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Graphic Organizers

The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
E-mail: webmaster@hoagiesgifted.org
Internet: http://eric.hoagiesgifted.org
ERIC EC Minibib EB21
Updated March 2003
Compiled by Sandra Berger
Citations with an ED (ERIC Document; for example, ED123456) number are available in microfiche collections at more than 1,000 locations worldwide; to find the ERIC Resource Collection nearest you, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm. Documents can also be ordered for a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com/, service@edrs.com, or 1-800-443-ERIC. (no longer available)

Journal articles (for example, EJ999999) are available for a fee from the originating journal (check your local college or public library), through interlibrary loan services, or from article reproduction services such as: Infotrieve: 800.422.4633, www4.infotrieve.com, service@infotrieve.com; or ingenta: 800.296.2221, www.ingenta.com, ushelp@ingenta.com.

A graphic organizer is a visual representation of concepts, knowledge, or information that can incorporate both text and pictures. Examples include calendars, maps, Venn diagrams, and flow charts. Graphic organizers allow the mind 'to see' undiscovered patterns and relationships.

Adger, C. T. and others (1995). Engaging students: Thinking, talking, cooperating. Corwin Press, Inc., 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218. 192 pp.
In this book, four teachers provide classroom-tested, research- based instructional approaches that engage students in learning through thought and talk. They show ways to improve significantly students abilities to solve problems and to think critically and creatively by using "Think Trix," a structure of thinking types to signal the sort of thinking that is appropriate to a learning task. The system helps students develop both their analytic capabilities and their academic language skills. Each chapter ends with discussion questions to lead classes or individuals in exploring implications for their own practice.

Armstrong, J. O. (1993). Learning to make idea maps with elementary science text. Technical Report No. 572. Center for the Study of Reading, Urbana, IL. 58 p. ED355491.
This report offers teachers and teacher educators information about learning to make idea maps for instructional use with elementary science texts. Idea maps, which are verbal-spatial representations of ideas and the relationships connecting them, can resemble flow charts, diagrams, or tables. The information in this report is based on selected results from a study of eight preservice elementary teachers who received several hours of individual instruction in idea mapping and then independently read and mapped two passages of elementary science text. The report presents the instructional materials, describes the instructional sessions, and considers selected data from the independent work sessions as indications of the preservice teachers' learning from the instructional sessions. The results show that all but one student followed the instructional guideline to make "global maps," which were limited to key text ideas.

Bellanca, J. (1992). The cooperative think tank II: Graphic organizers to teach thinking in the cooperative classroom. K-Adult. Skylight Publishing, Inc., 200 East Wood Street, Suite 274, Palatine, IL 60067. 149 p.
This book contains 12 graphic organizers to use with a technique called the "triple-agenda lesson," a single lesson or unit that integrates the graphic organizers as a tool for promoting thoughtful study of course content in a cooperative learning structure. The goal of this technique is to empower each learner to become self-directed regarding what and how to learn. Each chapter of the book covers one graphic organizer and includes instructions on how to use it in the classroom; a sidebar highlighting the purpose, vocabulary, and thinking skills employed; suggestions for testing; optional activities; topics for elementary, middle school, and secondary levels; and examples. An invent-your-own model is included, along with chapters on integrating organizers across the curriculum and evaluating student work. Copies of the organizers are included.

Bos, C. S., Anders, P. L. (1992). Using interactive teaching and learning strategies to promote text comprehension and content learning for students with learning disabilities. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 39(3), 225-38. The Interactive Teaching Project was designed to test an instructional model to help students with learning disabilities comprehend content area concepts. This paper describes the theoretical model and the effective interactive teaching and learning strategies used, including semantic feature analysis, semantic mapping, and semantic/syntactic feature analysis.

Cassidy, J. (1989). Using graphic organizers to develop critical thinking. Gifted Child Today, 12(6), 34-36.
Graphic organizers can help gifted students organize information and ideas related to a given topic. This article discusses the use of such graphic organizers as structured overviews, Venn diagrams, story maps, and character analysis charts to help teachers develop analysis, synthesie, and evaluation as critical thinking skills.

