Teaching Skills: content organization

Tools for Teaching Navigation

Tools for Teaching: Introduction

Facilitation Skills: TheĀ art of group facilitation

Teaching and Presentation Skills: Keep these techniques in mind

Tips for Programs: Practical examples and resources

1. Choosing an Overall Organizational Pattern

Time-tested, Logical Organizational Patterns

  • Chronological/Sequential – trace something historically, then project into the future; explain something in the exact order in which it occurs (trace history of conservation practices; how to operate a machine).
  • Cause/Effect – show both negative and positive effects of specific actions (review factors that effect water quality).
  • Question-Answer – think about all the major questions related to your topic and consolidate them into 2-4 key ones (“Today we will answer three basic questions”).
  • Three Ideas – focus attention on key concepts, topics, issues, or themes that serve as advance organizers (three goals; the good, the bad and the ugly).
  • Spatial or Physical Order – describe the parts of an object that occupies space or things that occur at various locations (what happens where on a farm).
  • Topical Grouping – divide your topic into logical segments or subtopics (steps in planning and delivering an effective presentation).
  • Problem/Solution – state a problem and offer a solution (how to increase attendance at annual meeting).
  • Key phrases – use the same short or descriptive phrase to introduce each new idea (“Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the Future”: The difference between SWCDs of the future and SWCDs today… Of the many changes shaping the SWCDs of the Future, four stand out…).
  • Extended metaphor or analogy – present your topic by comparing it to something well understood (how a presentation is like an airplane flight).

Using one of these organizational approaches gives your listener a road map with guideposts along the way. It is then easier for your listener to travel with you, staying on track.

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.