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.