Cassidy, J., Hossler, A. (1992). Help your students get the main idea with graphic organizers. Learning, 21(2), 75-77,82.
Three graphic organizers are presented to teach students the concept of main idea. One describes how to examine details in an article to determine the main idea. Another explains how specific details support main ideas. The third describes deduction, stressing the importance of expository detail to support the main idea.

Dunston, P. J. (1992). A critique of graphic organizer research. Reading Research and Instruction, 31 (2), 57-65.
Discusses research on the use of graphic organizers to facilitate reading comprehension. Suggests that the research is inconclusive in determining the type of organizer to be used, when organizers should be introduced, and the type of students that benefit most from organizers. Discusses directions for future investigations.

Dye, G. A. (2000). Graphic organizers to the rescue! helping students link--and remember--information. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 32(3), 72-76.
This article describes using graphic organizers as a way of assisting students with disabilities in the note-taking process and helping them link the new information to their existing schema of knowledge. It discusses the concept behind graphic organizers, graphic organizer activities, and steps for creating a graphic organizer.

Ellis, E. S. (1994). Integrating writing strategy instruction with content-area instruction: Part I--Orienting students to organizational devices. Intervention in School and Clinic, 29(3), 169-79.
This article offers the Integrated Strategies Instruction Model as a method for teaching content-area lessons to students with mild disabilities, using a variety of graphic organizers. The model lends itself to both teacher-directed and student-directed learning activities.

Fleener, M. J., Marek, E. A. (1992) Testing in the learning cycle. Science Scope, 15(6), 48-49.
Describes the three phases of the learning cycle (exploration, conceptual invention, and expansion) and explains how they can be used in educational assessment. The use of semantic mapping, concept mapping, and mental modeling in the evaluation of student learning is described.

Gammage, S., and others (1993). In the classroom. Reading Teacher, 46(5), 446-52.
Describes five classroom activities: helping students use strong nouns, strong verbs, and right adjectives; using acrostic poems for research reporting; improving student response in directed-reading (and directed-listening) thinking activities; using semantic mapping and cooperative groups to build descriptive writing; and math synonyms.

Griffin, C. C., Tulbert, B. L. (1995). The effect of graphic organizers on students' comprehension and recall of expository text: A review of the research and implications for practice. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 11(1), 73-89.
Reviews the use of graphic organizers as a means to assist students in the complex act of making sense of content-area text. Explores theoretical and historical foundations of the graphic organizer and reviews current research. Derives implications for the classroom teacher and future research.

Hanselman, C. A. (1996). Using brainstorming webs in the mathematics classroom. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 1(9), 766-70.
This article describes the use of a graphic organizer, webs, to help students learn to connect concepts in mathematics.

Harris, J. B., Grandgenett, N. F. (1993). A developmental sequence of children's semantic relationships: Implications for the design of interactive hypermedia materials. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 2(1), 83-101.
A study of students in grades two through eight was conducted to determine the potential existence of a developmental sequence of specific association types among children and the implications for the design of interactive hypermedia materials. Highlights include schema theory; word associations; and semantic mapping and concept maps.

Howard, J. B.(1994). Addressing needs through strengths: Five instructional practices for use with gifted/learning disabled students. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 5(3), 23-34.
This article describes five instructional strategies for use with gifted students with learning disabilities: (1) use of computer technology; (2) mnemonic (memory enhancing) techniques; (3) graphic organizers; (4) the integrative strategy instruction model; and (5) seminar instruction.

Hyerle, D. (1996). Thinking maps: Seeing is understanding. Educational Leadership, 53(4), 85-89.
By using visual tools corresponding to thinking processes, students can organize their ideas on paper or by computer and improve their reading, writing, and thinking skills. After the brainstorming process, eight types of thinking maps (circle, bubble, double-bubble, tree, flow, multiflow, brace, and bridge maps) are useful graphic organizers.

