“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 learn consciously to recall and strategically use frameworks to structure and further their new learning. In this activity, students are guided to identify the framework that would be most useful for learning new content, and then they use this framework to organize the novel information.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Metacognition
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing
Classifying Information

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Metacognition
  • Staircase of Complexity


Identify the text or presentation for which you would like students to use this strategy. You should pick something that is new, but for which students have adequate background knowledge. Identify the big core concept that can organize most of the new information. This is the framework. For example, basic sentence structure might be the framework for learning a new verb declension in Latin, and several principles of logic might be the framework for learning a new type of proof in mathematics. As mentioned above, a stick figure might be the framework to learn human anatomy, or knowledge of the democratic process might be the framework for learning about a specific election. Prepare a graphic organizer specific to the chosen framework that will allow students to organize new information in a manner visually and conceptually represented by the framework.

Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher asks students what they know about the framework concept. Students generate a list of ideas.

    The goal here is to activate and prime the students’ own conceptual frameworks so that they are prepared to use them to assimilate the new information.

  2. Teacher distributes the graphic organizer based on the framework and students discuss it to make sure they understand its structure, if necessary.

    Some frameworks might be associated with very intuitive graphic organizers, others might need more explanation. Make sure students are totally clear on the concepts of the framework as well as the visual representation.

  3. Students read the new text or watch/listen to the presentation, in groups or individually. Students identify key ideas from the new content.

    Students may want to highlight or otherwise mark main ideas or key information as they are reading or watching. You can circulate during this time and confer with students about their thought process and understanding of the text or presentation.

  4. Alone or in groups, students organize identified key ideas using the framework graphic organizers. They write the new ideas on the graphic organizers.

    During this time you can confer with students to assess their thinking and push their ideas a little further. Ask them how they made choices about placement of items on the graphic organizer.

  5. Teacher leads group in discussion about the main ideas students took away from the text or presentation, and how these ideas fit into the organizing framework.

    During this discussion you want to make sure that students arrived at the anticipated conclusions, correctly assimilating the main ideas into the frameworks.

  6. Alone or in groups, in writing or in conversation, students reflect on their learning process. Remind students that the point of this lesson was to learn to use and develop frameworks to help them assimilate new information. This activity may have to be

    Students respond to questions including: · How does using a framework affect your understanding of new information? · How could you find a framework to use on your own? · How could you use a framework to study for a test? · In what other situations might this strategy be useful?

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