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Graphic Organizers

Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.

There is a good deal of evidence that suggest that using graphical organizers for comprehension instruction can help students more concretely visualize abstract and vague concepts.  Visual organizers such as a KWL chart can also help teachers to assess what students already know and what they want to learn so they can better cater instruction to meet students' needs.

However, I feel compelled to note that graphic organizers are usually misused in classrooms.  One of the most often-repeated mistakes I see in classrooms is forgetting that graphic organizers are tools to help students write -- they are a means to an end.  Filling out a graphic organizer is not a worthwhile goal -- USING a graphic organizer to help plan and organize a final written essay IS a worthwhile goal.  Students who just fill out graphic organizers gain little of value from the exercise, but students who learn to use graphic organizers as tools in crafting a final, published essay will be able to use those tools effectively for the rest of their lives.

With that stern caveat in mind, I have created a collection of graphic organizers (available here for free in PDF format) that teachers can use in their classrooms.  There are ten organizers in the collection.  They are:

-- The Spider Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Fishbone Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Storyboard / Chain of Events Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Venn Diagram Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Problem and Solutions Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Cycle Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Cluster Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Compare / Contrast Graphic Orgainzer
-- The KWL Graphic Orgainzer
-- The Five Ws and an H Graphic Orgainzer


For more information about teaching comprehension skills, go to R is for Reading Comprehension.


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Last Updated 8-7-03