Why teacher as teller works to build background knowledge

Why teacher as teller works to build background knowledge

If a teacher has chosen a text that she or he wants students to read or view then it is fair to assume that the text is important enough for all students to read or view. In addition to some of the strategies included in Hooking Students into Learning … in all curriculum areasin the Before Reading Strategies Section (pgs. 2-27), the one that I find particularly useful is teacher as teller.

Teacher as teller is a short talk that provides the background information to the reading or viewing. It is short, sharp, focussed and provides relevant information. It ensures that all students approach the reading or viewing with the necessary background information. It ‘levels the playing field’ if you will.

We speak at about 100-120 words a minute, therefore it is possible to include a lot of information during this time. Students should be discouraged from interrupting and asking questions. Leave all questions until the end.


TEACHER:Today we will be examining a famous Australian painting and we will be using it to make inferences about life in the Australian Bush in the early part of the 20th Century. The Pioneeris a 1904 painting by Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. The painting is a triptych; meaning it has three panels. It is widely considered one of the masterpieces of Australian art.  The painting is part of the National Gallery of Victoria's Australian art collection and exhibited in the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square in Melbourne.

Because you are going to use the painting to make an inference, you need to know what inferring mean. To infer means to use what is provided or the information that you are given to make meaning or arrive at an answer to a question. The meaning is not directly stated or the answer obvious; it must be uncovered. To uncover the meaning or answer, we must combine what we are given or the information that we have with knowledge of the topic. If we do not have much knowledge about the topic then making an inference is difficult. This is one reason you should read widely because, through reading, you acquire world knowledge.

(204 words – approx. 2 minutes talking time)

N.B. All information given by the teacher is accurate and relevant to the task.

There are a number of strategies for building background knowledge in Hooking Students into Learning … in all curriculum areasin the Before Reading Strategies Section (pgs. 2-27). 

For a more detailed explanation of these and other effective ways to build background knowledge, contact logonliteracy. We can come to your school and provide relevant and engaging PD.

This is part of a series of posts focused on effective reading in the high school classroom. This series includes practical tips teachers can add to their lesson plans.  
Read the other posts: 

Leave a comment (all fields required)