Remember, Remember The…Hang On When Was World War Two, Sir?

Knowledge organisers are no new addition to the blogging world. Jon Brunskill in particular with this blog https://pedfed.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/im-bringing-knowledge-back/ inspired me to re-give them a go and some of the ideas in this blog stem from him. Me and knowledge organisers have had a love/hate relationship. I’ve found the good and the bad through using them for the last few terms, but have really settled now on a decision: they’re blooming brilliant.

In Primary, I think they can be presented in many ways, but I’ve settled on mine being just a list of key facts, dates, people, events and vocabulary. Occasionally I think about shoeing in a key concept, but actually at primary age, these things need explicitly teaching and explaining and probably can’t be sufficiently summarised in a few sentences to reignite understanding in a way that they might be able to for Year 11.

Here, for example, is my recent Titanic one for Year 6.

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Nothing too onerous, but enough information that means when we’re doing a piece of academic writing or reading, the key background knowledge is there to ensure the children can access it at a deeper level. As we analysed who might be at fault for the low-quality rivets in the Titanic, children could quickly and succinctly make judgements without having to continuously and laboriously search texts and/or their memory for who the owner was, who built the Titanic, where it was built and so on and so forth, but there was also enough interesting information omitted (for example in this instance I left out that White Star Line was the ship company, based just down the road, as we will now go and see the offices) that their interest doesn’t wane.

This example of a Year 1 knowledge organiser from Jon is also excellent – look at the expectation on Year 1 vocabulary!

(Just a side note that I am well aware of the vast difference in quality between mine and Jon’s, bear with me, I’m still learning)

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The great thing about these is that the kids will genuinely learn lots of stuff, if you play your cards right. After all, lots of us have taught World War Two and been considering what we might learn from it or how rationing would have affected the population when someone sticks their hand up and says ‘when was World War Two again?’ That or your entire class sits in quiet oblivion, completely unable to comprehend rationing at the time because they’ve forgotten when it was and so can’t feasibly make the connection in their heads. Imagine if you could teach the topic to a room full of people that knew every country involved, when it happened, who the leaders were and so on and so forth. Your life would be so much easier (and your local secondary history teacher might give you a pat on the back).

So how can we use them? I’ve talked about them a few times and people have gone ‘ah well mine won’t look at them’. Well, they only won’t look at them if you don’t make them accountable for looking at them.

So here are some ways that have worked for me (again, some pinched from Jon).

We stick the knowledge organisers in the book at the start of a topic, and also send one home as homework. I also put one on Seesaw for easy reference from the children.

 

 
Quiz, Quiz, Trade

Easy and interactive, set up a bunch of questions based on your knowledge organiser, with the answers also written on. Children walk around the room finding a partner and ask their question expecting the answer (if they get it wrong, they give clues, coach to the right answer, or if it’s hopeless, simply give the answer and then expect it to be repeated to them). When both of the pair has the correct answer, they swap cards and jolly off to find a new partner. Doesn’t matter if they get the same card more than once as they are just over-learning the basic facts.

Kahoot

We all love a good kahoot right? You’ll need tablets for this one, but you set up a bunch of multiple choice questions and fastest (and most accurate) finger wins.

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Just A Minute

 

Give the children exactly one minute to say everything they know about your topic. Here’s one of my Year 6s absolutely dumping information out about the Titanic.https://twitter.com/MrBoothY6/status/1009103157635534849

Keep a leaderboard. You can also get them to do it partnered. Partner A gets 1 minute while partner B counts how many facts they get and switch.  Our current record is 21. Plus, it’s a big oracy plus, especially if you have lots of EAL as we do.

 

Just Do A Little Quiz

Kids love em. They take about two minutes to make. They can mark em themselves using their own knowledge organiser. Simple?

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Thanks for reading!

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