Using boxes, circles, ovals, rectangles, and other shapes, not to mention lines for connecting, students can show information according to its level (main ideas, subtopics, details or elaboration, and so on). They can show how two ideas compare to one another (as in a Venn Diagram) or Comparison-Contrast Chart . They can trace the order or sequence or stages of a process. They can show how characters in a story, or officeholders in a government, work with and relate to one another. In economics, that time-honored Circular Flow Diagram is an example of a graphic organizer.
Graphic organizers guide learners’ thinking as they fill in and build upon a visual map or diagram. Graphic organizers are some of the most effective visual learning strategies for students and are applied across the curriculum to enhance learning and understanding of subject matter content. In a variety of formats dependent upon the task, graphic organizers facilitate students’ learning by helping them identify areas of focus within a broad topic, such as a novel or article. Because they help the learner make connections and structure thinking, students often turn to graphic organizers for writing projects.
Five main types of organizers
Graphic organizers are valuable instructional tools. Unlike many tools that just have one purpose, graphic organizers are flexible and endless in application. One common trait found among graphic organizers is that they show the order and completeness of a student's thought process - strengths and weaknesses of understanding become clearly evident. Many graphic organizers show different aspects of an issue/problem - in close and also the big picture. Since many graphic organizers use short words or phrases, they are ideal for many types of learners, including English Language Learners with intermediate proficiency.
Although five main types of organizers are mentioned in this piece, many others exist, or will soon be created. See examples below.