Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Approach to Graphic Organizers-Google Docs

Both PowerPoint and Google Docs can be used to organize information graphically as a pre-writing activity, with students creating the writing spaces as they generate the ideas (rather than using a pre-made organizer). Previously I highlighted the use of PowerPoint to make defined graphic organizers for students. The as-you-write approach is recommended in expository writing programs such as EmPOWER.

Google Docs provides an entire free suite of tools similar to MS Office, and can be used in much the same way. With your Gmail account, you can access the document creation interface, which works quite intuitively. Several social studies teachers I am working with are implementing EmPOWER techniques in their classroom as their students use Google Docs to write out their positions on various ecological issues, eventually culminating in a "Rainforest Conference." For prewriting, the students can create the EmPOWER BrainFrames in a Google Document (Create New>Document>Insert>Drawing). The tool and some student work -a compare/contrast frame- are shown below. Students internalizing and generating a structure for organizing their language- what's better than that?

Thanks to 6th grade teachers Megan Flaherty, Peter Spiegel, and Susan Levy for showing me how you are incorporating EmPOWER in your classrooms.

Language Lens
  • Creation of graphic organizers helps students to break down lengthy language or text into chunks they can understand, and see connections between their own ideas in pre-writing/pre-speaking activities.
  • Alignment with expository text structures (e.g. sequencing, compare/contrast) promotes generalization and recognition/use of these structures in other contexts.


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