Academic Relatedness

Learners connect the particular content or tasks they are focused on in the moment with their existing skills, habits, and knowledge, work completed to date, and future learning.


Building blocks

Connect new knowledge to prior knowledge

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Share, with peers or during the lesson experience, ways the new skill or concept connects to one they learned the day or week before

  • Give examples of how this new knowledge reminds them of something they learned

Questions to Ask Learners

  • How does the learning today remind you of something you learned before?

  • What made you think about how they are connected?

Folders connected by lines

Transfer prior learning to new and future tasks and learning experiences

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Describe, in a current learning task or project, how something they learned before is part of it or will be part of it before it is completed

  • Articulate why the prior and current learning have importance

Questions to Ask Learners

  • How does this task include skills and concepts you've learned before?

  • How will you use that learning in this task or project?

  • Why was that prior learning necessary?

Cup holder with pencil, paintbrush and ruler

Form connections within and between their different content areas

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Share how their current learning task or project uses skills or concepts they've learned from more than one content area (i.e., how their history project also requires ELA and lifelong learning skills)

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What kinds of learning are needed for this project/task?

  • What different content areas are you using or learning from in this project/task?

  • Why do you need to use the learning from those different areas to complete this project/task proficiently?

Square with a person and a lightbulb inside

Engage in higher-order thinking and questioning about the broad concepts of the learning

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Demonstrate critical thinking in their approach to the project/task, including asking new questions and discussing other ideas beyond the task

Questions to Ask Learners

  • How has this project/task had you thinking of new ideas or questions on the topic?


Learning occurs best through connecting new knowledge to prior knowledge; contextualization of content (integrated curriculum) promotes higher learner engagement and transfer of skill.


Learners are most successful when new learning is built on previous mastery of skills and concepts. When learning opportunities are designed with the consideration of what skills and concepts have already been mastered, learners are better positioned for mastery of new skills and concepts.

Educator Actions

Learning facilitators help learners connect activities and objectives with learners’ prior knowledge and learning experiences.

CSTPs: 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 4.1, 4.4

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The Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) is a great starting point to foster academic relatedness with learners. During times of goal-setting, prompt learners to consider how their PLP goals relate to prior and future goals, current learning, and previous learning experiences.

The more learners can relate to their academic goals and tasks, the more empowered they will be!


  • Contextualize new content or skills in ways that review critical prerequisite skills and previews successive skills (P/F)

  • Highlight the lesson’s enduring understanding(s) and explicitly connect them to what was learned before and what will be done in the future (P/F)

  • Point out meaningful connections between content knowledge and concepts when opportunities arise (F)

  • Provide opportunities for learners to transfer and creatively use what they learn in various contexts (P/F)

P = planned F = facilitated spontaneously