Mr. Scott's Use of Prior Knowledge

Math Content: Area Instructional Strategy: Activating Prior Knowledge

When Ms. Scott says, "O.K., you guys discovered yesterday that the little green squares were 5 x 5," she's not just reminding them of what they did yesterday, she is allowing students to reflect on their learning from the previous days' material. This serves to scaffold the learning they will do today.

She further uses this tactic when she asks the students, "O.K., how can we make three hundred?" When the students appear to be stumped by the question, she responds by decreasing the number to a smaller, less daunting thirty in order to raise her students' comfort level. This enables them to respond to her new question.

Unfortunately, it's not enough to just be aware of your students' prior knowledge. Like good yeast in a batch of bread, it must be "activated." In fact, Anders and Lloyd (1990) maintain that in order to gain the most from prior knowledge, it must be appropriate, accurate, sufficient, and activated.

Watch the clip below and see how Ms. Scott gets students to tap into prior knowledge.