It is important for students to work on building background knowledge before they dive into new concepts. Use this strategy to help build students’ schema/background knowledge.
How Does This Strategy Work?
- In the center of the chalkboard (or in some other place where all students can see it), write a topic on which you want to build background knowledge.
- Have students think silently for one to two minutes about everything they know on the topic and write it down in their notebooks.
- Have students share the things they have brainstormed about this topic. For each thing, draw a line coming off the center topic and write the idea. These ideas can also become their own central ideas with ideas branching off of them. Note: I often pick two students to act as recorders to record what classmates say so that I do not have to do all the writing and to speed up the sharing and recording process. This way I can focus on the class and what they have to say.
- Once students have nothing more to add to the brainstorming web, have students take a moment to look at it. Then have students add the missing information to their initial brainstorm.
- This can be completed digitally by using a collaborative writing document such as Google Docs where multiple people can share their ideas.
How Do I Use This Building Background Knowledge Strategy:
- At the beginning of a unit: Students often have some or lots of background knowledge on a variety of topics. This strategy is a great way to tap into that knowledge.
- In literature class: When I teach a historical fiction novel, it can be immensely helpful to have students have at least some knowledge of the time period in which it is set.
- If the topic of this brainstorming is going to become a lengthy unit recreate the brainstorming chart to hang up somewhere in your classroom for students to use as a reference. I usually use chart paper for brainstorming important units so I can hang it up.
Why Do I Love This Strategy?
- Brainstorming is a great way to get lots of information in front of students in a quick and non-threatening manner.
- Every student is involved in this strategy.
I hope you use this building background knowledge strategy with your students to help them develop their critical thinking skills.
Other Teaching Strategies
- What’s Important Teaching Strategy
- Jigsaw Teaching Strategy
- Chalk Talk Teaching Strategy
- Entrance and Exit Tickets Teaching Strategy