The Pathways for Learning book series is a resource of visual organizers designed to assist students, and those working with them, in organizing language for academic success. The contents found within these books were inspired from our actual learning experiences with children. The Pathways for Learning series provides visual organizers that, when coupled with cognitive mediation strategies, can be used as tools to facilitate comprehension and recall of oral and written language experiences across academic areas including vocabulary and concept development, grammar and writing, literature, and classroom content. Additionally, visual organizers for therapy planning and record keeping are available. The visual organizers in these books were developed to assist children with their learning by providing them a visual guide to record essential information. Younger children can use basic pictures and print on enlarged visual organizers to assist them in comprehending new vocabulary and increase knowledge of word relationship patterns. Older students learn how to identify important information from lectures and reading materials, an ability essential for notetaking, writing papers, and preparing for exams. The visual organizers provided follow an organizational pattern where concepts are defined, characteristics identified, and examples are provided in a visually similar pattern. Using such organizers allows students to “see”, in a visually explicit format, the concepts being learned while providing a hierarchical framework for reflection and critical thinking. With repetitive use of visually similar organizers, students can begin to better recognize the predictable patterns often encountered within the language of the classroom and establish “internal mental models” that provide an organizational framework for building language skills and improving comprehension and expression.
The visual organizers found in Pathways to Learning series were developed solely as tools to complement instruction by providing students a visual structure for thinking and reasoning, organizing and planning, and communicating their knowledge and intent. Visual organizers provide a scaffold for eliciting and organizing information by showing the connections between concepts involved within the complex language of communication and learning. More specifically, they provide an additional modality of instructional support to complement cognitive mediation, or verbal scaffolding strategies, such as guided questioning, modeling, and elaborating. The visual permanency provided by the completed organizers offers a means of extensive reflection and guidance, reducing auditory processing and working memory demands of verbal instruction. They are not only available for breaking down tasks and recording information; they are also a tool to facilitate improved comprehension and critical thinking. Once completed, students can use visual organizers to pull information back together into a meaningful gestalt, an effective tool for summarizing content verbally and in writing. With ongoing use of familiar organizers, students utilize a predictable and organized approach to learning concepts and recalling information; a helpful strategy when learning new concepts and dealing with the discourse demands of literature, expository text, and note-taking. While the organizers facilitate a structured approach to thinking, students should be given the opportunity to complete the organizers in a flexible manner. Additionally, providing students the opportunity to manipulate information by developing their own examples facilitates greater depth of comprehension and mastery of skills.
Within each section you will find a brief introduction, followed by blank organizers provided for personalized use. To illustrate their use, student examples have been included.