Graphic organizers actually have the power and potential to enhance the learning ability of students in all age groups. Because the use of visual learning tools is becoming widespread, the introduction of graphic organizers from an early age has been pushed as a means of facilitating familiarity with these extremely effective tools as early as possible.
Graphic organizers aid in learning across all subjects by nature, and the processes involved with them are actually applicable in a myriad of different uses. However, the true effectiveness of these graphic organizers actually lies in the ability of the teachers, as it is their responsibility to show students how to efficiently make use of them.
When used in effective ways, graphic organizers have a great amount of potential for fostering learning in a variety of different areas in education. The most prevalent educational areas that are positively affected by the effectiveness of graphic organizers are comprehension, reading and vocabulary knowledge. A number of studies have been conducted that indicate that graphic organizers have the ability to improve reading and vocabulary knowledge and understanding exponentially.
This is because the child is not only being required to read a bunch of words, but instead is being allowed to learn the importance or lack of importance of these words in order to attain increased clarity about them.
Through the use of graphic organizers, students are able to gain a better understanding of the underlying concepts that can be found within what is being read, allowing them to isolate text that is not important to their learning. This will allow the student to determine main ideas so that they can build entire stories from their reading. Through this process, the reading and writing skills for the student will be boosted, and writing applications like essays will improve over time.
Graphic organizers can be used to allow students to structure the most essential ideas while simultaneously removing any non-essential ideas from the playing field. Both comprehension skills and vocabulary knowledge have also been proven to increase at a significant rate after using these powerful tools for visual learning.
At the most basic level, graphic organizers can allow young children drill down concepts in order to develop better communication skills. Through graphic organizers they will learn how to better organize their ideas so that they make break them down for better clarity. Teachers can make use of analogy as a way to let students compare concepts.
Teachers should make a point to encourage their students to compare concepts that they are already very familiar with, so that better learning can be facilitated more easily. A great way to monitor reading skills is to keep track of the reading progress for each child using charting methods so that ineffective strategies may be monitored for.
As children grow older, it would be wise to introduce them to a myriad of different sequencing tools that will allow him or her to separate stories into beginnings, middles and endings. This will allow students to write in such a way that they address the main questions to enhance reading and comprehension skills. Addressing the 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when', 'why' and 'how' of a story will allow students to break the story down. Another method of breaking a story down involves five components: the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and then the resolution to the story.
Learning tools can be applied as the student continues on through higher grades, as a means to help him or her better understand mathematical and scientific concepts, as well as problem solving and outlining skills as well. In grades four, five and six, students should be encouraged to review antonyms and synonyms while simultaneously brainstorming for their own creative ideas. At this point students should be familiar with how graphic organizers are used in order to construct stories with definite ideas, and beginning, middle and ending sections as well. At this point, the student should be able to construct five sentence paragraphs, and five paragraph stories.
In middle school aged children, graphic organizers can be effectively used as a means of constructing story pyramids. These story pyramids will help to define main characters, main events and main settings for stories. This stage is also used to strengthen the reading and vocabulary skills for each student, and students should be encouraged to practice journalistic writing by putting a specific idea and purpose behind every story that they write. This process will continue well into high school, using concept-mapping techniques to deal with feeling words. Concept mapping is also used to compare and contrast a variety of concepts as well.
Although graphic organizers have proven to be extremely beneficial over all age groups, recently studies have begun to indicate that these tools and techniques are more effective in the high school setting than for elementary stages. Still, the process of using graphic organizers for increased learning should begin when students are young, and should continue to develop their learning skills for as long as possible.
Examples that outline inefficiencies in graphic organizers generally point to inadequacies in teacher instruction as the main cause of failure. An effective teacher-led instruction model should include instructions that are explicit and detailed, and that can let students practice independently while still receiving feedback when it is needed. The teacher should make a point to establish a specific purpose that the graphic organizer is being used for.
It is necessary to combine these three elements; instruction from the teacher, independent practice by the students, and feedback from the teacher are all linked together. What this means is that if a failure exists at any one of these points, using the tools will no longer be effective on any level or for any involved party.
In order to maximize the potential benefits of the use of graphic organizers, instructors should articulate the relationships that exist between concepts outlined in the organizer, should encourage students to contribute their ideas, and should establish a connection between currently learned material, and past learning.