What it is: |
"A graphic organizer is a visual representation of concepts, knowledge, or information that can incorporate both text and pictures. Examples include calendars, maps, Venn diagrams, and flow charts. Graphic organizers allow the mind 'to see' undiscovered patterns and relationships."
See citations of journal articles on graphic organizer use from ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
Graphic organizers are particularly suited to:
- Assessing understanding or diagnosing misunderstanding
- Increasing recall
- Designing a complex structure (long texts, large web sites, etc.)
- Communicating complex ideas
- Incorporating both images and text
Classroom Examples: |
"Graphic organizers are valuable instructional tools. Unlike many tools that just have one purpose, graphic organizers are flexible and endless in application. One common trait found among graphic organizers is that they show the order and completeness of a student's thought process - strengths and weaknesses of understanding become clearly evident. Many graphic organizers show different aspects of an issue/problem - in close and also the big picture. Since many graphic organizers use short words or phrases, they are ideal for many types of learners, including English Language Learners with intermediate proficiency." (WriteDesign online)
There are many types of Graphic Organizers typically used in classrooms.
Some examples of commonly used in classrooms include:
- Concept, Story, or Character Maps
- Venn Diagram
- K-W-L Charts (What I Know, Want to find out, Learned)
- Flow Chart
- Spider Map
In Mrs. Roberts 4th grade classroom, students brainstorm what would be included in a good report on an animal. They list habitat, diet, behavior, and lifespan. Mrs. Roberts types the ideas into Kidspiration, displayed on a single computer. Once all ideas are listed, she switches into outline view, so that students can help to re-arrange the ideas into a sensible order. Each child can work from this outline in preparing their report, either on the computer or in hard copy.
Tips for Implementing:
Try out some visual displays.
The VisualThesaurus online is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus that displays the relationships between words and encourages vocabulary exploration.
A free concept mapping tool can be downloaded from
http://cmap.ihmc.us/. CmapTools empower users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps. It allows users to, among many other features, construct their Cmaps in their personal computer, share them on servers anywhere on the Internet, link their Cmaps to other Cmaps on servers, automatically create web pages of their concept maps on servers, edit their maps synchronously (at the same time) with other users on the Internet, and search the web for information relevant to a concept map.
Classroom Ideas for Inspiration/Kidspiration
Computer-Based Study Strategies:
Creating Graphic Organizers Using Microsoft Word
Graphic Organizer Graphics
Graphic Organizer Makers
Graphic Organizers and Implications for Universal Design for Learning: Curriculum Enhancement Report
Graphic Organizers for Science
Interactive Thinking Tools - Free from Intel
Math Graphic Organizers for Students with Disabilites
Schema Activation" Construction" and Application
Score: Schools of California Online Resources for Education
Structured Writing—Using Inspiration Software to Teach Paragraph Development
Teacher Activity Bank