Graphic organizers provide a framework for comprehension. They are visual representations that help students explore concepts and understand relationships. Graphic organizers can be used to help students see relationships within and between novels. Many teachers use them to show new concepts and demonstrate how the concepts relate to each other before reading an informational text. Graphic organizers are also used to help students organize their thinking during and after reading. Students need opportunities to use graphic organizers with the teacher before using them in pairs or individually.
This information on graphic organizers is from Expanding Expectations: Reading Language Arts Resource Guide for language arts instruction in the upper grades. The guide is a publication of the Instructional Services Department, Fairfax County Public Schools © 1996.
The students read about an historical figure. As they read they list important events of the person’s life on the wheel. The middle part of the wheel can be made bigger for a drawing of the person. Discussion emphasizes deciding what is important and less important information.
The H-chart is a variation of a Venn diagram and is used for the same purposes. The students write similarities on the middle section of the H-chart and differences on the two side sections. After creating the diagram or chart, the teacher and students discuss it.
The teacher and/or students read the story. The teacher creates a visual outline that provides space to fill in chosen story elements. For example, students could include setting, character, problem, and solution. Story maps can include the emotions and reactions of characters to the action of the story or multiple attempts to solve problems.
This story map is used to emphasize the steps to solve a problem. Students write the steps on the numbered lines. They then transfer the numbers to the arrows. This helps those students who need to see how a plot develops.
Teachers use a specific genre map to examine a particular genre, or a group of books from the same author, genre, or theme.
Teachers select an activity, such as a literature discussion, or a topic, such as folk tales. They create a T- chart with two headings, such as "Looks Like" and "Sounds Like". Teachers and students together list those characteristics of the topic that belong under each heading.
Most teachers are familiar with the use of a Venn diagram to compare and contrast characters, stories, ideas, or concepts. A Venn diagram can also be used to generate a three-way comparison of similarities and differences.