Module 4: Interactive Reflective Thinking: Utilizing Graphic Organizers Beyond the Worksheet

2. Instruction –The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

2.2 Engaging Students in Learning
Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.

In order to engage students in learning, activities and assignments should be designed to hook their interest. While there are many resources available to teachers in order to engage students in reflective thinking, these materials can also be enhanced to more memorable learning activities. Graphic organizers provide teachers with opportunities to have students organize and arrange information that is presented to them. While this tool can be used as an outline for further learning activities, it could also be utilized to create memorable learning experiences. These experiences along with outlined material enables learners to further exhibit learned content.

One method of involving students in reflective thinking about new knowledge presented to them, such as readings, direct instruction, and videos, is to assign thinking map activities. These activities allow students to further process the information and to interact with that material. There are several examples of thinking maps such as a variety of bubble maps, tree maps, sequencing maps, cause and effect maps, and Venn diagrams to name a few. Some great illustrative examples of these concepts are represented at websites such as

Focusing on a specific thinking map, the double bubble is an example of a tool that students can utilize to compare and contrast subject matter. Usually graphic organizers such as the double bubble are presented to students in a worksheet format.

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Figure 1. Example of a double bubble graphic organizer (Marzano, 2007, p. 74).

While this graphic organizer in and of itself will allow students to further outline the material presented to them, the concept of the double bubble can be enhanced to provide students with opportunities to further explore their learning. For example, the double bubble could be presented as an interactive element, where students are to label and cut out the pieces. Perhaps they can then group with others to work in cooperative learning groups to form larger double bubble maps. This not only creates a more memorable experience for students but also allows students to view and compare their ideas with the ideas of others, some of which they may not have considered.


Figure 2: Hands-on experiential double bubble (Kurtz, 2016).

Once students have had an opportunity to interact with learned material, they can utilize their completed graphic organizers for further reflection. For example, the completed double bubble map can be utilized for writing activities and classroom projects. Their completed graphic organizers serve as outlines for developing and embellishing on learned material. In addition, by stretching these ideas to the next level, this provides teachers with multiple opportunities to assess student learning (Drake & Burns, 2004). It is essential that students learn a variety of skills in order to understand what has been learned or read. “The written word is important to the understanding of cultural heritage and to the acquisition of knowledge about the world (Scheuerman, 2016). C By implementing memorable experiential learning activities and opportunities to explore the ideas of peers, students can expand on their learning and develop classroom projects that exhibit new knowledge.

Graphic organizers help teachers develop lessons and activities that help students reflect and further explore their learning. Rather than just assign a worksheet to get students to interact with learned material, these resources can be further utilized to help students explore content while also having memorable classroom experiences. Once these materials are utilized and processed, they should not be disregarded but further utilized to develop more reflective learning activities that can be assessed.


Drake, S. M. & Burns, R. C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Scheuerman, R. (2016). Session IV: Reflective thinking and language arts standards [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site:


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