Making Connections Section 1: Building and Activating Background Knowledge
Why is Background Knowledge Important? Asking Questions Creating Mental Images Making Inferences The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. ~ William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well
How do we Gain Background Knowledge? “Our prior experience and background knowledge fuel the connections we make. The books we read, the authors we choose, the discussions we have, our past experiences, the newspaper, the evening news, the weekly magazines, the Internet, and nightly dinner table conversations all forge connections that lead to new insight. We teach kids to think about their connections and read in ways that let them discover these threads” (Harvey and Goudvis, 2000).
Stuff In Annie’s Head Birds are flying in my head.And there is an alarm clock that wakes me upwith a sound like a pencil tapping a table.There is a really thin tree, tall as a skyscraper.There is a book about yellow and orange butterflies —really, really beautiful butterflies.A bird with a body made out of the United Statesand blue wings flies behind my eyes.In my head there is a beach with grass instead of sandand water that is made of ice.There is a missing tooth and a gap.Two plus two equals four is in my headand so is the moon. I believe in water and snow.Annie, kindergarten (Writers in the Schools) Handout #1
Goals Understand the importance of making connections to background knowledge Discuss ways to build new background knowledge Discuss ways to activate existing background knowledge
Introducing Background Knowledge “When you use schema, it’s like adding things together. Say you see leaves falling. You think in your head, ‘Oh, it’s fall now!’ It’s kind of like your old schema comes out of your head and grabs the new schema and pulls it back inside your head.” -Christopher, a student, in Miller (2002, p. 69)
Comprehension An Example Good Readers Struggling Readers (Recht & Leslie, 1988) Comprehension
Some Background on Background Knowledge … Forest Our knowledge is organized in a series of networks (Marzano, 2004)
More Background • For new information to become part of memory students need: • 3-4 exposures • No more than 2 days apart • (Nuthall, 1999) “A rich network of associations makes memory strong: new material is more likely to be remembered if it is related to what is already in memory.” (Willingham, 2006)
Why is it important for teachers to know how background knowledge impacts comprehension? Think Turn Talk
Background Knowledge can be … • Academic: relates to “traditional school subjects such as mathematics, science, history,” etc. • Non-academic: based on contexts and experiences (examples: knowledge about soccer, public transportation, local area) (Marzano, 2004, p. 3)
Remember “…all students have background knowledge even though not all of them have the academic background knowledge necessary to do well in school. The background knowledge that is not germane to academic success may still be highly valuable in other contexts and, as such, should be honored along with the bearers of that knowledge.” (Marzano, 2004, p. 28-29)
Build? Or Activate? Building Background Knowledge • Students know little or nothing about a topic • May take place 1-2 weeks before reading • Takes 3-4 exposures, no more than 2 days apart (Nuthall, 1999) Activating Background Knowledge • Students have some knowledge of a topic • Takes place directly prior to reading • Takes 2-10 minutes
Planning When beginning a new unit or topic of study, assess what students do/do not know (Wilhelm, 2004) Pre-read selections to determine knowledge that is essential for understanding unit texts Plan “virtual experiences” to build students’ knowledge (Marzano, 2004)
Virtual Experiences Reading and read-alouds Discussions Educational television or videos Classroom demonstrations Visual aids/photographs Maps Timelines and flow charts (Archer, 2008 ; Marzano, 2004; Wilhelm, 2004;)
Building Background Knowledge Insert Cover Page of Core Program Text With Which You Plan to Model Handout #2 Open Court and Foro abierto para la lectura, 2nd Grade Scott Foresman Reading and Lectura, 3rd Grade
Building Background Knowledge Week prior to reading: Monday: read aloud article from social studies text about Native American reservations. Tuesday: Point out Shoshone reservation on map. Discuss Wyoming climate. Wednesday: PowerPoint slide show on Wyoming wildlife, including mountain lions and coyotes. Thursday: Brainstorm words to describe mountain lions and coyotes. Friday: Review what we have learned about Wyoming/ Shoshone Reservation. If Available: Insert Excerpt from Core Program Teacher’s Edition Section on Background Knowledge
