Graphic Organizers are great tools for helping students organize their thoughts. One of the most useful Thinking strategy tools available is David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps. You can download Thinking Maps Software for free. The software allows you to create any of the maps and print it out. I have found that students really seem to enjoy using the software rather than pen and paper. Another big advantage is that you can add notes to the maps. As a teacher this allows you to create assignments around the maps, calling for students to use the maps to organize their thoughts and then use the notes to write a paragraph or essay response. To my mind this aspect, moving from the graphic organizer to the writing task, is the most crucial part of the exercise, and having software that allows you to do it seamlessly is a huge help.
I sometimes use the software itself to set up the task. I draw up a blank Thinking Map template and add a question in the notes. I save this file and post it on Moodle. Students just need to download it, fill in the Thinking Map and answer the assignment question in the notes section. They then save and upload the assignment to Moodle. No mess, no fuss!
To my mind, allowing students to work with the graphic organizer and their written response side by side on the screen is a key affordance of the technology, and helps consolidate the cognitive development the Thinking Maps are intended to produce.