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SIOP Feature 7 Explicitly link concepts to students' backgrounds & experiences

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The first feature that falls under this component of SIOP asks the teacher to explicitly begin a lesson by linking the concepts of the lesson to the students and their lives.  Taking time at the beginning of a lesson to do this supports the learner in a variety of different ways:
Building Background mollifies anxiety.
​It also helps students draw connections between their lives and school content.
It gives the teacher a great chance to assess where the students are in relation to the lesson.
Building Background engages students as their curiosity builds. ​
It's interesting to note that this feature begins with the phrase:  "explicitly link".  This is a challenge to the teacher to make things as transparent as s/he can.  Some students need the transparency more than others; all students benefit from it.  Some actions we take as teachers are more explicit than others. SIOP Feature 7 Explicitly link concepts to students' backgrounds & experiences
Ways to Explicitly link concepts in the classroom
Class Web.  Creating a web on the board with ideas the entire class has is a safe way to take the pulse (globally) of the student body.  Students write anything they know about the topic on a post-it note and stick it on the board.  As class, the teacher can review the web, add any information, and then dive into the lesson.
Predicting. Anytime students predict, they ante up.  Their interest spikes as they begin to focus on whether or not their prediction was right.  With vocabulary, pictures, or
Word Splash.  A word splash is a set of key vocabulary words and phrases from the lesson.  In addition to reviewing the vocabulary, students can use these terms to
Carousel.  A carousel is an activity where students move from statiuon to station completing some kind of task.  As a way to build background, students form groups and carousel around the room.  At each station there is is flip sized piece of chart paper and markers.  Each paper has a different question (what is something you know about ‘x’?).  Students discuss the question, write down an answer and move to another station repeating the task.
Turn and Talk.  Students can turn to a partner and discuss a question or set of questions related to the topic.  They may do this orally, or they may even jot down a few of their partner’s responses to share with the class later on.
SIOP Feature 8 Explicitly Link Past Learning to New Concepts
Building background is all about linking the past to the new.  Students need this done transparently in order to develop the skills to be able to do it on their own.  Effective teachers spend time connecting previous lessons with new ones just to give students the best chance possible to master the new material.
SIOP Feature #8:  Explicitly Link Past Learning to New Concepts
There are a number of reasons why this is such an important step in SIOP to take even when you think there isn't time to do it.  Here are three ACEs to building background in this way:
​Assessment:  As you are helping students see how today's lesson relates to yesterday's learning, you are assessing what they remember from previous classes.
​Confidence:  When students realize they know something about the new topic, they feel more confident and are more likely to take risks.
Engagement:  Students are more likely to be engaged if they know they are bringing something to the table.  Starting the class helping them see this keeps students engaged.
Building Background Saves Time
Contrary to what it may feel like, spending a few minutes connecting yesterday to today actually speeds things up for three reasons. 
First, as we have already discussed, success breeds success.  Students who have a bit of confidence are more willing and need less prodding. 
Secondly, students who know something already don't need as much explanation as students who believe they don't know anything.
Thirdly, because we know what they know/don't know, we become more efficient and effective as well.
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