Name of Strategy: Factstorming
  • Rationale:
• I wanted to do something other than the KWL chart to find out what my students already know about the environment. KWL charts can be boring and often get lost. With Factstorming, I was able to have students tell me what they knew and write it on the board. Something one student knew would than jog the memories of other students and soon we could have a good list of facts we already know about the environment. With Factstorming, I also did not get as many random ideas such as “the environment is so pretty”, the kids stuck to the facts.
  • Courses in which it could be implemented:
• This really could be implemented in any subject area at the beginning of a unit of study or as a review of what was learned the day or week before.
  • Diverse learners:
• Many of my students are extremely social. In fact, it is difficult at times to get them to stop talking. When I’ve observed their conversations, especially around reading, I usually see that they are sharing something exciting that they have just read. When they share with each other, the conversation often turns to what they already know about the topic and how the new information is really interesting or “cool”. I hear the phrase, “ I didn’t know that before.” quite a bit. With this strategy, I can tap into the social nature of my learners. Those students who are nervous or who don’t think they know anything, usually can think of a fact after someone else gets them started in thinking in the right direction about the topic. They realize just how much they really do know. This strategy works for any learner, but especially for those learners who need to talk things through.
  • Procedure:
1. Introduce the topic. For example in this lesson, I asked students to think first about what facts they know about the environment. I left the topic fairly broad so that if I needed to narrow it a bit I could.
2. Give students the opportunity to think and write down in their journal what they know about the environment.
3. Have students pair up with their neighbor to share some of the facts they came up with and to discuss the environment further to jog their memories.
4. Come together as a class and share the facts they know about the environment. Write these down on the overhead or the SMARTboard. Save these facts. At the end of the unit, add more facts they’ve learned over the unit.
  • Potential Issues:
• It is very possible that students may be presented with a topic they really don’t know much about and this may be a bit disconcerting for them. I have had students who swear they know nothing about a topic because they are thinking too specifically and not generally about a topic. When this occurs I will usually get them started by talking about the general characteristics of the topic and then reminding them that these are indeed facts about the topic.
  • References
Stephens, E. & Brown, J. (2005). A Handbook of Content Literacy Strategies: 125 Practical Reading and Writing Ideas.
Norwood: Christopher-GordonPublishers, Inc.