What are graphic organizers?
These are templates for students to organise, share and present their ideas. Used throughout all the phases of learning, they are a learning tool that encourages critical thinking and a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of a topic. GroupMap is a flexible graphic organizer maker that lets you set the rules, capture thinking and see results in real time.
Working with space
Graphic organizers provide structure for students to categorise ideas, internalize information and see different points of view. This boosts visual and critical thinking of students. They are used as an instructional strategy to flip the classroom, get students engaged and for teachers to get a picture of how well the class is doing. This makes it ideal for formative assessment.
Student focussed learning
Use the education templates in GroupMap to kick-start a brainstorming session without biasing responses or integrate it as part of delivering your curriculum. The great news is that it’s not limited to any one subject area and can be applied to any topic.
Each graphic organizer targets a style of thinking and so you just select the one that most suits your activity. For example, a simple list making exercise might be good for ranking from top to bottom, but a chart allows people to visually rank ideas relative to each other across two axis.
Here are just a few examples of graphic organizers – Check out others here
Graphic organizers for reading and writing
Find out what students already know about a subject and discuss this with the class. Then ask them to list of what would like to learn. This becomes part of their research plan or informs the preparation of what you deliver in the next lesson. Use dot votes to indicate which ones people are most interested it.
Afterwards, ask students to reflect on the things that they have discovered or learned – giving a thumbs up to ideas you like. See what each student learned as well as what the whole class has accomplished.
Learn a new term
Power up the Frayer model and propose a new term or topic to a class. Students form their own definitions sharing key characteristics, examples and non-examples. (You can change the headings if you want a different focus.)
Ask students to share their responses in pairs and refine their responses. Then bring up the whole of class response and discuss the outcomes.
Want to take it to the next level? Dot vote on the best definitions. Change the visual display in the results to show which statements had the most votes and see what pops up.
Lead a revision topic
Use a mind map template to capture key concepts around a topic. Pin a few topics to get people started or maybe even split the class into groups to work on different aspects of the mind map.
Each person or team’s map will be pulled into one so that you can review the whole class’s map and provide feedback.
Compare and Contrast with a Graphic Organizer
Explore the similarities and differences between two related topics by using the graphic organizer maker. Students can then brainstorm collaboratively with suggestions from their classmates. Encourage them to be selective about key characteristics and differences they add and remove from others.
To encourage deep learning, give a thumbs up for responses that are more insightful or technical as opposed to generalizations. This works well between two closely related things. For example, compare and contrast between a dolphin and a whale.
These are just some of the graphic organizers in lesson plans you can use. Try out some of these other uses in GroupMap education templates. (These are all available when you log in).
List of questions – Create a list and capture questions from students. Ask them to order questions in order or priority so you can answer the top questions first.
Character Map – Explore a character in a novel or film by sharing insights into what he or she felt, did or said and how they were perceived by others.
Rate a response – Ask students to answer 4 questions then give them feedback by rating their responses using a slider.
Why should I use GroupMap?
Give every student a voice – even the shy ones.
Make a map anonymous (or semi-anonymous if you prefer to moderate comments) and encourage those who would otherwise shy away to add their own ideas and have them seen.
Introverted students get time and space to think and can still be part of the whole process. If you vote on ideas, it can be judged on merit… not just the person who spoke the loudest, the longest or the last.
Individual thinking – Collective wisdom
Some of the big problems of group work include group think, anchoring and the lack of seeing other perspectives. You can choose to start with individual brainstorming on the student’s own graphic organizer, then instantly show the class the full results.
This shifts thinking from the “Me” to the “We”. You can facilitate discussions, give feedback, ask students to comment on ideas then use the reports to look at participation.
Less time collating means more time learning
Having results in an instant is already pretty cool. While sticky notes are great, they lack the “smarts” needed to make the actual thinking exercise useful. The time you save photocopying, collating and re-writing means you can get to the stuff that really matters.
Plus it doesn’t hurt that students love the collaborative aspect, being to engage, share and get feedback in real time with others in the class.