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Visual Images—helping students create visual memory

Graphic Organizers, Interactive Notebooks, Mind Mapping and other Ideas for the Social Studies Classroom



n     Students remember information in many different ways

n     Most of us have our own way of knowing

n     We must maximize the chance that a student will remember the social studies information

n     We must facilitate meaning

n     Creating images of the information is one of the best ways to facilitate learning

Let me count the ways….

n     Many different methods

u  Drawing

u  Graphic organizers

u  Mind map

u  Notes

u  Photograph

u  Video

Why use them?

n     Higher-level thinking

u  Expand student thinking skills

« Analyzing

« Synthesizing

« Evaluating

« Relating and developing concepts

« Categorizing

« Sequencing

« Comparing and contrasting

u  Get to higher levels of Bloom

n     Comprehension

u  In order to learn, the learner must establish his/her own personal meaning to the information

u  Helps student to better understand the material

u  Helps make connections in the content

u  Helps relate new material to previously learned material

n      Memory

u   New information 18 seconds unless personalized

u   Helps facilitate long-term memory

u   Organizes material

u   Presents in short, easy to remember visual cues

u   Relates to brain-based learning research

«  Brain processes and stores in uniform fashion

«  Brain must make sense of new material

«  Brain searches for patterns

«  Graphic organizer promotes patterns

n     Multiple intelligences

u  Engage four intelligences simultaneously

« Verbal Linguistic (selection of key words and phrases for organizer)

« Logical/Mathematical (deal with sequencing, part/whole relationships, concept development—all logical processes)

« Visual/Spatial (material is in a visual format)

« Naturalist (categorizing, classifying, sequencing, attention to attributes, comparing and contrasting—all facets of the naturalist intelligence

n     ESL and Reading issues

u  Visual format

u  Short text format

u  Connections

n     All minimize the weaknesses of these students

n     Helps them to grasp the basic concepts

Visual Think Tank

n     Creating the graphic organizer requires student to make sense of the material

n     Personalizes the material which aids comprehension

n     Different types of organizers do different types of information

u  Sequence

u  Compare/contrast

u  Concept development

u  Evaluation Organizers

u  Relational Organizers

u  Categorize/classify

Types of Graphic Organizers

Sequence organizers

n     Historical events

n     Inventions

n     Presidents

n     Sequence of events

n     Time lines

n     Time periods

1.    Chain of Events

n      Used to describe the steps of an event

n      Steps or procedures

n      Key Questions

u   What is the first step or initiating event?

u   What are the next stages or steps?

u   How does one event lead to another?

u   What is the final outcome?

2.    Ranking

n     Ordering

n     Determining the steps

n     Questions

u  What is the initial placement?

u  Is there a specific order needed?

u  If so, what comes next?

3.    Ordering—drawings or pictures

n     Placing events in sequence

n     Could be time line oriented

n     Questions

u  What starts the placement?

u  What follows?

4.    Time Line (Continuum)

n     Placing event chronologically

n     Questions

u  What is being scaled?

u  What was the order based on time as the frame?


5.    Cycle

n      Show how a series of events interacts to produce a set of results again and again

n      Questions

u   What are the main events in the cycle?

u   How do they interact and return to the beginning again?

 Compare/Contrast Organizers

n     Articles of Confederation/Constitution

n     Thirteen colonies

n     Virginia/Massachusetts

n     Historical events

n     Presidents

n     State/Federal/Local

n     Wars

1.    Compare/Contrast

n      Show similarities and differences

n      Questions

u   What is being compared?

u   How are they similar?

u   How are they different?

2.    Problem/Solution

n     Identify a problem and consider multiple solutions or possible results

n     Questions

u  What was the problem and the historical solution?

u  What are some other “what ifs”?

3.    Venn Diagram

n     Similarities and differences

n     Show relationships

n     Questions

u  How is something unique in characteristics?

u  What characteristics are shared?

Concept Development Organizers

n      Culture

n      Current events

n      Explorers

n      Historical events

n      Mission

n      Native Americans

n      President

n      State

n      War


1.    KWL

n      Activate prior knowledge

n      Good activity for reading assignment

n      Questions

u   What do you KNOW about the subject?

u   WHAT do you want to learn?

u   What have you LEARNED?

u   HOW can you learn more?

2.    Clustering

n     Brainstorming activity

n     Organizational tool

n     Questions

u  What does the main idea mean to you?

u  How do the ideas relate?

