Updated: Feb 2
What are Knowledge Organisers?
A place where all the selected key/core knowledge for any given unit of work in any subject is organised into one resource. They are usually printed over one or two sides of a piece of paper.
What does one look like?
They vary in appearance but the ones I have made and used involve images as well as text. See some examples here: https://padlet.com/jack_helen12/czfxn9ft6n8o
What's the point of them?
They help children learn the key facts - this is the main point of knowledge organisers.
They give teachers an outline for a unit
They guide lesson content
They provide teachers with simple ways to explain ideas
They can be used to inspire homework
They aid assessment (along with the accompanying 'quizzes')
How are they used?
Here's a simple suggested sequence:
Provide children with knowledge organiser before the holiday
Set a homework project based on the knowledge organiser, this should include learning the information by heart (revision techniques should be taught)
After the holiday, use the exact same phrases, words and diagrams from the knowledge organiser in lessons
Base lessons on the content of the knowledge organiser - the lesson is an opportunity for you to expand on the knowledge, teach linked skills, carry out investigations, and even do supporting creative activities
Conduct regular ‘quizzes’ based on the tests – children retake the test until they get 100% right. The first quiz can be given fairly soon after the holiday - this will give you a baseline of who has been learning the information and who hasn't.
What should I consider when creating knowledge organisers?
What are the objectives I need to cover in this unit?
What basic facts do children need to know in order to achieve the objectives? (these may be mapped out for you already in your school's curriculum)
Think about including:
the layout is not confusing
the information is carefully written in child-friendly, but challenging, language (I use lots of different web-based resources to help with this, for example, BBC Bitesize)
the amount of information is realistic - remember, they have to learn it all!
Low stakes testing aids retrieval and using of memorised facts, whereas revising from a knowledge organiser only aids the acquisition and storage of facts. This is referred to as the 'testing effect' and it helps to embed learning in the memory.
The practice of taking the quizzes, self-marking and self-correcting them provides more opportunities for children to revisit the information that they need to know.
What should I consider when creating the quizzes?
Include different question types:
Fill the gap
Choose the word
Join the word to its definition
Complete the sentence
Each time a test is taken, change the order of the multiple choice answers, for example (so they can’t just learn that it’s the second option)
Have a question for every aspect of the knowledge organiser
What are the benefits?
Children learn important information off by heart
Many children come to lessons knowing key vocabulary, key facts and even complete concepts leaving teachers with more time to explore ideas more deeply, or to teach more creatively - the knowledge organiser covers the curriculum requirements so the teacher has 'time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the national curriculum specifications.' and so teachers can 'develop exciting and stimulating lessons to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.' (The National Curriculum, page 6)
If carefully created, teachers have a good reference document to use for planning, teaching and assessment
If you would like Aidan to work with you on the development and delivery of your curriculum in your school, academy, trust or local authority, you can get in touch via www.aidansevers.com/services or using the contact details on this page.
Other blog posts about knowledge organisers:
Using Knowledge Organisers in Primary - Jon Brunskill On Knowledge Organisers - Michael Tidd Knowledge Organisers - Joe Kirby How To Use A Knowledge Organiser - Mr. Histoire Knowledge Organisers: Fit For Purpose? - Heather Fearn Curating Knowledge/Organising Knowledge - Clare Sealy