Earlier this week, my students participated in a Building Background Knowledge (BBK) activity for Charlotte's Web. I learned about this type of activity at the SCCOE Curriculum Leadership Council seminars that I have been attending all year. The main purpose for this type of activity is to enable the students to be successful in reading more complex texts. This experience creates a natural and safe environment for students to use their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. This type of experience also provides multiple opportunities for students to interact with the new content knowledge. This is extremely important for my students (85% ELs) because it allows them to have different exposures to the content besides listening to me ramble.
Here is how it went...
Step 1: Mystery Picture
Each group is given one picture to get their juices flowing. They are to carefully look at the picture and discuss with their group what they think it might be.
I also included a spider glyph to get students' initial ideas about spiders.
Step 2: Collection of Artifacts
For this step, I put together all types of artifacts including photos of farm animals, spiders, and friendship items, drawings, a farm animal matching game, a friendship spelling list, non-fiction pieces on spiders and farm animals. The students spread everything out and silently viewed all of the artifacts and wrote down any questions that they had about the artifacts.
Step 3: Common TextEach student received the same non-fiction text about spiders and insects. They all read the text on their own, answered 3 questions, and drew a picture of an insect and a spider and labeled each drawing.
Step 4: Expert Texts JigsawFor this step, each student read a different texts to read on their own. I had four different levels in each group and they were each assigned a color prior to this step. They then shared out what they read with the rest of their group.
We then created a class chart of their ideas about what our subject or themes might be based on their BBK experience. They came up with farm life, spiders, and friendship. Pretty good, huh? It was exactly what they needed to build schema and to get them excited to read Charlotte's Web!
And I am so excited... tomorrow is Friday and I survived my first field trip! Yay!