Preview Information Text and Activating Prior Knowledge

 Previewing Information

Source, The Reading Teacher, Suzanne Liff Manz:  “A strategy for previewing textbooks:  Teaching readers to become THIEVES.

T-Title:  often states the topic, and establishes context.  (The student should ask herself:  What do I already know about this title?  Does the title express a point of view?  What do I Think I will be reading about?

H-Headings:  gateway to the important general subject areas within chapters.  They organize the content, so students can see topics, and understand the questions the section address.  students should ask what the heading indicates about the possible topic; they should try to turn the heading into a question that would presumably be answered in the passage.

I-Introduction.  The introduction provides a framework into which the chapter content may be placed.  Chapter goals and objectives are often stated in the introduction.   Students should checck if there is an opening paragraph that is italicized (or even a prologue); whether the first paragraph introduces the essay or chapter; whether there are any hints to the upcoming information?  What will this essay be about?  The student should ask herself whether she knows anything about the topic already?

E-Every first sentence in a paragraph.  These may be topic sentences (although they may not be). (And pay attention to the transitions across paragraphs).

V-Visuals and vocabulary.  Photographs, charts, graphs, maps, or tables.  What questions could be asked that would be answered by these charts.  Also, notice highlighted words or key terms; these can indicate important concepts.

E-End of chapter questions.  The questions asked can show the reader what information in the text is important.

S-Summary.  Typically at the conclusion.  Provides a general frame of references -the main idea and  conclusion of an article.

Activating Prior Knowledge


Challenges; quizzes; interviews; guess-who games; KWL charts; quick write (in 60 seconds, write everything you know about a given topic).


Activating prior knowledge can clear up misconception.