Graphic organizers are commonly used to help students organize their notes while reading class material or to synthesize their notes after a lecture. There are a variety of different graphic organizers; deciding on which one to use depends on what type of material is being taught, such as a process, cycle, or complex concept.
While Reading Graphic Organizers
1. Classify a graphic organizer as a cycle diagram if it shows a repeating series of events that occur in the same order every time.
2. Classify a graphic organizer as a process diagram if it shows a series of steps that produce a result.
3. Classify a graphic organizer as supporting main ideas notes if it shows the main idea in a top box, and supporting ideas in boxes underneath the main idea box.
4. Classify a graphic organizer as a main idea web if it shows a main idea in a central box, with connecting lines pointing to boxes that have supporting ideas written in them.
5. Classify a graphic organizer as two-column notes if it shows two columns, in which the left-hand column lists vocabulary terms, main ideas, or processes, and the right-hand column lists matching definitions, supporting ideas, or process steps.
Synthesis Graphic Organizers
6. Classify a graphic organizer as a cause-and-effect diagram if it shows a cause-and-effect relationship between concepts. In this graphic organizer, typically a top box lists the cause, and linked boxes below list the effect(s).
7. Classify a graphic organizer as a concept map if it shows a diagram that lists a main topic in a circle at the top which has supporting concepts linked beneath the main topic, and further concepts linked beneath each supporting concept.
8. Classify a graphic organizer as a content frame if it shows a table that lists characteristics in rows and shows associated topics/categories in columns.
9. Classify a graphic organizer as a Venn diagram if it shows two overlapping circles that list differences in the outer circle regions and similarities in the overlapping region between the two circles.
10. Classify a graphic organizer as a Y diagram if it is in the shape of a “Y” and shows two concept under comparison listed at the top of each arm of the “Y.” The characteristics of each topic are listed below each heading. Those characteristics that are common to both topics crossed out in the upper arms and are listed at the bottom part of the Y.