Before we start reading a story, say for example about Hawaii, most of us can conjure up images of lush volcanic islands, surfers, and palm trees. But how many of us and, more importantly, how many of our students have any prior knowledge or images of Lapland? Silja Kallenbach from World Education used just this example in a workshop years ago when she was talking about the importance of activating background knowledge for students before they start reading.
Use a projector that is hooked up to a computer and show the class Google’s image search results. Display images related to the topic in order to:
- Provide visual clues of the setting. (We soon learn to associate Lapland with snow much of the year.)
- Build interest in the story. (This is a particularly fun way for newcomers to see the images that easily illustrate background knowledge of a national holiday, like Halloween or Thanksgiving.)
- Help teach vocabulary. (It helps students to immediately see the breadth of the meaning of ‘sled,’ for example.)
What other lessons ideas do you have for pre-reading activities using technology? Share them in the comments. Did you try this lesson? Tell us about it!