Knowledge OrganisersAt St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School we have worked hard over the last 3 years to craft a curriculum which puts learning at its core. Sweller et al defined learning as “a change in long-term memory” and we use this to help our thinking about curriculum by specifying exactly what students should be able to memorise to allow them to think more deeply in their lessons.
Our initial work was heavily influenced by Joe Kirby’s blog “Specify subject knowledge in meticulous detail” as this outlines how Knowledge Organisers can be used as part of a knowledge-based curriculum. All students carry a Knowledge Organiser folder and use it both in class and at home. Below is an extract from Joe Kirby’s blog.
Specify subject knowledge in meticulous detail
The most powerful tool in the arsenal of the curriculum designer is the Knowledge Organiser. These organise all the most vital, useful and powerful knowledge on a single page. Here is an example for Year 7: the timeline, activists, quotations and political and legal vocabulary for a unit on apartheid South Africa. There are two reasons they are so useful: clarity for teachers, and memory for pupils.
Clarity for Teachers
Knowledge organisers clarify for everyone, from the Headteacher to brand new teachers, exactly what is being taught… We try hard to choose the most valuable content that we want all pupils to remember for ten years and beyond. And for each unit, we discipline ourselves to distil it onto a single page.
Memory for Pupils
Knowledge organisers are given to all pupils at the start of each unit to help them remember what they’re learning. No longer out of sight, out of mind: instead of leaving behind previous units’ content, teachers can recap quickly and easily in lessons. Instead of forgetting all about it, pupils continually revisit and retrieve prior learning from their memories.