The importance of using prior knowledge in teaching

Integrating new knowledge with prior knowledge is crucial for effective learning. Prior knowledge is the knowledge that students already have on a particular subject, while new knowledge is the information they acquire through learning activities. Integration of prior knowledge with new knowledge helps students to better understand the new information and make meaningful connections. In this article, we will discuss strategies that teachers can use to integrate prior knowledge in teaching.

Strategy 1: Activate Prior Knowledge

Activating prior knowledge is the first step in integrating it with new knowledge. Teachers can activate prior knowledge by asking students to recall what they know about a particular subject or by connecting new information with their experiences. The purpose of activating prior knowledge is to prepare students to receive new information and make connections with what they already know.

There are various techniques that teachers can use to activate prior knowledge. One of the most popular techniques is the KWL chart. The KWL chart is a graphic organizer that consists of three columns: what students know (K), what they want to know (W), and what they learned (L). The K column helps teachers to activate prior knowledge by asking students to write down what they already know about the topic. The W column helps teachers to identify students’ interests and what they want to learn about the topic. The L column helps teachers to evaluate students’ learning by asking them to write down what they have learned about the topic.

Strategy 2: Use Analogies and Metaphors

Analogies and metaphors are powerful tools that teachers can use to help students understand new concepts. Analogies and metaphors are comparisons between two things that have similarities. By comparing new concepts with familiar concepts, students can understand new information more easily.

Analogies and metaphors can be used in various ways. For example, a teacher can compare the structure of an atom with the structure of the solar system. The nucleus of an atom can be compared to the sun, while electrons can be compared to planets revolving around the nucleus. By using this analogy, students can visualize the structure of an atom more easily.

Strategy 3: Use Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are visual tools that teachers can use to help students organize and connect new information with prior knowledge. Graphic organizers can help students to see relationships between concepts, summarize information, and make connections.

There are various types of graphic organizers that teachers can use. One of the most popular types is the concept map. A concept map is a diagram that shows the relationships between concepts. Teachers can use concept maps to help students see how new information is related to what they already know. For example, a teacher can create a concept map to show how different organs in the human body are related.

Strategy 4: Use Real-Life Examples

Using real-life examples is another strategy that teachers can use to integrate prior knowledge in teaching. Real-life examples help students to connect new information with their experiences and prior knowledge. By using real-life examples, teachers can make new information more relevant and interesting to students.

Teachers can use various types of real-life examples. For example, a teacher can use a news article to show how the topic being taught is relevant in real life. A teacher can also use case studies to show how the topic being taught is applied in real life situations.

Strategy 5: Use Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning is a teaching strategy that involves students in the learning process. Inquiry-based learning allows students to explore new concepts and connect them with prior knowledge through investigation and experimentation. This strategy encourages students to ask questions, investigate, and draw conclusions.

Inquiry-based learning can be used in various ways. For example, a teacher can provide a problem for students to solve using inquiry-based learning. The problem can be related to a real-life situation, and students can work in groups to investigate and find solutions.

Strategy 6: Provide Opportunities for Reflection

Reflection is an essential part of the learning process. It helps students to connect new information with prior knowledge, think deeply about what they have learned, and evaluate their learning. Reflection can be done in various ways, such as through writing, discussion, or self-assessment.

Teachers can provide opportunities for reflection by asking students to write a reflection on what they have learned, discuss their learning with their peers, or complete a self-assessment of their learning. Reflection helps students to make meaningful connections between what they have learned and their prior knowledge.

Strategy 7: Differentiate Instruction

Students have different levels of prior knowledge, interests, and learning styles. Teachers can differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of their students. Differentiated instruction involves adapting teaching methods, content, and assessment to meet the individual needs of students.

Teachers can differentiate instruction by providing different learning activities that cater to different learning styles, interests, and levels of prior knowledge. For example, a teacher can provide visual aids for students who are visual learners, hands-on activities for kinesthetic learners, and reading materials for students who are auditory learners.

Integrating prior knowledge in teaching is essential for effective learning. Teachers can use various strategies to integrate prior knowledge, such as activating prior knowledge, using analogies and metaphors, using graphic organizers, using real-life examples, using inquiry-based learning, providing opportunities for reflection, and differentiating instruction. These strategies help students to make meaningful connections between new information and their prior knowledge, leading to deeper understanding and better retention of new information.


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