Courtney's Teaching Tips: Knowledge Building

Tips to Help Students Become Knowledgeable Readers

By Tiara Smith, Copywriter & Content Strategist ; Courtney Lofgren, Learning Designer, Learning Design & Content Development

When students have a wealth of background knowledge, they are better able to comprehend the texts they read. Background knowledge includes general knowledge about the world as well as specialized knowledge about a specific topic. So, truly, every student approaches a text with a different level of knowledge. Given this diversity, how can we best support every student to become a more knowledgeable reader? It all begins with text selection, including the built-in supports that are in place for students as they encounter a text.

Building Knowledge With Foundational Resources

Developing strong foundational reading skills is essential to becoming a skilled reader, but you might be wondering, “where does knowledge building fit in?” With the right resources in place, teachers can support students as they build content knowledge and foundational skills simultaneously.

The decodable books in Foundations A-Z allow students from grades K-2 to not only practice the phonics skills they have learned and build fluency, but they also allow exposure to a variety of text types and topics. Each book includes words that students can decode using previously learned phonetic elements and engagesstudents with fun stories and captivating information. As students practice decoding skills within the context of content-rich texts, they will begin to see the connection between words and meaning.

Building Knowledge Through Content-Rich Nonfiction

Though any content-rich text can be used to build knowledge, research indicates that this is especially true for nonfiction. As students read and work with complex nonfiction texts, they have many opportunities to deepen their reading comprehension, increase their knowledge as they explore a vast range of topics, and expand their vocabulary.

If you’re in search of content-rich nonfiction that you can use to supplement your curriculum, take a look at the expansive collection of texts offered in Raz-Plus, including Leveled Books, Close Read Passages, and Theme & News Packs to build knowledge and increase reading proficiency. In addition, Raz-Plus allows you to search for nonfiction texts that appeal to student interests and align with national and state standards to accommodate students from grades K-5 for activities such as read alouds, shared reading, or independent reading practice.

Or, perhaps you need some resources to expose students to scientific concepts. Science A-Z, our award-winning science curriculum for K-6 students, has you covered! Unit Nonfiction Books introduce students to fundamental scientific concepts and specialized vocabulary while providing resources to deepen understanding, including quizzes, hands-on science experiments and investigations, and more! Like the resources in Raz-Plus, the Unit Nonfiction Books are written at different levels, allowing you to tailor instruction to address the learning gaps that have been identified.

Building Knowledge With Text Sets

The Text Sets in Raz-Plus are also a great option to help students in grades 3-5 build knowledge by exploring high-interest science and social studies content. Each set includes multiple texts that focus on a single topic and build in complexity, so students can successfully navigate grade-level texts as they build content knowledge. With these text sets, students have many opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve learned and each set is accompanied by a project-based activity, allowing students to apply this new knowledge.

Social-Emotional Learning on a Time Crunch

If you need to maximize your instructional planning time, you might be looking for more curated sets of resources that will help you build Social-Emotional Knowledge. Look no further; Meaningful Conversations has you covered!

An award-winning add-on to Raz-Plus, Meaningful Conversations makes it easy to build knowledge in an age-appropriate way about topics that can be difficult to discuss such as racial disparities, differences in mental or physical abilities, bullying, and more. Intended to help teachers and students digest these difficult topics while teaching students empathy, social awareness, and self-awareness, Meaningful Conversations is the perfect solution to strengthen Social-Emotional Learning with content-rich resources that align with the CASEL Framework. Designed for the busy educator, Meaningful Conversations provides everything teachers and students need to successfully build strong Social-Emotional Learning skills using the following resources:

  • Culturally responsive, appropriate content written and vetted through a DEI lens by diverse authors, topic experts, and educators who bring authentic experience to the vetting process
  • Comprehensive support for facilitating difficult yet critical classroom conversations, including full lesson guides and discussion guides, an SEL guide, a teacher toolkit, discussion cards, rubrics, student activities, worksheets, multi-format content, and a family support toolkit in multiple languages
  • Highly engaging, multi-format content that includes written (printable, projectable, online, mobile), audio, and video content formats with accessibility extensions
  • Content that is aligned with speaking and listening CCSS ELA Standards, themes from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), and the CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Competencies and Growth Mindset

If you are hoping to build Social-Emotional knowledge in a way that maximizes impact, Meaningful Conversations is a great resource to have by your side.

Collaborating to Build Knowledge

When you are short on time or overwhelmed about where to find resources and texts, knowledge building can be a little difficult. Luckily, you do not have to go it alone! In this article, we gave you a glimpse at how collaborating with Learning A-Z can help you build knowledge about a variety of topics, but there are still so many other solutions we offer that can help! Take a look at the wealth of solutions we offer below.

Build Knowledge With Ease

Form a foundation of understanding to nurture proficient readers with the knowledge-building resources available with Learning A-Z.

Learn More

“Building Knowledge: Expanding the World through Reading.” Achieve The Core, 22 Mar. 2022,

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