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        Prior Knowledge - What Do You Know About Dogs?

        Students reflect, in notes, classroom discussion and writing, on how they use prior knowledge about dogs to help them comprehend new information.

        Lesson Summary


        Students use what they know (their prior knowledge) to help them understand new information presented in a video about dogs. After activating their prior knowledge, students take notes on the new information from the video. Students reflect in class discussion and then in writing, on how they used their prior knowledge about dogs to help them comprehend the new information. 

        Why is this an important concept?

        What a learner already knows about a topic acts as a foundation upon which to build and store new knowledge. Learners comprehend new knowledge effectively when they can connect it to something they already know. This activity explicitly teaches students to activate prior knowledge as a reading strategy for comprehending new information about a subject. 

        Grade Level:


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        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        1. Make copies of the following materials: Dogs: Prior Knowledge Connections Graphic Organizer handout and Learning About Dogs Using Prior Knowledge: rubric. Hand out a copy of each to each student.

        2. Provide the overall purpose for lesson and go over criteria (on rubric) for how students will be graded.

        3. Students complete the What I Know About? side of the graphic organizer. Give students about two minutes to do this.

        4. Give students two minutes to share what they wrote with a classmate and add to their list as needed.

        5. Begin a whole-class discussion. Record five to seven items students tell you they know about dogs on the board.

        6. Tell students they are going to watch a video segment about dogs. Ask students to write down three new things they learn about dogs while watching the video. Play the segment.

        7. After showing the segment, lead a discussion sharing things students learned from the segment. (A sample graphic organizer is provided as an example of how students might respond and how Columns I and II may be connected. See Sample Graphic Organizer Responses for Teacher handout).

        8. Record five to seven items on the board. Ask, "How did the things you already knew about dogs help you understand what you learned about dogs from the video?" With colored chalk (or markers for a white board), draw lines from the "What I Know About" column to the appropriate "What I Learned From the Video" column to illustrate how what they knew helped them understand what they learned from the video.

        For students who need additional teacher guidance:

        • Review note-taking strategies before watching the video.
        • Provide assistance with taking notes while watching the video by pausing the video at intervals to allow for discussion and writing.
        • Provide assistance with responding to assessment prompts. For struggling writers, consider assessing responses verbally along with written responses.

        Part II: Assessment

        After students discuss the possible connections between Columns I and II with a classmate, tell them to complete the Learning About Dogs Using Prior Knowledge: Assessment handout. They should hand in the assessment with their completed graphic organizer. Score the assessment with the Learning About Dogs Using Prior Knowledge: rubric.


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