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Using Reading Graphic Organizers
Reading has changed over the last few decades. When I was in school (not too long ago!), we were given a story, told to read it, and provided with questions at the end of the story. The attitude was that if you’ve read the story carefully enough, you should be able to answer the questions and join in class discussions. If you didn’t understand it the first time, the teacher couldn’t really help you; you just had to read it again and again until it sunk in.
These days, reading has changed. Teachers now understand that there are tools and strategies that they can use to help their students understand what they read. One of the most powerful tools in their arsenal is the reading graphic organizer, which can help students organize the information that they’ve read.
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Some graphic organizers are perfect to use before students begin reading. For example, the K-W-L chart has three columns – “Know," “Want to Know," and “Learned." The first two columns are filled out before they read a passage, usually a nonfiction one. They write what they already know about the topic in the first column and information that they want to know about the topic in the second column. They will fill out the third column after they finish reading with new information that they’ve learned. Graphic organizers like this one help students start thinking about the topic before they read so that they can read to find information that is important to them.
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During and After Reading
Most graphic organizers are filled out during or after reading. For example, when students read an essay that compares and contrasts two events, they might fill out a Venn diagram as they read. The process of writing down the information in an organized fashion can help them keep on track as they read. Some students may find it helpful to use graphic organizers after they read to make sure that they understand how all of the information fits together.
Reading graphic organizers are strong tools that are changing America’s approach to reading. Try them in your classroom, and watch your students catch on and use them as they read.
Lesson Plan: Reading with Graphic Organizers
Teachers have been using graphic organizers for years to help their children with reading, writing, vocabulary, and other skills. Take a look at this series to learn how to use graphic organizers in your classroom.