thinking about graphic organizers [draft]

There’s an elegance in designing [scaffolds/activities/heuristics]

Let’s take graphic organizers and conversation [structures(formats?)].

Graphic organizers come in all sorts and shapes and help sort, chunk, sequence, and relate ideas and bits of information to each other. They are usually for individual use. However, the focus is often on the graphic organizer for its own sake, instead of articulating what the graphic organizer helps facilitate.

A Venn diagram is helpful for parsing two different points of view, and works best when those are of the same scale (character-character, concept-concept, etc).

A “Relevance Rainbow” (see below) helps a student take a quotation, make connections to the character, then how that moment matters in the book, and how that moment could relate to the world beyond. It’s hard to make the quote-life connection immediately, and this organizer also helps

“Thesis Vine” helps students collect pertinent summarization information “who / what / where / when” and then asks for three “why”

The Thesis Vine pairs well with “Seven Steps to a Thesis” which is really just revising a sentence seven times, but being intentional about what you focus on in each iteration. It’s important to give a draft a chance, instead of start/stopping because it isn’t “right yet.” In that way, this process makes it ok for students not to have a “good” thesis yet, because it welcomes the space to draft (and re-draft) bad ones.

————- other thoughts ————–

When I think about designing instruction, I think about what

Recognize that there are multiple, and often competing, purposes in any situation. “Best” for what, who, and why?

“Tool” can also be defined as a device, as a platform, as a social process that helps accomplish a goal.

Teachers choose tools every day as they structure activities, hand out

are gatekeepers and architects of classroom

If we think about scales in a classroom, we can be fine-grained (content), broad (thematic), or side-step and facilitate (architects).

This also comes up in ways we structure groups. Think about the way a faculty meeting, or a traditional lecture is set up – participants are expected to participate by passively listening. In a “fishbowl” activity, the inner circle discusses a topic, and the outer circle observes them, sometimes with designated roles. Participation is differentiated, but still often teacher-defined. In an EdCafe, the structure calls for an individual leading a group, and

Paying attention to structure helps pay attention to intentions, and rests more of the “doing” on the participants.

Thinking about tools and what they make easy helps clarify what our purposes are for that tool.

I’ve been doing some recent thinking about the interplay between tools and how they “make easy” certain kinds of activities.

– graphic novels

– purpose driving activity


One thought on “thinking about graphic organizers [draft]

  1. uiwpwendy

    “It’s hard to make the quote-life connection immediately, and this organizer also helps”– Thanks for reporting the information about the relevance rainbow. I know you tried to get it through to me twice today, but reading it here made it perfectly clear. I think that you were sharing so much brilliance that I had trouble zooming in to get it to work for me.

    Why can’t we post an image in the comment section, WordPress Designers? (I finally completed my rainbow!)

    There may be as much nobility in being last as in being first, because the two positions are equally necessary in the world, the one to complement the other.
    -Jose Ortega Y Gasset


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