Taking a few minutes to access background knowledge can be an essential part of improving reading comprehension. Research shows that our brains need somewhere “to go” with the information as we read. Simply reminding students to think about their background knowledge isn’t enough. For my special education students, I wanted a way to allow them to quickly think about what they already know and also use that same tool to aide in their comprehension as they read.

This strategy is quick and can can be made with your kids about nearly ANY subject or book. 
During the week of this lesson, we were reading about the history of taking pictures. 
Anchor Chart with topic in the middle and background knowledge bubbles around it
I began by writing the topic in the center and asking them what they know. There really aren’t any wrong answers. It can be as simple or complex as you want it. 
Since I’ve previewed the text, I can make the bubbles smaller if I know we aren’t going to have much to add to that particular topic. 
Hand holding a pink marker with chart in the background
Then, it’s time to READ! We take turns reading two pages at a time, which is about two short paragraphs with very decodable words for my group of kids. After reading, we stop. I give my students one minute to THINK! I want them to have time to process information and decide what new information they are going to share. 
Then, we write what we THINK in PINK.
We record new information on the chart in PINK. Sometimes, it’s a brand new bubble. Other times, it might be adding information to an existing bubble. Either way, we record what we’re thinking after small amounts of text. 

Textbook and student mini anchor chart for organizing background knowledge
Overtime, my students are working to create their own background knowledge bubbles. Although we are still working on independently reading and recording their thinking, they’re trying! They are adding things that they know on their own mini anchor chart. It’s a great way to give them a purpose as they read and help them understand what they’re reading.

Click HERE for your Background Knowledge FREEBIE!

If you’d like to grab this simple background knowledge printable to help your students begin to organize their thoughts, grab it by clicking the image above or clicking here