Disclaimer: If you want to read about the WHY behind designing custom graphic organizers in my class, keep reading. I like to talk, so if you want to go straight to the instructions, scroll down!
This is the first year that I have had the opportunity to guide my learners through Project Time, sometimes know as Genius Hour or Passion Project. If you are not familiar with this, Project Time is one period a week in which learners have the freedom to learn about something that speaks to them, or interests them, and probably wouldn’t appear in the usual units taught in the classroom. Maybe a students wants to know more about composing music, or harp seals, or making slime. As long as learners have a purpose in mind and are working towards their goals, it’s doable! Pretty cool if you ask me.
I was eager to jump on the Project Time bandwagon at the start of the year and was happy to have some help getting started with organization thanks to Kath Murdoch’s The Power of Inquiry (a must read for any inquiry teacher!). She includes several great tools in her book to get learners on the right track to be purposeful in their personal inquiries.
As Project Time got underway in my classroom, I found myself running to the photocopier more than I wanted. Two students wanted to change their project topics–go copy. Another student can’t find her daily planning sheet–go copy. And each week daily planning sheets needed to be handed out again. Plus, with learners working at their own pace, new project proposal sheets needed to be made at different times. I knew there had to be a better way to avoid this headache.
My first attempt at going digital was to ask my class to hop onto Seesaw and add a quick post at the end of each Project Time period to let me know what they accomplished and what their next steps were. Not bad, but this only cut down my paperwork a little bit. I needed to do something more.
When I became a Seesaw Ambassador this year, I remembered coming across a slideshow containing different graphic organizers that could be used for Seesaw. Aha! I could create my own and go completely digital!
I used Kath Murdoch’s graphic organizers from her book and recreated them with small changes to the spaces for student input. Here are the final products:
I wanted to make sure it worked the way I hoped it would, so using Seesaw’s file upload option and the abilities to add text and draw, I was able to do this:
BINGO! Now I have a solution to paper waste and wasted time! The beauty is that you can custom make ANY kind of graphic organizer you want for you learners.
1.) Use Google Slides, PowerPoint, or Keynote to make your custom graphic organizer template. For mine, I used Google Slides and added lines, shapes, images, and text boxes to create the desired look. I started with a blank layout, changed the background color, and built up from there.
2.) Once your graphic organizer is made, save it as a JPEG image.
3.) Now open Seesaw. In Seesaw, choose the green add button to add a new item and choose the option to Share Activity.
4.) Choose Create New to create a custom activity for your class/group of students/individuals.
5.) Fill in the information for the new activity. Choose “Add template for students to edit.”
6.) Choose the option to Add File. This is where you will upload your custom graphic organizer. Choose your file from your device.
7.) After you have selected the file, click the green check button.
8.) On the next screen, you can either choose the green check button, or if you want to add further information, choose one of the options at the bottom of the screen.
9.) Next, either choose to Preview the activity or Save as Draft.
10.) Finally, choose the green Share button at the bottom of the screen.
11.) When your learners open the activity in Seesaw, they will have the option to add text anywhere on the graphic organizer and draw/write their responses. It’s that easy!
If you want to use a common graphic organizer, you can search online for an image of one, save to your device, and use the same steps as above without the hassle of designing your own. If you have a resource book with graphic organizers, you can take a photo of the desired organizer, upload to your device, and again follow the steps above.
I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!
Freebie! If you want to make a copy of the organizers featured in this blog post, click here!