Consolidating prior knowledge

Consolidating prior knowledge

Having prior knowledge about a topic makes it easier for students to write about it. Compiling a list of bullets points from what students know about a topic leads nicely into a short writing activity. Writing about a topic consolidates learning and increases depth of knowledge.

Interestingly, if students can't use bullet points to create a piece of writing that makes sense, this suggests that their knowledge of the topic is superficial or disconnected.

The reason for this is that to link ideas; you need deep knowledge. It's not just about selecting the right sentence starters and connectives. It's about understanding the topic well enough to see how the bullet points link to each other. 

One of the most dangerous things that teachers do is read information and provide a summary in bullet points, which the students copy down. All the students see is a list of seemingly disconnected ideas. If they had read the original information, they would better understand how these ideas link together. To write up bullet points, students must read the source information first.

 

I often use the analogy of a shopping list. On my list are items that may have no other connection to each other than the fact that they are on my shopping list. Students who have not read the text they are summarising will see the provided bullet points the same way.

 

In Hooking Student into Learning… in all curriculum areas, there are several practical activities to allow students to practise writing bullet points into sentences.

 

ACTIVITY – ORGANISING INFORMATION FOR WRITING (pp. 224 and 225)

  1. Students organise the bullet points under headings which the teacher can give to them (easier option), or ask the students to come up with their own headings (more difficult option).
  2. Write the bullet points into sentences. The writing will be organised and, therefore, clearer.

 

ACTIVITY – DEPENDING UNDERSTANDING (p. 233)

  1. Write three to five words/phrases on the board that capture content taught in the previous lesson.
  2. Instruct students to rehearse sentences orally using the information provided.
  3. When happy with the sentences, students can write them.

 

ACTIVITY – ONE PICTURE FOUR WORDS

  1. Arrange the bullet points around a relevant visual image.
  2. Students practise writing the bullet points into sentences starting with a different bullet point each time.
  3. See the example in Hooking Student into Leaning… in all curriculum areas (p. 253).

 

ACTIVITY – ADDING CONNECTIVES TO DEVELOP SENTENCES (pp. 227)

  1. Select a bullet point and write it into a sentence starter.
  2. Students complete the sentence using several different connectives. Here's the example from Hooking Student into Learning… in all curriculum areas (p. 227).

 

     

     

     

     

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