Graphic Organiser: W3 | Paragrapher

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

This organiser is based around the W3 (What? Why? Where?) method of structuring information and ideas and it can be used in two main ways:

Firstly, as a way of preparing structured notes about a theory, method or concept.

Secondly as a means of creating a solid, consistent, paragraph structure for answering essay-type questions (questions that test skills of knowledge, interpretation and evaluation). Used in this way it’s similar in scale and scope to a whole range of structuring mnemonics (from PEEL to PERC and all points in between…) with which you may be familiar.

One salient feature of the W3 organiser, however, is that it’s extremely simple for students to remember and apply:

  • Topic: The organiser starts with a topic to consider, such as a theory.
  • What (do you think is important)?
    In this section students identify something significant they want to say about the theory / concept / method.
  • Why (do you think it’s important)?
    A brief explanation of why they think this idea is important.
  • Where (is the evidence, for and against)?
    In this section students identify and briefly explain examples of evidence (such as studies) for and against the theory (or, if the topic was research methods, this section might look at strengths and weaknesses).
  • Graphic Organiser: Compare and Contrast

    Monday, March 4th, 2019
    The Classic Venn Diagram

    The latest post in the series devoted to graphic organisers sees the long-overdue introduction of the Venn diagram – a classic form of graphic organiser that provides a simple, visual, way to compare and contrast two (or sometimes more) ideas.

    It’s a type that works well with something like sociological perspectives where students are frequently required to look at the similarities (compare) and differences (contrast) between perspectives like Functionalism or Marxism.

    Equally, it’s possible to apply compare and contrast techniques within perspectives – examining different types of Feminism, for example, or comparing traditional forms of Functionalism and Marxism with their more-contemporary forms.

    This PowerPoint Presentation contains two organiser examples:

    1. The conventional circular Venn diagram.

    2. A less-conventional squared version.

    While both designs serve exactly the same functional purpose, the squared version provides more writing space – something that may be useful where there are a large number of differences / similarities to identify.

    Graphic Organisers: Hierarchies

    Thursday, February 28th, 2019
    3-Level Hierarchy

    Following posts on the Frayer Model and the 5-Points of the Star, Hierarchical Models are a further general variation that are worth adding to the list of graphic organisers available to teachers and students who want to explore different, more visual, ways of structuring information.

    Hierarchies – a top-down list involving a number of levels – are one of the staples of graphic organisation, mainly because they’re easy to draw and provide a simple, but highly significant, set of visual cues about the relationship between different ideas. This makes them particularly useful for tasks such as essay planning where it’s important for students to identify and explain the relationship between ideas.

    Although each graphic organiser follows the same broad structure there are a few variations that can be used, the first of which is a simple 3-Level Hierarchy that focuses on identifying relevant ideas.

    Level 1 involves the main idea

    Level 2 involves identifying key features of the main idea.

    Level 3 involves identifying significant aspects of each Level 2 feature.

    If you know how to do it you can tweak the PowerPoint Presentation to add further boxes to each level (particularly Level 2. In this example I’ve used 3 boxes but it’s sometimes appropriate to use more) or change the box colours. I’ve used colour coding as a further form of visual cue / reminder but some students may find them distracting and, in such instances it’s probably best just to leave them white.


    3-Level Hierarchy variation

    A variation on the 3-Level Hierarchy organiser changes the 3rd level from one of identification to explanation.

    In other words, rather than merely identifying significant aspects of level 2 features, students use the graphic organiser to explain the importance of these features.

    Although there are obvious similarities between the two templates, this latter version encourages more-extensive note-making.

    Graphic Organisers: The 5 Points of the Star

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
    The 5 Points of…

    A previous post outlined the basic ideas underpinning the graphic organiser, introduced an example of the genre (the Frayer Model) and teased the possibility of further examples of ready-made organiser templates (as opposed to the more free-form examples you can find in the Revision section here).

    So, in the spirit of actually trying to deliver what may or may not have been promised (about which I can unfortunately make no further promises) I thought I’d start with what I consider one of the most potentially-useful: the “5-Point Star” template.

    And when I say “start” I’m suggesting there will be more examples to follow.

    Which indeed there may well be.

