How do we turn on the brain and get it ready for the day’s lesson? There are a number of strategies to help students connect what they already think or know about a topic — and help us to see what they already know or might misunderstand before we get started.

  1. Anticipatory guide – Make one side of the room represent “strongly agree” while the other side represents “strongly disagree” with “neutral” in the middle. Read a few statements about the topic aloud, some true and others false, to see where the class falls in their understanding.
  2. Gallery walk – post a few key terms or ideas on chart paper and ask students to walk around and jot down any ideas they associate with the key words. Encourage them to read their classmates’ ideas as well to see what the class thinks about a new topic.
  3. Non-linguistic representations – ask students to draw what they associate with an idea or topic and then walk around to see what their classmates drew.
  4. Vote with your feet – Make each corner of the room a different answer option, A, B, C or D. Put multiple choice questions up on the white board and ask students to walk to the correct response. You can use common misconceptions and see how many students have them.
  5. At the mall – Write out different ideas or facts about a new topic on index cards and give one to each student. Put them in groups of 3 – 5 students as their “home” group. Playfully tell them the classroom is transformed into the mall showing them where the food court is, the movie theater, favorite stores, etc. They will wander around the mall until you say “STOP!” They will find a partner and share the fact on the notecard. The goal is to try to remember what they heard from their partners. Rotate a few times before telling them to return to their home group. The home group works together to try and remember as much as they can and write it on chart paper (Spencer. J. (2012). Ten Differentiation Strategies for Building Prior Knowledge).

We’ve added movement to each of these strategies for a brain-boosting bonus! Try them out and let us know what you think.



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