Archive for the 'Graphic Organizer' Category

Graphic Organizer and Student Writing

This semester has reaffirmed that students who complete a graphic organizer are better essay writers. They have pre-organized their ideas and many even do a quick check to verify that everything fits where it should and there are no duplicates of the same idea. They are not “winging” it. When students write down random ideas and call it an outline, their writing gets very random.
Next semester, I am going to go even heavier on the graphic organizer. I will only accept their essays if they have completed their thesis statement, three pieces of evidence and the supporting details on their graphic organizer. For some writing assignments, I have elongated a graphic organizer to cover two pages so that they do not run out of writing space. Most of the students who had learning gaps this semester had thinking learning gaps; they did not have enough evidence or they did not have details to support their thesis. Some students had grammar learning gaps but even then I could understand their ideas or lack of ideas.

I want to reduce their revisions or rather make their revisions to change from being proficient to above proficient instead of going from below proficient to barely proficient. I hope to raise the bar for them.

Student Checkpoints: Great for Diagnosis and Feedback

My college students are starting the research paper phase of the writing course. I have built in many checkpoints for the first few classes. They are to show me their thesis that they could select from a page and a half listing or make up their own. I helped about 25% complete or modify their thesis. Many selected the questions such as “Should the government provide child day care centers for working parents?” but they did not put in their position such as “The government should provide child day care centers for working parents”.

Next I asked them to complete a graphic organizer of what they think the possible supporting topics are and to show it to me. About 20% have put down topics that do not support the thesis but are a variation on the topic. In fact, they modify their thesis after re-examining their topics. One student has “Gays should be admitted into the military” but for his topics he has “distinguished military record”, “daily duties”, “friendships”, and “advancement”. He modifies his thesis to “Gays deserve equal treatment in the military”

The more times we build in checkpoints, the more we can diagnose and give formative feedback to our students.

How many checkpoints do you have in the unit you are presently teaching?

Graphic Organizers/Concept Maps – Limiting or Encouraging Thinking?

I made a concept map that I thought would help the students in their writing. As I observed the students, I realized that my concept map actually stopped their thinking. When students have a paper concept map, they stop when all the bubbles, boxes, or lines are filled in. When they have an online one with bubbles, boxes or lines, they do the same. They fill in the bubbles, boxes or lines and they stop thinking. However, often these concept maps are just the start of the students’ thinking about the topic. The concept maps are more like a writing prompt than the actual writing.

I realize that my concept map did not have enough boxes, bubbles or lines to guide the students to explore the writing topic more thoroughly. Likewise the boxes, bubbles or lines were too small. Once the students have written something that fills the boxes, bubbles, or lines, they stop writing. The boxes, bubbles or lines confine the students.

Cause Effect concept map

This concept map needs to be extended to include the three major examples and the details that the students will use to prove each cause or effect. The concept map will double in size. In addition, if I am using a paper version, I will stretch it out to be a full page so that the students have plenty of writing space. Bigger spaces equals more room for thinking.

What do your concept maps look like? Do they encourage additional thinking or do they stop the students’ thinking?


RSS Education with Technology

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