Activating Students' Prior Knowledge...

In order for students to connect to current learning and find value in what is being taught, it is important for teachers to activate students' prior knowledge of a subject.

Teachers can activate prior knowledge for students in several ways

Teachers often accomplish this by using photos, illustrations or examples of learned skills that students might connect to.

Teachers can also incorporate a variety of instructional techniques to develop prior knowledge on a topic such as: brainstorming, KWL charts, quick writes and classroom discussion.

Students can also survey or preview text prior to a lesson in order to better understand what might be the expectation of learning to come.

In the following clip, Ani activates prior knowledge by prompting students to focus on specific story elements that will aid them in predictions. Notice how she relies on their responses rather than providing answers for them. This forces them to think independently about clues in the story.

Next, Ani follows up by monitoring what students have completed. She reminds them of the useful story elements and helps support their initial understanding. Watch as she engages students in their work, and gently reminds them of key elements they should consider in their predictions.

Good to know! Research shows that effective teachers of second-language learners have several characteristics in common including their ability to activate student's prior knowledge. Teachers can activitate student's prior knowledge as part of the introduction of a lesson. This occurs during what is commonly known as the Anticipatory Set.