It was this blogpost by Joe Kirby, written in 2015, that first alerted me to the concept of Knowledge Organisers (I was so relieved when I found it again for this blogpost!). A brief synopsis of his thoughts can be provided in this single quote "A knowledge organiser sets out the important, useful and powerful knowledge on a topic on a single page (Kirby, 2015)". Important, useful and powerful - three superlatives that truly emphasise the impact knowledge organisers can have when used correctly and when students are trained in the how, what and why. When we create them it ensures that we think carefully about what it is we want our students to learn. When students use them it provides them with the 'bigger picture' as well as being an inclusive tool for our disadvantaged students.Powerful knowledge is a concept that has been discussed increasingly over the last few years as we found ourselves designing our curriculum intents. In recent years the emphasis has shifted away from a focus on pedagogy (the how of teaching) and towards curriculum (the what of teaching). Ofsted’s revised inspection framework reflects this shift. So what role do knowledge organisers play within this mindset shift and what, at Mangotsfield School, are impactful strategies as we move into 2022?
When first introduced in 2018, thanks to some expert training by Hetty and Caroline, students were guided through the art of self-quizzing and knowledge organisers formed the backbone of our homework policy. Then the 'covid era' arose and their role shifted online, providing students with valuable access to the core content from 'afar' as well as useful introductions to topics yet to come. Now we are (hopefully) entering a more settled phase in students learning journeys, it is vitally important that we shine a light on their use in our classrooms day to day and provide effective strategies for how this can be done. Below are some examples from across various departments that it is useful to start 2022 reminding ourselves of.
1. Do Now Tasks - As part of our Mangotsfield Way students are provided with a do now task on their immediate arrival to our classrooms. There are many subject formats for this, each tailored specifically to your department curriculums, many of us using 1-5 retrieval questions for example. The RS department have consistently built the use of knowledge organisers into this activity. Instead of the teacher producing the five questions, students are asked to examine a part of the KO and write the questions themselves. Similarly to self-quizzing, they can then either answer the questions and mark with green pen OR alternatively, consider the use of a Kagan structure such as all write round robin to encourage students to answer each others questions.