Helping students to make connections between what they know and what they are reading improves their comprehension. Teachers can model making such connections, and prompt students to make links with their own knowledge and experience, when they are introducing and discussing texts for reading and in writing and oral-language activities. When activating students’ prior knowledge for a particular purpose, teachers can help the students to hypothesise, infer, and build their own interpretations as they read.
What readers do
- think about what they already know about the content and text form and draw on their own cultural knowledge, their experience of the world, and their knowledge of text forms to make meaning
- focus on an aspect of the text, for example, a structure, word, phrase, event, or idea that they want to know more about and relate this aspect to their prior knowledge
- think about how connecting the aspect of the text to their prior knowledge helps them understand the text better.
How teachers can support learners
- This explanation seems a lot harder to follow than the one we read last week. I’m having to draw on what we found out about … so I can build on that. I’m finding our summary chart really useful.
- What do you already know about …? Let’s record that on our chart. Think about what you know as you read the text and see if the text helps you expand on it in any way.
- You’ll need to dig a bit deeper to work that out. Remember our discussion about persuasion techniques …
- Is there anyone in the text who reminds you of yourself in any way? In what way? What have you had to do to discover this?
- Reread the first two paragraphs to see if you can find a link between what the author says there and what’s in this later section.
- Linking the ideas that Tony’s parents had about him to what you already knew about rock climbing helped you explain why his dad’s comment at the end was so significant.
The points listed under the headings “What readers do” and “How teachers can support learners” are examples rather than comprehensive lists of what readers do and what teachers might say to support them.