Teaching and Learning with Graphic Organizers


Introduction to Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers guide learners’ thinking as they fill in and build upon a visual map or diagram. Graphic organizers are some of the most effective visual learning strategies for students and are applied across the curriculum to enhance learning and understanding of subject matter content. In a variety of formats dependent upon the task, graphic organizers facilitate students’ learning by helping them identify areas of focus within a broad topic, such as a novel or article. Because they help the learner make connections and structure thinking, students often turn to graphic organizers for writing projects.

In addition to helping students organize their thinking and writing process, graphic organizers can act as instructional tools. Teachers can use graphic organizers to illustrate a student’s knowledge about a topic or section of text showing areas for improvement. For more graphic organizer examples including, webs, concept maps and mind maps click here

                 Graphic Organizer Example


Definition of a Graphic Organizer

A graphic organizer is a visual display that demonstrates relationships between facts, concepts or ideas. A graphic organizer guides the learner’s thinking as they fill in and build upon a visual map or diagram. They are also informally used as a term to describe all visual learning strategies such as concept mapping, webbing, mind mapping, and more.


Types of Graphic Organizers

Webs, concept maps, mind maps and plots such as stack plots and Venn diagrams are some of the types of graphic organizers used in visual learning to enhance thinking skills and improve academic performance on written papers, tests and homework assignments.


Concept Maps

Concept maps graphically illustrate relationships between two or more concepts and are linked by words that describe their relationship.

             Concept Map Example


Brainstorming webs show how different categories of information relate to one another.

                               Web Example


Mind Maps
Mind Maps are visual representations of hierarchical information that include a central idea or image surrounded by connected branches of associated topics or ideas.

                          Mind Map Example


For more graphic organizer examples including webs, concept maps and mind maps click here


How to use graphic organizers

Graphic organizers are tools that can be used to visualize and organize information. Because graphic organizers are often used as prompts for students to fill in the blanks, graphic organizers provide many benefits to students who use them including:

  • Helping students structure writing project
  • Encouraging students to make decisions
  • Making it easy for students to classify ideas and communicate
  • Allowing students to examine relationships
  • Guiding students in demonstrating their thinking process
  • Helping students increase reading comprehension
  • Making it easy to brainstorm
  • Encouraging students to organize essential concepts and ideas
  • Making it clear how to break apart a story into the main elements (intro, rising action, climax, etc.)

           Example of a Graphic Organizer for a Science Experiment


Teaching with Graphic Organizers

Used across the curriculum, teachers use graphic organizers to teach many things, including but not limited to:

  • Cause and effect
  • Note taking
  • Comparing and contrasting concepts
  • Organizing problems and solutions
  • Relating information to main themes and ideas
  • Organizational skills
  • Vocabulary knowledge
  • Sequencing

Using Inspiration Software’s visual thinking and learning products Inspiration®, Kidspiraton® and Webspiration Classroom™, students and teachers create graphic organizers as they brainstorm ideas, organize information, gather research, make visual associations and identify connections.

For more graphic organizer examples including webs, concept maps and mind maps click here.