October Teaching Ideas

Growth Minded at Wilson!

October Instructional Focus- Activating Prior Knowledge

**Always connect to the known. The brain cannot make a connection without it having something to connect to. New knowledge is constructed from old. It's essential that we make connections between what new is being presented with students' prior experiences.


Activating Prior Knowledge is important because it helps students make connections to the new information they will be learning. By tapping into what students already know, teachers can assist students with the learning process. Here are some strategies that can start students thinking about what they already know about a topic:


Image Brainstorm. Project an image and ask students to tell you everything they can about the picture. Choose images that make sense to them and also allow you to connect to the new content and/or concepts students will be learning. Example: use an image of famous artwork to launch our discussion on tone and mood in a particular poem or short story.

  • K-W-L Chart. Tried and true, yes, though I have to say, it doesn't work with all subjects and can be an overused activity for assessing prior knowledge. Use sparingly and dynamically.
  • Picture Books. No matter the age, they work like magic. If there's a concept or skill you are about to introduce, find a children's book that's related in some way and that your students may be familiar with. Read it aloud and watch the bells go off.
  • ABC Brainstorming. I love this one. On one sheet of paper students make a box for every letter of the alphabet and then (they can do it in pairs) brainstorm a word or phrase that starts with each letter. For example, if kids are about to study the history of slavery in the U.S., they may write things like: "Africans" for a, "boat" for b, "chains" for c, etc.
  • Class Brainstorm Web. Free-for-all, classroom fun I like to call it. After writing a word or phrase in a circle (whiteboard, poster paper) have students write as many words connected to it that they can think of around it. For example, you might write "photosynthesis" in the center and kids write things like, plants, green, sun, water, and light. I like to use a timer with this activity to create a sense of urgency (which adds to the fun). Keep the web visible throughout upcoming lessons and refer to it as you explore photosynthesis in-depth, even asking them to add words and facts to it.
  • Technology Ways to Activate Prior Knowledge

    Pinterest Board of the Month! -Activating Prior Knowledge

    Just Fun Stuff