Graphic organizers aren’t new. I’m pretty sure that Ptolemy was using some sort of Venn diagram to explain longitude and latitude. And I’ve seen photos of cave drawings that looked a lot like cause and effect timelines.
They’ve been around a while.
But . . . I still think that we don’t use them enough. The visual and textual combination of a great graphic organizer is the perfect tool for connecting people, places, ideas, and events. We use them to make sense of new information, to show dynamic relationships, and to make connections to prior knowledge. All in a visual format that makes sense to our brains.
And as handy as they are for your mainstream students, think video game power-ups when you use graphic organizers with English Learners (EL) and multilingual students. A power-up gives a gamer extra strength, or a new weapon, more speed, and sometimes just the opposite – the game slows down while your character retains the same speed.
For your kids who are learning English or who might be reading / writing below grade level?
Graphic organizers = video game power-ups
When we integrate graphic organizers into our instructional designs, EL kids get extra power that can help them understand and grasp new ideas . Last week, I got the chance to learn with and from seven other teachers as we shared successful EL teaching strategies. And trust me, the information flow was pretty much one way – from the smart people in the room straight to me. But from that conversation, a few things became clear: Read more
No, I didn’t see it.
So I can’t say with 100% certainty that The Emjoi Movie was as terrible as the critics say it was. But apparently . . . it really was terrible. Not even Patrick Stewart and Sofía Vergara could save it.
But . . . wait for it.
Using emojis as part of your instructional design can help improve student thinking and literacy skills.
I know. I know. You’re thinking that using little graphic images instead of text is no way to teach historical thinking and literacy. And you’d be right. But what if we used little graphic images, great guiding questions, proven historical thinking strategies together with reading and writing activities?
Now I think we’ve got something.
You can get an idea of the potential by taking a look at how Omaha middle school teacher Lance Mosier used emojis to help kids understand what life was like for soldiers fighting in the Civil War. Read more
We all love a good meme. Visual. Easy to understand. And just the right amount of snark.
But can we use them as part of our instructional designs? Or are they just a questionable way to spend way too much time online? Ask me that question five years ago and I probably would have said waste of time. Fun, sure. But a waste of time.
I’m starting to believe the combination of visuals and text needed to create a good meme can be used in a variety of ways.
So . . . today, a few meme / social studies / literacy integration ideas: Read more
I’ve always liked the idea of Likes & Wonders. Asking kids to think about art, for instance. Or during gallery walks of student products.
But I haven’t really thought much about the idea of using the same sort of thinking process during live presentations by students. So yesterday was a new learning experience for me when I got the chance to play a part in PBL guru Ginger Lewman’s two day Passion-Based Learning session.
Ginger was working with a small group of high school teachers, walking through some PBL steps and asking teacher groups to do sample presentations. Along with a few other ESSDACK folks, I sat in on one of the presentations as a “student” listening to the presentation.
And it was cool to see the Likes and Wonders idea applied to student presentations.
We’ve all seen it. A kid or group of kids get up. They do three or four or 15 minutes of a presentation. Chances are, the preso isn’t that good. And the classroom audience is completely disengaged. Kids in the audience have either already presented and don’t care anymore or they’re presenting next and are freaking out.
The whole point here is get kids to think historically and practice literacy skills. So what to do when presentations aren’t that good and the audience is nowhere to be found? Read more
I’ve spent part of the last five weeks learning together with teachers from around the country as part of a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project. Led by folks at Waynesburg University, the focus is on using Library resources in effective ways. It’s been fun hearing from others about how they search for resources, share strategies, and integrate primary sources into the classroom.
On Tuesday, we spent time discussing some of the most effective integration ideas. The Waynesburg TPS office has posted ten of their favorites online, calling them Primary Source Starter Activities. Read more
The reason why the movie Jaws is so incredibly spooky? Because for most of the film, we never really see the main character. Just the scary music and the occasional dorsal fin. We can’t see what’s under the water but we know something’s there.
Something big and hungry.
History is a little like that. It’s easy to see the surface stuff. People, places, dates. But it’s the stuff that our students don’t see that is usually the biggest and most important. Underlying causes. Past events. Hidden connections. All of these contribute to how things happened and continue to happen.
I recently ran across a handy graphic organizer idea that I think can help kids intentionally think about these hidden, under the surface pieces. The Facing History folks have titled this teaching strategy the Iceberg because it can help students organize and make sense of the different factors that lead to particular events. The strategy is also great for training kids to balance informative and literary texts, for building content knowledge, for generating text-based responses, and supporting the use of evidence.
It’s also great for organizing notes as student learn about a period in history, as a review, or as an assessment tool.
And yes. I get it. An Iceberg is only Read more