Pie charts are an example of ways to use graphic organizers with abstract content.
Graphic organizers are an effective tool for educators to teach abstract concepts in visual form. Graphic organizers can also be designed and printed for students to use to organize their thoughts and ideas when working. The most common graphic organizers are designed with circles, boxes or lines that organize ideas such as sequencing, compare/contrast, cause and effect, and organizational hierarchy. Using graphic organizers enhances students’ understanding, increases participation and improves higher-order thinking skills.
As an Assessment Tool
Graphic organizers help a student see the steps of a process he is learning.
Educators can use graphic organizers as tools for group discussions. These visual aids are particularly useful for students who have been identified as visual learners. KWL charts (reflecting what you know, what you want to know and what you have learned) are useful for assessing students’ prior knowledge, engaging a group discussion about the goals of the lesson and assessing the understandings, skills and knowledge students have obtained from the lesson. KWS charts are similar, but are used to help students organize research into what they know, what they want to know and the possible sources.
Pre- and Post-Reading
Teachers can use graphic organizers to write down students’ predictions as they read a story.
Graphic organizers can be used to enhance reading comprehension skills. Before reading a book or chapter, teachers can chart the main characters and the organization of the ideas in the text. Once reading has begun, teachers can stop along the way and chart the main ideas and supporting facts, using a concept or spider map. Students can use individual charts to keep track of characters, plot, theme and settings as they read, to help with recall. Graphic organizers can be designed to classify events and show relationships and cause and effect in a story.
Composition and Writing
Many styles of graphic organizers can be used when teaching students compose essays and stories. Venn diagrams are a useful tool for compare and contrast essays. Describing wheels are often used to help students develop a topic. The topic bubble is placed in the center of the wheel, and each spoke holds a description of ideas that students develop. Sandwich charts help to teach students construct an essay. The top piece of bread is filled in with the topic and topic sentence, the meat of the sandwich is the body of the story, and the bottom piece of bread is the conclusion. Students can see the strategy behind the concept of essay formation.
Teachers can use many types of graphic organizers for math applications. Word problems, the nemesis of many students, can be solved visually using teacher-designed table charts. Circle graphs such as pie charts can display compare and contrasts and data sets. Tree charts are often used to visually display factoring.
Educators frequently use concept mapping when collaborating on curriculum design.
Graphic organizers are also useful tools for educators when assessing their teaching methods. An important part of teaching is data collection to understand what methods of instruction are working, what type of differentiation is needed and how best to revise lesson plans. Using a graphic organizer such as a spider map can organize multiple instruction strategies for various types of learners in one topic. Concept mapping can help a teacher brainstorm ideas for lesson plans.