SIOP Feature #8:  Explicitly Link Past Learning to New Concepts

Building background is all about linking the past to the new.  Students need this done transparently in order to develop the skills to be able to do it on their own.  Effective teachers spend time connecting previous lessons with new ones just to give students the best chance possible to master the new material.

Students learning in classroom

SIOP Feature #8:  Explicitly Link Past Learning to New Concepts

TESOL Trainers John Kongsvik SIOP PD New Mexico

There are a number of reasons why this is such an important step in SIOP to take even when you think there isn't time to do it.  Here are three ACEs to building background in this way:

  1. Assessment:  As you are helping students see how today's lesson relates to yesterday's learning, you are assessing what they remember from previous classes.
  2. Confidence:  When students realize they know something about the new topic, they feel more confident and are more likely to take risks.
  3. Engagement:  Students are more likely to be engaged if they know they are bringing something to the table.  Starting the class helping them see this keeps students engaged.
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Building Background Saves Time

Contrary to what it may feel like, spending a few minutes connecting yesterday to today actually speeds things up for three reasons.  

  • First, as we have already discussed, success breeds success.  Students who have a bit of confidence are more willing and need less prodding.  
  • Secondly, students who know something already don't need as much explanation as students who believe they don't know anything.
  • Thirdly, because we know what they know/don't know, we become more efficient and effective as well.

Ways to connect the past to the present in the K-12 classroom

There are a plethora of ways to connect yesterday to today in the content area classroom.  Here are three ways that you can try out without any preparation:

  1. Word Splash:  Start the lesson with some key vocabulary words.  Ask the students to circle the ones they have seen before in a previous lesson.  Then, get them to talk about the relationship those terms might have with the content of the day's lesson.
  2. Give one Take One:  Have the students create mind maps of everything they know about the topic of the lesson.  Have them mix and mingle around to share what they know.  Their goal is to give someone one of their terms and take one term from others.
  3. Graphic Organizers:  Graphic organizers like Venn Diagrams can be useful to show the relationship between to things in a visual way.  Start with the new concept on one side and the one that you know is connected to it on the other.  Ask the students to help you complete it.

Contact John Kongsvik, the director of TESOL Trainers for more information

TESOL Trainers provides world-class professional development on SIOP for PreK-12 instructors.  Whether it be a one day introduction to SIOP or a five day intensive look at the framework, John Kongsvik will transform how teaching and learning occur in your school.  

In addition to professional development, TESOL Trainers provides iCOACH, it powerful peer coaching program, that increases the rate of implementation to 95%.

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