I use graphic organizers all. the. time. I love them for MANY reasons. I love that they give students a purpose for reading and help them to hone specific comprehension strategies. I also love that they help students build skills and confidence that they can later generalize to independent work. Most of all, I love the flexibility and how easily they assist in differentiating.
Graphic Organizers to Differentiate:
At the beginning of the school year, I begged my principal to buy and intervention for my fourth and fifth grade special education students. In another school district, I had the opportunity to use the Pearson My Sidewalks series and really loved it. He agreed and I have been using it with many of my students this year. I love the growth and confidence that it builds in them. However, I have a group of students who really need a lower level of the intervention series. Problem? We are a small school with limited resources. I don’t have something that targets their specific level. So, what’s a girl to do? Well, she finds a way to make it work!
I use graphic organizers in all of my reading groups and have used them to differentiate in the past. SOOO, I set to work, creating graphic organizers to help my students be able to comprehend and apply desired strategies.
For my higher students, I throw a basic graphic organizer at them. They are well trained on my expectations and are ready to dive in.
For my lower students, I slap a similar graphic organizer in front of them. Depending on the skill and passage, I differentiate in various ways. In the organizer shown above, I created fill-in-the-blank-style sentences with key points from the passage. This allows them to pick up on the key differences between paramedics and firefighters.
When we work on drawing conclusions, I often write a conclusion for my students. Then, I require my students to find details in the text that support my conclusion. I often do the same with main idea.
Since using these graphic organizers, my lower group of students seem excited to participate in the “same” tasks as my higher students. Meanwhile, my small groups don’t even notice the differences between the graphic organizers.