Graphic Organizers – An Overview

Graphic organizers are visual displays that help students to organize and process information that is large and/or complex. It consists of visual representations of concepts and ideas, and their relationships. For a graphic organizer to be an effective tool, it must be visually attractive and have minimal words.

Since information can be organized hierarchically, conceptually, sequentially, or cyclically, it is important that an appropriate type of graphic organizer is used. Below is an overview of the more popular types:

Concept Map:
A general organizer that shows hierarchical relationships with the most important concepts placed at the top.

Flow Diagram or Sequence Chart:
Shows the steps or events for a process in the order in which they occur. It can be used in science to outline the procedures for an experiment, in reading to note the key events in a story, or in history as a timeline.

Venn Diagram:
Used to compare and contrast between two or more concepts. Venn Diagrams can be utilized across the curriculum.

Cause-and-Effect Diagram:
Highlights the causes and effects of a main event. This type of diagram can be used to analyze the importance of certain events in a story or to discuss the impact of a scientific process.

It is a good practice to provide students with opportunities to create their own graphic organizers. By undertaking the process of reviewing ideas and information, and deciding how to relate them, students are likely to develop understandings and better retain knowledge.

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