Organizing Information Lesson - Sorting Pictures

This is a lesson developed by Mike to teach Big6 #5.1 - Organizing Information.  

Students are placed in groups of 4-6.  Each group is given a large envelope containing 14-18 pictures cut out from magazines. The pictures can be of any content and of any (reasonable) size.  To create the sets of pictures, Mike usually gets a pile of old magazines and just starts cutting them up.  He then mixes up the pictures as much as possible. No attempt is made to coordinate the pictures placed in an envelope. 

Okay, so every group has a set of pictures. Their task is to sort the pictures in a way that "makes sense to them." No other direction is given - just organize the pictures. The students (or adults) jump right in. They start sorting and talking about the content.  Then they start moving the pictures around. Some groups will use a very simple "category" scheme - people, place, things or other ways of clustering or describing. Others will tell a story - a narrative that strings together the pictures.  These storyteller groups always have a good time!  There are other ways to organize (a web around a common theme, chronologically, hierarchical) and the teacher can explain these more fully after the exercise is over.

After students finish the task, they have to give their "organized set" a name (e.g., A Day in the Life,Adventure, The Big Picture), and then describe how they organized the pictures. Usually one person in the group steps up to share with the whole class, but sometimes an entire group will explain it. It's usually very lively 

The teacher then summaries about the different ways to organize and points out examples in "real life."  If time, the students can re-organize their pictures in a different way - using one of the other approaches discussed.

Finally, the teacher makes the connection to an upcoming assignment - hopefully one that will benefit from good organization (poster, paper, video, porject, report), but it can be anytihing.

Attached is a PDF of PowerPoint used as part of presenting this flexible lesson to other educators. - Organizing (Pictures).pdf