Prior Knowledge, It's Important

Shanna Hall

EDU 668

Professor Susan Hughes

December 17, 2015

Determining Prior Knowledge

The teacher asked students to read the following article,by Dewalt (2015), Oh, Beehave!. However, the students were confused and not yet prepared to read this article and complete the learning exercise. Consequently, due the teacher not assessing or building on prior knowledge the students experienced much frustration. Thus, in order to ensure that students do not experience cognitive dissonance the teacher needs to first establish prior knowledge.

The teacher will use visuals to evaluate what students know about honeybees as this article is about honeybees and how one resort is working towards saving them from extinction. Guillaume (1998) states that "the more ways we have of gaining information to build knowledge, the more empowered we become"(p.476). Some examples are, using visuals, multimedia presentations, and writing activities, as suggested by Guillaume (1998). For the purpose of establishing prior knowledge the teacher will share a video about honeybees that explains their function in mother nature. The video will lead to a discussion that will build on students prior knowledge. For example, Guillaume (1998) point out that "well-chosen objects invite conversations and personal connections"(p.478). The video gives students a visual that will stimulate their senses and give them a visual of honeybees which will help them to better understand the topic. Richardson, Morgan, & Fleener (2012) state that, "what students learn is greatly determined by the knowledge they bring to the lesson"(p.53). Thus, the teacher will show the video and invite students to discuss what they know about honeybees by asking them core questions such as, "how,what, why" as a group so that they are sharing ideas with one another as a large group. This will be the first step in determining students prior knowledge.

Building on Prior Knowledge

Student Journals

After students discuss the video they have just viewed they will work on demonstrating their knowledge through journal exercise. They will draw and list out facts that they just learned about and list a few facts about honeybees that they already knew. Richardson, Morgan, & Fleener point out that, "teachers must become aware of their students knowledge about and experiences with a particular topic in order to build on that knowledge"(p.58). As students draw and write out the honeybee facts they previously learned and what they recently learned the teacher will be able to build on each students prior knowledge individually. Guillaume (1998) states that "an additional technique particularly useful for accessing young children's knowledge is drawing"(p.478). After reading and gaining a better understanding of students knowledge the teacher will than move into step three which are strategies to prepare the learner. This is important as this will help build comprehension.

Preparing the Learner

  • K-W-L Chart teacher will record what students know about honeybees and write out what they want to learn on large piece of paper and post this on the board.
  • Prior to students to reading the article the teacher will write a preview. This is described by Richardson, Morgan, & Fleener (2012) as "proving reference point and offer students a way to organize new information"(p.68). This will better prepare students for comprehending the article.
  • After reading the article students will be asked to prepare a presentation on strategies they have for saving honeybees.

Importance of Determining Prior Knowledge

It is very important to determine prior knowledge as students will struggle comprehending the article that the teacher has asked them to read. They could become confused, frustrated, and even discouraged when trying to complete a learning assignment without the necessary preparation. Exposing students to the topic helps build knowledge as does developing their comprehension of the topic. The steps listed here give the teacher ample opportunity to assess students understanding of honeybees as well as build on that knowledge creating connections between new and old knowledge. In short, these steps are encouraged so that students are successful and learning to their fullest capabilities. Determining Prior-Knowledge is s step that can not be overlooked when building on students knowledge base.
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Dewalt, R. (2015, April 22). Oh Beehave!. Sante Fe Reporter, p. 16-21. Retrieved from:

Guillaume, A.M. (1998). Learning with Text in the Primary Grades. The Reading Teacher, 51(6), p. 476-486. Retrieved from:

Richardson, J.S., Morgan, R.F., & Fleener, C.E. (2012). Reading to Learn in the Content

Areas.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning