Increasing the Value of Graphic Organizers

When students are involved in the production of visual guides and learning goals drive the design, they are most effective.

Graphic organizers can be used by students of all ages to help them organize, clarify, and simplify difficult information. They also assist comprehension by allowing pupils to investigate the connections between topics.

Organizers can be used by teachers to assist students in learning. They enable pupils to organize enormous volumes of data, provide a new perspective on complex texts, and aid in the identification of patterns and comparison of viewpoints. Students’ thinking may be limited by graphic organizers, which require them to fill up boxes. They can, however, help students to avoid the necessary but time-consuming task of finding critical insights or conceptual knowledge.

Graphic organizers are essential intellectual barriers that can help pupils grasp and learn more deeply.


Students should be able to categorize fundamental concepts, show links between ideas, and construct knowledge using graphic organizers that are well-designed and simple to use.

If one of your learning objectives is for pupils to describe how a small government or a strong government can jeopardize individual liberty, the graphic organizer should be intended to help them do so. Students should be able to think beyond the standard list of Articles of Confederation flaws. Instead, students should be able to critically consider how the British monarchy or the Articles of Confederation impacted liberty.

If the purpose of the organizer is to determine if the author followed classic narrative rules, a visual organizer that lists plot components in a novel is insufficient. Students should be asked to utilize the organizer to compare the novel’s plot aspects to the standard rising/falling action, resolution tale, and to figure out where and why they made the same or different decisions. They must also decide on deliberate craft maneuvers.

If the goal is to get students to think critically, they should form well-considered opinions. While the Venn diagram is a valuable tool for establishing comparisons, it does not force students to evaluate the relative strengths of parts, identify the most significant similarities and differences, rate or discriminate aspects that could help them create an informed opinion.

If organizers aren’t built with the objective in mind, students may be led on an intellectual scavenger hunt that results in superficial comprehension or reasoning. Students should be required to use the information deconstructed to make sense of or achieve new insights using graphic organizers that are aligned with the learning aim.


Imagine asking your pupils, “What are you doing?” and “Why are you doing it?” as they’re working on a graphic organizer. Students are more likely to be able to communicate the former (e.g., “I’m filling in this chart/table/diagram.”) than the latter (e.g., “I’m filling in this chart/table/diagram.”)

Students frequently regard the completion and application of the graphic organizer as a goal in and of itself, rather than a means of gaining more advanced insights. This is why it’s critical to make your organizer’s purpose clear to students. Ascertain that the structure of the organizer allows them to connect content and gain deeper comprehension.

For example, the National Archives has created a visual organizer that includes various prompts to assist students to analyze and close-read historical documents, considering the author and historical context, and developing additional questions for future research and contemplation.


A graphic organizer could be scaffolded by the teacher to help pupils develop higher-order abilities like evaluation, determination, and judgment.

Students should be asked to make their visual representations. In an AP Biology class (see the pdf “Student Concept Maps”), the teacher provided students with guidelines and a blank piece of paper so they could design their concept maps. This gave them more freedom in how they expressed their thoughts. Students said that making their organizers helped them understand subjects better. When browsing through the information, they had to be more critical. The organizer also assisted students in identifying gaps in their knowledge.

Students can use concept mapping to organize their thoughts, and teachers can use it as a formative assessment tool to check to understand and uncover misconceptions.


Students should be able to apply what they’ve learned to improve their ability to solve complicated problems, become active citizens, and read independently. Students must be allowed to design the processes that will enable them to achieve this aim.

Scaffolds should be taken down both inside and outside of the school. Teachers must be prepared to let kids learn on their own, and any temporary platforms or training wheels must be removed. Students will not utilize graphic organizers outside of school to find text and other content. Using graphic organizers, students can improve their autonomy and complex thinking skills.