The Ultimate List of Graphic Organizers for Teachers and Students

Graphic organizers integrate both text and visuals. This has been scientifically proven to be an effective way of teaching and learning. Using them can be extremely useful for both teachers and students as they will make lessons more engaging as well as easily comprehensible.   

We have listed below multiple types of graphic organizers you can use during various scenarios, whether you are reading, writing, doing research or studying for exams. Each tool is accompanied by a template that you can use right away.

What are Graphic Organizers 

A graphic organizer is a teaching and learning tool that is used to organize information and ideas in a way that is easy to comprehend and internalize. By integrating text and visuals, graphic organizers show relationships and connections between concepts, terms, and facts. 

Graphic organizers can be used in all grade levels, and have proven to be effective learning tools for gifted children and students with special needs. And with adult learners, graphic organizers can help enable the connection between what they already know and newly acquired knowledge. 

Benefits of graphic organizers

Different types of graphic organizers can be used across the curriculum for teaching, learning, and note-taking. They are easy to create and impactful in simplifying information. 

  • Help visualize or present information in a way that is easier to comprehend, by breaking down larger or complex concepts or ideas into smaller and simpler parts.
  • Provide students the opportunity to actively contribute and participate in the learning process through the creation of graphic organizers.  
  • Help develop cognitive skills such as brainstorming, critical and creative thinking, categorizing and prioritizing content, reflection, etc. 
  • Help recall prior knowledge about a subject and quickly connect it to new information 
  • Promotes self-learning. By using graphic organizers for note-taking, analyzing, studying, etc. students can familiarize themselves with a lesson far more easily.

Types of Graphic Organizers 

Here we have listed 19 types of graphic organizers for teaching and learning. Based on their varied purposes, you can utilize them in reading, writing, researching, brainstorming, and analyzing.

Graphic Organizers for Writing

1. Persuasion map

The persuasion map is an interactive graphic organizer that helps students familiarize themselves with the process of persuasive writing.  It assists them with outlining and preparing arguments for their essays, speeches, debates, etc. 

How to use it

Step 1: Choose a topic of interest for your essay/debate. Do proper research around it to collect enough information.

Step 2: Define the claim that you want to make with your essay. Start your persuasion map by writing this down first. 

Step 3: Next to it, write down the reasons for making that claim. 

Step 4: Then write down facts, examples, and information to back up your reasoning. 

Step 5: End your persuasion map with the conclusion of your essay.

Persuasion Map Template  Types of Graphic Organizers
Persuasion Map Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

2. Sequence Chart 

A sequence graphic organizer is a tool that helps visualize the order of steps of a process or a timeline of events, etc. It can also be used for note-taking, lesson planning, and essay writing.

How to use it

Step 1: Identify the steps in the process or event. 

Step 2: Using a sequence chart, arrange these steps in sequential order. 

Template

Sequence Graphic Organizer Types of Graphic Organizers
Sequence Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

Graphic Organizers for Reading

3. Story map 

A story map can be used to identify the different elements such as characters, character plots, themes, techniques, etc. in a book students are reading. It’s a useful tool that teachers can integrate into the lesson to improve students’ comprehension. 

How to use it

Step 1: Read the book and understand it well. 

Step 2: Discuss the different significant elements that were involved in the story. These could be the characters, setting, problem and solution, etc. You can fill the story map during the discussion. 

Step 3: Once the map is complete you can discuss each element individually.

Story Map Graphic Organizer
Story Map Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

4. Biography graphic organizer

This is a tool that assists with understanding a character from a novel, autobiography or movie or a historical figure more in-depth. It brings attention to various important factors about a person’s life.

How to create it

Step 1: Gather as much information you can about the character you are studying. You can also refer to online resources, or ask from teachers or experts. 

Step 2: As you analyze the information you have gathered, isolate the facts that stand out or you think are important. 

Step 3: Use your biography graphic organizer to lay out the information in a presentable way. You can add images to make it more comprehensible as well.

Biography Graphic Organizer
Biography Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

5. KWL chart

KWL chart is used for gathering information from student’s prior knowledge or experience. This 3 column chart captures the before (what the reader already knows), during (what the reader wants to learn) and after (what the reader learned) stages of reading.   

