Saturday, January 26, 2013


I am linking up today with my new favorite blog, All Things Upper Elementary, to bring you this freebie. 

We all know that students are more successful with reading when they have background knowledge to support the reading. But, sometimes we make the mistake of activating too much of their background knowledge by asking a blanketed statement like "What do you know about penguins?" This open ended question leads the kids to discuss anything they know about penguins instead of the topic they will read about in the text.  Instead, thinking of a question more directly related to what they will read may keep the conversation on the text. We might try asking "What do you already know about what makes a penguin an unusual bird?"
I love Debbie Miller's File Folder Schema lesson from Reading with Meaning.  It does just that, activates the appropriate background knowledge for the text that will be read.  Here's where my FREEBIE comes in, I created a handout that is similar to an anchor chart that we make when we first learn the strategy of activating, building and revising our schema. The handout can be made available for children to practice the strategy when reading their own informational text. Click on the picture below to download it from my Teacher's Notebook Store 

Be sure to check out All Things Elementary for some other fabulous freebies for Grades 3-6 teachers.

And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a FREE TABLET from Teacher's Notebook


  1. What a great resource! I have to say, I'm guilty of the "vague activating prior knowledge" questions! What I really love is if I start tailoring my questions in this way, it will start to get my students thinking in terms of main ideas instead of topics (which is so hard for them)! What an eye opener! :D

    Also, thank you for joining our Linky Party. :)

    1. Thanks Amber:) thinking in terms of main ideas is the key. I've tried to not focus so much on "what do you want to learn?" either because that can also get them off on topics that very well won't be part of what we will read.

  2. I am teaching non-fiction right now so I really appreciate this post - thanks!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

    1. Please stop back and let me know if it worked out for you:)

  3. There is a spelling error at the bottom section. It maybe should say mental, not metal.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.


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