Can anybody guess what my New Year’s Resolution is this year? That’s right, I’m finally able to prioritize my blog. It has been a busy few years developing my curriculum on Chez Shepard and now that I’ve completed curricula for levels 1-3, I’m really excited about having more time to work with my virtual colleagues/blog subscribers. I am optimistic that we will now be able to interact more easily in this space. Imagine my dismay when I recently discovered that I had inadvertently disabled comments several months ago! Please accept my apologies if you made a comment that didn’t make it to the page! I think we’re good to go now.
For this first post of 2024, I wanted to chat a bit about graphic organizers, one of my favorite resources to use for interpretive tasks. Here are the reasons why:
- Graphic organizers are low prep. If you find a great authentic resource at the last minute, there’s no need to create a worksheet to go with it, just grab your favorite graphic organizer and make copies.
- Graphic organizers encourage critical thinking. My research on critical thinking skills has introduced me to so many different graphic organizers. I love being able to vary the ones I use so that the students stay engaged as they delve more deeply into the content of a unit.
- Graphic organizers can be used with students of all levels of proficiency. Teachers can scaffold many graphic organizers for Novice students by allowing them to write their responses in English (after reading/listening to the text in French), providing appropriate sentence starters, or encouraging the use of words and phrases rather than complete sentences.
- Graphic organizers are individualized. No two students will ever complete a graphic organizer with the exact same wording, so students will (hopefully!) be discouraged from attempting to copy each other’s responses.
- Graphic organizers facilitate interpersonal communication. When we encourage the students to share and discuss the information they have included in a graphic organizer, we provide an authentic context for interpersonal communication.
But what about the grading?
When I first started using graphic organizers, I incorporated them rather sparingly due to the enormous effort I was putting into grading them. I would create an answer key with what I felt was the ideal response, assign a number of points based on how close the student’s response was to mine, and so on. Please don’t be the old me! The new me would streamline the process by choosing one of the following ways of providing feedback.
- Use a rubric. I have developed so many different rubrics and will undoubtedly keep creating new ones. For graphic organizers, I’d aim for something pretty simple, such as this one.
- Assess students comprehension with an oral or written quiz. It takes no time at all to write 5-10 true/false questions about the text that was interpreted in the graphic organizer. (In fact, it can be done while circulating as the students are working!) The teacher can then read the statements aloud or project them as a quick way to check the students’ comprehension of the text.
- Provide oral feedback during a class or small group discussion of the students’ responses. As I mentioned earlier, I love having the students discuss their graphic organizers after they have completed them. Not only do these conversations provide important practice in interpersonal speaking, they also allow the students to learn from their classmates’ divergent perspectives. As the teacher circulates during these conversations, they can provide feedback by questioning and commenting on the students’ ideas. For Novice students who aren’t yet ready to discuss their ideas in small groups, the teacher might guide a very simplified class discussion by asking students to share their responses and asking simple questions or providing brief comments.
If you have a favorite graphic organizer or tip for other readers, please leave a reply. If you’d like to join my mailing list and receive a free set of graphic organizers, sign up below.