How to use it

Step 1: Get students to brainstorm around the selected topic and write down everything they know about it in the K column. 

Step 2: Ask them to generate a list of questions about what they want to know in the W column of the chart. 

Step 3: During or after reading the book/ lesson get them to answer these questions in the L column.

KWL Chart Graphic Organizer
KWL Chart Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

Graphic Organizers for Teaching

6. Learning map

Learning maps visually depict the key takeaways – skills, ideas, knowledge – students should get from a lesson. It usually provides a high-level view of the lesson/ unit/ course that is to be studied and the connection between its different components. Students can also use learning maps in the classroom for note-taking. 

How to use it 

Step 1: At the center of the map, write down the topic (i.e. name of the lesson or unit)

Step 2: Brainstorm ideas and information related to it. Write these down on branches emerging from the center. Make sure that you place them in a way that makes sense to teach or in a logical sequence around the center. 

Step 3: Add connectors between these elements and add labels to highlight the kind of relationship between them.

Learning Map Template
Learning Map Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

7. Analogy graphic organizer 

The analogy graphic organizer uses analogy to help students identify similarities and differences between a new topic and a topic that they are already familiar with. 

How to use it 

Step 1: Select a topic/ concept that the students already know and is analogous in certain aspects to the new topic

Step 2:  Introduce the new concept and get the students to read and discuss it

Step 3: Using an analogy graphic organizer, ask the students to brainstorm and write similarities and differences between the two topics. 

Step 4: Based on the completed graphic organizer, ask the students to write a brief description of  the new topic

Analogy Graphic Organizer Types of Graphic Organizers
Analogy Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

8. Vocabulary graphic organizer

This tool can be used to assess the vocabulary knowledge of students. You can create graphic organizers including various elements to help students learn new words, and learn antonyms and synonyms. 

Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
Vocabulary Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

9. Problem-solving organizer

Problem-solving graphic organizers can be used to improve the problem-solving skills of the students. It helps students identify and evaluate solutions to problems.

How to use it

Step 1: Identify the problem and write it in the problem box

Step 2: Ask students to then write down why they think it is a problem in the first place

Step 3: Get them to brainstorm all possible solutions along with the pros and cons relates to them. 

Step 4: Once they select the best possible solution, ask them to list down all its possible consequences

Step 5: Students can then make suggestions to improve the selected solution further

Problem Solution Graphic Organizer Types of Graphic Organizers
Problem Solution Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

Graphic Organizers for Learning

10. Timeline graphic organizer

Timeline diagrams are a type of graphic organizer that shows a sequence of events in chronological order.

They come in handy when studying history as you can use it to display major historical events that occurred during a period of time along with important details such as dates and locations in which they took place.

In addition, timeline charts can also be used to show the progress of something (i.e. growth of a business) or changes. 

How to use it

Step 1: Identify the different events and the sequence of order in which they took place. 

Step 2: Use a timeline template to arrange them chronologically

Step 3: Include significant details such as dates, locations and other additional information as needed.

Timeline Diagram Template Types of Graphic Organizers
Timeline Diagram Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

11. T  chart 

T charts allow students to study two facets of a topic. For example, disadvantages and advantages, pros and cons, differences and similarities, etc. 

How to use it

Step 1: Draw a T chart and write down the two areas you want to brainstorm around on each column head. 

Step 2: Write down facts on each column as you carry out your brainstorming.

T Chart Graphic Organizer - Types of Graphic Organizers
T Chart Graphic Organizer (Click on the diagram to edit it online)

12. Hierarchy chart

Hierarchy charts visualize the elements of a system, organization or concept from its highest position to the lowest. Students can use this tool to understand the superordinate and subordinate categories of a topic and the relationship between them.

How to use it

Step 1: Identify the most important element under the topic you are studying. Write this down at the top of the hierarchy chart. 

Step 2: List down the second layer of sub-elements stemming from the first component you have identified. Add a third and fourth as necessary. 

Step 3: Connect these with lines to show how they are connected to each other.  

Hierarchy Diagram Template
Hierarchy Diagram Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

13. Star diagram

Star diagrams are used to organize the characteristics of a chosen topic. It can also be used to brainstorm around new topics. 

