Chapter 5Quickening the Pace of Students’ Background Knowledge Acquisition Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2009). Background Knowledge: The Missing Piece of the Comprehension Puzzle. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Today’s Purposes • Discuss the learning cycle and the role of background knowledge • Examine techniques for building background knowledge through indirect means • Examine techniques for building background knowledge through direct experiences
The Learning Cycle • A person’s learning is continually influenced by gains in information • The new information can either confirm (assimilation) or revise (accommodation) • According to Piaget, these are done in order to maintain equilibrium
Information creates selects Understanding modifies Prior Knowledge Attention generates directs Purpose
Table Talk Marzano notes that there are two ways to build background knowledge: directly and indirectly. What are examples of each that you use in your classroom?
Building Background with Think-Alouds • Teacher modeling of comprehension skills is effective with adolescents (Alfassi, 2004) • Provides students with insights into the ways that an expert makes cognitive decisions • An opportunity to profile discipline-specific expertise
Other Examples • Annotating a piece of text in English • Interpreting a piece of sheet music in band class • Reading and interpreting an editorial cartoon in history • Others?
Wide Reading • One of the quickest and least expensive ways to build background knowledge (Ivey, 2006) • Written text provides both a window and a mirror of human experiences • The Matthew Effect: Strong correlation between reading volume and reading acheivement (Stanovich & Cunningham, 1997) • Two approaches: Sustained Silent Reading and Independent Reading
Table Talk What are some of the benefits of implementing SSR? Independent reading? What are some of the complications to take into account?
Graphic Organizers • Another means of building background knowledge indirectly • Strengthens schema by showing relationships among concepts • Best practices for using graphic organizers (Vekiri,2002): • Displays should address the goals of the task • Displays should be provided along with explanations and guidance • Displays need to be spatial and timely in coordination with text
Graphic Organizer in Social Studies • Adapted from: San Lorenzo (CA) High School English Department.
Building Background Through Direct Means • Guest speakers provide “an invitation to learn” (Wortman, 1992) • Goals for bringing in a guest speaker include: • Bring the field into the classroom • Open students’ minds to varying viewpoints • Alter students’ attitudes and perceptions in favorable ways (Payne, et al., 2003)
Field Trips • Make connections to classroom learning • Research ahead of time • Prepare students • Prepare chaperones • Follow up (Kisiel, 2006)
Table Talk How do you prepare students before a guest speaker or field trip? How do you follow up?
Assessing Your Practice Use the rubric to determine your goals for building Background knowledge in your classroom.
Building Your Own Background Knowledge • Use interactive maps available at http://www.mapsofwar.com/ to provide students an overview (with timeline) of the development of religion, democracy, war, and other topics of interest for US and World History classes and middle school social studies classes. • Check out virtual dissections available online, including one for the eye http://www.eschoolonline.com/company/examples/eye/eyedissect.html • Learn more about the logistics of implementing a schoolwide sustained silent reading program by reading The SSR Handbook by Janice Pilgreen (2000; Heinemann).