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HOW TO elicit Prior Knowledge

By tapping in to what students already know, teachers really help with the learning process in two ways:

  1.  You're discovering the information and concepts that the students have, in order to tailor your own planning .
  2. You're helping the students to share with all of the students, what they already know -- as well as uncovering misconception some may have!

And using our PK card sets offer you a fantastically easy, fun and informative way of eliciting prior knowledge.

Imagine your students ( preferably in a circle so no-one is dominant in the discussion) discussing the following ideas (note that our PK sets come with approximately 25+ cards. As in Socratic discussions, your task is to tease out further knowledge and ideas as the discussion progresses, and to note down the Big Questions and Big Ideas that arise, for students to review and for you to use in adapting your lesson plans:


Use these fantastic laminated cards to think, talk and explore students’ prior knowledge!


  • Hand out a different card to small groups of students (e.g.groups of three).
  • Let them discuss at their leisure. Groups will decide at different times- that’s OK
  • Once a group has decided, one of the group places that card under the heading they think most suitable and gets another card from you until no cards left.
  • Once all the cards are placed, class discussion begins of who placed which card where, and why
  • They have to be able to justify their decisions,
  • Allow for LOTS of discussion and piggybacking of ideas , while you note down any big Questions that are arising!

EXAMPLE  (showing just a few cards from the FREEDOM set)

Note the 3 headings; students decide which heading to place their cards under: