I used to spend a lot of time drawing an organizer on the board or on charts that I would then display on the SmartBoard or document camera. It turns out that my students were more likely to look at one piece of chart paper that stays up all week. It is basically the science topic or other expository topic with key vocabulary words and drawings. We use these to generate our expository sentences every day. We refer back to illustrations, textbooks, websites, and other videos on the topic as needed. I keep all the materials close by the SmartBoard cart so we can reach for them as needed.
I have a different challenge of teaching students in a multi-age classroom. Students range from kindergarten to second grade and are at very different stages in the writing process. What has been inspiring is how the younger students are able to make meaning from the different charts and writing frames we use even if they are not yet at the point where they can write their own sentences. They are memorizing and recalling facts and contributing to discussions. They are excited every time I introduce a new writing unit. They are my inspiration to keep writing and delving into expository writing. If students are going to be knowledge workers in our digital, globalized economy, they must be able to digest a range of facts quickly, decide which ones are most important, and then spit them out in the desired format for their employer or other audience.
I want to find more resources out there that discuss maps and organizers that work best. We have so many choices for mapping our writing plans and brainstorming how to organize facts for expository text. Do you find paragraph models more helpful than T-charts, Venn diagrams, circle maps, or other choices?