How to use it

Step 1:  Select the topic you want to study and write it down in the center of the star diagram. 

Step 2: Write down the characteristics or attributes related to the central topics on each point of the star. Adjust the points of the star depending on how many traits you write down.

Star Diagram Graphic Organizer
Star Diagram Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

Graphic Organizers for Brainstorming

14. Cluster diagram

Cluster diagrams can be used to facilitate a brainstorming session or structure idea generation and even to help with exploring new topics. 

How to use it

Step 1: Pick your topic of interest to explore. This should be placed in the middle of the diagram. 

Step 2: Brainstorm around this main idea and come up with sub-topics related to it. Place them around the center. 

Step 3: Brainstorm around each of the sub-topics and write down related ideas around them. 

Step 4: Add as many layers as you want. However, use color-coding to emphasize each branch of thought. This will make it easier for you to read and understand the cluster diagram.

Cluster Diagram Template
Cluster Diagram Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

15. Lotus diagram

Lotus diagram is an analytical tool that can be used to breakdown broader and more complex topics into smaller components for easy understanding. It can be used for brainstorming and studying new topics. 

How to use it

Step 1: Draw a 3×3 grid in the center. On the square in the center, write down the main topic to be explored. 

Step 2: Write down the related sub-topics around it as you brainstorm. 

Step 3: Draw 8 more 3×3 grids around the one in the center. Each of these can be used to write down facts that you brainstorm around each subtopic.

Lotus Diagram Template
Lotus Diagram Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

16. Cause and effect graphic organizer

This type of graphic organizer shows the causes and effects of an event. The cause is the reason why something has happened, and effect is the result of what has happened. Visualization helps clearly understand the different cause and effect relationships.  

How to use it

Using a cause and effect graphic organizer, identify the causes and effects related to the problem you are studying or writing about. There could be several models of cause and effect events, such as one cause leading to one effect or multiple effects, or multiple causes leading to one effect or multiple effects.

  • One cause leading to several effects
  • Several causes leading to one effect (You can use a fishbone diagram here)
  • Each cause having one related effect
  • One cause triggering another cause that leads to another
Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer
Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer (Click on the template to edit it online)

17. Mind map 

A mind map is a tool that helps capture the free flow of thought and is widely used for brainstorming around topics. Additionally, it can also be used to organize and group information about a topic. 

How to use it

Step 1: Write down the topic you are brainstorming around in the center. 

Step 2: On branches emerging from the middle, write down brainstormed ideas/ thoughts. 

Step 3: Expand each sub idea with more facts. You can keep on adding more information to your mind map until you have enough.

Mind Map Template
Mind Map Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Graphic Organizers for Compare and Contrast

Here we have listed 19 types of graphic organizers for teaching and learning. Based on their varied purposes, you can utilize them in reading, writing, researching, brainstorming, and analyzing.

Graphic Organizers for Compare and Contrast

18. Double bubble map 

The double bubble map is one of the popular thinking maps. It is much like a Venn diagram and is used to identify similar and different qualities between two things. 

How to use it? 

Step 1: Write down the two ideas/ topics you are comparing in the two bubbles in the center. 

Step 2: As you brainstorm and analyze the topic, write down the differences in the bubbles radiating from the center. 

Step 3: Write down the similarities in the bubbles that are common to both topics. 

Double Bubble Map Graphic Organizer
Double Bubble Map Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

19. Venn diagram 

Another graphic organizer that helps you visually represent a comparison of differences and similarities between two subjects, is the Venn diagram. What makes it different from the double bubble map is that it can include more than two topics and one common area. 

How to use it

It works similar to the double bubble map.

Step 1: Write down the topics being compared on the top of each circle. 

Step 2: Writ down the differences or unique characteristics inside its own sector avoiding the overlapping area. 

Step 3: List the similarities in the common area.

Venn Diagram Template
Venn Diagram Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Add to Our List of Graphic Organizers for Teachers and Students

Although we have covered 19 types of graphic organizers in this post, there are plenty more that can be useful to our users. Know more? Mention in the comments section below to keep expanding the list of ultimate graphic organizers. 

Author

Amanda Athuraliya

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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