So this year Jill and I have made it our goal to utilize a variety of researched brain based learning tools in both of our classes to help students learn and retain as much as possible and we are documenting our results. We are at different schools at different grade levels with different populations of kids so it will be interesting to compare. All the research out there points to visual representations as a powerful learning tool. I've taught my kids that the visuals are the glue that cements the learning in their brains. Here are some good books we are reading on the topic: I really love Thinking Maps as a tool to help students construct meaning in every subject area. We use them in math, reading and the content areas.
I believe in getting the kids involved in the actual construction of as many thinking map posters as possible and if I can make a chart interactive then it is all the better! Here is a great example.
Today we were reviewing our learning on the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome. The Double Bubble is ideal for this type of thinking. I wrote the topics of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome in the main bubbles and then started to hand out minibubbles for students to record information about the civilizations. Then they illustrated their facts. Next came to sorting and classifying of details as either belonging to Greece, Rome or both. As we taped them onto the chart we wrote a G, R, or B on the back of each detail.
I'll remove the minibubbles from the chart and place them along with the big poster in a literacy station for partners to come and work with. It is self checking since we wrote the letters on the backs of the bubbles. This along with extra research books and post it notes will make a great literacy station during guided reading time. Very simple, no fuss and the students created the learning tool. The follow up research makes it differentiated as students are researching answers to their own questions using a wide range of books on different reading levels.
After a while this double bubble will aid us by becoming the prewriting graphic organizer for a paragraph comparing/contrasting the civilizations. Triple bonus!
How about you? What do you think about using graphic organizers in the classroom? I would LOVE to hear what you think!!