Enhance and Expand Flexible Thinking by Using Graphic Organizers


Graphic Organizers can be used to narrow thinking (bad), or to expand and make thinking flexible (good).

Graphic Organizers are the right tools...if they are used for the right reasons.

Sure, Graphic Organizers can be geared down to help students remember facts, recall correct answers, and memorize their test-taking "Strategies."

However, Graphic Organizers shine when they stretch students' thinking up the higher-order ladder.

Make the most of your instructional time with your students by choosing more complicated, complex, no-right-answer organizers. Choose organizers that require creativity, analysis, and evaluation. Ditch the cram-facts-now, forget-facts-by-Friday style of Graphic Organizers.

It's All in the Presentation

The same Graphic Organizer can be used for lower-level or higher-order thinking. The main difference can be found in the quality of the higher-order questioning that the teacher attaches to the assignment.

The same issue is true for the integration of technology.

A teacher can use a computer as a page turner, to present and score reading motivation tests, for example.

Or, the same computer can be used to enhance students' thinking, planning, communication and problem solving.

A computer and word processor can be used to...

  • write a book report, or, to write a book
  • Review of a play, or to write a play
  • Critique a concert, or, write music and lyrics
  • To take practice, high-stakes test-taking, or, to create a survey and calculate the impact of a community service or social activism project

As we use graphic organizers, the fact that our students are capable of so much more than we require of them comes into focus.

Graphic Organizers bring the potential for Multiple Intelligences and Higher-order Thinking to our awareness. So, let's choose to use Graphic Organizers to engage students on the path to all that they can be.