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Embrace Graphic Organizers

Kim Haynes

Graphic organizer... that’s just a fancy name for a worksheet, right?

Well, not exactly. A graphic organizer is designed to present information in a different, more visual way. These organizers can increase student comprehension because they help students categorize and make sense of the information they are given. They also take the intimidation out of writing assignments because students aren't staring at a blank page.

Think about it this way. If you were teaching a lesson on the differences between football and baseball, which would be easier for your students to understand?

A list?

  • Both games use a ball
  • Both games are played by teams
  • A baseball is small and round
  • A football is an unusual shape
  • Baseball uses terms like “strike” and “home run”
  • Football uses terms like “quarterback” and “touchdown”
  • The football championship is the SuperBowl
  • The baseball championship is the World Series


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Or a Venn Diagram?

 Embrace Graphic Organizers

The diagram presents the information in a visually organized way that can help students better understand the content.

Common Types of Graphic Organizers

Here are some common graphic organizers, which can be used in almost every subject at almost every grade level.

Venn Diagram

Ideal for compare/contrast assignments. Another variation is the Triple Venn, which allows compare/contrast among three items/topics. (See above)

KWL Chart


Embrace Graphic Organizers

Stands for “Know,” “Want to Know,” “Learned.” A great way to get students thinking about what they might already know on a topic, what they want or need to know to move forward, and what they learned from a reading assignment or lecture.



Mind Map

Embrace Graphic Organizers

Starts with a word in the middle of the page and branches out to include other topics or ideas connected to the central term. An effective written way to brainstorm

Sequence Chart


Embrace Graphic Organizers

Helps students understand something in chronological order – like a story’s plot, a sequence of historical events, or the steps in a scientific process.

Where to Find Graphic Organizers

The Internet offers a wide range of graphic organizer sites. Here are some of the best ones:


  • TeacherVision offers a huge range of organizers for many different subjects, including Language Arts, Math, and Science.
  • has several general types of organizers designed for elementary students
  • Busy Teachers’ Café not only has its own organizers, but offers links to other sites’ organizers as well.
  • EduPlace has a good variety of basic organizers.
  • Teach-nology has a large assortment of organizers, including planning forms for students and teachers.  


A graphic organizer can help your students keep better notes, understand difficult information, or stay awake during that less-than-enthralling lecture. Why not try one today?


How do you use graphic organizers in your classroom? Share in the comments section!



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