Strategies Designed to Support Students' Background Knowledge
According to Fisher and Frey (2009), a student's prior knowledge about a subject is probably the best predictor of reading comprehension. Research indicates that children "continue to spin their wheels" when they don't have the background knowledge required to understand much of what they are reading (Fisher, Frey, and Lapp 2009; Langer 1984).
Free Online Resources to Support Background Knowledge
TedTalks - 15-20 minute video presentations on interesting topics. It takes a bit of searching but if you use the custom playlist function there are lots of topics that students would be interested in. A more targeted way to approach Ted is through their education site http://ed.ted.com/
New York Times Room for Debate The Times invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues. They welcome feedback from readers. Reader comments are moderated Monday through Friday. This site provides multiple perspectives on a single issue.
PhysicsCentral This website run by The American Physical Society has created a series of online and printable comic books designed to get kids excited about physics.
Newselapresents daily and printable news articles from a number of well-known media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. You can choose from topics including war and peace, science, law, health, arts, and sports. Articles are CCSS-aligned and are written at five Lexile levels, allowing students with varying levels of reading proficiency to analyze the same content in class. The free version includes student quizzes and one-click assignment of articles to class; a professional version (Newsela Pro) is available for a fee.
HowStuffWorks in printable online articles, HowStuffWorks explains thousands of topics, from engines to lock-picking to ESP, with video and illustrations so you can learn how virtually everything works.
The viewable and downloadable files below include a series resources designed to support literacy development focused building student background knowledge.
Available resources include:
A PowerPoint presentation created by Generation Ready, used in the May 2014 workshop: "Building Background Knowledge"
"Getting Meta About How We Use Background Knowledge" and sample reading
Fisher and Frey’s rubric for self-assessing a program’s utility in building student background knowledge
A sample student interest inventory
A blank copy of student interest inventory
A checklist: planning for building student background knowledge
A sample article which addresses an interest in sports