Connecting to Background
Strategies for Initiating
Research Based Comprehension
• Making Use of Prior Knowledge and Using
Mental Imagery
• Recognizing Text Structure
• Answering and Generating Questions
• Using Graphic and Semantic Organizers
• Summarizing
• Monitoring Comprehension
Teachers as Readers
Skillful, experienced, mature readers
Undergraduate/graduate degrees
Textbooks/supplementary materials
Students’ work
Magazine/journal articles
Content-area Reading from Your
Students’ Views
Read this text:
The Batsmen were merciless against the
Bowlers. The Bowlers placed their men in
slips and covers. But to no avail. The
Batsmen hit one four after another along
with an occasional six. Not once did their
balls hit their stumps or get caught.
Pop Test!
1. Who were merciless against the Bowlers?
2. Where did the Bowlers place their men?
3. Was this strategy successful?
4. Who hit an occasional six?
5. How many times did the Batsmen’s balls
hit a stump?
• You probably got 100%.
• Did you really understand?
• This is content-area reading from a kidseye view: students can read every word on
a page without deep understanding; they
can pass tests on concepts they don’t
really grasp; they can go through a whole
unit with no long-term memory of what
they have studied at all.
Background Knowledge
• Like a backbone for comprehension
• Necessary to construct meaning
• We must connect the text’s information to
related knowledge and experience in our
• Authors expect readers to possess and
use certain pieces of background
Read the following text:
With hocked gems financing him, our hero bravely
defied all scornful laughter that tried to prevent
his scheme. “Your eyes deceived,” he had said.
“An egg not a table correctly typifies this
unexplored planet.” Now three sturdy sisters
sought proof. Forging along sometimes through
calm vastness, yet more often over turbulent
peaks and valleys. Days became weeks as
many doubters spread fearful rumors about the
edge. At last from somewhere, welcomed
winged creatures appeared, signifying
momentous success.
1st Component of Instructional
• Activating and building upon prior
• Purpose-setting
• Creating a need to know
• Stimulating curiosity
• Providing opportunities for reflection and
Important Reminder
When students feel that they are not starting
from scratch and that they already know
something about a topic, they will be much
more likely to be interested in learning a
little more about it – especially if they feel
that it relates to their lives in some way.
Using Academic Language for
Building Prior Knowledge
Teachers might encourage students to use
the following:
This relates to what I learned in my other
class about . . . .
I remember when I had a similar experience.
Before I form an opinion, I need to learn
more about . . . .
In my family, we . . . .
Anticipation Guide
Activates prior knowledge before reading
and uses statements instead of questions
Students respond individually before reading
Teacher initiates discussion but remains
nondirective as students respond and
support their answers
Anticipation Guide
• Also called prediction guides or reaction
• Students respond based on their prior
knowledge and previous experiences
• Helps create a need to know and provides
a purpose for learning new information
Quick Write
• A short, focused writing in response to a
specific prompt
• May be used to introduce a concept and
connect this concept with prior knowledge
or experiences
• Also an opportunity for students to discuss
and learn from each other
• Informal and low-stress way to jump-start
the brain
K-W-L Variations
• Widely used strategy designed (Ogle,
1986) to foster active reading
• Long and effective history in the
scaffolding of expository texts
• Teaches students to connect to
background knowledge
• Also can develop habits of summarizing,
questioning, predicting, inferring, and
figuring out word meanings

Connecting to Background Knowledge