One of my favorite tools for kinesthetic learners are foldable organizers. Foldable organizers are three dimensional “window notes” that create flaps and folds that students must manipulate in order to access the information they have written. In other words, it seamlessly knits the action of manipulating the notes with the information that students are required to learn.
When using foldable organizers, teachers should not be afraid to use colored paper and pictures. Often students need the “break” of cutting and gluing maps and pictures into the organizer in order for the information they have just learned to really solidify in their minds.
There are literally dozens of types of foldable organizers, and I am constantly inventing new ways to use this old concept. In fact, I include a foldable organizer as part of every unit that I teach. This post includes three of my favorite foldable organizers as well as a link to find dozen more.
When to Use:
Use the three flap organizer when you have three topics that you would like to compare and contrast. For example, I used this organizer in an American History class to compare pieces of immigration legislation in the early 20th century.
How to Make:
- Step 1: Fold a piece of paper in half “hotdog” style.
- Step 2: Using a ruler, draw two lines on one side of the “hotdog” that create three roughly equal parts. Only draw these lines on half of the hotdog (stop once you reach the fold).
- Step 3: Use scissors to cut along the line you have drawn, taking care to stop at the fold. This will create three flaps under which to record notes.
Tips and Tricks:
You can create two-flap or four-flap organizers to accomplish much the same thing with fewer or more topics. Simple create as many flaps as you need.
When to Use: Use the Five-Page booklet when you have a large topic that you would like to chunk into a few days’ worth of topics. For example, I have used this type of organizer when tackling a large topic such as Westward Expansion.
How to Make:
- Step 1: Hold two (or three) pieces of colored paper in a landscape orientation. Lay the pieces of paper on top of one another such that each paper reveals about an inch of the right side of the paper below it.
- Step 2: Fold the paper “hamburger” style toward the exposed edges so that you create three (or five) layers of paper. This creates flaps under which you can record notes.
- Step 3: Staple the top of the booklet. Use the exposed part of each flap to write a title for that section of notes.
You can use this type of organizer across several class periods. It keeps all notes in the same place, and can be difficult to lose when it is colored and an unusual shape. It provides a conveniently predictable note-taking strategy that can extend across a unit.
When to Use: Use the brochure when you have a lot of facts that you need students to remember about a place or topic. For example, when teaching the Middle Colonies, I asked students to create a “travel brochure” encourages colonists to visit New Jersey, New York and Delaware. Students took notes from a Power Point presentation about each colony in the brochure.
How to Make:
The simplest way to create this type of organizer is to use the templates available in Microsoft Word. You can create convenient spaces for students to records responses in. However, you can also create brochures quickly without using Word at all:
- Step 1: Fold a piece of paper like an accordion twice, as if putting it into a business sized envelope.
- Step 2: Label the front of the brochure with the topic that you would like to take notes on, and use the folded sections within to take notes.
It is helpful to allow students to take time to digest information when given this quickly. For example, when I used the Middle Colonies brochure, I allowed students to create a motto for each colony after taking notes on it. They loved sharing their mottos, and it allowed them to think about what they had just written. You can include questions for students to answer after each section, or allow them to draw pictures that show the information they are learning. Be creative!
The web is filled with resources to help teachers get ideas about how to use foldables in their classrooms. Here are some places to get you started:
- Kirk Robbins, “Foldables in Science.” Science for All.
- Official Dinah Zike’s foldable website.
- Foldable Guide: Hold to Fold Foldables.