Sunday, October 23, 2016

Activating Prior Knowledge

Activating prior knowledge is an essential strategy that should be used in all subjects, at all grade levels. This past week in PLCs was ELL Thursday Thoughts ,we discussed the importance of background knowledge for not only ELL students, but all students.

When we tap into a student's prior knowledge, and make connections to their life experiences, it enables them to deepen their understanding, which in turn creates independent readers. A large percentage of our students do not have the life experiences to relate to, so we must provide them with academically enriched experiences to enhance their background knowledge. Field trips and mentoring programs would be ideal ways to enrich background schema. However, with today's shrinking resources it is mainly left up to the individual classroom teachers. We can build background knowledge through videos, read alouds, sharing our own adventures, and research projects.

I shared a few ways to activate student's prior knowledge: 

  • Using an old favorite, the KWL chart but adding an H: KWHL. What do you KNOW , What do you WANT to know, HOW will you find out more, What did you LEARN
  • Surprise Book activity: Choose a book that relates to the topic you will be introducing, cover the front and back with paper so the students can not see anything on the covers. Give them little hints about what they will be studying, each time tearing a small piece of the paper off until someone guesses what the topic will be. 
  • Smartboard activity: Post a picture related to the new topic, cover it with your shade, uncover a small portion of the picture each time you give a clue until someone guesses the topic

Each PLC group shared wonderful ways to activate students background knowledge too: 

  • Before introducing the topic ask the students three questions relating to the topic to tap into their knowledge
  • Read aloud a realistic fiction to introduce the topic 
  • Conversation
  • Relate the topic to the teachers life experiences
  • Journey writing
  • Using Brainpop to introduce a new topic 
  • Brainstorm
Tapping into a student's background knowledge, or building a student's background knowledge,  is a key component in the reading process. What strategies are you using this week to set your student's up for success? 

Mrs. Hime 

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