Fold Over Diagram

Item description: 

The Fold Over Diagram is a thought-provoking activity that prompts students to test their own prior knowledge against more expert descriptions of a topic. Students are asked to come up with a working definition of an important term or concept. Then they compare their current ideas with the textbook or expert definition. In the final step, they attempt to interpret the reasons for any differences between their personal understandings and more expert descriptions.




  1. Develop a cohesive list of terms and/or concepts from the current unit.
  2. You may choose to pre-populate the textbook definitions for each term/concept, or have students look these up.
  3. Make photocopies of the partially completed template for all your students.
  4. Fold over the sheets so the textbook definitions are covered.


  1. Distribute the Fold Over Diagram worksheet to the students.
  2. Give the instructions and describe your expectations for students.
  3. Be clear that the textbook definitions MUST remain covered while they are writing their working definitions.
  4. After students have fully completed their worksheets, have students individually compare and contrast textbook and student definitions.
  5. Lead a class discussion of students’ interpretations of the similarities/differences between both definition sets.


Students should not be graded on how well their definitions match, but instead on completing the worksheet, and providing thoughtful reflections.


Classroom Management

  • Allow students enough time to brainstorm and generate good working definitions as well as produce meaningful observations about the definitions similarities and differences.
  • As with most prior knowledge activities, student responses are not assessed for a grade. However, you can assess the class’ level of prior knowledge and adjust your instruction accordingly. During the discussion, you have the opportunity to assess students’ participation.

Interdisciplinary Connections

English – Use this graphic organizer to assess student knowledge of terms relating to poetry and poetic devices before beginning a poetry unit.

History – Use this graphic organizer to assess student knowledge of the role specific people played in the Civil War.

Science – Use this graphic organizer to assess student knowledge of the types of rocks before beginning a unit on rocks and minerals.



This is best done with students who have some capacity for verbal thought and metacognition, perhaps in late middle school or above.



Preparation time: 25 / Delivery time: 35

PDF icon Fold Over Diagram Worksheet778.06 KB