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Let’s start with the simplest graphic organizer – the T-chart. Usually used to compare two objects, processes, or events, a T-chart
can be drawn by making a large, lowercase “t" or vertical cross. The two areas at the top of the “t" are for headings, such as
“alligators" and “crocodiles." The two areas at the bottom of the “t" are usually larger and hold different facts about alligators and
crocodiles. Each row in the chart compares one characteristic. For example, if one row says “lower teeth hidden when mouth is
closed" under alligators, the corresponding area on the other side of the chart would say “lower teeth visible when mouth is

The T-chart is the most basic form of a chart, but you can also make charts with multiple columns to compare several objects,
processes, or events.

Venn Diagram
A Venn diagram is a different way to show comparison and contrast. This graphic organizer consists of two labeled overlapping
circles. In the overlap, you would write anything that is similar between the two headings. In parts of the circles that are not
overlapping, you would write the details that are unique to only one of the two headings. For example, “lower teeth hidden when
mouth is closed" would be included in the section of the circle under “alligator. “Sharp teeth" would be included in the
overlapping area. If you need to compare and contrast three objects, processes, or events, consider using a triple Venn diagram.
This graphic organizer consists of three overlapping circles. There are sections of the organizer in which only two circles are
overlapping, and there is one section in which all three circles overlap. This last section would include any information that is
true for all three headings.

Sequence of Events Chain

This graphic organizer looks like several boxes connected by arrows. The leftmost box contains the first event in a chronological
sequence, and the rightmost box contains the last event. This graphic organizer is perfect for writing or reading a short story,
understanding the flow of a series of historical events, or understanding how flashbacks fit into a novel.

An alternative to this organizer is a timeline, which shows the time that passes between events more clearly. Also keep in mind
that you can easily tweak this basic graphic organizer so as to demonstrate cyclical events. For example, if you place the boxes in
a circle and connect the last box back to the first, you can use the organizer for the life cycle of a frog.

Main Idea Web

A main idea web is often the perfect tool for brainstorming ideas. To create one, simply draw a circle in the center of a piece of
paper and write the main topic of your paper in it. Then draw lines from the circle outwards, and end each line in a circle. In these
circles, write secondary topics that relate to your main topic. For example, if a student were writing a persuasive essay about why
uniforms are important, she would write the words “uniforms are important" in the center circle, with reasons explaining why
they are important in the surrounding circles. She would then add another layer to the organizer by adding lines and circles to
each of the secondary circles as supports for her reasoning.

Graphic organizers are important ways to help students understand what they’ve read and to help them organize their thoughts
before writing. Introducing these graphic organizers correctly can help your students succeed.

Using Graphic Organizers for Writing

Brainstorming is one of the steps of the writing process, but it is also a step that many students struggle with. In their minds,
sitting and thinking is brainstorming. Graphic organizers for writing can help them structure their thoughts as they brainstorm,
and can give them something concrete to refer back to as they move on through the writing process.

Perhaps the most often-used graphic organizer for writing is an idea web, which is simply multiple circles connected by lines.
Idea webs help you to free-associate about a topic, and they are most helpful in deciding what you want to write about. For
example, if a student wanted to write a story about her summer vacation (a common assignment), she might not be sure just
which aspect of her summer vacation to write about, and she may not even remember many summer events offhand. Using an
idea web would help her brainstorm about what had happened that summer in a semi-structured way.

(Incidentally, the same technique would work with a report about George Washington, in which the student may not be sure
which aspect of George Washington she would like to write about.)