Does your child or student read but have difficulties retelling or writing about what was read? Graphic organizers used by the student at the time the student reads (or immediately afterwards) can greatly help a child remember information for purposes of retelling it or writing about it later.
What is a graphic organizer? A graphic organizer is basically a visual that your student can put information on or in that helps them organize content they read, heard or are thinking. There are many types of graphic organizers but here are some basics to help get started:
1. Wipe off Organizers: Depending on your student's skill level, consider making small laminated cards that relate to categories that the child can write on with a wipe off marker to help write down details or content as they read. Color code and label them so that they can be used consistently and, where needed, additionally supported in the classroom with color coded highlighters or other visuals. (See graphic with this article)
2. Printable Graphic Organizers: Below are some helpful sites that provide free graphic organizers to help students write down items that pertain to: writing generally, compare/contrast, venn diagrams, cause and effect and more!
- Super Teacher Worksheets
- Daily Teaching Tools
- ReThinkWebbing Tool
- Steps4Kids.com (look at Writing Graphic organizer)
3. Create your Own: Many word processing programs enable you to insert shapes and lines to create your own (e.g. Word). Adobe Illustrator is another great program that enables you to fully customize whatever organizer you want to make. Or, simply draw one and insert it in a wipe off sheet protector to reuse!
4. Software Programs to make graphic organizers: There are programs such as "Inspiration" that enable the users (including a student) to create their own organizers to type or insert images into to help with their project.
5. Apps: Each day there seems to be a new app to help with something but here are some to see the kinds that are available to help children retell (or tell) a story:
- Book Creator ($4.99) (students or teachers can create their own ebooks using templates)
- FlipBook ($4.99) (fun animation app that allows artists to use their drawings to create or tell a story)
- Inspiration Maps Lite (Free) Provides templates for brainstorming (paid version is $9.99)
- Skitch (free) (allows visual learners to title and edit pictures)
- Strip Designer ($2.99) (to make comics using personal photos or web photos)
- Toontastic (free) (preschool and elementary)
- Writing an Opinion (free) (designed to help students write about their topic by selecting words from provided templates).
6. Use art to help student remember details: If your student likes to draw, guide a reading lesson by incorporating stops for students to draw what you read to them (or what they read on their own). Various teachers have reported to the National Writing Project that drawings helped children visualize what they read and that once they could visual what they read, they could better write about it. Often readers cannot retain details about what they read because they have difficulties visualizing the details themselves. Enabling students to draw items they are reading about may help them. Just remember to tell them that their drawings are for their use only so that students who do not feel like they are good drawers will participate.
Remember, reading is not just "reading" -- it's also about comprehension and remembering, and graphic organizers can help a lot with the latter!
Reading Rockets (offers Guides to help with reading instruction and research)
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) (strategies to increase reading comprehension with Your Child with Special Needs)