Lesson Plans Using Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers break down complex material into charts or webs.

A graphic organizer helps students create a visual representation of important concepts in instructional material. This enables students to construct meaning from what they read. Graphic organizers consist of lines, arrows, boxes or a variety of shapes drawn on a page in a chart or web format that can be filled in by teachers or students. Although graphic organizers can be used in any subject with any age student, they are particularly helpful in breaking down text when students are reading new or complicated material. Examples of graphic organizers are story maps, sequence of event charts, cause and effect charts and Venn diagrams.There are many lesson plans in every subject matter that utilize graphic organizers.

The Water Cycle

After reading about the water cycle in expository texts, give students copies of a cycle diagram or let them draw their own. Starting at the top of the page, there should be four curving arrows that flow around the paper and make a circle. For each arrow the students should label and draw a depiction for the terms accumulation, evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Adapt the graphic organizer for older students by adding more arrows. They can include advanced terms like ground water, runoff and transpiration.

Parts of a Plant

Make a tossed salad, including items that represent the parts of a plant. Use lettuce to represent leaves, carrots to represent roots, celery to represent stems and tomatoes to represent fruit. Give students a web graphic organizer that has a circle or square in the center and at least four lines extending from the center shape. There should be more shapes at the end of the lines. In the center shape, students should draw or paste magazine pictures of a salad. In each of the outlying shapes, students should include a picture of each salad part that represents a part of a plant. Each part should be labeled and include a description of what each part does. For instance, the celery is a stem that carries nutrients and water to the leaves.

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River Pollution and Cause and Effect

Read the book “A River Ran Wild” by Lynne Cherry. Make a list of all the pollutants that go in rivers. Read aloud other expository books that discuss the effects pollution has on fish. Give each student a cause and effect graphic organizer. The organizer should include a box or circle in the middle for the problem, or main topic. Lines should be drawn from the problem to the “causes” boxes or circles on the left. To the right of the problem, there should be another series of boxes or circles that show the “effects.” This graphic organizer should be used after the unit to reinforce learning.

Haiku Starter

Write Haiku poems as a culminating activity for a unit of study in any subject. Haiku is traditional Japanese poetry that has three lines and 17 syllables. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven and the third has five. Together, brainstorm a list of vocabulary words or terms from a unit. Give each student a graphic organizer that includes blanks for several words with a circle at the end each blank. Let students choose words from the class list. In the circle, students should write the number of syllables in each word.

Fairy Tale Autobiographies

Read several traditional fairy tales with students. Discuss the major points and similarities among the texts. Have students discuss major events from their own lives. Students should create a story map to organize the events of their own lives. The map should include a beginning, a rising action and a falling action. Using their story map graphic organizers, students will have a starting point for writing their own fairy tale autobiographies.

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