We Do … Think-Turn-Talk: What background knowledge will I have to build? How will I build it? Insert Text from Core Program
Your Turn … • Select a story from your core program. • Preview the story and determine what background knowledge you will need to build, if any. • On your Planning Handout: • write 3-4 virtual • experiences you can use to build • background knowledge. Handout #3
Activating Background Knowledge Activating background knowledge should take just a few moments (Moats, 2005) We should activate background knowledge that is crucial to understanding the story The background knowledge we activate should be linked to our purpose for reading
Preview Text Present students with introductory material before reading • Definitions • Translations of foreign words or phrases • Explanations of difficult concepts • Plot synopsis • Lists and descriptions of characters (Strangman & Hall, 2004)
Activating Background Knowledge Insert Cover Page of Core Program Text With Which You Plan to Model Open Court and Foro abierto para la lectura, 2nd Grade Scott Foresman Reading and Lectura, 3rd Grade
Activating Background Knowledge CPQ: How does Spider feel about the spelling bee throughout the first part of the story? If Available: Insert Excerpt from Core Program Teacher’s Edition Section on Background Knowledge Activate Background Knowledge: Brainstorm feeling words and write on sentence strips. Place words on a continuum from happy to sad.
We Do … Think-Turn-Talk: What background knowledge will I have to activate? How will I activate it? CPQ: What is life like for children on the Mayflower? Insert Text from Core Program
Your Turn … • Write a CPQ for your core program story. • Determine what background knowledge you will need to activate. • On your Planning Handout, • describe how you • will activate the necessary • background knowledge. Handout #3
Next Steps: Decisions to Make • Modeling: When will I come and model building and activating background knowledge in a lesson? • Planning: When will we meet to plan lessons? • Side-by-Side Teaching: When will we plan to teach a lesson together? • Coaching: When will I observe your teaching and provide feedback? • Next Comprehension Meeting: When will we meet next? Bring reflections and lesson plans to the next session.
References Archer, A. (2008). Reading comprehension: The big ideas. Advanced Coaching Institute III: Creating Deeper Buckets of Knowledge. Houston, TX. Au, K. (2002). Multicultural factors and the effective instruction of students of diverse backgrounds. In A. Farstrup, & S. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (pp. 392-413). Newark: International Reading Association. Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. York, ME: Stenhouse Publishers. Marzano, R. (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning: Teaching comprehension in the primary grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
References Moats, L. (2005). Language essentials for teachers of reading and spelling module 6: Digging for meaning: Teaching text comprehension. Boston: Sopris West. Nuthall, G. (1999). The way students learn: Acquiring knowledge from an integrated science and social studies unit. The Elementary School Journal, 99 (44), 303-341. Pressley, M. (2000). What should comprehension instruction be the instruction of? In M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Volume III (pp. 545-561). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Recht, D., & Leslie, L. (1988, March). Effect of prior knowledge on good and poor readers' memory of text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(1), 16-20. Retrieved June 23, 2008, doi:10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.11
References Risko, V., & Walker-Dalhouse, D. (2007). Tapping students' cultural funds of knowledge to address the achievement gap. The Reading Teacher, 61 (1), 98-100. Strangman, N., & Hall, T. (2004). Background knowledge. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved June 23, 2008 from http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_backknowledge.html Stuff in Annie's Head. (n.d.). Retrieved from Writers in the Schools: www.writersintheschools.org Robinson, J. (2008). How to get more out of your core reading program. Advanced coaching institute III: Creating deeper buckets of knowledge. Houston, TX.
References Wilhelm, J. (2004). Reading is seeing: Learning to visualize scenes, characters, ideas, and text worlds to improve comprehension and reflective reading. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Willingham, D. (2006). How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning - and thinking. Retrieved June 20, 2008, from http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/issues/spring06/willingham.htm