Using Graphic Organizers in Basic and Special Education

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Graphic organizers are frequently used aids to aid in the comprehension of informational text for both regular and special education students in elementary, intermediate and secondary grade levels. They are simply defined as a visual representation of information in the text. According to Ausubel’s work, they enhance students’ learning and retention of unfamiliar but meaningful materials (Manoli & Papadopulou, 2012). The use of graphic organizers enables teachers to facilitate the readers’ understanding of the text through visual depictions of key terms and concepts and the relationships among them (Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Shangjin, 2004). Because students with learning disabilities often have difficulty with everyday reading and organizational skills such as connecting new materials to prior knowledge, drawing inferences, and identifying and ignoring unnecessary information, it becomes especially challenging when these students are faced with challenging expository text with which to interpret and comprehend (Dexter & Hughes, 2011). With the current emphasis in education on higher order thinking, educators must provide students with effective strategies to expand their skills (Sundeen, 2007). Therefore , in order to facilitate the highest level of learning possible, the learning strategy of using graphic organizers can be beneficial (Kim et al., 2004). While recognizing that students with learning disabilities have these difficulties, the argument does exist that
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