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The Power of Graphic Organizers

Posted on 2/11/2020

Graphical representation of mind map.ImageK by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

As educators, we are always looking for ways that students can make better sense of the information we provide them in our lessons. Note-taking is one way of doing this, but we have a lot of other tools at our disposal that students can use (and we can use to organize our lessons).

We are probably familiar with graphic organizers and may have even used a few of them from time to time, but now with technology behind them, we and our students can use graphic organizers regularly in class to organize content and see and show the relationships between the pieces of information they are learning. Now is a great time to re-familiarize ourselves with graphic organizers and think about how to integrate these into our instruction.

According to many authors, there are numerous benefits to using graphic organizers, including:

  • Combinations of text and graphics better support the material you teach students rather than using PowerPoint slides and/or handouts that are all or mostly text.

  • They are useful to help students organize their thoughts and get ready for reading and writing in the pre-reading and pre-writing stages.

  • Students should generate their own graphic organizers, instead of adding pictures or graphics they find elsewhere, that complement the writing they have just completed, further demonstrating their learning.

  • All kinds of graphic organizers can be used for assessment, in addition to taking quizzes or tests.

  • Graphic organizers can be used at the start of units or modules to show how all of the things students will subsequently learn, read, and do go together.

For more information on the why and how of graphic organizers, take a look at these articles:

We have a lot of tech tools available for teachers and students to create graphic organizers. In his article Top 15 Graphic Organizers, David Kapuler lists popular tools to help us get started, including bubbl.us, MindMeister, Stormboard, and Venngage. One helpful feature for teachers is that many of these programs have ready-to-use templates for getting started, so we don’t have to spend time starting from scratch.

Graphic organizers are powerful tools we all can use to get and stay organized. Start exploring graphic organizers today!

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.