How Graphic Organizers Help Students Master Writing

Graphic organizers are diagrams that guide students in creating visual representations of the facts, ideas, and concepts of a given school assignment. As versatile classroom tools, printable graphic organizers come in countless formats and are used for every subject and grade level, with writing graphic organizers being one of the most widely used applications.

Graphic organizers for writing are found in elementary, middle, and high schools, and are instrumental in helping students classify and categorize information, map sequences of events, develop concepts and opinions, and brainstorm ideas—all essential to good writing. Graphic organizers encourage students to approach writing assignments systematically and creatively. Here are some ways graphic organizers for writing are used:

Teachers often choose writing graphic organizers based on the form of writing to be done. Persuasive writing graphic organizers, for example, help students think about their viewpoint, establish their argument, and map out the key facts in support of their argument.

Graphic organizers are also used for expository, narrative, descriptive, and creative writing. In creative writing, story graphic organizers help students in all phases of story writing and reading. Among the most popular are Story Maps, which come in various formats and support students’ understanding of character traits, plot structure, sequence of events, and themes.

Writing process graphic organizers help students brainstorm and plan in the prewriting stage, and grow as writers as they work toward completion of a writing task. Graphic organizers of various configurations have been designed to assist young writers as they compare and contrast, determine solutions, or simply write a paragraph, to name just a few of the challenges aided by these templates.

Graphic organizers also have an important role in English language arts and content area writing. An elementary graphic organizer could help young students understand the relationship between vocabulary words and their meanings, while a middle school graphic organizer might guide a class in clarifying the cause-effect relationships of science topic. High school graphic organizers are also plentiful and, for example, could be used to illuminate the timeline of a social studies issue. In fact, graphic organizers have been shown to foster more in-depth thinking and writing in all subjects.

Graphic Organizers and Your Child

Due to their visual nature, graphic organizers support a wide range of students, including those with special needs and English language learners. You’ll find many excellent sources for graphic organizers online, as well as in books. Take notice of the graphic organizers your children bring home from school and let them show you how these visual tools are used for assignments. You’ll become conversant in a new language, learning the difference between a Spider Map, T-Chart, Thinking Tree, Venn Diagram, and Mind Map, among a seemingly endless list of graphic organizers. Get to know the different types of graphic organizers and you might adopt a few for your own business and personal tasks.

Can graphic organizers be over-used?
While graphic organizers are a valuable aid to learning and a boon for visual learners, they can sometimes hinder students if used excessively. In particular, advanced students can become bored with a graphic organizer when they already understand the concept. Observe how your children interact with graphic organizers, and help them use these learning tools to their advantage. As always, discuss learning problems you observe with your child’s teacher.

We are particularly excited about the success of Time4Writing in building students’ writing skills through the use of graphic organizers and other proven methods. A unique online writing program for elementary, middle school, and high school students, Time4Writing pairs your child with a certified teacher for one-on-one writing instruction. Time4Writing’s eight-week online writing courses are highly effective. Find out how Time4Writing can make a real difference in your child’s writing.

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