As educators, it can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task to provide all the information our students need in a way that they can understand, retain, and remember. And I’m sure it can often feel like that for our students as well! When reviewing for a large test or end-of-the-year project, or even during daily teaching, some of the best tools to take advantage of are advanced graphic organizers.
Advanced graphic organizers are most often used during expository instruction to visually demonstrate the relationship between the new items students are about to learn, and the information they’ve already learned. They help present information in a way that can make it easier for students to find connections between one concept and the next.
Why Should I Use Graphic Organizers in the Classroom?
Graphic organizers have three basic purposes in teaching and learning.
- Direct students’ attention to what’s important in the new lesson.
- Highlight relationships between the ideas that will be presented.
- Remind students of relevant information they’ve already learned that can help them understand the new information.
Graphic organizers can help students avoid “information overload” by making new information easier to learn through a visual display of its connection to old information. Graphic organizers aren’t a review of information, but rather, a review of the understanding of the information by students. Providing the correct graphic organizer can help expedite student learning and understanding, and make new lessons more manageable and less overwhelming.
Learning is aided by organizing and recording information, and graphic organizers provide students with several options on how to record and study this information in a way that works for them. Plus, studies have shown graphic organizers increase reading comprehension, students’ understanding, and the ability to retain and use new knowledge.
How Do I Use Graphic Organizers in My Lessons?
Well-designed graphic organizers should guide students to categorize key concepts, surface the interconnection of ideas, and construct knowledge. The design and type of graphic organizer must align with the learning objective, and require that students apply the information they deconstructed in order to make meaning or develop unique insights. Without an end goal, graphic organizers could end up only providing surface understanding and thinking.
It’s also important to communicate to your students what that end goal is, as well as informing them of the three points from above: graphic organizers are for prioritizing importance, highlighting relationships, and most of all, presenting connections between old and new information. That way, they know the aim of using them, and it’s not just another reading exercise.
10 Types of Graphic Organizers to Advance Reading Comprehension & Literacy
Graphic organizers are no longer limited to Venn Diagrams or simple charts. Instead, there are multiple graphic organizer options that can be used for a variety of subjects and topics. Some graphic organizer ideas are below. Where you see links, you can go download a free version of this graphic organizer yourself!
- Questioning: Students create “thick” and “thin” questions to analyze the text.
- Summarizing: Students identify details that are important and unimportant to the main idea of a passage, as well as write a brief summary.
- Text Codings: Students annotate the text with symbols that will help them review the text efficiently, such as underlining important parts, and circling unknown vocabulary.
- Cause and Effect: Students identify related causes and effects.
- Character Study: Students describe characteristics of the characters in the piece, with evidence from the passage to support their descriptions.
- Inference: Students explain the meaning and importance behind key sentences of the passage.
- Know, Want, Learn: Students choose subjects in the passage, and answer what they know about the subject, what they want to know about it, and what they learned about it.
- Prediction: Students predict events that may happen in the rest of the text, explain why, and then note whether or not the prediction was accurate while citing evidence in the passage on why.
- StoryBoard: Students draw a series of pictures to show the action portrayed in the reading.
- Venn Diagram: A classic! Students compare and contrast chosen elements from the reading.
How to Determine What Graphic Organizer to Use & When
When to use what graphic organizer depends on what you’re teaching, what the learning objective is, and even the strengths of your students. Additionally, as students learn to use various graphic organizer types, they may find some work better than others for their personal understanding and integrating new information.
LessonWriter lets you choose the position any of the above graphic organizers anywhere in the reading: before, during or after specific paragraphs in a reading, allowing you to decide where your students need the most support.
Do you want to use a prediction graphic organizer in the beginning? A summarizing graphic organizer at the end? A questioning graphic organizer after a particularly challenging paragraph in the middle?
But don’t worry, if you want a quick lesson, just choose our “Express” option, and the platform decides for you, based on your class and lesson history! If you want to get even simpler…download some of our free graphic organizers right now through that link!
And as our last post for 2020, we want to share with you Those Who Can’t Do’s episode “President” which discusses the impact that the office of US president has on teachers in America, along with a wishlist of positive change for the next four years. Give it a listen, and make sure to tweet @TWCD_Podcast and let them know your 2021 education wishlist!
LessonWriter is free for teachers: if you want to save time and energy, try us out today! Or, follow us on Twitter for daily teaching tips! Plus, look out for our graphic organizer series coming next: at what point in your lessons is the best time to use each of the graphic organizers listed above??