Active Proior Knowledge With English

Posted by 察说花园 on May 24, 2020

Activating Prior Knowledge With English Language Learners


Students learn better when they first access what they already know—and this plays a big role in improving English language learners’ academic literacy.


Activating prior knowledge means both eliciting from students what they already know and building initial knowledge that they need in order to access upcoming content.


We have found this strategy to be essential to teaching all of our students, both those who are proficient in English and those who are acquiring English language skills. To go even further, this strategy lies at the heart of our teaching philosophy—our students already possess a wealth of knowledge and experiences they can build upon as they encounter new learning. It’s up to us to facilitate this process by developing relationships with our students so that we learn what they already know and ensure that they feel comfortable sharing it.

我们发现这个策略对于教育所有的学生是必不可少的,无论是那些精通英语的学生还是那些正在学习英语语言技能的学生。 更进一步说,这个策略是我们教学哲学的核心ーー我们的学生已经拥有丰富的知识和经验,他们可以在遇到新的学习方法时加以利用。 这取决于我们通过发展与学生的关系来促进这个过程,这样我们就能学到他们已经知道的东西,并确保他们能够舒服地分享。


Brain research from Carnegie Mellon psychologists confirms that it’s easier to learn something new when we can attach it to something we already know. Other research, including the study “Prior knowledge activation: Inducing engagement with informational texts,” supports the idea that activating prior knowledge is a critical step in the learning process and a major factor in reading comprehension. Additional research by Deborah Short and Jana Echevarria with English language learners (ELLs) finds that activating and building prior knowledge plays a big role in improving their academic literacy.

卡内基梅隆大学心理学家的大脑研究证实,当我们能够将新知识与我们已经知道的东西联系起来时,学习新知识会更容易。 其他研究,包括“先前知识激活: 诱导参与信息性文本”的研究,支持激活先前知识是学习过程中的关键步骤和阅读理解的主要因素的观点。 Deborah Short 和 Jana Echevarria 对英语学习者的进一步研究发现,激活和建立先前知识在提高学术素养方面起着重要作用。


Educators and researchers, along with the Common Core authors, recognize that activating prior knowledge is a necessary step in accessing complex texts, whether in the form of written words, images, charts, or other text types. However, you can have too much of a good thing. As the Common Core authors say, “Student background knowledge and experiences can illuminate the reading but should not replace attention to the text itself.”

教育工作者和研究人员以及《共同核心》的作者都认识到,激活先前的知识是获取复杂文本的必要步骤,无论是以书面文字、图片、图表或其他文本类型的形式。 然而,你可以拥有太多的好东西。 正如《共同核心》的作者所说,“学生的背景知识和经验可以说明阅读,但不应取代对文本本身的关注。”

The activities which follow serve to activate and build background knowledge as a support, not as a bypass, for students in meeting the Common Core standards.



Here are a variety of ways to activate students’ prior knowledge and build further background knowledge in preparation for new learning. Activities for tapping prior knowledge are typically designed for use before reading activities, but we have used the ones listed here to also help students access writing, speaking, and listening tasks.

这里有多种方法来激活学生的先前知识,并建立进一步的背景知识,为新的学习做准备。 利用先前知识的活动通常是为了在阅读活动之前使用而设计的,但是我们也使用这里列出的活动来帮助学生获得写作、口语和听力任务。

K-W-L Charts: Of course, the tried-and-true K-W-L chart is always an effective way of gauging students’ background knowledge about a topic or concept. Students write and share what they already know about the topic in the K (What I Know) section. They then add questions in the W (What I Want to Know) section and write their learnings in the L (What I Learned) section as they uncover new information through written and digital texts.

K-w-l 图表: 当然,可靠的 K-W-L 图表一直是衡量学生对某一主题或概念背景知识的有效方法。 学生们在 k (我所知道的)部分写下并分享他们已经知道的关于这个主题的知识。 然后他们在 w (我想知道什么)部分增加问题,在 l (我学到了什么)部分写他们的学习,因为他们通过书面和电子文本发现新的信息。

Variations of K-W-L extend the chart to include columns for how students can find answers to their questions (online searches, personal interviews), what actions they might take after learning this new information (apply it, teach someone else, create something new), and/or what new questions they have based on what they’ve learned.

