Graphic organizers are key to helping students understand information. There are many graphic organizers to choose from, and the key is to choose the one that bests complements the lesson itself. For example, Venn diagrams are meant to be used for ideas or information that can both be compared and contrasted. KWHL charts are meant to be used at the beginning and end of an introduction to new material. Teachers can find out what the student already knows, questions that the student has, and then what they have learned by the end of the presentation of this information.
The same is true for anticipation guides. Concept mapping is best used to brainstorm a topic before a student begins to write. A problem solution outline is meant to be used for just that kind of paper or discussion, so that a student can synthesize information into a much simpler way. A fishbone map is used to show one group’s interaction with another and how events affected both. Each graphic organizer above has its own purpose and situations where it would or would not be appropriate. I particularly like the Venn diagram for many reasons. The following quote will sum the reasons up succinctly.
“Teachers who utilize graphic organizers with their students promote learning because knowledge that is organized into holistic conceptual frameworks is more easily remembered and understood than unstructured bits of information” (Rollheiser). The lesson I would use a graphic organizer on would be a comparison/contrast between Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau and modern-day environmentalist Annie Dillard. Students would be given “The Death of a Pine” by Thoreau and “Seeing”, an excerpt from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Dillard. Both of these are examples of very important literature.

They share many characteristics of attitude toward nature. However, they differ greatly in their writing style and approach to the reader. Therefore, what is best suited would be a Venn diagram. The students learning objective and the first instruction would be to “Create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting these two authors/pieces writing at least 15 phrases on the Venn diagram to be accomplished through the analysis of these two authors/pieces. The next direction would be that students will then use this information to write a one-paragraph (7-10 sentences) summary of the key points of either comparison or contrast.
I would give them these two instructions as well as giving them some suggestions are areas to focus on, such as content of the pieces themselves, content of what they know about each author, authors’ styles, authors’ word choice, authors’ use of figurative language, and other factors. For this lesson, the Venn diagram would be the best choice because it is made for comparison/contrast. It also gives visual students a way to see the points of comparison/contrast much more clearly. Each point has its own line. Then, it is easy to start a class discussion. Students can simply choose the first point on their list.
They can add to their own list during class discussion. Then, they can easily go back and evaluate each point one by one to choose the most important points to discuss in their paragraphs. The Venn diagram is almost perfectly suited to this lesson.
Works Cited
Houghton Mifflin Education Site. Retrieved October 2, 2007 at Web Site: http://www. eduplace. com/graphicorganizer/pdf/venn. pdf Rollheiser. C. , and Fullin, M. Comparing the Resources on Best Practices. Retrieved October 2, 2007 at http://www. cdl. org/resource-library/articles/compare_best. php? type=subject&id=4

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