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 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.
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
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.
Ask any student – essay writing is one of the most despised tasks of their educational career. Perhaps there is so much displeasure associated with the task because it’s perceived as too linear – there isn’t enough visual and creative appeal. But if you use graphic organizer for writing then you can make writing enjoyable – or at least less terrible.
Not only enjoyable but graphic organizers (or diagrams) can make the writing process a snap. They’ll help you think outside the box, draw conclusions you wouldn’t normally observe, and make the entire process faster and more efficient.
Why Use Graphic Organizers for Writing
The phrase “graphic organizer” is just a fancy way of saying “diagram” or “visual aid.” Basically, they are a visual representation of the information you’ve acquired in the research process. There are quite a few reasons why you should use them when writing essays or summaries.
- Helps you visualize your research and how elements connect with each other
- Enhance your essays, summaries and research papers with visual elements
- Track correlations between your thoughts, observations, facts or general ideas.
When it comes to essay writing, the most common graphic organizers are webs, mind maps, and concept maps.
Using Webs for Brainstorming
Webbing is a great way to see how various topics are interrelated. This graphic organizer is particularly useful during the brainstorming step of the writing process.
A web can sometimes get a bit messy. Usually, there are lots of arrows to connect overlapping ideas. However, even with lines crisscrossing every which way, it is still a great way to visualize your thoughts. If you’re using a diagramming software like Creately you can overcome some of this because we automatically arrange the object for you.
Once you’ve created a map to document all your ideas and establish connections, you can easily transition to other forms of diagramming to better organize the information.
For example if you’re writing a research paper about the food web of the Australian bushes you can start with a diagram similar to the one below. This way you can easily visualize the web while writing the paper. This is a simple example but graphic organizers become even more important when the subject gets complex.
Food web of the Australian Bush
You can check the whole diagram by visiting this link .
Although simple this example shows the importance of using graphic organizers for writing summaries. A comprehensive diagram pretty much does the summation for you.
Using Mind Maps as Graphic Organizers
Mind maps are a great way to depict a hierarchy. What is hierarchical organization? The concept is simple: a singular topic dominates with each subsequent idea decreasing in importance.
Usually, the mind map starts with the thesis (or main idea) at the center. From there, you can branch out with your supporting evidence.
Use this process to replace your traditional note taking technique – note cards, outlines, whatever. You’ll quickly realize a mind map is a great way to formulate the structure of your essay. The thing to note here is that the nature of the mind maps force you think about sub topics and how to organize your ideas. And once the ideas are organized writing the essay become very easy.
A mind map of a research proposal ( click to view larger image )
Above is a mind map of a research proposal. Click on it to see the full image or you can see the fully editable template via this link . As you can see in this mind map the difference areas of the research proposal is highlighted. Similarly when your writing the research paper you can use a mind map to break it down to sub topics. We have lots more mind map templates for you to get started.
A concept map will help you visualize the connection between ideas. You can easily see cause and effect – how one concept leads to another. Often times, concept mapping includes the use of short words or phrases to depict the budding relationship between these concepts.
If you look closely you can see that its very similar to a mind map. But a concept maps gives more of a free reign compares to the rigid topic structure of a mind map. I’d say it’s the perfect graphic organizer for writing research papers where you have the license to explore.
By creating a concept map, you can also see how a broad subject can be narrowed down into specific ideas. This is a great way to counter writers block. Often, we look at the big picture and fail to see the specifics that lead to it. Identifying contributing factors and supporting evidence is difficult. But with a concept map, you can easily see how the smaller parts add up to the whole.
Concepts maps are great to visualize supporting elements of a concept
View the full Concept Map diagram from this link here.
Why Bother With Graphic Organizers?
If you already detest the writing process, adding another step might seem insane. However, there really are several advantages of using them. If you haven’t already accepted the benefits of each individual diagram style, here are some more perks of graphic organizers in general:
- Quality essays are based on detail. No one is going to accept your opinions and reasoning just because you say so. You’ll need proof. And organizing that proof will require attention to detail. Graphic organizers can help you see that detail and how it contributes to the overall concept.
- Graphic organizers are flexible. You don’t need one of those giant pink erasers. You don’t need to restructure your outline. All you have to do is draw a few arrows and bam – the relationship has totally changed.
- No matter what you are writing about, a graphic organizer can help. They can be used to structure an essay on the Great Wall, theoretical physics, or Spanish speaking countries.
- If you write an outline, can you easily see how point A influences point X? Probably not. But if little thought bubble A is sitting out there all by itself, you can visualize the way it ties into point R, T and X.
- Some of us find it difficult to put our opinions, thoughts, and ideas into writing. However, communicating our feelings with little doodles and sketches is far less threatening.
- As a writer, our brain often feels like a 2-year-old’s toy box – a big jumbled mess. Taking that mess and putting it onto paper with some semblance of organization is challenging. Rather than trying to take your thoughts from total chaos to a perfectly structured list, just try to get them out of your brain and onto paper in the form of a diagram.
- A graphic organizer helps you establish validity and relevance. You can easily nix the ideas that don’t support or enhance your thesis.
The next time you are faced with a writing project, take a few minutes to explore the efficiency of graphic organizers. You can find a wealth of templates here.
Have you ever used a graphic organizer to structure an essay? How did it go? Do you have a diagram suggestion for the writing process that wasn’t mentioned here? Let us know!
About the Author: Mike Hanski is an essay writing expert and a blogger for bid4papers where he writes about everything education related and shares tips about college success and study. Feel free to contact him at google plus.
concept mapsgraphic organizersmind mapsweb diagrams