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Friday, May 26, 2017

5 Reasons to Use Graphic Organizers in Speech Therapy

When do you use graphic organizers? Do you use them to pre-teach concepts, or during brainstorming activities? Do you use them during lessons to target specific skills such as comparing and contrasting with a Venn Diagram? Do you use them at the end of a thematic unit to assess comprehension? I hope the answer is all of the above. Graphic organizers use symbolic language to communicate and connect visual information in the brain. Once I understood that graphic organizers use visual language to represent concepts, I knew they needed to be incorporated into my lessons regularly.

In this post, I will give you 5 reasons why you should be using graphic organizers in your speech therapy sessions, PLUS I am offering my Graphic Organizer FREEBIE through this blog post.

1. Graphic Organizers Help Students Focus

Many of our students exhibit disorganized thinking processes, poor initiation skills, word recall difficulties, poor attention and decreased task endurance. These weaknesses can hinder a student's ability to get started on a project, organize a writing assignment, or even complete a math or science task. Language impaired students with poor endurance may look like they are "goofing off." How often do our students just sit in their partner groups and wait for someone else to do the work? Graphic organizers such as BUBBLE MAPS and KWL CHARTS help students access prior knowledge and get them actively engaged in learning. 

2. Graphic Organizers Provide a Visual Map

Have you ever had so much information, you couldn't cognitively hold onto it all?  Graphic organizers such as a STORY MAP and CAUSE-EFFECT CHART provide organization of large pieces of information and ties the relationships together. For example, in a story map, a student may fill in the character, setting and part of the solution. But without the "problem" the relationships between the story elements do not make sense. Graphic organizers provide the visual structure for story elements. The concepts and linguistic relationships flow better and make sense to our students.

3. Graphic Organizers Clarify Abstract Concepts

Speech-language pathologists are asked to help students receiving speech therapy services understand abstract concepts and make inferences. We support the classroom curriculum and modify assignments without changing content. Graphic organizers such as THINKING BUBBLES, CHARACTER CHANGE MAPS, and partially filled in CAUSE/EFFECT maps help student use visual imagery to infer. By second and third grade, students are required to identify a character's feelings and the reasons for the character's actions. Not only do students need to understand the feeling and motives behind the actions of characters, but in real life as well. Graphic organizers such as a CAUSE/EFFECT CHART can help students understand the relationships they have with adults and peers at school.

4. Graphic Organizers Help Build Vocabulary
Students with language impairments and student identified as ELL (English Language Learners) can benefit from graphic organizers as they expand their word knowledge and make connections. BUBBLE MAPS are great for teaching concepts like descriptive adjectives, items in a category, and part/whole relationships. Another terrific graphic organizer for vocabulary expansion is the FRAYER MODEL which is set up in a four-square model with three connected concepts (definition, used in a sentence, synonyms) and one exclusionary factor, such as, "A __ is NOT__."

5. Graphic Organizers Improve Expressive Language

Graphic organizers are not just for receptive skills, they also support oral and written language in all areas of academic learning. Language impaired students have difficulty getting pictures in their head, retrieving words to verbalize their ideas, putting their thoughts in order and communicating effectively. Having a completed graphic organizer can help students when they need to present information orally in class or develop a draft for writing.

Graphic organizers are essential in my book companions. I use graphic organizers with all of my language groups and incorporate the appropriate ones with each literacy unit. These are excellent resources for students to work cooperatively, independently, or in guided groups. Click on the links below to visit my TPT store and start using graphic organizers in your groups.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose! (Flow Map, Cause/Effect, Frayer Model, Venn Diagram)
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog! (Venn Diagram, Figurative Language)
Rosie's Walk (Story Map)
The Wind Blew (Main Idea and Details)
Duck in the Truck (Story Map)
Jump Frog Jump (Venn Diagrams)
The Runaway Bunny (Perspective Graphic Organizer)

Lisa, SLP

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