Evaluation Organizers

n     Determine the greatest

u  Strength

u  Weakness

u  Cause

u  Result

n     Evaluate events or people


1.    PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting)

n      Way to stimulate thought on positive or negative consequences of historic events

n      Way to connect events

n      Questions

u   What effect did this have on…?

u   How did this event influence..?

u   What is the significance of..?

2.    Rating on Scale

n     What is being scaled?

n     What is the beginning and ending point?
How does the ranking relate to historic context of the event?

Relational Organizers

n     Cause and effect

n     Part to whole

n     Questions

u  What is the effect?

u  What events caused it?


1.    Fishbone

n      Causal interaction

n      Complex phenomenon

n      Questions

u   What are the factors that cause…?

u   How do they interrelate?

2.    Pie Chart

n     Part to whole

n     Questions

u  How was this event influenced by other factors?

u  What factors played a part in this decision?

Categorize/Classify Organizer

n     Military issues

n     North, South, East, West of what

n     Social Stratification

n     WWI/ WWII, Vietnam/Korea

n     Multiple causes to an outcome

n     Strengths and weaknesses


1.    Webbing

n     Making connections historically

n     Questions

u  What events influenced the main idea?

u  What events were caused by the main idea?

2.    Webbing—Spider Map

n     Used to describe a central event

n     Helps to organize all the thoughts about a main concept

n     Questions

u  What is the central idea?

u  What are the attributes?

u  What are its functions?

3.    Interaction Outline

n     Interaction between people or events

n     Questions

u  Who are the people or what events ?

u  What were their goals?

u  Did they conflict or cooperate

u  What was the outcome for each group or event?

4.    T-Chart

n     Introductory activity

n     Describe event, person, time period

n     Questions—Place yourself in the time and decide…

u  What does it look like?

u  What does it sound like?

 Interactive Notebook (History Alive )

 n     Allows students to record information about history in an engaging way.  They can…

u  Transform written concepts into visuals

u  Find main points of a political cartoon

u  Organize historical events into a topical map

 Interactive Notebooks…

n      Are colorful with diagrams, bullets and arrows

n      Are in ink, pencil, and crayon

n      Are presented in a unique, personal style

n      Key ideas are underlined in color or highlighted

n      Venn diagrams show relationships

n      Cartoon sketches show people and events

n      Timelines illustrate chronology

n      Indentations and bullets indicate subordination

n      Arrows show cause and effect relationships


What students need…

n     Notebook, pen, pencil, colored markers or crayons, highlighters

n     They might use scissors, glue stick, and more colored pens

What do they look like?

n      Open your notebook

n      On the right side record your notes in normal way

n      On the left side

u   Translate your note material into a

«  Drawing

«  Graphic organizer

«  Mind map

«  Picture sentence

«  Anything that visualizes the information

Right Side/Left Side


Left Side

Students Process New Ideas

Reorganize new info in creative formats

Express opinions and feelings

Explore new ideas


Right Side

Teacher Provides New Info

Class Notes

Discussion Notes

Reading Notes

Handouts with new info  

What can go in it????

n      Anything

u   Drawings

u   Poetry

u   Raps

u   Graphic organizers

u   Cartoons

u   Maps

u   Charts and graphs

u   Invitations

u   Letters from famous people

 Examples from History Alive!













Mind Mapping

n      Web diagram

n      Explores what you know and what you think you need to know

n      Manipulates information

u   Can compare

u   Can organize

u   Can brainstorm

u   Can link

u   Can establish relationships

 Imaging—One way to help!

n     As we teach and ask questions we have to help students…

u  Develop their method of memorization

u  Organize their thinking

u  Stretch their thinking skills

u  Review what they know and place new learning in context


n     Questions develop thinking skills

n     Teachers ask hundreds every day

n     Overwhelming majority stimulate low-level thinking

n     Must have both types of questions

u  Low level that focuses on knowledge, application, and comprehension

u  High level that focuses on analysis, synthesis and evaluation

 Questioning Strategies  

n     Think Time

n     Question Exchange

n     Journaling

n     Numbered Heads

n     Jigsaw

n     Learning Centers

n     Timed Pair Share

n     Writing and Discussing

Learning in NOT a Mystery

n     Visuals

n     Ownership of learning

n     Questioning

n     Note-taking


This page was updated on:  04/10/02