Graphic organizers are an amazing tool. They help students organize thinking and make connections in an easier way, and there seems to be an infinite supply of them. Here is just one web site with a large list of graphic organizers so, organizing the graphic organizers is sometimes that biggest challenge of all! Organizing them is important though. For myself, better organization would lead to using a bigger variety of graphic organizers rather than sticking with a few standard favorites.
On the Smart Board, I open the Graphic Organizers Application to display a slide show of organizers. There's a great variety of examples to review with the kids in anticipation of the main activity. My objective for this warm up is to get the kids thinking about why we use different kinds of organizational techniques- because the graphic organizer must be suited to the type of data that's being put into order. I select an example and ask the kids, "Who can give me a scenario in which this organizer would be the best choice?" I use the slide, Comparing and Contrasting, in part because they will do this type in the next section (although it's an easier version than the one on the Smart Board.)
Contributing as a class, they fill out the graphic organizer with the information given. (We contrasted Cats against Dogs) Student Using Graphic Organizer on Smart Board. I ask if they would be able to put a different type of topic into the same spaces such as the steps to ordering something off a menu. Compare and Contrast was generally decided to be a "one of a kind" purposeful organizer. If you're specifically doing a comparison, it's not possible to fit a different kind of topic in that scenario.
In the Warm Up the students had the opportunity to view a graphic organizer and fill out appropriate information. Graphic organizers help students organize their thinking and they are a scaffold for students to use until they're able to organize their thinking without one. With the next activity, they will be given six different scenarios and five different graphic organizers (Chronological order is used twice.) They must read the informational text to determine which graphic organizer they will use to effectively plug in the information.
I was thrilled to come across this wonderful resource, Identifying Text Structure, from e-reading worksheets. The informational text is challenging, but not too overwhelming, and the students are given the various graphic organizers on one page so they can compare one against another and make suitable judgments about which information belongs in which organizer.
An answer key is included, but it's not of the graphic organizers, it's the scenarios page and the type of graphic organizer is noted next to it. It took me a little longer than I'd like to admit to figure this out....we went over the answers and some students gave reasoning about why certain scenarios could fit into more than one organizer.
The kids now create a graphic organizer using the following text about grammar. I chose to use a basic informational paragraph that included groups. I could have just as easily picked an informational paragraph about the continents or planets, etc. The point was to give the kids choice in how they'd organize a set of information.
All the words in our language have been divided into eight groups. These groups are called the parts of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, interjection, conjunction. Each part of speech includes words that are used in the same way in a sentence. With this information, you should be ready to learn more about the words in our language.
They may pick any of the organizers they used in the activity, use a Thinking Map, or create their own way to organize the information. This doesn't have to be a beautiful, colored creation, just jotted down at the bottom of the worksheet. Because everyone is using the same scenario, it's easy for me to determine their level of understanding.
I was very proud of their efforts, and enjoyed seeing so many variations of organizing the material. Volunteers held up their paper and explained the type of organizer they used. The same phrase was muttered more than once- along the lines of, "This is SO much better than the other thing!" and "I like picking my own graphic organizer way more!" It makes sense that you put your information into a graphic organizer of your own making or choosing since our brains have different ways of expressing how information is taken in.