Graphic Organisers (GOs) have been around for quite a while. Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin used them. The opportunity cost of using GOs is small. The rewards (increased engagement, motivation, understanding and better results), are quite simply massive. But are they best used?
Over twenty years ago, I interviewed two young students about the difference GOs had made in their classroom. “Before Miss used maps [GOs] we had to wait,” said one. “Who is we?” I asked. “The class”, they chorused. When asked why they had to wait, one of the boys told me it was because they didn’t know what to do and they had to wait for the teacher to help them. “Or muck about,” the other said. They saw my eyebrows raised. “We don’t do that now,” one said, “there is always one on the board,” said the other. “So what?” I asked. “So when we need help, we just look at the map, and we can see what to do — there’s always one there”. “It’s like a virtual teacher,” said the other, chiming in with a smile.
GOs transform cognition from being something private, transient and abstract into something public, static and concrete. Used as part of direct instruction, interactive teaching and independent learning, they act as an early intervention tool saving you and your students time and effort — and significantly reducing cognitive load along the way. In the video above, I explain how and why this is so.
Once you have watched the video, you may want to take a fresh look at the myriad of teaching techniques on the HOW2 app that includes GOs as part of the teaching sequence. Using GOs will save you time and is possibly the easiest way to make the biggest difference to student outcomes.
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Supporting students with additional needs and those with EAL and poor literacy skills need not be another thing. Better to tweak ‘mainstream’ techniques that benefit all students, including those with additional needs and, at the same time, reduce teacher workloads. Sounds crazy? Read on.