Knowledge Organisers 

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What are knowledge organisers?

A knowledge organiser is a page of information and facts that pupils will need to know and be able to recall in order to successfully make progress in a unit or topic. Generally a knowledge organiser will be one page per topic. This helps pupils to visualize the layout of the page which in turn helps them to memorise the information better.

Why use knowledge organisers?

GCSEs and BTECs are becoming increasingly challenging. The focus of these exams is now based on memory and recall of key facts.  This puts increasing pressure on our students to know and retain even more information across at least three years (and in some cases as long as five years).

Typically, students leave revision until a few weeks (best case scenario) or days/hours (worst case scenario) before the examinations and tests. This presents a problem.  Short term memory is designed to be short term and has limited capacity.  Students find themselves unable to retain the information, they become stressed and often give up, convincing themselves they are no good at revising or that they “can’t do subject ‘x’ ”.

The secret to success is to regularly revisit the knowledge to be learned (known as ‘spaced retrieval’). This helps transfer the knowledge from the short-term memory to the long term memory. This not only helps to make ‘learning stick’ but it also frees up our short-term memory for day to day learning and experiences.

In school, lessons are planned around checking the ‘spaced retrieval’ on a regular basis to ensure that short term memory is becoming long term knowledge.

How will a knowledge organiser help my child?

Knowledge organisers will be made available at the start of each unit (in each subject) to help them remember what they’re learning. Instead of forgetting previous learning, pupils continually revisit and retrieve prior learning from their memories. You can find the current Knowledge organisers for the different subjects on the next few pages.

Many of you ask us how you can help to support your children at home. Some of you are worried that you don’t have all of the subject specific knowledge to be able to help your children. Some of you worry how to check that your children have done their homework and revision. The knowledge organisers will help you to do this easily.

Most revision and learning tasks set will be linked to all/some aspects of the organiser. This might be to learn keyword spellings or to write an extended response that uses some/all of the knowledge from the organiser.  Some subjects will give a “menu” of ideas that you and your child can choose from in order to revise and learn key information from the knowledge organisers.

Here are some strategies that might help you to do this.

  • Read through the organiser with your son/daughter – if you don’t understand the content then ask them to explain it to you – ‘teaching’ you helps them to reinforce their learning.

  • Try putting the information into a mind map or make their own version using clip art imagery if the organiser contains a lot of text. Display on the wall or the fridge door until the memory ‘sticks’.

  • Test them regularly on the spellings of key words until they are perfect. Make a note of the ones they get wrong – is there a pattern to the spelling of those words?

  • Get them to make word or vocabulary list of key words with definitions or a list of formulae.

  • Try recording the knowledge from the organiser as an mp3 sound file that your child can listen to. Some pupils retain more information this way.

  • Read sections out to them, missing out key words or phrases that they have to fill in. Miss out more and more until they are word perfect.

  • Once they are word perfect and can remember all of the knowledge on the organiser, use the internet or a book to find out more or ask the teacher for some (more) exam questions.

  • If the subject offers revision guides, consider buying them to consolidate and extend the learning taking place in the classroom.

Any extra effort put in outside of the classroom has huge benefits in helping students make progress.  The more your child uses their knowledge organisers outside, the more confident they will become in their learning.  Remember, little and often is best when it comes to improving your memory of key information.  When you begin to be successful, there is a boost to self-esteem and confidence, which generally brings with it even more success!