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ORDER is an acronym for
  • Open your mind,
  • Recognize the structure,
  • Draw an organizer,
  • Explain it, and
  • Reuse it.

The ORDER strategy recognizes both the power of graphical organizers to assist students in visualizing the organization of information in a reading selection and the importance of independent, unguided student thought. This strategy calls for students, rather than teachers, to produce graphical organizers.

These student-produced organizers take two forms. If the student recognizes one of the common organizational structures—enumeration/description, time order/sequence, compare/contrast, cause/effect, or problem/solution—in a document, they may choose to employ one of the standard graphical organizer forms. If none of the common structures are applicable, then students build a custom form to visually represent the organization of ideas in a document.

Steps in an ORDER Exercise:

  1. Select a document for students to read. Ask students to take notes on the key concepts and structure of the document. Have them produce a simple outline of the document's contents.

  2. Ask students to evaluate the document's organization against the five standard organizational patterns. If the organization matches one of these patterns, have students complete the corresponding graphical organizer form to visually represent the document's content and structure. If the organization does not match any of the standard patterns, encourage students to build their own graphical representation of the document's structure.

  3. Open a class discussion to compare student conclusions. If students disagree on the best organizer to describe the document's organization, have students explain each viewpoint and defend them with evidence from the text.

Learn More:

  • Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

  • General Strategies


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