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How to Use Graphic Organizers

by Aksana Nikolai
  • Overview

    Also referred to as a concepts map or cognitive organizer, a graphic organizer is a visual representation of facts, terms or ideas and the relationships between them. An organizer typically consists of a form with blanks that the students must fill in with information related to the topic at hand. Graphic organizers can take on various forms, examples of which include flow charts and Venn diagrams. Teachers use graphic organizers in the classroom for a variety of purposes.
    Example of graphic organizer chart
 
  • Step 1

    Complete a sample graphic organizer as a class the first time you introduce this approach to the students. In the beginning, it may be helpful to provide instructions with an organizer or fill it in partially as an example for students to follow.
  • Step 2

    Provide structure for a presentation of new material. Fill the organizer in together as a class prior to the presentation, allowing you to gauge how much prior knowledge students have of the subject. Ask the students guiding questions based on which information they can fill; for example, "What parts of speech can you name?"
  • Step 3

    Use graphic organizers during instruction. This approach will encourage students to process, reorganize and isolate key information as they learn.
  • Step 4

    Ask students to create their own graphic organizers after you have presented new material. Doing so will provide students with the opportunity to interpret the information and present it in concise terms. Ideally, students will also elaborate on the material, establishing connections between this information and their prior knowledge.
  • Step 5

    Use an organizer to test students' understanding of the relationship between the different concepts depicted. For example, ask them to tell the rest of the class or explain in written form how the subcategories relate to the main category.
  • Step 6

    Instruct students to complete graphic organizers before beginning an individual or group project. The map will help students to organize their thoughts and to decide what information is and is not important as they brainstorm and research.
  • Step 7

    Use graphic organizers to break up large amounts of complex information into more manageable portions.
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  • Photocopies of graphic organizers
  • Photocopies of graphic organizers
  • Incorporate graphic organizers into as many activities as possible when working with a group that consists mostly of visual learners.
  • Incorporate graphic organizers into as many activities as possible when working with a group that consists mostly of visual learners.

References & Resources