organizer is a visual display that is used to depict the relationships
betweens facts, terms and/or ideas within a learning task. They
form a powerful visual picture of the information and this allows
the mind to discover patterns and relationships it otherwise may
have missed. It uses visual symbols to convey meaning. Its purpose
is to facilitate learning by presenting the most complete picture
of all the available facts and the potential relationships that
could develop among them.
organizers can be constructed with a number of different structures
or designs. They are called by different names such as knowledge
maps, concept maps, story maps, cognitive organizers or concept
diagrams. One of these organizers can make a curriculum more supportive
of students and teachers as it allows them to actually see rather
than have to imagine the possibilities contained within.
Time management is crucial to getting tasks accomplished and
graphic organizers are well suited for arranging schedules and
timelines. One particular type of concept map is called the "Series
of Events" and is particularly good for setting up steps or stages
to be completed. A calendar is actually a graphic organizer, perhaps
the original. There are many different diagrams and arrangements,
some more suitable for certain projects than others. For instance,
there is a cycle map with no absolute beginning or discernible
end. When the information needs to be organized as a hierarchical
set a Thematic or Descriptive Map works well. It can hold as much
or as little generic information as necessary. A hierarchical
set with super-ordinate or subordinate elements is perfect for
a Network Tree. If there is no hierarchy, a Spider Map works well.
These organizers can make assignments easier for students, first
by giving them a lot of information to work with, then by narrowing
the focus. The student can then eliminate non-essential elements
of the map, leaving key facts to be incorporated into the assignment.
It allows the student to structure the paper with the help of
Young children can use graphic organizers to better understand
how their ideas can be broken down and organized for easier communication.
Teachers can use the concept maps to make comparisons of familiar
concepts with ones that are new, giving the children a reference
they can relate to. Teachers can keep a chart of a student's reading
progress, discovering at a glance which strategies are working
and which are not.
As the student becomes able to fill in his own chart with tools
that him with his writing skills. The teacher can print an organizer
with the goal of sequencing and the student can fill in the blanks
with his story ideas. Another chart may break down into narrative
story components or expository structure. Again, the spaces are
left blank for the student to complete with his ideas.
In even later grades, a student can be given an assignment asking
her for brainstorming on verb types or parts of speech. She can
fill up the page with her own ideas and "clean it up" as she goes.
Students can also use these organizers to compare and contrast
study techniques to help them decide which one would be the most
effective. Perhaps for a reading assignment in a textbook, the
PQRST (preview, question, read, study, test) would be best, but
in reading narrative, a different technique would not be as interruptive,
thereby making the reading more enjoyable.
Concept mapping is an especially effective tool for older students
as it gives them freedom to brainstorm and then it forces them
to go back and make decisions. They can actually see all of the
choices available and choose the best ones. Graphic
organizers clear out the clutter and effective use can result
in cleaner, more readable writing.