**1/10 Update: If you're interested in graphic organizers for making predictions & other reading comprehension skills, check out this link: Kindergarten/1st Grade Reading Comprehension Curriculum**
"Graphic organizers, graphic organizers, blah blah blah" about sums up what I used to hear when a professor talked about how important graphic organizers are for teaching English Language Learners (ELLs). You see, I've had to get my ESL endorsement in two different states, so I've sat through quite a few of those classes. Anyway, I believed my professors and incorporated graphic organizers into my teaching. But I didn't realize why, exactly, they were so awesome, until this summer...when a professor put it this way: "Graphic organizers are great for ELLs because they allow them to express higher order thinking without being limited by the language they can produce." Brilliant, and so true. For example, creating webs often requires students to classify and sort, Venn diagrams require comparisons and contrast, etc. Using these graphic organizers allows ELLs to do that thinking but not get bogged down by language.
All of my kids are ELLs since I teach bilingual kindergarten. However, even when we're working in their native language (Spanish), I still think graphic organizers are great. Since they're only 5 and many come to school with somewhat limited language experiences, their abilities to express complex thoughts can sometimes be limited. So I've vowed to use graphic organizers more often.
I've started off the year with some simple graphic organizers to teach reading comprehension. I wouldn't say that they're very profound, but it's a start. So far I've used webs and t-charts for teaching kids how to make predictions before reading a book.
Here's a picture of a web (the first organizer I used when asking them to make predictions);
Sorry it's in Spanish and sorry you can kind of see through to the chart paper behind it! Anyway, what it says in the middle is "Predictions for ________" (fill in the blank with the book we read). Every time a kid made a prediction, I put it in a different circle off the web. Afterward, we went through and circled any predictions that were correct (talking, of course, about how the correctness was not necessarily important, and that the act of making the predictions was what prepared us to better understand the story).
Here's a T-chart (this came a day or two after we used webs to make predictions):
On one side, it says "Predictions" and on the other, it says, "Why we think that." Sometimes, the reasoning was prior knowledge (the top entry says that we thought the puppy was going to be naughty, and the reasoning was because Luis' puppy is sometimes naughty), and sometimes the reasoning was due to details the children noticed in the title or picture on the cover. After reading, we went through and boxed in with yellow the predictions that came true.
I'd like to release some responsibility to the kids with this, but I'm not sure how much they're ready for yet, having only been in kindergarten for 24 days. I'd like to get them writing/drawing in prediction graphic organizers before reading a book, but don't want to waste too much time on that, since more time should be spent reading. Something to think about as they grow more and more each day! We'll get there eventually, I think.