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Mining Complex Text, Grades 2-5

Mining Complex Text, Grades 2-5
Using and Creating Graphic Organizers to Grasp Content and Share New Understandings

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October 2014 | 184 pages | Corwin

“How many times have you heard ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ . . . In this text, Lapp, Wolsey, Wood, and Johnson make a vital connection between reading words and the role of graphics. They demonstrate how teachers and students can blend the two such that great learning occurs in every classroom, every day.”

Coauthor of Rigorous Reading

Imagine you are a fourth grader, reading about our solar system for the first time. Or you’re a high school student, asked to compare survival in Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Reading complex texts of any kind is arduous, and now more than ever, students are being asked to do highly advanced thinking, talking, and writing around their reading. If only there were ingenious new power tools that could give students the space to tease apart complex ideas in order to comprehend and to weld their understandings into a new whole.

Good news: such tools exist. In the two volumes, Mining Complex Texts, Grades 2-5 and 6-12, a formidable author team shares fresh ways to use the best digital and print graphic organizers in whole-class, small-group, and independent learning.  Big believers of the gradual release method, the authors roll out dozens of examples of dynamic lessons and collaborative work across the content areas so that we see the process of using these visual tools to:

  • Help students read, reread, and take notes on a text
  • Promote students’ oral sharing of information and their ideas 
  • Elevate organized note-making from complex text(s)
  • Scaffold students’ narrative and informational writing
  • Move students to independent thinking as they learn to create their own organizing and note-taking systems

Gone are the days of fill-‘em-in and forget-‘em graphic organizers. With these two volumes, teachers and professional development leaders have a unified vision of how to use these tools to meet the demands of an information-saturated world, one in which students need to be able to sift, sort, synthesize, and apply knowledge with alacrity and skill.


Chapter 1. Graphic Organizers: Making the Complex Comprehensible
How to Think About Standards Alignment

How to Help Students Meet the Standards

Tips for Using Graphic Organizers Dynamically

How to Meet Eight Intertwined Academic Goals

What Lies Ahead in This Book

Chapter 2. Thinking on the Page: The Research Behind Why Graphic Organizers Work
Picture This: Visuals Quicken and Deepen Text Learning

General Tips: How to Use Graphic Organizers Well

Tiered Organizers: Scaffold Student Progress

Examples of Tiered Graphic Organizers

Adapting Graphic Organizers for Tiered Learning

A Sample Tiered Lesson

At-a-Glance Chart of Graphic Organizers Matched to Academic Goals

Chapter 3. Using Graphic Organizers to Acquire Academic Vocabulary
Frayer Organizer

Concept/Definition Map

Word Map

Chapter 4. Graphic Organizers Support Literary Text Reading and Writing Tasks
Character Graphic

Freytag’s Pyramid

Chapter 5. Graphic Organizers Support Informational Text Reading and Writing Tasks
Text Search and Find Board

4-Square With a Diamond

Modified KWL

Tabbed Book Manipulative

Chapter 6. Graphic Organizers Support Students’ Reading Proficiencies

Understanding Text Structures: Five Text Types

Chapter 7. Graphic Organizers Boost Questioning and Responding
I-Chart and I-Guide

Flip Chart Manipulative

Text-Dependent Question/Response Organizer

Chapter 8. Graphic Organizers Foster Reading, Forming, and Writing Opinions
Six-Part Opinion Organizer

Thinking Map

Chapter 9. Graphic Organizers Support Collaboration
Project Management Organizer



“How many times have you heard ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Visual, graphic information is important because human brains are hard-wired to attend to images. The challenge is that students still have to read words to achieve success. In this text, Lapp, Wolsey, Wood, and Johnson make a vital connection between reading words and the role of graphics. They demonstrate how teachers and students can blend the two such that great learning occurs in every classroom, every day.”

DOUGLAS FISHER, Coauthor of Rigorous Reading

“Lapp, Wolsey, Wood, and Johnson have written a book that will become the resource for using graphic organizers across disciplines! With careful attention to the details teachers crave in order to design meaningful lessons, the authors guide teachers on a journey that takes them far beyond the traditional uses of graphic organizers—jotting notes and organizing information—and show teachers how these visual tools lead students to independent thinking and inquiry, as well as support the Common Core reading and writing standards. What I love about this book is that it fosters original thinking among students as they design graphic organizers that enable them to unpack meaning from complex texts and develop arguments for essays.”

LAURA ROBB, Author of Vocabulary Is Comprehension

“Professional books have long urged teachers to use graphic organizers, but most of these books are dreadfully short on specifics. Diane Lapp and her colleagues have addressed this problem in an admirable fashion. They examine with care the kinds of organizers available to teachers, together with when and how to use them. And by showing how organizers transcend disciplinary boundaries, the authors pave the way for a school-wide focus for professional learning. Educators endeavoring to meet the challenges of the Common Core should mark this title as a must-read. This engaging book is long overdue and I recommend it enthusiastically!” 

MICHAEL MCKENNA, Coauthor of Assessment for Reading Instruction, Second Edition

“For educators looking for ways to implement graphic organizers in their classrooms, this is the resource for you. The numerous types of graphic organizers, the research behind them, and the how and why to use them with students are all at your fingertips. I envision this book being especially helpful for teachers new to the field just learning about graphic organizers.”

LESLIE BLAUMAN, Author of The Common Core Companion, Grades 3-5
Key features
  • extensive combinations of graphic organizer templates as reproducibles along with instructional examples created for and by teachers for K-5 students. 
  •  Readers of this book will appreciate models of the types of graphic organizers that will help them work with students to achieve CCSS expectations.
  • Each graphic organizer will contain three to five examples demonstrating the scalability of graphic organizers in reading, writing, and discussion contexts along with digital versions of graphic organizers that build on the social and read/write nature (sometimes referred to as Web 2.0) of the internet.
  • Links to digital tools will be shared via a social bookmarking site that is dynamic and updated often.
    • “Question Yourself” feature at the end of chapters 2-5 gives teachers the opportunity to practice developing their own TDQs with an additional text or excerpt provided—which they can then compare to sample questions for that text on the book’s website.

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