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Introducing New Topics with the Building Background Knowledge Workshop

Excerpt from Transformational Literacy

The Building Background Knowledge (BBK) workshop is a protocol that generates enthusiasm for learning new content and motivates students to persevere through challenging work. This excerpt from Transformational Literacy describes the what and so what of each step in the protocol.

The Building Background Knowledge (BBK) workshop is a protocol that generates enthusiasm for learning new content and motivates students to persevere through challenging work. The BBK immerses students in a new content topic. It is a short (two to three class periods) hook into a longer unit of study. The BBK builds curiosity and mystery as teachers guide students through a series of texts and other media, helping them to generate questions and promoting a spirit of inquiry about a new content area. The BBK provides a rich opportunity for students to have a range of reading experiences—complex texts, provocative texts that represent multiple perspectives, informational texts, and literary texts such as poetry and short stories—and is a strong vehicle for building literacy skills and content knowledge.

The BBK encompasses a series of steps that provide just enough provocative information to inspire students to want more. Students record what they know or think they know as well as their questions at each step in the process. As additional pieces of information are provided, some of the questions get answered and new questions are formulated. It is important to stress that the questions are answered not by the teacher but by individuals and small groups carefully reading and interpreting text.

Download this resource to read the full text.

The Building Background Knowledge (BBK) workshop is a protocol that generates enthusiasm for learning new content and motivates students to persevere through challenging work. This excerpt from Transformational Literacy describes the what and so what of each step in the protocol.

The Building Background Knowledge (BBK) workshop is a protocol that generates enthusiasm for learning new content and motivates students to persevere through challenging work. The BBK immerses students in a new content topic. It is a short (two to three class periods) hook into a longer unit of study. The BBK builds curiosity and mystery as teachers guide students through a series of texts and other media, helping them to generate questions and promoting a spirit of inquiry about a new content area. The BBK provides a rich opportunity for students to have a range of reading experiences—complex texts, provocative texts that represent multiple perspectives, informational texts, and literary texts such as poetry and short stories—and is a strong vehicle for building literacy skills and content knowledge.

The BBK encompasses a series of steps that provide just enough provocative information to inspire students to want more. Students record what they know or think they know as well as their questions at each step in the process. As additional pieces of information are provided, some of the questions get answered and new questions are formulated. It is important to stress that the questions are answered not by the teacher but by individuals and small groups carefully reading and interpreting text.

Download this resource to read the full text.

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