Graphic organizers are a visual way to organize written information. They can be used to deepen understanding of new vocabulary, to structure pair work activities, to increase listening or reading comprehension, or as a pre-writing exercise. They are a great scaffolding tool to prepare students for conversation and writing activities.
Prep Time: 5-15 minutes
Materials: varies--please see description under Prep
Graphic organizers come in many shapes, depending on the relationships between the ideas that the students will consider.
Some common ones include a T chart, Venn diagram, linear string, and bubble map.
1. Select the graphic organizer that best fits the type of ideas students will be working with. There are many to choose from on edhelper.com and teachervision.com (skip the ad and the newsletter sign up).
2. Decide if you will print copies for students to write on or if you will ask students to draw one in their notebooks.
3. Decide if students will generate their own ideas to write, choose ideas from a bank that you provide, or place picture or word cards on the graphic organizer.
4. Create and copy materials as needed, such as a word bank or word cards.
In this example, we’ll look at how to teach students to use a Venn diagram to compare expectations at the workplace and at school.
1. Draw a large Venn diagram on the board. Label the left circle Workplace, the intersecting circles Both and the right circle School.
2. Give students a moment to think about the following question: What kinds of clothes should you wear to school? Then call on a few students to answer. Write their answers in the School circle.
3. Give students a moment to think about this question: What kinds of clothes should you wear to work? Call on a few students to answer. Write their answers in the Work circle. Pause when they give an answer that is already in the School circle and elicit where you should write it (under Both).
4. Repeat this process with another question: What should you do if you want to take a vacation at work? At school? Invite students to the board to write their answers.
5. If necessary, repeat step 5 with another question.
6. Students copy the Venn diagram into their notebooks.
7. Project or hand out a list of more questions for students to answer independently.
8. As students finish, challenge them to add more ideas to the Venn diagram that are not prompted by the list of questions.
Students can compare their diagrams with partners and notice and similarities and differences and discuss their choices.