“The use of graphic organizers,” says the El Campo ISD’s Intervention Warehouse website, “is a powerful tool that is easy to integrate into daily instruction.” The ECISD site then goes on to share access to several sources for graphic organizers for visualizing learning.
As a writer, I often skipped “outlining” and note-taking as ways to organize my writing and notes. Instead, I created graphic organizers to capture ideas and map out my writing. When taking notes, I captured powerful research concepts using a graphic organizer rather than laboriously writing out page after page of notes This approach helped me build a gestalt of the ideas presented.
|yED Graph Editor|
The Problem with Graphic Organizers
Imagine that when someone says to you, “Could you read this technical text and summarize it?” you could ask yourself, “Well, which graphic organizer should I select?” Then, after some deliberation, you would pick the appropriate graphic organizer and use that one. You wouldn’t be limited to the default spider web graphic organizer with a main concept in the middle.
Instead, you would just use the right one for each task. Unfortunately, that has always been my problem with graphic organizers. Although I know there are different types (e.g. Problem-Solution, Fishbone, Time Order, etc.) for various functions, I never knew which one to rely on when I was growing up. To this day, I still rely on the easiest graphic organizer, the spider web with main topic in the middle and ideas radiating out from the center. Drawing graphic organizers by hand, though, can be cumbersome since mistakes are tough to correct.
Solutions for Visualizing Our Learning
“To know” goes the old constructivist saying, “is to know how to make.” When teachers pre-print graphic organizers for their students, they inadvertently do several negative things. Those things include:
Obviously, if students have less of a say in exactly what graphic organizer to use and when, their long-term use of this tool may suffer. This is because graphic organizers are visual representations of what we store in our brains. This can lead to challenges in comprehension. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it? That’s why it is so important to get students to create their own graphic organizers.
Let’s explore three tools you can use to create graphic organizers via digital devices.
Hand-Drawn Graphic Organizers with OneNote
If you’re not familiar with OneNote, it is a phenomenal mobile app that makes digital ink a reality for those with touch-screen computers or Surface Pro/Android/iPad tablets. With digital ink (that is the ability to draw on the tablet screen with a stylus or fingertip), students are able to finally create graphic organizers that are representative of their own visualizations.
If you have access to a Windows, Mac, or Chromebook, then tools abound for creating graphic organizers. Here are my top two favorite no-cost (free!) tools, but there are many more available, also known as “mind-mapping tools.”
I still remember my first copy of Inspiration graphic organizer software. I was amazed at what I could create to represent my understanding of a process, a concept, or a text. Learning how to use graphic organizers, short of learning to read/write and use technology, remains one of the best lessons my high school teacher taught me. How are you teaching your students to use graphic organizers?
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure