Mindprint Toolbox

Search Results

Please wait...

Connect Prior Knowledge


Science Social Studies Mathematics ELA: Reading ^21st Century Skills All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Connect Prior Knowledge

If your student struggles to understand new or unfamiliar concepts or easily forgets core foundational knowledge

Instruction And Practice

  1. Objective: Identify similarities and differences between new material and already-learned material to deepen understanding, give more purpose to the new content, and help with retention.
  2. Before you introduce new material, have students write down anything they know or any questions they have on the new topic.
  3. As you teach the new material, use examples of how the current topic relates to topics previously learned. (See examples below.)
  4. Individually or as a class group, make a chart and brainstorm the similarities and differences between the new topic and the comparison topic.
  5. At the end of the lesson, have students review their "before" list and edit it based on what they now know and new questions they have.
  6. Math Example: Discuss new symbols and models when introducing a new unit. For example, when introducing graphing inequalities, show students a number line and an expression. Ask what looks familiar. What do you think this expression means? When have you used a number line before?
  7. History Example: Discuss similarities and differences to events previously studied or a current event.
  8. ELA Example: Discuss similarities and differences of scenes, details, or characters to previously read stories or personal experiences.

*students* Connect, Compare, Contrast A New Topic To What I Already Know

  1. Take a piece of paper and make it into 3 columns
  2. 1) Related Ideas: List similar topics or ideas that I have seen before. What does the new topic remind me of?
  3. 2) Similarities: How is this new topic similar to the item in Column 1?
  4. 3) Differences: How is this new topic different from the item in Column 1?
  5. Sum it up: Describe this topic (person, place, thing or idea) in two sentences. In sentence one describe why it is important or unique. In sentence two describe how it is familiar. Feel free to use the words "like", "compared to" "similar" and "as"

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Activating background knowledge (aka Activate Prior Knowledge, Generative Learning or Activation) before being introduced to new information supports reasoning, memory, and comprehension. Connecting similarities and pointing out differences not only strengthens comprehension and retention of new material, but also enhances flexibility in thinking. This practice requires students to make sense of new information by selecting what is most important and then reorganizing and integrating the newly acquired information with what is already known Fiorella and Mayer (2016).

Best-suited for students with weaker: Attention, Self-Regulation, Long-term Memory, Working Memory, Processing Speed (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)