Knowledge organisers and how we might use them

Michael Tidd’s latest blog post about knowledge organisers is very interesting. I haven’t heard of these before and, like him, I am not a hundred percent convinced that they should/could be used in primary schools. They seem to be used mostly in secondary schools where there is  a strong knowledge-based curriculum. However, I can think of two ways in which they might be used in Primary English:

  1. Teachers could create a knowledge organiser around a grammatical element that the class are learning about. I am thinking here more about KS2 rather than KS1.  As a developmental activity for teams to complete, it would be an excellent tool to bring together understandings and identify areas where there is a need for further staff development. We are, in effect, just re-organising the grammar curriculum but it goes much further than that. I have had a go at creating a knowledge organiser for clauses for Yr6. The benefits of this are that it could be used for revision, sent home for parents to refer to (you may need a parents evening to introduce it and the subject knowledge) and to direct and mark key learning points in a sequence of sessions. It covers all the work from Yr1 where and is introduced right up to Yr6 and this means that gaps can be filled. It would be fascinating to see and compare the chart that they Yr3, Yr4 and Yr5 teachers created for their year groups in the same area. This would go along way to developing consistency of understanding of key elements of learning in grammr. You can see the organiser here. It was struggle to get this all on one A4 sheet – thank goodness for font size 10!
  2. When I looked at the example on Michael’s blog my immediate thought was that it was what children needed to complete when researching and gathering information to write an invent, non-fiction  piece of writing.  Children could be given a blank chart towards the start of the sequence which they could then use at home and during lessons to collect the information they will need to write effectively.  My first worry about the way its use as described by Michael is that if the whole class uses the same one it over-scaffolds writing, ending up with 30 pieces of similar writing. This would be alright at the innovate stage of writing because there you would be showing the class how to use the organiser to support their writing. However, for an assessed piece of writing, I don’t think it meets the spirit of independence as described in the Moderation Guidance documents. But, if children created their own organiser to write about their content of their choice then I think that would meet the idea of independence.

I have found one primary school who have shared their curriculum with parents using knowledge organisers. I particularly like those that include essential vocabulary as it seems to me that we need a much greater emphasis on developing depth and breadth of understanding in this area. Interestingly they don’t have (or haven’t shared) the organisers for their English curriculum.

What do you think about knowledge organisers?

February’s Facebook Series – grammar subject knowledge for teachers

For every work day in Janury we posted a warming up the word game on our Facebook page.  One of the things that struck me was how many of the games could end up with children creating poetry out of the game.  I do wonder if we should be doing 2 or 3 days of poetry at the start of evey unit to tap into the unused wordhoard that children have and to put words together in unusual ways whatever the text type.

grammar1This month we are posting grammar subject knowledge videos, about two a week.  These are short videos that explain grammar for teachers and are made up of all the bits of grammar that we talk to teachers about regularly.  The videos would be suitable for teachers and those training to be teachers, teaching assistants, one to one tutors and anyone else who supports children in developing their writing.  They will be released on Facebook or they can all be seen on our website.

Sandra our resident grammar expert is making the videos using Smart Notebook and the smart recorder. What a powerful tool!  We have worked out a series of videos which she is in the middle of making.

The first six are already up on our site, but what we would like to know is which aspects of grammar you would like explained.  If you let us know by leaving a comment, we will create a video explaining it.