Walk Around Survey

Walk around survey is a strategy that is good for activating prior knowledge and checking what background learners have in a topic that you are about to study.

This strategy should be done before a topic to help you, as a teacher, understand more about learner’s prior knowledge.  

In this strategy learners are given a topic and have to discuss with 3 other learners what they know about the topic.  They record their partners answers on a sheet (attached below).  

Here is an outline of how it would work in the classroom:

  1. Give the learners a topic and handout survey worksheet.
  2. Give learners a time limit to ask and answer questions on the topic.  You might ask learners to discuss what questions you would ask to find out more information on the topic and write these on the board.  For New to English learners you might support them by giving them some questions that they could ask.  Also, their responses can be limited to 1 word or a phrase.  Or they could pair up with a more proficient learner and partner them in the task.
  3. When the learners are completing the survey they should remember to write the names of the people they survey.  They then write down 3 facts that they are told from each of their 3 different partners.
  4. Learners return to their original tables and share what they have found on their table group.   They should look at for any similarities and differences.
  5. As a teacher you could then get table groups to share what they have found out.  This will help you gauge what they know about the topic you will teach them about.

Here is an example of how I have used this strategy in GCSE English for the topic of World War 1 poetry.  As a class we thought of the following questions to complete the walk around survey for:

  • When did World War 1 start and finish?
  • What were some of the causes of World War 1?
  • Who fought in World War 1?
  • What topics do you think poets wrote about for World War 1?

And here is an example of how I have used this strategy in Science on the topic of forces:

  • What is a force?
  • What forces do you know?
  • What is friction?
  • How do you measure forces?
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