Vol 7|No 2|October|1997


A Picture is Worth . . .

a Thousand Words:

Graphical Organizers as Thinking Technology

by Jamie McKenzie




Why Graphical Organizers?

Graphical Organizers convert complex and messy information collections into meaningful displays.

They compress.
They focus.
They make interpretation, understanding and insight much easier.

Graphical Organizers help keep students plan their research forays.

They guide the gathering.
They focus purpose.
They show what is gained.
They show what is still missing.

Graphical Organizers sometimes act like mind maps.

They point to the destination.
They identify related sites and sights.

Take this example . . .

Research for Choice Grid

Which poet had the greatest impact on American literature? 
 Readership Today
Influence on Writers
Impact on Form 
 Emily Dickinson


 Langston Hughes


 Robert Frost



In order to decide which poet had the greatest impact, the student must gather information about all three poets (with the choices being listed in the first column).

But the information must be pertinent. It must relate to the criteria which are listed across the top of the next three columns. The grid becomes a note-taking device to organize the evidence collected by the researcher.

As outlined in this month's article on questioning, deciding "Which is best?" requires that students compare and contrast choices based on sound evidence and clear criteria. The graphical organizer - in this case the grid - makes the thought process explicit and helps keep students on track. If there are any empty boxes, they simply call for further research.

Take a look at a half dozen more examples . . .



 Announcing the Graphic Organizer Home Page

  For teachers who wish to learn more about powerful strategies to employ Graphic Organizers in their teaching, this new Web site is the single most comprehensive site on the Net. Check it out at http://www.graphic.org/

The Graphical Organizer Home Page is provided by Greg Freeman.

  Greg Freeman has worked collaboratively with prominent leaders in the areas of technology and strategic planning in a nationally recognized school district. He is currently on leave from the Bellingham School District and has moved to Bend, Oregon to expand his staff development and consultant services. A former principal, teacher, grants manager, presenter and trainer, he brings with him an extensive background and demonstrated ability to develop and manage dynamic systems change with a strong emphasis on communication and technology integration.