26 things for students to know about Sydney to keep things in perspective – a no-prep background knowledge and language refresher, with suggested questions (including Blanks Level 3 and 4), and visual support
Many students – primary school children, teenagers, and young adults – have limited background knowledge about the world around them including the city or area they live in. This is a big problem for oral language and reading comprehension.
For younger students, we know:
- higher levels of background knowledge enable primary school children to better understand a text; and
- students with strong knowledge of a topic are better able to comprehend a text about the topic than a similar text about a different topic that they don’t know as much about.
For older students, we know:
- struggling readers tend to have less developed content knowledge and greater difficulties using knowledge to build mental models of what they read (e.g. Bransford et al., 1981; Oakhill, 1983);
- readers with more knowledge on a topic outperform others with the same reading skills but less knowledge of the topic on reading comprehension tasks (e.g. Recht & Leslie, 1989);
- having some knowledge of a topic in a passage is positively associated with correctly answering questions about the passage (Compton et al., 2013);
- struggling readers with poor background knowledge have difficulty recalling a passage’s main ideas, but when given background knowledge can often do so (Miller & Keenan, 2009); and
- without well-connected knowledge, students have difficulty making inferences (e.g. Kendeou & van der Broek, 2005; McNamara & Magliano, 2009). (Knowledge about the world helps us to make inferences about what we are reading: to connect new information in the text with information about the topic that we have already stored in our long-term memories.)
This 30-page no-prep resource is designed to support students with limited background knowledge – including students with language, reading, and other learning disorders – by reviewing key information about Sydney. The information is presented in a logical sequence, in Plain English, supported by colour maps and visuals, including key information about:
- Sydney’s geographic location;
- types of Sydney residences (e,g. houses, terraces, townhouses, units);
- famous Sydney landmarks;
- beaches of Sydney;
- the types of roads, and public transport in Sydney;
- shopping in Sydney and its suburbs;
- different retailers in Sydney; and
- Sydney activities, including going to parks, the movies and restaurants.
Each of the 26 sections has questions, including Blanks Level 3 and 4 questions, for students to consider and answer.
We use this resource to help students to learn about and to orient themselves to Sydney – especially students who have significant language or other learning disorders, and students who have limited knowledge of the world beyond their local community.
- 10 things for students to know about the world to keep things in perspective – a no-prep background knowledge and language refresher with visual support
- 10 things for students to know about Australia to keep things in perspective – a no-prep background knowledge and language refresher, with suggested questions and visual support
You can read more about the research on the importance of background knowledge here: Why background knowledge about the world can increase reading comprehension – even for facts you can just Google (with 2021 research update and free resources to boost your child’s background knowledge).