Reasons for Using Graphic Organizers with Your Students

Often, graphic organizers are simply  viewed as a glorified worksheet, but ask any teachers who use them yearly, and you may find that graphic organizers are much, much more.  In my own experience, I have witnessed graphic organizers improving comprehension and understanding of the text, improving student engagement with the text, helping students develop vocabulary skills, as well as helping students better understand text structure.

1. Improves Comprehension

When students write about the text that they are reading, comprehension improves. Graphic organizers can be a key component in students organizing their thoughts and writing about the text. Rather than assigning students an essay about a text that they have read, a graphic organizer can enable students to break apart and write about the main elements of a story. Graphic organizers also help guide a young learner to organize his/her thinking. By having this visual guide, learners are less likely to become overwhelmed and are more likely to communicate their thoughts ideas.

2. Students Enjoy Using Graphic Organizers

My students love using graphic organizers. There are several reasons for this. First, they know what to do. I always take time to model how to use a graphic organizer before I assign it to my students. This is a vital step that should never be skipped. Often, I simply model using the graphic organizer on the digital projector or even simply draw the graphic organizer on the board and complete it with the class. As a result,  when I assign a graphic organizer to my students, they know and understand what is expected; therefore, students are engaged and learning

3. Graphic Organizers Help Build Vocabulary

Graphic organizers are an excellent way to help students develop vocabulary skills. Vocabulary graphic organizers can help learners visualize the connections between words and their meanings. Students are able to better understand the meaning of words  as well as make connections to the vocabulary word.

4. Graphic Organizers Help Students Understand Text Structure

Graphic organizers are a great benefit when teaching text structure. Graphic organizers that focus on text structures such as cause and effect, compare and contrast,  sequence, and problem and solution, help students understand how authors organize the text. Students are able to visually see the organizational pattern of the text which enables them to better understand text structure.

5. Graphic Organizers Help Students Analyze Characters

Graphic organizers can help students write about characters. Character traits, comparing characters, explaining how characters respond to problems, and writing about how a character changes throughout a story are just a few of the skills that are perfect to teach using graphic organizers. 

Can you tell that I love graphic organizers?  Well, I do! I don’t use them daily, or even every week for that matter, but I do use them often, and I see a huge benefit from using them. I do think in order for graphic organizers to be a success, the teacher must model, model, model.  Also, I always require every aspect of a graphic organizer to be written in complete sentences.  This simply provides students an opportunity to better express their thoughts in writing. This is my personal preference. I know many teachers who only want short answers. This depends on the needs of your students and your needs for that lesson.

Free Graphic Organizers!

What are your thoughts on graphic organizers? If you enjoy graphic organizers, here is a link to three free graphic organizers. These are great organizers for fiction books. Included is a graphic organizer for sequence, character, and one for compare and contrast elements of a story. 

If you like this free set, try out some of my best-selling graphic organizers in my store: Graphic Organizers Bundle. I think you and your students will love them. All of the types of graphic organizers mentioned above can be found in this huge bundle. Both graphic organizers for reading literature (fiction) and reading informational text (nonfiction) can be found in this bundle. This resource will be a perfect addition to your reading program and is great to use with read alouds, literature circles, textbook reading programs, small groups, book studies, and more!

For great picture book ideas for teaching sequence using these graphic organizers, visit my blog post on Teaching Fourth here.