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
Just finished a great two days with Rich Cairn from the Collaborative for Educational Services. Together with a small group of middle and high school teachers, we spent the time working to figure out effective ways to engage English Language Learners with social studies inquiry methods. Rich is in charge of Emerging America, a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources project.
Part of what he does is to help teachers across Massachusetts – and now Kansas – use Library of Congress resources to make inquiry learning accessible to all learners. During our time together, we addressed a wide variety of topics – challenges faced by English Language Learners, challenges faced by teachers of EL students, ways to use graphic organizers to support language acquisition, using the LOC website, researching the history of immigration policies and court cases, and generally have an awesome time.
A small part of our conversation focused on the use of essential and compelling questions. Here in Kansas, we’ve been pushing compelling questions for a while. They play an important part in our current standards and are the key to a great inquiry-based lesson.
Question. Evidence. Solution. Communicate the solution. It all starts with a great problem to solve.
And during our conversation Rich shared a sweet definition of what a great historical inquiry-based question should look like in that process. He was happy to share it.
So . . . if you’re looking for a list of characteristics of what a compelling / essential / overarching / inquiry-based question should look like, here ya go: Read more
My kids love it whenever they get the chance to use technology as part of the writing process. My job is to make sure that the tech use is meaningful and purposeful – when used correctly technology can help enhance and transform my lessons, provide real-world activities, and increase student engagement.
Jill Weber, Cheney Middle School
We all strive to develop students with the skills necessary to be successful after high school graduation. And national and local standards provide us with documents packed full of suggested benchmarks and commendable expectations.
The Common Core ELA writing standards encourage students to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.” The National Council for the Social Studies urges us to find ways for our kids to “take informed action” based on what they have learned.
What teacher doesn’t want that for their students?
We all want our students to write more. To develop solutions to authentic problems. To spread their voices beyond the classroom. But it can be difficult for classroom teachers to have a clear vision of what that might look like in actual practice.
The good news is that there is an abundance of multimedia resources available that support the creation and sharing of student storytelling products.
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 know the story. A group of guys from different parts of the country with different ideas of how to govern got together and came up with a pretty amazing document. It’s a great story with a pretty amazing cast. (I’m looking at you #Hamilton.) And we all have our favorite actors in that story. My fave?
He’s kind of like the sleeper pick in your fantasy football league – everyone knows he’s out there but they ignore him because all the focus is on Jefferson or Madison or one of the other first rounders. But you draft him anyway cause you know he’s got the skills.
Ben was smart, irreverent, great with people, well-read, the ladies loved him, he had that whole kite / electricity / scientist thing working, and was by far the best part of 1776 and John Adams. What’s not to love?
And so it’s fun to go back and read some of what Ben had to say about the document he was preparing to sign in 1787: Read more