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Using Advance Organizers
The theories and research-backing described in this outline is derived from my notes from chapters 6 & 10 from Classroom Instruction that Works by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock.
- an instructional unit that is used before direct instruction, or before a new topic; this is sometimes called a hook, set induction, or anticipatory set
- popularized by David Ausubel, first in 1968
- introduced in advance of direct instruction
- presented at a higher level of abstraction than the information presented later
- designed to bridge the gap between what the learner already knows and what she needs to know
- use of advance organizers has shown, through several research studies, to improve levels of understanding and recall
- should focus on what is important, and essential
- "higher level" (more abstract) organizers produce deeper learning than "lower level" (more concrete) advanced organizers (analysis, synthesis vs. knowledge, comprehensionsee Bloom's Taxonomy)
- different types of advanced organizers produce different results
- simply describes the new content
- presents new information in a story format
- skimming material before reading can be a powerful organizer
- Graphical Organizers
- effective with all types of organizers: pictographs, descriptive patterns, concept patterns, etc.
- Fluid and Dynamic
- Diagrams can be easily manipulated and updated
- Diagrams can be begun through a teacher template and completed by the student
- Resource Saving
- using a digital medium saves in paper and copier costs
- teachers can review student cues with a computer sometimes easier than using paper
- Organizer can extend into the Direct Instruction
- saved organizers can be used throughout a lesson, or for review at a later time
- Organizer can Adapt Easily into Notetaking and Summarization
- the graphic organizer can serve as a model for later organizational skills students may complete
- Linguistic Form
- most widely used in schools today
- involves writing and speaking
- Nonlinguistic, or "imagery" form
- mental pictures
- physical sensations: smell, taste, touch, sound, kinesthetic associations
- explicitly engaging students in the creation of nonlinguistic representations stimulates and increases activity in the brain
- a variety of activities produce imagery representations:
- creating graphic representations
- making physical models
- generating mental pictures
- drawing pictures and pictographs
- engaging in kinesthetic activities
- Imagery Activities should elaborate on knowledge
- students understand a topic in greater depth
- students can recall information more easily
Graphic Organizers combine the linguistic and non-linguistic modes of information storage
- Descriptive Patterns
- Time-Sequence Patterns
- Process/Cause-Effect Patterns
- Episode Patterns
- Generalization/Principle Patterns
- Concept Patterns
Other Imagery Methods
- Physical Models
- Mental Pictures
- Drawing Pictographs
- Engaged Motion—Kinesthetic Activity
Examples of Graphical and Advance Organizers
The following examples pair an advanced and/or graphical organizer with a Virginia SOL. These are all designed with the following guidelines:
- The activity is not the major focus of the lesson in itself
- If used as an advanced organizer, more abstract concepts have purposely been included.
- A variety of methods can be used to implement advanced and graphical organizers, including computer technology
Resource: Web Link: Energy.gov Kids Zone
Students covering this SOL investigate different types of energy sources, consider renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, and identify uses of energy. A lesson on this topic could involve a visit to the site linked above, where student essays are published on these topics.
The organizer used here is skimming. Students skim the webpage for a limited period of time, then discuss answers to questions in small groups. Questions to consider? "How can we (personally) save energy on a typical school day? Why do we keep using more energy each year? How could we save money at home?
Resource: Teacher-Created AppleWorks Template
Students in Kindergarten must identify the different forms of water: solid, liquid, and gas. The organizer in this case is drawing. The teacher designs a template in AppleWorks drawing mode by creating three Paint areas. Students will use the computer to draw a picture in each area that includes one of the three states of water. Colors around the box are used to identify which state of matter goes where, and a helpful graphic from AppleWorks' clippings was added to give the students some "inspiration."
This activity could also be printed out, and drawing and coloring could take place on paper. The act of drawing is kinesthetic.
SOL 2.8—Social Studies
Resource: Acting Out, iMovie; Play money
Students in the second grade must discriminate between barter exchange and money exchange for goods and services. This organizer is multi-part. First, a teacher might act-out, or role play with a student, a trade for his pencil. Later, when the student needs the pencil, he can "buy" it back from the teacher using play money.
Next, at a different time, students in small groups will act out the differences between exchange through the use of barter and money. Skits will be recorded by the teacher on video tape.
Finally, at a later stage, students will edit the footage of video set up for them on the computer using iMovie. Students can use voice-overs in the editing process to define the difference between bartering and money use. This activity is kinesthetic and involves the manipulation of multimedia (imagery knowledge) to discriminate between the two types of exchange.
The video product may be used in a student portfolio assessment by the instructor, if so desired. A pictograph (as seen above) may be used to show the sequence of events required to produce a video, if so desired.
Resource: Inpsiration or AppleWorks, MS Office
Students in the sixth grade investigate life processes of organisms. This activity encourages students to think abstractly, and would make an excellent advanced organizer after some study of SOL 6.8 had taken place.
This is an adapted Process/Cause-Effect Organizer
Download the Inspiration Template
Three life processes are listed in this diagram, obviously these will be studied this day in class. Without life processes we would die. How do humans adapt when these processes are in jeopardy?
Students will fill-out the "preventions" in the diagram, providing the answers such as "antibiotics, adoption," or "IV fluids." Students can produce this diagram, or complete a teacher-generated template, using a variety of software. Inspiration makes this type of diagramming a breeze. Inspiration also comes with many pre-made graphic organizer templates.
SOL 4.3—English/Language Arts
Resources: Inpsiration or AppleWorks, MS Office
ENG SOL 4.3 requires students to know the differences between synonyms and antonyms and to know what homonyms are. This graphical organizer is a concept pattern organizer.
This graphic organizer can be used in many different ways—as an informal assessment tool, as a cue tool, as an advance organizer, or a collaborative activity. Concept Pattern Organizers begin with a concept in the center (synonyms and antonyms). Characteristics branch-away from the main concept. Under each characteristic (in this case, a definition), examples branch away. Students may fill in any number of parts on this diagram, or, fit the words into a diagram themselves.
The use of more abstact pairs here (terrible, wonderful; serious, silly) qualifies this as an advance organizer.
- Drawing and Painting
- Outline Mode
- Diagram Mode
- Manipulation of Digital Pictures and Digital Video
- Filming of Digital Video
- Kinesthetic Activities Captured
- Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
- Organizational Charts
- Drawing Tools
- Internet and Web-Formatted Media
- Quicktime Streaming Video
- Teacher-Supplied Web Documents
- Information Gathering for Advanced Organizers (charts, skimming)
- Write Design Online Website
- Teach-o-logy Website
- California SCORE Graphic Organizers
- PS Print's Collection of Graphic Organizer Templates