K-w-l 的变体扩展了图表,包括了学生如何找到他们问题的答案(在线搜索,个人面试) ,学习这些新信息后他们可能采取的行动(应用它,教别人,创造新的东西) ,以及 / 或者他们根据所学知识提出的新问题。

Anticipation Guides: Anticipation guides ask students to think, write, and/or talk about their opinions on key themes or big ideas contained in upcoming texts and units of study. They are often organized as a list of statements which students have to agree or disagree with. This can be done in writing or speaking.

预期指南: 预期指南要求学生思考、写作和 / 或谈论他们对即将出版的课文和学习单元中的关键主题或重大观点的看法。 他们经常被组织成一个列表,学生们必须同意或不同意的陈述。 这可以通过写作或演讲来完成。

It can be helpful to have students revisit their anticipation guides at the end of a unit in order to reflect on changes in their thinking and in preparation for writing an essay.


The anticipation guide from our book is an example of one we’ve used with our students during a mini-unit on sports drinks.


For a more kinesthetic version of an anticipation guide, students can respond to a series of agree or disagree statements by standing and placing themselves on a continuum (strongly agree on one side of the room, strongly disagree on the other, and other opinions at other places along the continuum).


We have also used the well-known Four Corners strategy by posting four statements in different parts of the classroom. We then ask students which statement they agree with most and tell them to go that corner. Once there, students share with each other why they agree with that statement, and then one student from each group shares out to the whole class. This thinking and talking results in language building and helps students develop curiosity about what is coming next.

我们也使用了著名的“四个角落”策略,在教室的不同地方张贴了四个声明。 然后我们问学生他们最赞同哪种说法,并告诉他们去那个角落。 一旦到了那里,学生们互相分享为什么他们同意那个声明,然后每组一个学生分享给全班。 这种思考和交谈的结果是语言的形成,并帮助学生对接下来要发生的事产生好奇心。

Multimedia: Many times before we start a new unit or text, we’ll show students a related video (with English subtitles) or slideshow, or display a photograph on the document camera. Asking students to write or talk about it with a partner is a great way to instantly gauge prior knowledge, build background, and spark interest. A simple prompt could be “What did you notice?” or “What did you find interesting?” So many resources are now at one’s fingertips—music from an era being studied, newscasts about a famous event, interviews with authors—and they can be used to build background in an engaging way.

多媒体: 很多时候,在我们开始一个新的单元或文本,我们会向学生展示一个相关的视频(有英文字幕)或幻灯片,或显示在文档相机的照片。 要求学生和同伴一起写作或谈论这个问题,是迅速评估先前知识、建立背景并激发兴趣的好方法。 一个简单的提示可以是“你注意到什么了? ” 或者“你发现了什么有趣的东西? ” 如今,许多资源都唾手可得ーー来自一个正在研究的时代的音乐、关于一个著名事件的新闻广播、对作者的采访ーー它们可以用来构建迷人的背景。

Preparatory Texts: Providing simpler, preparatory texts in anticipation of a more complex reading task can be very helpful in building background knowledge and reading confidence. We often use the same text written in different Lexile levels. There are many resources available online that make it easy to find or create these types of accessible texts. We’re not suggesting that teachers simplify the complex text they’re planning to use for close reading. Instead, teachers can provide simplified texts addressing topics or themes similar to the ones in the complex text as a way to build background knowledge.

预备课文: 提供更简单的预备课文,以应付更复杂的阅读任务,对于建立背景知识和阅读信心非常有帮助。 我们经常使用不同 Lexile 级别编写的相同文本。 网上有许多资源,可以很容易地找到或创建这些类型的无障碍文本。 我们并不是建议教师简化他们计划用于细读的复杂课文。 相反,教师可以提供简化的课文,阐述与复杂课文相似的主题或主题,以此来建立背景知识。

Providing ELLs in advance with texts or videos in their home language can be another way to promote background knowledge. There are also many free online resources that can help with this kind of support.

提前提供母语文本或视频可以是另一种促进背景知识的方式。 还有许多免费的在线资源可以提供这种支持。

Editor’s note: This post is adapted from the authors’ new book, The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students, available from Wiley.

编者按: 本文改编自作者的新书《英语教师的工具箱: 数百个支持学生的实用方法》 ,可以从 Wiley 网站获得。 IvH2v2