Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Strategies > Graphic Organizer

Graphic Organizer


Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall. Graphic organizers outsource the memory demands of a task by mimicking the brain's mental schema, supporting students' cognitive development and, in turn, their literacy skills.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this sixth grade teacher uses a graphic organizer to help her students brainstorm domain-specific Vocabulary in preparation for an explanatory writing task in a lesson from As students fill in the graphic organizer, they have the opportunity to share and discuss their findings with classmates, thus giving them multiple exposures to the Vocabulary.

  • Because of the wide variety of types of graphic organizers, from concept maps to series of events chain, they can be used in all of the content areas. For learners with low Working Memory, graphic organizers structure and hold onto the information for them. When learners record and review their notes in graphic organizers, they are able to recall this information more easily because they have repeatedly worked with it. This helps develop their Inferencing skills, as learners can more easily connect information across a reading and with their own Background Knowledge.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how Popplet allows learners to create their own graphic organizers or collaborate to create a graphic organizer as a group. In addition to traditional text, learners have other choice options such as adding or changing drawings, photos, videos, colors, and fonts, which support increased engagement.

  • Graphic organizers that can be manipulated—layout, shapes, colors, fonts—provide even more support for developing readers and writers. Being able to personalize the graphic organizers can engage learners to take ownership over their own learning.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy