Knowledge Organisers

As mentioned in my previous post I am going to use knowledge organisers in my GCSE resit classes next year.

At MathsConf14 I was fortunate to hear Hinal Bhudia and Dani Quinn’s  excellent workshop on ‘Memorable Learning’ which included knowledge organises.  Much of the content from this post will come from the presentation slides which can be found here.

During the presentation we were told that there are four different types of input, each requiring a different teaching approach:

  • Facts – can be learned, in part, as rote learning
  • Processes – require worked-examples, spacing and intelligent drills
  • Concepts – require showing, asking, checking and feeding back
  • Connections – are built up through structured comparisons

In this post I am only interested in facts, as that is where knowledge organisers are used.

What are facts?

  • Conventions and labels – vocabulary definitions, 360º around a point, etc.
  • Formulae – area, volume, etc.
  • Fingertip facts – times tables, angle sums etc.
  • Relational knowledge – parallel lines have the same gradient, dividing by 0.5 is the same as multiplying by 2.

How to teach facts?

  1. Decide what they are and define them as concisely and simply as possible.
  2. Identify which are essential for learning by heart.
  3. Teach them explicitly and directly by giving supporting examples (and non-examples).
  4. Space recall by using low-stakes quizzes and regular questioning.
  5. Make sure that ‘right is right’, there is no ‘close’ or ‘almost’.
  6. Quiz with partners (using knowledge organisers).
  7. Interrogate errors and reteach where necessary.

Knowledge Organisers were advised as a way to present facts to students and for them to keep them to refer to later.  Sheets with the facts and definitions are given to the students for each topic and then kept in a folder.

We were given some pointers on how to design knowledge organisers:

  •   DO:
    • Make sure it is quizzable with two clear parts – prompt and answer
    • Group themes
    • Distinguish between must know and supporting knowledge
    • Decide if words or images are best
    • Use multiple representations
    • Keep it concise but precise
  • DON’T
    • Write a revision guide
    • Codify processes
    • Keep anything that is difficult to define
    • Use lengthy explanations

So, I have had a go at designing one of my own – Primes, Factors and Multiples

Primes, Factors and Multiples

After experimenting with different layouts I decided on landscape view with two columns and a two column table.  This gives me a total of four columns per page, this makes it quizzable, gives flexibility in the layout and is an efficient use of space.  To distinguish between facts that must be known and those that are supporting knowledge I used different shading.

In addition to the facts I added the learning objectives.  I thought that this would be useful as students could see what processes are to be known in addition to the facts and could encourage connections to be made.


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