Discovering a Knowledge Constellation

Imagine all knowledge as the universe.

Like the universe, knowledge is vast and expanding - you will never be able to discover it all in your lifetime. Also, as with the universe, people have explored only some areas of knowledge, and understanding of these areas often changes over time.

STEP 1: Select your launch destination (AKA your book).

Select a nonfiction book to read and have it approved by Ms. Liddell. The title that you pick will determine the coordinates of your launch destination in the knowledge universe.

STEP 2a: Make careful observations of your surroundings (AKA meta-read the book).

What does it mean to meta-read?

Meta-read means "reading at the same time as expressing thoughts, making predictions and asking questions about what is being read" (Pritchard, p. 48).

In other words, be curious and pay attention to thoughts and questions that arise in your mind as you read. By doing this, you will be using the text as a springboard for further research.

Below are questions to help get you thinking, although do not be limited by them.

  • What events, places, or people you could learn more about?
  • Are there terms or references made that you do not fully understand?
  • If there are citations or footnotes, try finding and reading those sources.
  • What have others written about the book or specific aspects or themes of the book?
  • How do you know things are "true" from the book? How can you verify facts or claims?
  • Are there other perspectives, theories, or contrary facts or ideas?
  • What concepts or terms from the index could you explore further?

STEP 2b: Make side trips to explore neighboring stars (AKA explore connected knowledge).

Follow your curiosity piqued while reading and conduct research outside of the main text.

  • Record triggers: What part in the book sparks each research side trip? Record the quote, passage, and page number(s). You may also consider creative ways to record triggers such as by creating and embedding #BookSnaps.
  • From each trigger, track the new discoveries that you make.
    • Track where you go, what you find, & why it matters.
    • What new information do you discover and how is it relevant to your book?
    • How does new information inform and interact with your continued reading of the book?
    • Does found information lead you to seek out even more new information?

Sample sparks for some fiction-inspired side trips: Description, Paper Towns links, Number the Stars links

STEP 3: Define and create a guide to the knowledge constellation that you have discovered.

After you finish reading the book and making research side trips, your goal is to synthesize and present the interconnected knowledge that you have discovered.

Similar to how constellations are human-created patterns identified in the universe, you will be defining the knowledge pattern that you have derived from your reading and research experience.

Ready to explore? Check out Charting Tools