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Advance Organisers

Advance Organisers An Article describing the concept of the Advance Organiser and its benefits for pupil understanding and recall.

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.

Winston Churchill

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Assessment, Planning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Planning Assessment Visual Thinking Advance Organiser
Let me move your jaw
You enter the restaurant. The waitress leads you to a table. You sit down. “Your food’s on its way,” she tells you. “But I haven’t seen the menu or ordered my meal!” you reply. “Don’t worry madam, that’s my job. It’s all taken care of. You just wait there. And by the way, when your food arrives I’ll be more than happy to place it into your mouth and move your jaw up and down to help you chew.”

More than copying the LO
Acceptable? Surely not. Analogous to classroom learning? Quite probably. How often do pupils see the lesson menu before the learning begins? When do they ever get an overview and choices? How often do we teachers simply deliver up the (however well designed) learning tasks, cold and unannounced? Established research suggests that we should begin lessons by deeply connecting recent to immanent learning. And this is far more than an instruction to “copy down the learning objective”. This is the Advance Organiser.

What is an AO?
An Advance Organiser (AO) is designed specifically to prepare pupils for the upcoming lesson or sequence of lessons. It’s there to prime the pump, to join the dots, to give meaning and relevance to pupil experience. It’s a bridge from existing knowledge to new facts; from current skill levels to their next step; and from prevailing attitudes to their evolution. It’s both a map and a diary, a plan and a chronicle.

What do they look like?
Advance Organisers take many forms and include diverse content. Some may comprise bullet points of key learning themes; others could use narrative and analogy to paint a picture. Another approach might be simply skimming or scanning the upcoming material. Advance Organisers are often graphic: a visual overview, a concept map, mind map or well-chosen photograph.

What must they include?
But however they look, Advance Organisers have 4 things in common:

1. They present a higher level of abstraction than the learning they aim to connect (baked goods is a higher level abstraction of custard tart)
2. They connect prior and future learning
3. They provide a context and rationale for learning
4. They aim to improve understanding and recall

Describe the for new adventurers
The design and production of Advance Organisers needn’t be an onerous task for teachers, especially as the organiser itself is simply a representation of the learning territory being explored. The difference is that the teacher has been there before and knows the terrain. The pupils haven’t, and don’t, yet.

Related Resources:

Advance Organiser - Think Sheet

Advance Organiser Powerpoint

Advance Organiser Thinking

CFU Thinking



Mastery Planner

Visual+ Thinking

Visualising Knowledge


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