I’ve recently reignited my fascination with graphic organizers. I always loved them as a public school teacher, and now I’m using them with Sprite for homeschooling. She’s a highly visual learner who has just moved up to the fifth grade, so they work very well for her.
Graphic organizers (GOs) are simply ways to arrange information so that relationships among ideas are represented visually. Words are used but along with lines, arrows, circles, or other images that indicate sequence, cause and effect, or other relationships.
- anyone who needs to SEE the ideas visually, especially visual spatial learners
- students trying to organize their thoughts for a writing project or a notebooking page
- best for middle and high school students
- During prewriting — the thinking, organizing, and planning stage of writing
- After reading and during reading
- For narration
- As notebooking pages
- In portfolios
They work! Research shows that that use of graphic organizers (GOs) is effective for helping both middle school and secondary students to organize and remember academic concepts. For more research, visit Mentoring Minds.
To be effective, GOs should be coherent. Make sure that the information is displayed clearly without any irrelevant details. The parts should be clearly labeled with relationships or sequences indicated by numbers, arrows, lines, etc. in a way that is logical to the student.
Some students like to use color and sketches to show relationships on GOs.
I tend to print out a whole set of graphic organizers, using various colors of paper. Then I keep them in a file in our homeschool area. When a prewriting or notebooking task comes up, I offer the set to Sprite and let her choose which layout best fits her needs.
How to Get Started
Download this PDF assortment Utah Education Network of six basic GOs. Print them out and keep them handy this week for notebooking, narration, book reports, or prewriting activities.
Or if you want a few more to start with, try this file North Carolina State University with dozens of GOs.
Or start with this file which includes an example use for each GO.
Any of these free printable graphic organizers can add structure to a noteboooking assignment. Often, they are less intimidating than an empty sheet of paper. The framework is already there, and your child simply fills in the ideas. Later, as students become familiar with the use of graphic organizers, they won’t need the forms at all. They can draw them on blank paper or even create their own customized GOs.
The Super Duper Link List of Free Printable Graphic Organizers
The divisions here are somewhat arbitrary. Generally GOs can be used for many, many purposes. But for the sake of organization, I divided these links by subject area.
General Graphic Organizers
Education Place Graphic Organizers
All the standbys (story map, timeline, five W’s, flow chart, etc.) and some new ones — tree chart, ladder, idea wheel, etc.
Freeology – Free Printable Graphic Organizers
Be sure to go through all eight pages! There are a lot! All in PDF format.
Worksheet Works Graphic Organizer Generator
Customize several aspects of 12 different GOs. This is super neat! This site is currently in Beta and is free. In the future, I suspect it will require a paid membership.
Graphic Organizers that Support Specific Thinking
A short list of graphic organizers in Claris Works & in PDF.
This site is unique because it tells the thinking skills that each graphic organizer taps into.
Region 15 Graphic Organizers
Options for English or Spanish, PDF or DOC, and landscape or portrait orientation. Includes all the standard graphic organizers plus writing portfolio, timelines, similes, predictions, etc.
Education Oasis Graphic Organizers
General graphic organizers in PDF format.
Education World’s Teacher Tools & Templates
These files are unique in that most of them are .doc format — you can download and modify them.
Graphic Organizers.com from Masterminds Publishing
Divided by category such as cause and effect, comparisons, & hierarchies.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel Graphic Organizers
Divided by function — for presentations, for vocabulary, for summarizing, for sequencing, for main idea and supporting details, for making connections, for self-questioning, for inferences/predicting, for cause and effect, for compare and contrast, character maps, and writing. Most are PDF format. They appear to be scans of hard documents, so quality is mediocre.
Science Class Graphic Organizers
Attractive, free graphic organizers divided by science categories.
Houghton Mifflin Science: Graphic Organizers
A LONG list of graphic organizers in PDF format that accompany Houghton Mifflin Science textbooks for grades 1-6. This list is very well organized so that the printables are easy to locate and use even without the textbook.
Hint — use Ctrl F to bring up the find function in your browser. Then enter your key words.
Graphic Organizers –Tools for Reading, Writing, & Thinking
Secondary level, language arts graphic organizers in PDF format. The ones for expository writing are especially nice.
Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension at Scholastic.com
Lesson Plan Printables –Writing
Super Teacher Printable Graphic Organizers
Help your students organize their writing with Venn diagrams, story maps, and more. Your students can use the writing webs, chronological order charts to improve the organization of their writing.
Teacher Files Graphic Organizers
a variety of graphic organizers to help your students communicate their comprehension of text.
Busy Teacher’s Cafe Graphic Organizers
Another varied assortment of graphic organizers.
SOUTHWEST GEORGIA RESA Math Graphic Organizers
A collection of math related GO’s in both DOC and PDF formats. Topics include area, ratios, quadrilaterals, cross sections, constructions, and much more. The site is a bit messy, but worth browsing around. Scroll do the bottom of the page for links to printables or use the pages dedicated to grades 4-8 and 9-12.
Fact Families Graphic Organizers
Attractive PDFs to record addition families for all addends from 4 to 12.
black and white graphic organizer images © CAST, 2007