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Graph Organizers

Graphic organizers are ways to organize information in a way that makes it more visible, more accessible, and easier to understand.

Student-Created Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are most effective when students make their own. Give students a sheet of blank paper and a sample graphic organizer (on the board or an overhead) and let them draw the lines and labels.


  1. No photocopies = Save time and money
  2. Students better understand the organizer and why it's set up the way that it is; it becomes more than just a worksheet to fill out.
  3. Teaches students the structure of the organizer, making it possible for them to use the organizer on their own in other classes


  1. Have students draw the organizer as an Anchor Activity. Provide each student with a blank sheet of paper and show an example the the day's graphic organizer on the board or an overhead. Have students begin drawing the organizer as soon as they take their seats so that they are ready to use when class begins.
  2. Keep reams of blank 8.5x14 and 11x17 paper in your classroom to make larger organizers for more information.
  3. Use one organizer for a unit to collect information from multiple lessons - allows for reflection (information can be added, changed, revised), review and provides a means of study for a final assessment.

Graphic Organizers:

Cause and Effect Matrix

  1. Demostrate cause and effect for separate events/factors
  2. Materials/Resources:
    1. Cause and Effect Matrix (pdf)


Cause and Effect Path

  1. Use to demostrate cause and effect patterns that lead to other causes and effects
  2. Materials/Resources:
    1. Cause and Effect Path (pdf)


Fact vs. Opinion Chart

  1. Students take notes on reading material based on facts and opinions in the reading.
  2. Box at the bottom allows students to express their own opinion - so that they can say what they think and to help them separate what they think from the opinions expressed in the reading.
  3. Materials/Resources:
    1. Fact vs. Opinion (pdf)


KWL Chart

  1. Columns: "What I Know," "What I Want to Know," and "What I Learned"

  2. Can be used at the beginning of a unit to assess students' background knowledge and interest in the topic, or it can be used at various points throughout the unit to assess student progress 
  3. Materials/Resources:
    1. KWL Chart (Word)
    2. KWL Chart (pdf)


Matrix Chart

  1. Organizes multi-dimensional information
  2. Incredibly versatile - Can be made with a varying numbers of columns and rows based on need. Can be used for simple ideas for very complex.
  3. Materials/Resources:
    1. Matrix Chart (Word)
    2. Matrix Chart (pdf)
    3. Sample Matrix - Pacific States Region


Novel/Unit Organizer

  1. 8.5x14 or 11x17 paper; front and back
  2. One organizer to use for multiple assignments/skills related to a novel or unit of study
  3. 11x17 paper provides space for all the information and can be folded in half to fit in a notebook
  4. Materials/Resources:
    1. Novel/Unit Chart (Word)
    2. Novel/Unit Chart (pdf)
    3. Sample Novel/Unit Cart - The Outsiders


Plot Curve Diagram

  1. Organize the plot, exposition, theme and conflict in a novel or story
  2. Materials/Resources:
    1. Plot Curve Diagram (pdf)


Venn Diagram

  1. 2 or 3 overlapping circles, used to show what is alike and different about 2 or 3 different things
  2. Simple enough for many primary students
  3. Materials/Resources:
    1. Venn Diagram (Word)
    2. Venn Diagram (pdf)
    3. Venn Diagram Sample - Cats and Dogs


Vocabulary Chart

  1. 6 to a page

  2. Use as is for Latin and Greek roots or prefixes and suffixes. Or replace "Root" with a vocabulary word and use other versions of the word as examples (verbs tenses, plural forms, etc.)
  3. Copy/draw multiple pages back-to-back to create a dictionary
  4. Materials/Resources:
    1. Vocabulary Chart (Word) orVocabulary Chart (pdf)
    2. Vocabulary Chart Sample - Prefix "auto"