Options graphic organizer

Options graphic organizer

Pingback: Reaching Complex Thinking in Argumentative Writing: The Pitfalls of Creating Prompts and Using Evidence | Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

Disease Graphic Organizer - Google Docs

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Policy Options Graphic Organizer - Google Docs

To sum up, when used without clarity of purpose and high expectations for quality and rigor, graphic organizers can morph into weak proxies for writing that bore and frustrate students and give rise to misunderstanding or over-simplification. When implemented productively and flexibly, they can support students’ development of higher-order thinking, effective writing processes and strategies, and high-quality texts.

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Similar episodes occur regularly in classrooms across grade levels when, for example, students rotely fill in bubbles on a mind map, randomly insert events into a plot diagram, or produce a formulaic essay by thoughtlessly transferring notes from a text organizer. I suspect that, in most cases, the problem doesn’t lie with the graphic organizer itself or with the students or the teacher. Rather, the critical element is how the tool is used. The following suggestions can help educators avoid the pitfalls of graphic organizers and improve the quality of thinking and writing of the students who use them.

Students were instructed to fill in the organizer using a quotation from an article reporting a scientific study that explored how advertisements influence children’s food choices. Ryan, a highly capable seventh-grader, had read the article and when I asked him to tell me about it, he was able to articulately summarize the main points and identify the article’s central argument. However, instead of complying with the directions on the organizer, he simply wrote, “Just ask me” and “What she said,” one word strategically placed in each portion of the sandwich. A student who had moments before demonstrated the ability to comprehend and analyze a research report shut down in the face of a well-intended instructional support. His quick dismissal of the organizer suggested that he viewed it as undesirable busywork.

Katherine S. McKnight, ., has been an educator for over 75 years. A former high school English teacher, she currently works as associate professor of Secondary Education at National-Louis University. She also trains educators regularly as a professional development consultant for the National Council of Teachers of English, and presents at educational conferences. She is the coauthor of The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom, Teaching the Classics in the Inclusive Classroom, and Teaching Writing in the Inclusive Classroom.

Just the other day while I was observing a 7th grade English class, I was reminded of what can go wrong with graphic organizers. In preparation for writing an argumentative essay supported by evidence from outside resources, the teacher showed students how to “sandwich” a quotation from an article. “Good writers introduce and explain their quotations,” she explained. She then projected a graphic organizer portrayed as a sandwich with each part of the sandwich representing how to frame text evidence.

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