    I’ll see what I can do.


    Graphic Organisers

    Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

    I recently stumbled across the notion of graphic organisers while rummaging around on Pinterest, although it’s probably an idea most teachers will have come across or informally used. Venn diagrams or tables of information, for example, represent proto forms of graphical organisation.

    Sandringham School Version

    All this post suggests is that it’s possible to formalise these practices into graphical formats that allow you and your students to represent information in visually consistent ways, either by providing students with information templates (a solid state form of graphical organisation that involves students using pre-existing graphical formats) or by encouraging them to develop their own graphical organisational forms (a free-form version that operates within a loose set of rules).

    This post focuses on the solid state form because it’s the easiest to construct (there are loads of pre-existing templates) and initially explain to students. The ability to use existing templates as a way of representing and structuring information is also a big advantage when students are being introduced to this slightly different way of “making notes”.

    If you’re interested in the free-form version have a look at this example of sociological perspectives (as an online flipbook or a pdf version)

    Here, the rules are defined by the creator (such as an individual student); in this example the rules I’ve defined are simple: start with the main point you want to represent, show how various key ideas are linked to that idea and include short notes to illustrate each idea. This then builds into an overview “Map” of, in this case, sociological perspectives.

    While free-form graphic organisers are probably the most personal and responsive types, they’re a technique that may be best introduced after your students have grasped the basic idea underpinning the graphical representation of information.


    More Sociology Knowledge Organisers

    Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

    Knowledge Organisers, you may or may not be surprised to learn, are the classroom requirement de nos jours and while some (looking at you Michaela Community School) may like to casually lay claim to the concept / format as being something radically new and different they’ve developed, it really isn’t.

    Here, for example, is one I made earlier (about 20-odd years earlier…) and if past experience is anything to go by I probably stole the idea from someone else (or, as I like to think, my efforts were influenced by those of others).

    Be that as it may, if you’ve landed here looking for Knowledge Organisers, here’s another batch I’ve managed to find using my finely-tuned Sociological Sensibility (or “typing stuff into Google to see what I can find” as it’s more-commonly known. Probably).

    These KO’s are slightly different to the various Learning Tables (LT) we’ve previously posted, but they are, to-all-intents-and-purposes, the same in terms of what they exist to do.

    You will find, if you compare the two (otherwise you’ll never actually know), this batch is a little less ambitious in scope and design than the previous LT’s, so it may be a case of choosing which suits you and your students and sticking with those. Or not as the case may be.

    Although the original files I found were in pdf format, I’ve converted them to Word so that you can more-easily edit them if you want to. The only difference between the two files is that rounded bullets in the pdf file have been converted as square bullets in the Word file.


    Visual Notes

    Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
    Families and Households

    The Sociology Guy has been busy putting together what he calls “quick glance revision notes” for his web site (which, apropos of nothing, is well worth a visit because it contains lots of good stuff) – what might be described as visual notes or mini learning tables / knowledge organisers tied to a specific idea, topic or theme.

    And if this sounds like I’m struggling to do them justice, it’s probably easier just to look at the accompanying pictures because they’ll give you a much better idea about what’s involved.

    And this, in a roundabout way, is probably as it should be, given the claim that “Research suggests that notes that are vibrant, colourful and have pictures or illustrations are 40% more likely to be recalled by students”.

    While I’m not sure what this research might be, the idea does have an initial face validity, in that the combination of text and relevant graphics should help students make evocative connections.

    Anyway, be that as it may, the Notes look attractive and deliver just the right gobbets (that’s actually a word) of information for revision purposes across 6 current areas:

    There’s a Lot more to Follow…

    New Sociology Learning Tables

    Saturday, April 20th, 2019

    It’s been a while since I last posted any Sociology Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers (Psychology teachers and students have been better-served in the interim, even though I’ve still got a load more that I need to get around to posting), partly because I haven’t really been looking for any and partly because I haven’t found any.

    The two could be connected

    Luckily – for you and me both – TheHecticTeacher has been busy creating a whole host of new learning tables for your download pleasure in three areas:


    Marriage, Cohabitation and Divorce
    Domestic Division of Labour
    Social Policy
    Childhood and Children