Las Virgenes Unified School District | | (818)-878-5219



The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into useable knowledge. Decades of cognitive science research have demonstrated that the capability to transform accessible information into useable knowledge is not a passive process but an active one. Constructing useable knowledge, knowledge that is accessible for future decision-making, depends not upon merely perceiving information, but upon active “information processing skills” like selective attending, integrating new information with prior knowledge, strategic categorization, and active memorization. Individuals differ greatly in their skills in information processing and in their access to prior knowledge through which they can assimilate new information. Proper design and presentation of information – the responsibility of any curriculum or instructional methodology - can provide the scaffolds necessary to ensure that all learners have access to knowledge.

How To:
  • Anchor instruction by linking to and activating relevant prior knowledge (e.g., using visual imagery, concept anchoring, or concept mastery routines)

  • Use advanced organizers (e.g., KWL methods, concept maps)

  • Pre-teach critical prerequisite concepts through demonstration or models

  • Bridge concepts with relevant analogies and metaphors

  • Make explicit cross-curricular connections (e.g., teaching literacy strategies in the social studies classroom)

  • Highlight or emphasize key elements in text, graphics, diagrams, formulas 

  • Use outlines, graphic organizers, unit organizer routines, concept organizer routines, and concept mastery routines to emphasize key ideas and relationships  

  • Use multiple examples and non-examples to emphasize critical features 

  • Use cues and prompts to draw attention to critical features

  • Highlight previously learned skills that can be used to solve unfamiliar problems

  • Give explicit prompts for each step in a sequential process

  • Provide options for organizational methods and approaches (tables and algorithms for processing mathematical operations)

  • Provide interactive models that guide exploration and new understandings

  • Introduce graduated scaffolds that support information processing strategies

  • Provide multiple entry points to a lesson and optional pathways through content (e.g., exploring big ideas through dramatic works, arts and literature, film and media)

  • “Chunk” information into smaller elements

  • Progressively release information (e.g., sequential highlighting)

  • Remove unnecessary distractions unless they are essential to the instructional goal 

  • Provide checklists, organizers, sticky notes, electronic reminders

  • Prompt the use of mnemonic strategies and devices (e.g., visual imagery, paraphrasing strategies, method of loci, etc.)

  • Incorporate explicit opportunities for review and practice

  • Provide templates, graphic organizers, concept maps to support note-taking

  • Provide scaffolds that connect new information to prior knowledge (e.g., word webs, half-full concept maps)

  • Embed new ideas in familiar ideas and contexts (e.g., use of analogy, metaphor, drama, music, film, etc.)

  • Provide explicit, supported opportunities to generalize learning to new situations (e.g., different types of problems that can be solved with linear equations, using physics principles to build a playground)

  • Offer opportunities over time to revisit key ideas and linkages between ideas

Academic Tier I