Prior Knowledge Scout


Activating background knowledge allows you to connect ideas you already know to ones you read.  It prepares your mind to accept new ideas.  By doing so you can attack the reading and make connections easier, which will let you learn faster and more deeply.

To activate background knowledge:

  • 1) Think: What do I know about this topic?  Have I experienced the topic in some way?  Have I read about  the topic before?
  • 2) Where can I get clues? My life? Academic knowledge?  The text?
  • 3) Spend some time thinking about all you already know.  Perhaps up to 2 minutes.  You will be paid back for it while reading.

(Willingham, D. T., 2009)

When handling narrative texts, consider themes in literature.  See the attached lists.  Search through the texts, examining front and back covers, or ask your instructor what theme will be present.  Then consider other texts that you have read that have similar themes and activate prior knowledge that way as well.  Also consider how you have experienced the theme using the steps outlined above.

Bank of Themes themesinliterature  Consider how the themes can be the opposite of the one’s presented here.

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