Old to New: Making Sense of New Information

Old to New
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 15 minutes

Write the sentences below on the board, one at a time. For the first set, after you write each sentence, stop and ask students how many of them understand the meaning of the sentence. For the second set, after each sentence stop and ask students how many of them learned something from the sentence that they didn't already know.

Use their responses to define old to new: in order to inform readers, you have to provide them with some information that they're already familiar with, otherwise they have no way to make sense of what you're telling them; you also need to provide them with some information they've never heard before, otherwise, you're just repeating what they already know. Obviously for different readers, or different groups of readers, what's familiar and unfamiliar varies: for readers of Golf Digest, sentence 1 might be perfectly comprehensible; for members of the Democratic National Committee, sentence 5 might be totally familiar.
1. 66-65; 66-66. Turnberry. 77.

2. W: 66-65; N: 66-66. Turnberry, Scotland. 1977.

3. TW.: 66-65; JN.: 66-66. Turnberry, Scotland. The British Open. 1977.

4. Tom Watson, 66-65; Jack Nicklaus, 66-66. Turnberry, Scotland. The British Open. 1977.

5. At Turnberry in Scotland, in 1977, Tom Watson shot final rounds of 65 and 66 to better Jack Nicklaus' rounds of 66 and 66 to win the British Open.
1. There was a U.S. presidential election in 2000; George W. Bush defeated Al Gore and Ralph Nader.

2. In the final Electoral College vote, Bush received 271 votes and Gore received 267; 270 votes are needed to become president.

3. The election results were marked by confusion; in the end, the presidency depended on the results in one state&emdash;Florida&emdash;and it took time to decide who had actually won in Florida.

4. The Supreme Court ruled that the votes in Florida should not be recounted, thus assuring Bush's victory.

5. A majority of Supreme Court justices decided not to recount the votes because they believed that the recount process did not adequately meet the provisional guarantees elaborated by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.