Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prior Knowledge leads to Making Connections

My classes' recent AsTTle results once more showed that my students' comprehension skills are greatly lacking. Two of the areas which they need to focus on are Finding and Processing Information, and also Making connections.

I found this excellent thought provoking video, in which Professor Daniel Willingham describes why content knowledge is so essential when learning to reading with comprehension, and why teaching reading strategies alone is not sufficient. He makes the point that the more a student knows about the subject content, the better he will score in a reading comprehension test.

As one of the commentors said, 'student's actually have to learn stuff' and not just rely on Google to get their instant knowledge! I think in our quest to move towards 21st Century Learning, we tend to forget that our students still need to know 'stuff' to have better understanding of the world around them! What do other educators think?


  1. I agree. I often find that junior students with higher reading ages cannot progress with their comprehension because they haven't got the life experience and vocabulary. So it makes sense that older readers would be the same. We have to put lots of effort into talking about the background knowledge associated with the story before we start to read.

  2. It helps so much if parents help their children make connections when they are very young. A lot of students seem to have trouble with this. Maybe the art of conversation with preschoolers needs to be a part of the curriculum.

  3. I agree too Raenette. Kids googling information isn't enough in Inquiry for instance. That's why the setting the scene/immersion/hook stage is so important. The more effort and success at this stage the better result for the whole inquiry will be.