Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are blank charts, tables and diagrams that aid in the organization of information. Students can use them to prepare for an assignment, to follow along during a complicated assignment, and to show what they have learned.

There are many types of graphic organizers, and some of the most common are listed below.

Types of Graphic Organizers:
1) Venn Diagram – used to compare and contrast
2) KWL – students review what they knew, want to, and at the end, what they learned
3) Cluster – helpful in providing categories for structured projects
4) Chain of Events – can be used for cause and effect diagrams, event maps, etc.

Uses for Graphic Organizers:
1) To show order
2) To organize notes
3) To brainstorm
4) To outline
5) To diagram complex ideas

Chain of Events

Chain of Events is used to describe the stages of an event, the actions of character or the steps in a procedure.
Key questions: What is the first step in the procedure or initiating event? What are the next stages or steps? How does one event lead to one another? What is the final outcome?
external image chain.GIF


Clustering is a nonlinear activity that generates ideas, images and feelings around a stimulus word. As students cluster, their thoughts tumble out, enlarging their word bank for writing and often enabling them to see patterns in their ideas. Clustering may be a class or an individual activity.
external image cluster.GIF

Venn Diagram

The Venn Diagram is made up of two or more overlapping circles. It is often used in mathematics to show relationships between sets. In language arts instruction, Venn Diagrams are useful for examining similarities and differences in characters, stories, poems, etc.
It is frequently used as a prewriting activity to enable students to organize thoughts or textual quotations prior to writing a compare/contrast essay. This activity enables students to organize similarities and differences visually .
external image Venn.GIF

The K-W-L-H teaching technique is a good method to help students activate prior knowledge. It is a group instruction activity developed by Donna Ogle (1986) that serves as a model for active thinking during reading.
W - Stands for helping students determine what they WANT to learn.
L - Stands for helping students identify what they LEARN as they read.
H - Stands for HOW we can learn more (other sources where additional information on the topic can be found).
Students complete the "categories" section at the bottom of the graphic organizer by
asking themselves what each statement in the "L" section (What We Learned) describes.
They use these categories and the information in the "H" section (How Can We Learn
More) to learn more about the topic. Students also can use the categories to create
additional graphic organizers. They can use the organizers to review and write about
what they've learned.
Sample K-W-L-H
What We Know
What We Want to Find Out
What We Learned
How Can We Learn More
Dinosaurs are large.
Dinosaurs are dead.
They lived a long time ago.
There is a movie about dinosaurs
How long ago did they live?
Why did they die?
How do we know what they looked like?
Who are the people who study dinosaurs?
An archeologist has an exciting life.
Dinosaurs eat plants and some eat meat.
Some dinosaurs were gigantic, but had small brains.
Fossils uncover dinosaur traits.
Field Trips
Archeological digs
Internet computer search
Categories of Information we expect to use:
  1. Size
  2. Career
  3. Eating Habits