Why use a graphic organizer when working reading with students?
As Ellen told us (our teacher) students use to feel less pressure to make a reading report using graphic organizers. Even if they are adults, I think they can find it less “serious” on a graphic than writing just a text as a formal report for gaining a competition. At least that’s what I can remember from my basic education. But before we can ask them to give in a “reading report” we can teach them how to make it easier with these graphic organizers.
Sometimes teachers use to ask homework or, specially, reading reports in a really serious format. But what are they really grading? Is it really that important the format that teacher is going to make student focus more in the format than the content? Sometimes that happens. That’s why I find really useful the graphic organizers. We can get there the principal ideas from the text, we can focus just in a character from the story, we can ask to compare situations, etc… it just depend on what and how we want to evaluate.
Fortunately we can find many different kinds of graphic organizers: we can find those for reading reports focused on the entire story or those based on the characters; those to compare different or similar situations; those to express cycles; those to make list of different things (situations, characters, etc) and describe them, etc…
But I’m not going to explain all of them. There’s too much information about them really easy to find, so I don’t feel the necessity to write about them. But I’m just going to show you some examples of graphic organizers that I would use in a classroom.
I would use this first graphic especially with beginners (or kids even if they were intermediate) to begin seeing how to get the main idea from a paragraph or a short text. I say that I would use it with them because I find it a useful way to make reading comprehension. It is really easy to use it since we just have to focus on the main idea, one or two details and the way to well finish a paragraph (or short text).
As the title says, this second graphic would be used as a reading report from a history. Instead of asking students to write and write pages and pages from what they have read (where they can copy and paste from the summary on the net) I would prefer to see if they have understood how the story was developed. By checking the main and supporting characters, problems and solutions, I think I would really be able to know if they had well read and understood the story.
The third would be to compare different characters from a story or, could be different readings. At first sight, a table like this could seem boring or tedious, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult, it could be just about answering yes or no statements.
A big advantage of graphic organizers is that almost everybody like them, at least is something different from the ordinary, of course besides the simplicity they give us to get to the principal idea of something. That’s thinking on students, they like them, it’s a “different activity”, they learn an easier way to get to the point. But thinking as teachers it can be less tired to check a book report by asking it on a graphic organizer and we can find it everywhere on the net or, why not, make them ourselves, it’s really easy and could be fun.