Use Graphic Organizers to Structure Writing Projects

You can use graphic organizers to structure writing projects, such as essays as well as homework, to help in problem solving as well as decision making (in both your subject area and personal life) and brainstorming. Graphic organizers are valuable instructional tools created by you and as unique as your thoughts. Unlike automatic tools that just have one purpose and work in a one-way functionality, graphic organizers are flexible and endless in application to both a subject and to a personal life. One common trait that has been found among graphic organizers is that they show the order and completeness of a student's thought process - strengths and weaknesses of understanding become clearly evident when all ideas are flooded on to a page. Many graphic organizers show different aspects of an issue/problem - in close and also the big picture. Since many graphic organizers use short words or phrases, they are ideal for many types of learners, including English Language Learners with intermediate proficiency.


There are 5 main types of graphic organizers that will be discussed on this page:


  • Star/web: Use to show definitions, attributes, examples, and brainstorming


  •  Chart/Matrix: Use to show attributes, comparing and contrasting, and evaluating.


  • Tree/Map: Use to show classifications, pedigrees, analysis, structures, attributes, examples, and brainstorming.


  • Chain: Use to show processes, sequences, causes and effects, and chronology.


  • Sketch: Use to show physical structures, descriptions of places, spatial relationships, concrete objects, and visual images.


 "A picture is worth 1000 words." When students are juggling with these new concepts, a graphic organizer can be an excellent teaching aide that will also enable the student to think on a level above the normal idea route.


Why do they work?


Random facts are quickly lost as the short term memory can only hold 8 +/- 2 items and for around 30 seconds. However, the brain's ability to store pictures is unlimited and with each picture emotions are also imprinted giving the memory a stronger root. And since the brain likes to chunk information, the graphic organizer complements the way the brain has naturally evolved to work.


When do they work?


Graphic organizers will be beneficial to students whenever they are given new information. They can be used to sequence, brainstorm and organize. During reading and listening students should be encouraged to graphically organize new information and most importantly to do some kind of graphic organiser in preparation for tests, both end of year and mock.


How do they work?


The graphic organizers provided here are, for the most part, plain in appearance in order to keep the image simple easy to digest by the brain. Allowing students to create their own look to these organizers whenever possible. The brain remembers more when personal creativity has been invested in a project rather than foreign thoughts and influence which are found on lecturers notes.


For more information on graphic organizers plus the images to make your own click here.


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