Tag Archives: activating background knowledge

“Front Loading” – guest post from the “Fawcett’s Class” Blog


The following post appears in the password protected blog that my students write on in the HWDSB Commons. Since there isn’t any content that cannot be shared publicly….and since it was such a great shared writing post created with my class and I’m sharing it here as well on my professional blog! I absolutely loved my students higher level thinking – I believe that we get amazing results when we teach and discuss pedagogy with our students. I have always done this, and now we are writing about our thoughts!

Front Loading

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We are collaborating on our blog post today through a shared writing activity because I would like to model for students how to write a more detailed and deeper thinking blog post…I am providing several guiding questions to direct and inspire our thoughts. Students really do have many very deep thoughts and are capable of higher level thinking!]

Today we went to the computer lab to study about the human body (grade 5) and biodiversity (grade 6). Ms Fawcett’s instructions were to find information about these science topics. We looked for information about our topics and took notes in our brain books. When we came back from the computer lab, Ms Fawcett told us we were front loading. (Peter)

Students engaged with an Interactive Human Body activity at the BBC website
Interactive “Human Body” website at BBC

What is front loading? Ms Fawcett asked us to infer what “front loading” means:

  •  “front” – it happens before instruction/lessons (Jenny)
  • “loading” – filling up with information (Shaun)

So “front loading” is filling up with information (e.g. independently or in groups) before instruction.

Why front loading? We inferred again:

  • it gives students chance to take control of their own learning (Katelynn)
  • it teaches students how to find information = research (Victoria)
  • we can find as much information as we want (instead of the teacher giving us a handout with one-answer blanks to fill in)and we’re doing our own teaching and learning (Bradley)   [EDITOR’S NOTE: sometimes it is appropriate to have one answer questions]
  • sometimes when we don’t know much about a topic, and the teacher starts teaching we lose interest because it doesn’t always make sense because we don’t understand (Tara)……..we need a full brain first (Victoria)…..then we use our background knowledge (Madeline)
  • if we have the ability to know what we’re going to learn we will also have more choices (e.g. research online, or research in a book (Holly)……or we can ask experts or watch tv programs like History Channel, National Geographic) (Katelynn)

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  We front load at the beginning of a unit to help us activate our background knowledge (involve the knowledge we already have: our “background knowledge”). We also want to add more ideas to our background knowledge before actual lessons start. It will help us understand new material! For example, if we hear or read a new word in a lesson, using what we already know (our background knowledge), we might be able to infer what the word means.

Why is it important to have background knowledge, activate or involve the background knowledge we have and create even more background knowledge?

  • if you know about the topic, you will be more excited about it (Luke)
    [EDITOR’S NOTE: We call that being engaged in our learning!]
  • if you connect with the topic (e.g. “I remember that!”), then you can make inferences. So you are sharing ideas and getting involved (Jenny)

We look forward to front loading lots of topics in the future!

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  • read 20 minutes
  • Science: have 10 – 15 pieces of information about Human Body (gr5) or Biodiversity (gr6) (If you can’t remember, go online and google “Student Link” for links)