Readers comprehend better when they actively think about and apply their knowledge of the topic, their own experiences, and the world around them. strategies that work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis
Before reading, take a minute to think about what you already know about the reading topic. Activate, or turn-on, your prior knowledge - what you already know. New information will “stick” better if you first activate your prior knowledge about the topic.
use prior knowledge to make a connection activate memories, personal experiences, and information about the subject recall factual information to help you understand why an event is taking place remember another story with a similar plot to enable you to anticipate action Background Knowledge can be used to increase comprehension
As an example of why background knowledge is so important, go to the next page and follow the directions.
Read the following passage. The Batsmen were merciless against the Bowlers. The bowlers placed their men in slips and covers. But to no avail. The Batsmen hit one hour after another along with an occasional six. Not once did their balls hit their stumps or get caught.
Answer the following questions. 1. Who were merciless against the Bowlers? 2. Where did the Bowlers place their men? 3. Was this strategy successful? 4. Who hit the occasional six? 5. How many times did the Batemen’s balls hit the stump?
Answers 1. The Batsmen 2. Slips and covers 3. No 4. The Batsmen 5. zero
How did you do? Did you get all the questions correct? If so, then you successfully read the passage, but did you comprehend what you read?
If I asked you to tell me what this passage is about, to share your comprehension, could you do it?
If you could, then your background knowledge provided the information needed to read and comprehend. Reading and Comprehension are not the same thing!!!
Comprehension is what allows us to understand and learn from what we read.
One of the biggest predictors of Reading comprehension is background knowledge. What background knowledge is needed to “understand” the passage we just read?
If you have background knowledge of Cricket, then you understood what you read. If you did not know about Cricket, then you read, but probably did not comprehend.
So next time you read anything, use the knowledge you’ve been gaining every minute of every day since you were born.
If you do not have background knowledge on the topic you will be reading about, here are some things you can do.
Preview the reading and explore text features that will give you valuable information (headings, subheadings, bold face, bullets, pictures/captions, sidebars, etc.). Ask questions of the teacher, other students, and your parents. Discuss the topic with others to gain knowledge. Look up a word(s) you don’t know. Research the topic at the library or on a website.
Building background knowledge will increase your reading comprehension.
For successful reading, remember to activate your Background Knowledge, Before, during, and after reading.
Bibliography Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. Strategies That Work. Stenhouse Publishers. 2000. Tovani, C. I Read It But I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers. Stenhouse Publishers. 2000.
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