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Why Use Graphic Organizers?

Learn why graphic organizers are a key tool for students to use in the middle school classroom in any subject area.

Using graphic organizers is very important. We have all heard of them. We have all used them. We may have even designed a few ourselves. The noble graphic organizer needs to be a key tool in your middle school classroom. 

From the K-W-L format  to mind webbing and everything in between, the graphic organizer is a popular and useful tool in many classrooms.  But why are graphic organizers so great?  I am going to share several reasons why graphic organizers are a fantastic tool to use.

Why Use Graphic Organizers In Middle School 

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Aid the Visual Learner

According to research, over half of all people are visual learners, and while there is debate among scientists about the exact percentage, the fact remains that you will have a significant number of this type of learner in any class you teach. 

The graphic organizer is a wonderful tool for those who process material by seeing it best.  Whether it is colors and shapes, arrows and pictures, or words written in a visually interesting and attention-grabbing manner, graphic organizers help students see what it is they are learning.

Help Students Organize Their Thinking

A good graphic organizer isn’t just one or a series of visual images, it is an exercise in thought organization.  In order to complete one, students must order their thoughts, process the material they are learning, and explain it as they add it to and complete their graphic organizer. 

These steps encourage a deeper and more complete understanding of a given topic and move students right up the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Encourage Student Engagement

In order to make use of a graphic organizer, students have to do something – write, organize, draw, color code, question, explain, and on and on.  In a class lecture students may or may not think about and synthesize information.  In a class discussion students may or may not listen and talk.  In a lit circle students may or may not actively participate. 

This is not true of graphic organizers.  With a graphic organizer there is no way for students to complete it without thinking about and responding to the material.  In short, graphic organizers force student engagement.

Add Variety to Lessons

We all have go-to teaching styles.  Maybe your PowerPoints rock, maybe class discussion is your forte, or maybe you are a lecturer – whatever your style, it is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with having a strong suit. 

It is equally important though to remember that variety adds a lot to a classroom and helps students learn better.  Enter the graphic organizer.  Not only are there graphic organizers than can fit with literally any type of lesson and teaching method, but exploring the different types of organizers can also help encourage you to try new and creative ways to teach your material.

Either way, adding graphic organizers to your curriculum helps add variety to your lessons.

Have a Variety of Formats

Unlike some teaching aids which have strict rules and one method of use, there are a million graphic organizers out there and therefore at least a million ways to use them.  You and your students don’t have to be boxed in by someone else’s style or opinions on the “right way” to teach or learn a concept. 

This vast number of graphic organizers means you can find the perfect one for your material, your students, and your class.  And just because you use one organizer one year or with one student does not mean you have to use the same one in the future or with another student. 

By allowing your circumstances to dictate which organizer is best, you will get the best results from your lessons as well as teach your students the techniques that different graphic organizers employ so that they can use these independently in their academic futures.

Can Be Used Multiples Times

Unlike some teaching tools, you can use graphic organizers many times for different lessons and students usually remember how to use them and fill them out which saves class time. They can also be placed into these dry erase pockets or laminated which then makes them durable for a full year of use.  

Are A Required Accommodation

If you have a student in your classroom on an IEP most likely they will have an accommodation that states access to graphic organizers. This is a legal document and you are legally obligated to provide this teaching method. I find that the strategies listed on the IEP are usually not just good for that one student, they are usually good for the whole class as well.

Ready-To-Go Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers can be time consuming to create. I have created three different graphic organizer sets for your classroom use. Just print them out and use them with your students.

Reading Strategies Graphic Organizers

Why Use Graphic OrganizersThese reading strategies graphic organizers have been downloaded over 28,000 times from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. They are a collection of 6 different graphic organizers to help students engage, connect and think critically about their reading. Students can write directly on the graphic organizers or they can collect their thoughts on sticky notes and use the graphic organizers as a study tool. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

Middle School Informational Text Graphic OrganizersWhy Use Graphic Organizers

This information text graphic organizer resource contains 27 different graphic organizers and 3 anchor charts to help students organize their thinking about ANY non-fiction book or article. They are aligned to the Common Core, but also provide a non-Common Core aligned version. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

Non-Fiction Graphic Organizers

Why Use Graphic Organizers

This non-fiction graphic organizer resource contains 14 different graphic organizers to help students organize their thinking about ANY non-fiction book or article. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

Additional Resources

  1. Full Year Lesson Plans For Middle School ELA
  2. Ditch The Weekly Lesson Prep – Full Year Lesson Plans For English Language Arts Teachers
  3. Lit Launch Middle School Reading Engagement Workshop

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