Knowledge Organisers

Author Topic: A Brief Guide to Knowledge Organisers - Alex Rawlings @MrARawlings  (Read 542 times)

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A Brief Guide to Knowledge Organisers (Link to Alex's Dropbox version of his blog at bottom of page)

Knowledge Organisers are designed to support the teacher in identifying all of the key information that they need teach the children by the end of a topic. It focuses teaching. Perhaps more importantly, they act as a tool to support children in retaining and retrieving knowledge for life-long learning.

Retention and retrieval of knowledge supports purpose/context for learning and the application of contextual skills. Being unable to retrieve knowledge is often a barrier to learning and can become a limiting factor. A child that can’t recall the particle structure of states of matter (primary science) is unlikely to understand the concept of measuring density at KS3. Learners need to remember lots of things, for a long time.

How should they be presented?

Knowledge organisers should have clear key information at their core. Images can be used to support the information but should not detract from it. For example, an image of the Bayeux Tapestry (alongside a glossary reference) would be very relevant when learning about the Norman Conquest. An image of an anonymous shield of arms would not.

It would be typical to have a key vocabulary section on all Knowledge Organisers. Broadening vocabulary and familiarising children with technical vocabulary is of vital importance to ensure that knowledge can be applied with accuracy and maturity in later stages in learning.

Often Knowledge Organisers will have an introduction to the topic. It will summarise the key events and knowledge that will be acquired during the topic. Words found in the key vocabulary section are emboldened.

Where a topic is history-led, the Knowledge Organiser will be required to have a timeline that outlines the significant dates and events.

Implementation in the classroom

Knowledge Organisers are to be shared with the children at the start of each topic (one for their books and another to take home). Teachers will outline the expectation that the children share the Knowledge Organisers with their parents and make efforts to learn the information together.

Low-stakes testing is imperative in order to support children in committing the knowledge to long-term memory. We can strengthen our ability to recall memories by retrieving them. The more you search for a memory, the easier it becomes to find it. This simple concept – the ‘retrieval effect’ – should become the bedrock of our teaching for long term learning.

These low-stakes tests (or quizzes) should happen regularly and can be presented in a range of guises. A timeline or key vocabulary section with missing information can be given to the children, requiring them to retrieve the correct information to complete the tables. A pop-quiz style assessment can take place where children record answers on whiteboards.

The tests do not need to be onerous for the teachers nor boring for the children, but they do need to focus on retrieval. Typically KS1 will be quizzed on 5 pieces of information; 10 in Years 3 and 4; and 15 in Years 5 and 6. Children are to never mark one another’s answers as this can lead to children focusing on others making mistakes rather than them learning the correct answer. Every 3 weeks a more formal test can help to identify gaps in knowledge that need to be retaught.

Remember it is not an assessment tool, it is a learning tool.


Alex's Original Document


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