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Classifying Information

Description 

Classifying and categorizing are basic acts of human cognition: they allow us to notice patterns, to retain and retrieve information, and to store a potentially infinite quantity of information within a finite brain. Through the act of classifying information, students are forming literal physical connections among neurons in their brains, and the creation of these networks allows information to be cognitively stored and accessed more easily. Students need to be skilled at classifying information in order to learn efficiently and effectively. However, while skilled students classify nearly all information automatically, less-skilled students may view many pieces of information as random and arbitrary, and fail to note patterns and logic that connect each piece of information to many others. Explicit instruction in classifying information helps students to structure their thinking and learning, and to identify patterns and categories that are meaningful in and across course subjects and in the world at large.

Benefits 

Classifying information allows students to identify categories, to notice relationships among pieces of information, and to group information in a manner that allows for maximum efficiency in retention and retrieval. By drawing explicit attention to the act of classifying information, students gain metacognitive insight, as well as more conscious awareness of the categories that structure the world.

Content Area Adaptations 

Students should be expected to classify information in all subject areas, since every knowledge base includes a wide variety of facts and details that are grouped in categories. Students benefit equally from explicit classification in all subject areas, particularly when they are studying material that is dense, challenging, or based on a lot of information.

Learning Strategies 

  • Questioning
  • Synthesizing

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Frameworking

“Frameworks” refer to our memories of paradigmatic situations or entities we recall in order to provide a context for new information. For example, a stick figure can help us to organize our information about human anatomy, and knowledge of the democratic process can help us to organize our information about a specific election. Students can...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Topic Equations

In this activity students will explore their own interests and connect those interests to a specific field of study. The purpose of this activity is to help students find the right research topic in an assigned field. It follows an equation: Area of Interest + Area of Study = Research Topic

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Connection Graphic Organizer

This activity provides a highly structured way for students to identify, organize, and process the connections they make with a text. Students are able to recognize and then categorize different types of connections: to their personal experience, to texts, and to the world.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis