You always wonder when a new idea is just another gimmick, for the sake of novelty, or whether it really does deepen and improve the quality of pupils’ learning. As with all things, the intention behind knowledge organisers was very worthy and there are some great example out there. Unfortunately too many that we see are simply fact sheets packed with information but serving what purpose. Are they a proxy for learning? Is it assumed that the mere possession of them will mean that pupils know their contents?
To be truly useful they need to be as interactive as possible so that pupils see the need to USE them. Pupils will need to refer quite frequently to the timeline and often to a map. Having the keywords in alphabetical order with simple definitions is also key. I favour having the key enquiries that pupils are undertaking listed, as well as the ‘top takeaways’- the main learning points pupils need to have mastered by the end of the topic. This is a far cry from many knowledge organisers which simply list name of Greek Gods or Victorian inventions.
There is nothing sacrosanct about what KOs need to contain but one thing I’m sure of and that is YOU need to know how YOUR pupils will USE them. Simply copying other schools’ versions certainly saves time but can you be sure they are aimed at the same age group as your pupils when they study the topic and will their prior learning be the same. These are important considerations.
As always, we’d appreciate your feedback on how useful they were and how they could be improved. After all, no plan survives its first encounter with ‘the enemy’!
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