good job, we all become much, much richer. What can you do tomorrow to increase your funds of knowledge?

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