Strategic Integration

For new information to be understood and applied, it should be carefully combined (strategically integrated) with what the learner already knows and understands to produce a more generalizable, higher-order skill. Integrating new information with existing knowledge increases the likelihood that new information will be understood at a deeper level.

But it must be done strategically and the critical connections made clear so that the new information does not become confused with what the learner already knows.

For example, in teaching students how to compose narratives, a teacher can move from activities based on reading comprehension, such as identification and application of narrative elements (e.g., setting, main characters, initiating event, resolution to the problem), to generation of those elements. Similarly, in beginning reading, once learners can hear sounds in words and recognize letter-sound correspondences fluently, those skills can be integrated to recognize words. These powerful and oftentimes logical connections comprise strategic integration.

Strategic integration is the carefully controlled combination of what the student already knows with what he or she has to learn so that the relationship between these two elements is clear and results in new or more complete knowledge.

Examples of strategic integration include:

  • Using text structure to enhance reading comprehension and then as a basis for narrative writing.
  • Integrating letter-sound correspondence knowledge to form words.
  • Using the strategy for solving proportions as a basis for word problem solving.

Evaluative Questions

  1. Does the lesson make explicit the connections between prior learning and new skills?
  2. Where appropriate, does the lesson explain the relationship among its components/parts?
  3. Does the lesson result in the learner being able to demonstrate a higher-order concept/strategy based on integration of prior learning and new learning?
  4. Identify the modifications necessary to accommodate the full range of learners.
    • Make explicit the connections between prior learning and new learning.
    • Make explicit the connections between the components within a lesson.
    • Indicate how the new objective results in a higher-order skill or strategy.
*Excerpted from Toward Successful Inclusion of Students with Disabilities: The Architecture of Instruction by Edward J. Kameenui, and Deborah Simmons(1999).

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