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Building Background

Description 

Building background knowledge is often the first step to effective learning, and it helps set the stage for a deliberate, metacognitive learning process. Students are best able to understand what they read when they are able to place the new information within an existing frame, or schema. In order to do so, they need to be able to retrieve the information they already have about a topic. Then, they can make logical predictions and draw connections between prior and new knowledge.

Benefits 

Building background knowledge is often the first step to effective learning, and it helps set the stage for a deliberate, metacognitive learning process. Students are best able to understand what they read when they are able to place the new information within an existing frame, or schema. In order to do so, they need to be able to retrieve the information they already have about a topic. Then, they can make logical predictions and draw connections between prior and new knowledge.

Content Area Adaptations 

Building background knowledge is equally applicable across all content areas. It should be used before the introduction of any new topic, and before the reading of any challenging text in any academic subject.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Metacognition
  • Predicting
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.4
  • CCRA.L.5
  • CCRA.L.6
  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.2
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.8
  • CCRA.W.9

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Numeracy
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Newspaper Connection

In this activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), students will bring in articles (newspaper, magazine, blog posts) that relate to issues or ideas in the unit of study. Students will work in groups to compare and contrast their articles. The purpose of this activity is to push students to examine content in greater...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Word Scramble Prediction

In this activity, adapted from Gallagher’s Deeper Reading (2004), the teacher provides students with a list of intriguing words from a text they will read. The students then read the words and write a prediction based on those words. The purpose of this activity is to help students prepare and to pique their curiosity for the text.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Launching Into New Content

Anticipation Guide

Anticipation guides consist of statements about themes from a text and ask students to evaluate their own thoughts about those themes. Anticipation guides help students build background when they think about ideas before they engage in a text. The guide also helps students to identify and connect themes as they read the text. Anticipation...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection