It makes sense that if there is no prior knowledge, then there is nothing to activate. Students often study topics they know very little about (that is why, after all, that they attend school!) and therefore teachers must think of ways of providing the necessary background knowledge quickly and efficiently.
As external exams become a larger part of the Queensland senior school experience, it is vital teachers prepare students to be able to work out the meaning of an unfamiliar word without consulting a dictionary or a mobile phone.
Viewing a video clip should always be purposeful and students need to be accountable for the time they have spent viewing it. In this blog post, Pat Hipwell looks at how to make students pay attention and learn from videos.
Automatic recall of what words mean makes learning efficient. During these times when many students will be spending a lot of time learning online, it’s a good idea for them to spend time developing their vocabulary.
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Questioning to ascertain prior knowledge is a very popular practice, but there is a danger when posing questions to the whole group that we only get a sense of what a few students know rather than everyone. 
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Teacher as teller is a short talk that provides the background information to the reading or viewing. It ensures that all students approach the reading or viewing with the necessary background information.
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It is much easier to understand what we read when we have some knowledge of the topic. This is, of course, something of a Catch 22 as background knowledge is acquired by reading.
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