All the cool kids seem to be making knowledge organisers. So I thought I would have a crack at making one myself.
The idea for knowledge organisers started with Joe Kirby’s blog on the topic (Olivia Dyer’s science ones can be found here). I know that mine doesn’t really look like theirs and I’ve tried to explain why below.
PDF version: covalent-bonding
There’s been a lot of discussion about them online and I’ve summarised some of the pros and cons that I’ve seen bandied around:
Gives the students “meticulous” detail of what they need to know
Regular use + quizzing aids retrieval practice
Excellent for student revision
Any visitors to the class can quickly and easily see what students are learning and how that fits in the medium term
New teachers can easily work out what they need to teach
Can lead to the knowledge being thought of as “disconnected facts”
Not really “organised”
These last two are kind of connected. The information needs to be presented in a way such that the whole is seen and not just the dismembered parts.
Another thing which is interesting if you look at Olivia’s is that she has started incorporating diagrams. In science we use a lot of diagrams to better explain complicated, abstract topics (2). So I have added some diagrams to mine too and they are the same ones we used in class which should help as well.
I’ve also actually tried to organise the knowledge. I don’t know much about other subjects, but in science we’re constantly building on prior knowledge and using that to make sense of the new material to be covered. You cannot understand covalent structures unless you understand covalent bonding. Which you cannot understand unless you understand atomic structure. And so on and so forth.
I’ve also not stuck to the term/definition structure of most KO’s I’ve seen. My students have access to things a bit more along that line on my Quizlet page. But even there, I prefer question/answer format to term/definition. I think it can be prettily easily utilised as a source of low-stakes retrieval practice based quizzing.
I’ve also kept in quite a bit of teacher guidance but have given students some bits and pieces that they need to do themselves. This is because I wanted to give them the stuff which I thought they would get wrong if I had them do it themselves (or at the very least not be able to achieve the same meticulousness of detail), but also a lot of our students have been quite spoon fed and I want to maintain at least the illusion of students having to put in some work themselves.
Anyway I’ve bastardised the basic format so much that it probably doesn’t even count as a Knowledge Organiser. But, like others, I quite enjoyed the process and it’s certainly helped my understanding of the unit.
Please let me know if you have any feedback!
NB this is for the AQA Chemistry 2016+ course.
1 Some people have a general problem with teaching knowledge. I don’t so haven’t included it here.
2 For more references on this see here. The cognitive scientists call this dual coding or multimedia instruction.