Graphic organizers help multilingual learners

Visual teaching tool helps students at Marumsco Hills Elementary School become stronger writers

Learning to read and write a new language can be a challenge at any age, but through the use of graphic organizers, Darianella Baret, an English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher at Marumsco Hills Elementary School, watches her students flourish. Graphic organizers are used to visually represent ideas, concepts and relationships between various components, which makes more understandable content for students.

Baret recently used graphic organizers in a lesson on how to identify a book’s main idea and supporting details. After reading a book together, she asked her second graders to use a graphic organizer when reviewing the book. Students wrote down the main idea and other details, and were able to write a summary based on the information in their graphic organizer.

“Multilingual learners need academic content in an understandable way. Graphic organizers turn academic tasks into smaller, achievable, and visual ways, which in turn allows them to understand better while learning important vocabulary. It is also a powerful tool for oral language fluency, as it allows engaging in manageable academic discussions,” Baret explained.

Students can use the graphic organizer in different ways and in content areas. John, a second year student, said: “I feel like it helps me write faster and learn more words. I use it when I write in my diary.

The resource is particularly useful when students are working on more complex writing and reading skills. Adela, a second grader, shared that it helps prepare her for the more difficult work she will be given in third grade.

“A graphic organizer has boxes that help me stay organized. I can make mistakes and correct them, and then my sentences start turning into paragraphs,” she explained.

The teaching tool serves as a scaffolding for students as they learn to pre-write, question, connect, analyze and organize their work. As this is scaffolding, the goal is to gradually remove it once the student is comfortable.

Baret said, “I have to differentiate myself to meet the needs of my multilingual students. It is my duty to bridge the gap between the content and the learning stage of the students, so I constantly assess when the students are ready for the next stage. I hope that by scaffolding using graphic organizers, my students will learn academic content, become stronger and more independent writers, and also more confident in their oral language skills.

Learning and success for all.  Apprendizaje y logros para todos.

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