Organise Ideas: Thinking by Hand, Extending the Mind, by Oliver Caviglioli & David Goodwin

Organise Ideas: Thinking by Hand, Extending the Mind, by Oliver Caviglioli & David Goodwin

What is the book about?

Organise Ideas, written by Oliver Caviglioli and David Goodwin, is about how to optimise student learning through the use of diagrams and models. This book uses research evidence related to cognitive science to help teachers understand what types of graphic organisers (or word diagrams) are useful to students and how each one improves learning and memory in different contexts.

Read our Q&A with Oliver Caglioli and David Goodwin discussing Organise Ideas…

Four types of graphic organisers exist, where information can either be defined and chunked, compared, sequenced or establish cause and effect relationships. The authors explain how to select the correct type of graphic organiser, how to design them and when to use them. The book highlights the importance of looking at the nature of the information before presenting it in a graphic organiser.

Why read this book?

This book is a detailed, yet comprehensive manual about designing an effective graphic organiser to portray information, backed by research. This book tells you how to choose the correct type of graphic organiser and how to design them. It also refers to teachers’ personal experiences using different types of graphic organisers across different subjects, suggesting real life applications for each type.

It explains complex concepts like the use of spatial arrangement, and external memory fields such as graphic organisers and how this helps to relieve the brain of cognitive load, resulting in better learning and memory retention.

Who is this book for?

Written by teachers for teachers, this book is aimed at educators interested in learning how to help students to optimise their memory and academic performance. Teachers can use it like a manual to learn how to construct and design diagrams that enhance student learning in different subject areas. The inclusion of summarised research and personal accounts of teachers using graphic organisers gives teachers practical strategies and ideas on how to use them across their own teaching. Anyone who has an interest in the science of learning and how to effectively communicate and present information in its most basic and concise form will benefit from reading it.

Evidence base

Many theories and concepts about how we think and communicate are covered in Organise Ideas, and these form the basis of graphic organiser designs. These theories are well-researched within the realm of psychology, with examples including Cognitive Load Theory, schemas and Dual Coding. The evidence forming the basis of graphic organisers is highly reputable, and the book’s references to specific research means that readers know exactly what to look for if they want to access wider reading.


The book is divided into 5 main sections, with each section providing an outline of what will be discussed.

  • Why? – What theories are subject to graphic organisers
  • What? – The four different types of graphic organisers and how to select the correct one based on the type of information you are conveying
  • How? – How to construct graphic organisers and input the relevant information
  • Who? – Teachers’ experiences using graphic organisers across different age groups and subjects
  • When? – When graphic organisers are best used, and with which other strategies

We especially liked chapter 4 of the book. The examples given by other teachers about how they implemented different graphic organisers to explain concepts across a range of subjects makes Organise Ideas a great reference point for teachers. Any educator will recognise the versatility of this book. It is useful to read from cover to cover to gain a broader understanding of how students learn. However, with a layout similar to a manual, teachers can also easily flick to the pages that explain specific graphic organisers without necessarily reading the entire book over again.


This book is designed to make graphic organisers, teaching strategies and the research that backs them up extremely accessible. The highly effective use of example diagrams allows teachers to visualise how they would use graphic organisers in their own classrooms. This book is a very useful tool not only for teachers looking to increase their students’ memory and performance, but also for anyone who has an interest in how we think and how to effectively communicate and remember information.

Value for money

Given its extensiveness, its usefulness to educators and students, and its evidence base, Organise Ideas has a great value for money: £20.70 for a resource you will probably use for years to come. It collates such a wealth of knowledge by combining information from both research and teacher perspectives, and is well worth the price.

Why we love this book

  • Extensive explanation on how to design and use graphic organisers
  • Applicable, with real-life examples from teachers’ personal experiences
  • Effective use of diagrams and infographics within the book itself
  • Clear, easy to navigate structure
  • References lots of research pointing to many useful wider resources

Final thoughts

Organise Ideas presents a wide range of knowledge about teaching and learning in one place. The format allows teachers to pull out relevant information when necessary, but as a whole gives a very extensive account of how we think and learn. The use of research and teachers’ personal experiences to support the ideas presented in the book gives readers a broad perspective on education.

The correct and appropriate use of graphic organisers could revolutionise teaching and allow students to retain more information. Everyone, from teachers to students to anyone curious about the way we think and absorb information, will benefit from reading this book.

To learn even more about the book and how it came to be, read our Q&A with authors, Oliver Caviglioli and David Goodwin here.

Other books you might like

If you have already read this book or are looking to expand your knowledge of teaching practices further, we recommend reading:

Related resources

If you have limited time but still want to read something that will allow you to make positive changes to your classroom, why not try some of our blogs? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Our Review Summary

Overall Rating:

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Organise Ideas is a detailed, yet comprehensive manual to design effective graphic organisers to portray information, written by and for teachers. To explain how to choose the right type of graphic organiser, how to design it, and when to use it, the authors rely on highly reputable research. All this research is clearly cited, making further reading incredibly easy.

Despite balancing complex concepts of boosting learning without cognitive overload, this book is extremely accessible, making it a very useful tool. Any educator will recognise the versatility of this book and enjoy reading it cover-to-cover. We particularly enjoyed how effective the example diagrams were at allowing teachers to visualise how to apply the advice to their own classrooms.

Overall, this is a resource you’re likely to use for years to come and relate to through the many real-life examples and personal experiences Goodwin and Caviglioli share throughout the book.