Which Graphic Organizer Should I Choose?
If using a text, determine the text structure (organization of text).
- Select an organizer that best fits the text structure. (To do this, ask: What's the big idea? WHat language and vocabulary are needed to talk or write about the big idea? What is teh structure of the text?)
- Use the graphic organizer to teach a major concept.
- Point out the key language (functional and content related)
- Model, co-construct, and/or have students construct g.o.'s
- Students should then write using the g.o. they created.
Supporting ELs with G.O.'s by using Sentence Stems
Using sentence stems and transition words helps make the transfer from graphic organizer to writing extremely explicit. Please view the transition word list from ReadingRockets for ideas on creating appropriate sentence stems. ALso, by having students search for these words when reading can help students decide what organization the other chose for the fictional/non-fiction text.
Visual Graphic Organizers/Storyboards
When organizing fictional or nonfictional ideas, try using pictures instead of words. Students can take pictures of a field trip or school event and use the images to organize a retell, just as if they were creating a semantic web.
The pictures ease anxiety over writing, stimulating rich conversation before writing occurs.
Try using science vocabulary cards with images, social studies images, photocopied pictures of a picture book...
There are many photo-journals on a variety of subjects that teachers can introduce as mentor texts.
Pictures make the act of organizing main ideas explicit. You can focus writing and picture sorts sequentially or in a descriptive manner (classifying, storyboard style...)...
SOMEONE/ WANTS/ BUT/ SO
This story map helps students retell a fictional story based on characters.
For example, in small groups, children are asked to use this story map to retell the story Jack and the Beanstalk according to the giant's perspective. The students could write:
The giant/ wanted to catch Jack (because he stole his golden harp)/ but Jack chopped down the beanstalk/ so he fell to his death.
Have other groups working on other character perspectives. Change the story map as needed. ex. SOMEONE/ WANTS/ BECAUSE/ WHICH MAKES ME BELIEVE
This prompt lends itself well to the integration of dram and art. Have students act out the scene or illustrate the writing. Create riddles by having students guess the character by substituting names with pronouns (someone).
Involve Students in Creating Graphic Organizers
When teachers help students develop graphic organizers together (their own diagrams, tables, graphs) for their science/math/ reading response notebooks, students think more about organizing information then when using pre-drawn tools.
The product may not look as nice, but their understanding and comprehension is increased. They'll be able to decide when and what kind of graphic organizer to use rather than just figuring out how to fill out the form.
Guiding them in the creation of the g.o. is the key. For example, if the goal is to record observations, help them organize their thinking by using a senses chart (see, taste, touch...). When picking out main ideas, use a key word list, break it into nouns, verbs, adjectives...
**Note- If it is too hard or too time-consuming for students to create their own- use a blackline master.
**Use focus questions as prompts for science notebook entries.
For more detailed information on guiding science notebook entries, see Writing in Science by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler.
Using Equations (The Equal Sign) with Pronouns and Synonyms
Pronouns and synonyms often cause confusion for ELLs. An easy way to explain what these words are and how they work is to use a simple equation. This can be done in any content area. For example...
In FOSS, Animals 2X2, the students study the difference between guppies and goldfish. When students are writing, they often use the pronoun "it" instead of being specific, like in the sentence "It was bigger." Point out that "It" = "Goldfish." Develop a more detailed sentence with the children. "The goldfish was bigger than the guppy." Then, show them how "it" can help sentences flow by not using goldfish over and over... "The goldfish was bigger than the guppy. It had a rounder body."
Synonyms are like pronouns and can be used to help sentences flow. Synonyms are also a great way to link vocabulary and concepts. Using the equation model clarifies this concept. Again, using the FOSS, Animals 2X2 example,
Tunnel = Arch
"The goldfish swam through the tunnel. The guppy followed under the arch."