Thursday, February 3, 2011

Graphic organizers - a cheat sheet for parents

As a follow up to my post on the middle school character cluster assignment, I thought I would share a cheat sheet for parents who might be faced with trying to understand the latest graphic organizer (aka concept map) that their children bring home from school

So many choices
Graphic organizers (some of which are also called concept maps, entity relationship charts, and mind maps) are a pictorial way of constructing knowledge and organizing information. They help the student convert and compress a lot of seemingly disjointed information into a structured, simple-to-read, graphic display. The resulting visual display conveys complex information in a simple-to-understand manner. 

Or so they say.  Keep in mind that research tells us that taking a test is superior to using a graphic organizer / concept map for retaining information.  Still, educators continue to use these graphic tools.
[Concept mapping]  — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.
These other methods not only are popular, the researchers reported; they also seem to give students the illusion that they know material better than they do.
And there are so many intriguing choices - Star, Spider, Fishbone, Cloud/Cluster, Tree, Chain of Events, Continuum/Timeline, Clock, Cycle of Events, Flowchart, Venn Diagram, Chart/Matrix Diagram, Y-Chart and many more.  Not to worry, though.  There is even a graphic organizer that helps you choose the right graphic organizer.


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