Using Graphic Organizers to Assess Reading Comprehension

Purpose:  Graphic organizers are a good way to help learners think about, organize and summarize information.  They also work well for pre-writing activities.  

Prep time:  10-15 minutes

Materials:  Select a reading passage that students have recently read or that you plan to use in the lesson.  Make copies of the graphic organizer(s) you’ve chosen to use (see handout #1 and handout #2 for examples).

Note: Low intermediate level is an ideal time to introduce the concept of graphic organizers.  T charts, linear strings and Venn diagrams can be used with beginning level, but the organizers in handout #2 are more appropriate for higher levels.  Go to the following link for the reading activity that is used as the basis for the graphic organizer on handout #2, called Main Idea and Supporting Details:

Prep:  Do the activity yourself, so you know how you yourself would organize the information.  Plan to model the specific organizer you’re using with the class, either on the board or an overhead projector.  Once learners feel comfortable with a few different graphic organizers, they can choose the one they prefer to use.


1) Follow the usual steps for a reading lesson.  If students read the story in a previous lesson, have them read it again or retell it.

2) Explain that being able to organize and summarize information is an important skill.  Students with academic goals will probably see graphic organizers on the GED or in college.

3) Model the graphic organizer on the board as students complete one on paper.

4) Discuss the value of using the organizer as a tool

5) Give students an opportunity to do one on their own.


  • Have students use a graphic organizer as a pre-writing activity to organize their thoughts and ideas.

Graphic Organizer Internet Resources


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