an example, suppose you have started teaching the topic of volcanoes.
You have already shown the students diagrams of volcanoes such as this:
lava flow (molten rock) 2 ash
cloud 3 burning
cinders 4 old
lava flows (solid rock) 5 magma
(molten rock) 6 non-volcanic
have also provided your students with examples of flow charts, such
flow charts can be found here.
out a sheet with some paragraphs on a new aspect of volcanoes, in words
only. Here's an example:
can cause wildfires
are mountains formed from molten lava. The lava flows out of the
ground and forms layers of solid rock.
you could look inside a volcano you would see layers of rock that
have been formed by flows of lava. The lava comes from deep inside
well as lava, some volcanoes produce ash clouds and burning cinders.
The cinders can cause wildfires.
flows are hot enough to set fire to trees and houses. Strong winds
sometimes fan the flames, causing wildfires.
fires are started by volcanoes, the best way to extinguish the
flames is water bombing from helicopters.
the students to summarize the information as a flow chart. Two examples
are shown here (scroll right).
your class has not used a flow chart before, show some examples first,
but make sure they are on a different topic from volcanoes. [Why?]
to ask when assessing a visual summary include:
the summary clear, economical, and simple?
any important steps left out?
steps arranged in the same order as the original?
the summary reveal a pattern that connects the details?
the summary locate and highlight the most important information?
sheets for flowcharts can be photocopied from The
information Toolkit, page 29.
kinds of visual summaries
charts are only one kind of visual summary, best suited to explanations,
as in this volcano example.
are some others to try:
storyboard to summarize a procedure (such as how to
make or cook something)
timeline to summarize a recount (such as a news item
or a short biography)
table to summarize a description (such as a comparison
of two or more animals or planets)
tree diagram to summarize an information report (such
as an essay on "Mammals" or "Transportation vehicles").
are we doing this?
is a form of thinking. By visualizing the key elements of a text,
and finding a pattern connecting the details, students are more
likely to understand
than if their summary is just a page of isolated "notes."
a sentence-text as a visual text avoids copying, and requires
us to ask "What are the key elements in this text? How are they
visual summary can be easier to remember than the same information
written out as "notes." The shape of a visual summary often
helps us to remember its guiding concept.
Pool: this introduction to animals of the sea shore provides several
flow charts, which can serve as examples:
about the book Tidal Pool can be found here.
examples of flow charts can be found in:
Information Toolkit page
See What You Mean, pages 4959.
explanation of volcano formation, arranged as a storyboard, can be found
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