Graphic Organisers: Hierarchies

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.

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