Using "Graphic Organizers"

A "graphic organizer," the way I use it in speech therapy, is a simple drawing that helps a student 'see' his ideas in a meaningful way. The elementary school age child may be introduced to graphic organizers in the form of oval shapes connected with straight lines to indicate related ideas or a series of boxes connected by arrows to indicate a sequence from left to right.

Today I took this concept a step further by asking my student to draw a chair large enough to fill an 8 x 11 sheet of paper. This student likes to build things and at an earlier session, he explained to me how to build a chair. This is when I learned what a lathe was! :) He recalled a school presentation and we talked about how the several items of his presentation could be written as notes into the drawing of the chair. The topic of the presentation was written on the seat. A major subtopic was written on the back of the chair. Facts were written on the legs of the chair and relationships between the facts were written on the cross bars that connected the legs. Using this graphic organizer in the shape of a chair, he recalled his presentation - while using fluency enhancing strategies.

Again, taking this another step further, I gave him several children's blocks of different sizes and he wrote on each one of them an idea about a personal experience. He wrote main ideas on the larger blocks and then, by refering to the structure - this 3D graphic organizer - he recalled the experience 3 times. The first time, he simply said what was on the blocks. The second time, he provided more details than had been written down. The third time, he added words of emotion to the story. By the time he was finished, he had quite a lengthy narrative with which to practice whatever 'speech tools' he chose.

Graphic organizers are visual cues for big ideas. Imagining a chair (or other object)and the information each part of the chair represented may be an effective way for some children to study and recall infomation. The student who learns from hands-on experience may find that labeling small blocks, stones, shapes of colored paper, or other objects helps him to organize, study, and remember information. Now he also has a way to practice speech goals in a meaningful narrative.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.