Three-dimensional graphic organizers? Yep. They go by many names and have been around for years, but y’know…sometimes techniques stand the test of time because they work. You might know them better as flippables or foldables. I first learned about them from Dinah Zike herself, the pioneer of foldables. Her workshop was one of the best professional development sessions in my entire career! I know I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by the sheer variety of foldables and their applications to so many lessons. Only Whole Brain Teaching has come close to Dinah in its ability to inspire me as a teacher. (That’s a rather sad commentary on the state of teacher professional development, isn’t it? Oh, well…that’s another post for another day.) Dinah calls them foldables, but I like the term “3D graphic organizer.” Thanks to 3D movies, it’s a phrase my 4th graders can understand.
These 3D graphic organizers came back to my attention recently in a new way. Teachers are gluing them inside composition notebooks and creating Interactive Notebooks! What’s great about this approach is immediately obvious to elementary teachers – that of where do kids store their foldables when not in use? Gluing them into notebooks creates not only a safe place for storage but also an organized set of notes. It ticks all the boxes for a teacher – it’s organized, useful and the kids enjoy them.
3D with Close Reads
A few weeks ago, my 4th graders finished up our study of economics and we used three-dimensional graphic organizers in three of the four lessons. They were a hit, to put it mildly. When I gave them to my students, we had already done day one of our close read of the informational text. So, when they worked on the graphic organizers, the students had some familiarity with the text. We had also completed an additional close read immediately prior to completing our 3D graphic organizers. For the second reading, we highlighted the information that we wanted to include in our organizers. (If you don’t have enough highlighters for your class, crayons in pale colors works well, too.) The first day we focused on a general understanding, but by day two we were looking at the text structure and specific vocabulary.
3D in Economics
In the photos that follow, I created three specific 3D graphic organizers. Each one was for a different lesson in my economics unit – supply and demand, taxes, and opportunity cost. While I didn’t have my students glue them into a notebook (that remains a possibility for next year!), they proved to be useful nonetheless. Sometimes when you have students read a content-rich text, it’s hard to know for sure if they are really grasping the important details. These 3D graphic organizers combined with close reading and the gesturing techniques of Whole Brain Teaching really adds a lot of impact to our lessons. This was evident in my students’ responses to our culminating assignments in a constructed response question. These basic patterns would suit many different lessons, so teachers can use their unparalleled creativity to fashion organizers to suit their own lessons.
Fun…and Crazy Pants
Graphic organizers are used in almost every classroom, grade, and school. Teachers like them because they’re an effective strategy and can be used in a variety of lessons. Kids like 3D graphic organizers because they are a fun twist on a common task. And there’s nothing wrong with having fun while learning. Just like there’s also nothing wrong with having fun while curling. What?! Yeah, I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics this past week, and I think I’ve just about figured out this whole curling thing. I’m watching Great Britain and Norway fight it out for medal contention as I write this post. What’s not to love about a sport where grown men sweep the floor so enthusiastically, even if it is a sheet of ice? 🙂 Oh, and the Norwegians’ pants…style points there for sure. Final score: Pants 7, Great Britain 6. And for 3D graphic organizers? Two thumbs up!