ANTICIPATORY SET: “The Hook” – Focus learners attention on the content of the objective / set up the lesson to hook the learner at the beginning/ make connection from past to present /
The brain is constantly seeking meaning. So as information enters the brain through our senses, the brain automatically searches through previously stored information and looks for connections relevant to the new information. It pulls that information forward from long-term memory into its working memory to help make the current or new information meaningful. So, don’t leave to chance what student’s pull forward “automatically.”
Two brain phenomenon (natural tendencies) are embedded in the instructional element of anticipatory set. Essentially learning is linking new information with prior knowledge. Giving the brain direction on what to pull forward from long-term memory and on what to pay attention to dramatically increases the brain’s readiness for the new learning.
Generally students begin a class or lesson with a lot of things on their minds – what they were just doing, what they were talking about with friends, what they plan to do after school, not unlike you when you when we began this afternoon.
And just like when you listened to the story problem, if students don’t know what file to pull from long-term memory they will pull forward something – but not necessarily what information will help with the new learning.
When you use an anticipatory set you help students refocus their attention and pull forward helpful prior knowledge that will connect with new information in the content of the instructional objective. We aren’t leaving to chance what students are connecting with the new information and we aren’t assuming they will automatically pull forward information that will positively connect with the new content.
Three Critical Attributes of Anticipatory Set
- Transfer (logically associating present learning to congruent past learning or experience). Our eyes may capture an image like a camera, but the meaning of the image is influenced by the information we already have stored in our brains. When we “hook” new learning on congruent established neural networks, students will learn more quickly and retain information longer.
- Active Participation (getting All students simultaneously involved in a way that is congruent with the lesson). Those who work, learn. The person doing the work is growing the dendrites. If we want all students to learn, then we must get all students ready to do the work. Getting them to do it simultaneously just makes good sense in the context of time and brain research.
- Attention Getter (using variables of motivation (i.e. congruent and meaningful examples, stories, startling statistics or facts, etc.). The brain is more like a sieve than a sponge. More than 99% of all incoming sensory information is discarded immediately upon entering the brain. If we want student so pay attention to a lesson, we must deliberately focus their attention on information congruent to the lesson.
(Pat Wolfe Brain Matters: Translating Research Into Classroom Practice 2
To develop an anticipatory set you need to answer two questions:
1) What prior knowledge would be helpful to the current learning? Remember the brain is always seeking meaning and will automatically pull forward something that it thinks will have meaning to the new information
If you knew before listening to the story problem what question you needed to answer at the end, all of you would have pulled forward the algorithm you needed to use to answer that question and would have focused on the necessary information. So knowing the content you will teaching and then determining what prior knowledge will be helpful for students to pull forward that is meaningful to them is the first thing you want decide in developing an anticipatory set.
2) How will I involve all students? Active Participation, Which would be most helpful to you – covert or overt participation?
- Don’t let the set take the focus away from the lesson. Don’t bring in an elephant to teach the color gray
- Sets are short – usually three to five minutes
- Although sets come before the new information, it’s best to plan them after the lesson is planned. The more clearly you know what students will be learning the easier it is to find what prior knowledge will be helpful.
When would you use an anticipatory set?
– beginning of class
– beginning of a new learning
– after a distraction
What are the advantages in using an anticipatory set for students?
-refocuses the learners’ attention
-increases rate and degree of learning
-helps transfer past learning to present
-helps diagnose entry level knowledge/comprehension and skills
-can alleviate behavior problems
Savvy teachers prepare students “to start” a new lesson like savvy track coaches prepare runners “to start” a race. 1. GET READY! Get students’ attention using the motivation variable of INTEREST (i.e. meaning, novelty, or vividness) 2. GET SET! Transfer (Connect or associate) new learning to previous congruent experience or learning. 3. GO! Actively involve ALL students so they ALL get off to a “good start.”
(Carol Cummings Teaching Makes a Difference 1986)
Rationale: When teachers use anticipatory sets to “hook” new learning to prexistiing knowledge, students will learn more quickly and retain information longer.
- 3 attributes – Attention Getter, Transfer, active participation.
- Anticipatory Set gets the students attention and sets the stage for the current learning.
- Getting the students attention does not mean bringing in an elephant to teach the color gray, as the elephant would distract from the objective.
- Most importantly, a set must have a connection or transfer of new learning to a previous congruent experience or learning.
- All students should be actively involved.
- Set is congruent with the objective.