EDRL 474

Module Two: Assignment Two

Activating Prior Knowledge and Building Background

Explicitly linking concepts to students' background experiences allows students to learn more effectively. As Echevarria, Vogt, and Short (2013) state "a learner's schemata... provides a basis for understanding, learning and remembering facts and ideas found in texts." I think that is is important to activate all students learning through a variety of activities. For example, I think that using pictures to activate a student's prior knowledge is effective. Students can engage in activities where they either talk about the pictures to describe what they think it's about or to come up with words that describe the pictures. Also another thing that can be used to activate their prior knowledge is asking them to find something in their present, their culture or their country of origin that relates to the topic. Like stated in the video Building Background by Vogt (n.d.) making "a connection with anything that you can" is the important part not its origin. Activities like these can help build their background knowledge. Once you have activated a student's prior knowledge you start "adding" new information to that base. This can be done through activities such as using video clips and having them brainstorm what they think about the video, what they've learned and what they want to learn. Activating students' prior knowledge and building background are the building blocks to successfully enhance students' learning.

Making Connections to Past Learning

In the video Building Background by Vogt (n.d.), she says that "explicit links to past learning" must be done by the teacher. Echevarria, Vogt and Short (2013) also restate this when they say that "the teacher must build a bridge between previous lessons and concepts and the material in the current lesson" since most ELL students don't make those connections on their own. I think that this is where I would briefly go over previously taught objectives and link them to the new information. Some activities suggested in Echevarria, Vogt, and Short (2013) that can be done to help students make the connections to past learning are:
  • having discussions
  • review graphic organizers previously done (in groups or partners)
  • reviewing student notes
  • referring to word banks

Most importantly these reviews to link past information to new information should highlight the main points or objectives and the key vocabulary that is and will continue to be essential to the new lessons.

Teaching Key Vocabulary Words

According to Echevarria, Vogt, and Short (2013), vocabulary as a whole involves content vocabulary (subject specific), academic vocabulary (cross-curricular terms), and word parts (roots & affixes).

It is crucial to teach students vocabulary using a variety of activities and methods. Some examples of vocabulary activities are the following:
  • Word cards can include the word, definition, picture, using the word in a sentence, an example of a personal reminder/connection (song, rhyme, etc.) and variations (different parts of speech) of the word.
  • Vocabulary games such as synonym/antonym bingo, charades, and crossword puzzles.
  • Word Walls: adding words tot he word wall as the words are learned and mastered.
  • Writing activities: Personal dictionaries or journals where each student adds words, pictures and definitions or even events (using vocabulary words)