Irvin, J. L. (1990). Vocabulary knowledge: Guidelines for instruction. What research says to the teacher. National Education Association, Washington, D.C. NEA Professional Library, P.O. Box 509, West Haven, CT 06516 (Stock No. 1085-X-00, $3.95). 35 p.
Arguing that researchers in the last decade have helped to illuminate a direction for effective vocabulary development for students, this monograph reviews the recent research on vocabulary knowledge. After a discussion of the importance of vocabulary knowledge, the monograph examines the various factors in vocabulary acquisition identified by researchers in the 1980s. The monograph also includes a discussion of the issues related to vocabulary instruction and presents four guidelines for instruction. Finally, the monograph describes researched and field-tested learning strategies (List-Group-Label-Write, Semantic Feature Analysis, Graphic Organizers, and Semantic Mapping) designed to facilitate meaningful vocabulary learning. A 173-item bibliography is attached.

Lazear, D. (1991). Seven ways of teaching: The artistry of teaching with multiple intelligences. IRI/Skylight Publishing, Inc., 200 East Wood Street, Suite 274, Palatine, IL 60067. 187p.
This guide provides a rationale and approach for translating Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences into classroom practice. The introduction explains Gardner's theory, gives the definitions of the seven intelligences he identifies-verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, body/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal-and defines specific capacities that are related to these intelligences. The seven chapters present model lessons that emphasize one of the intelligences as the primary mode of knowing and learning.

Rice, G. E. (1994). Need for explanations in graphic organizer research. Reading Psychology, 15(1), 39-67.
Reviews research relating to graphic organizers. Suggests that no systematic approach to analyzing graphic organizer research exists, resulting in a lack of explanations for why graphic organizers work or do not work. Proposes a framework through which graphic organizer research may be better understood in relation to the cognitive processes of the reader.

Rose, D. H. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 800-933-2723 (Toll Free); http://www.ascd.org.
This guide to universal design in the classroom is divided into two sections. The first addresses the concept of universal design for learning (UDL); the second addresses the practical application of UDL in the classroom. Each chapter opens with a summary of key ideas and a graphic organizer that illustrates how the concepts fit together.

Salyer, B. K., Curran, C., Thyfault, A. (2002). What can I use tomorrow? Strategies for accessible math and science curriculum for diverse learners in rural schools. In: No Child Left Behind: The Vital Role of Rural Schools. Annual National Conference Proceedings of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) (22nd, Reno, NV, March 7-9, 2002).
Increased requirements for inclusion have created a growing demand for special educators to have content expertise in areas such as math and science. One recommended practice involves integrating the "big ideas" that are the foundation for understanding mathematics and science across the curriculum. Many students, including those with disabilities, will benefit from study guides and outlines, graphic organizers, an introduction to key terms, audiotapes, and other assistive technology devices.

Scanlon, D. J., and others. (1992). Interactive semantic mapping: An interactive approach to enhancing LD students' content area comprehension. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 7(3) 142-46.
Interactive Semantic Mapping is presented as an interactive instructional strategy developed from multiple theoretical bases to aid reading comprehension in students with learning disabilities. It involves students in predicting relationships among concepts and sharing knowledge to facilitate comprehension of text-related concepts. This article describes the strategy's theoretical rationale, implementation procedures, and effectiveness.

Sinatra, R., and others. (1994). Using a computer-based semantic mapping, reading, and writing approach with at-risk fourth graders. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 5(1), 93-112.
This article investigated the efficacy of a computer program approach to help 260 at-risk fourth graders model, practice, and internalize narrative writing skills. It was found that the at-risk students responded positively to the use of technology incorporated with instructional strategies for developing higher order thinking and literacy skills. The teachers also indicated positive attitudes toward the use of computers.

Stahl, S. A. , Kapinus, B. A. (1991). Possible sentences: Predicting word meanings to teach content area vocabulary. Reading Teacher, 45 (1), 36-43.
This article shares the results of two studies on the Possible Sentences strategy, which indicate that the strategy can be as effective, if not more so, than semantic mapping in teaching vocabulary and fostering recall information.

Stone, R. (2002). Best practices for high school classrooms: What award-winning secondary teachers do. CA: Corwin Press, Inc., (paperback: ISBN-0-7619-7730-9; hardbound: ISBN-0-7619-7729-5). 800-818-7243 (Toll Free); http://www.corwinpress.com.
This book provides guidance on high-impact teaching practices, offering first-hand accounts of award-winning teachers. Nine chapters include: "Succeeding with Reading and Writing Instruction," with topics: "Graphic Organizers and Their Enhancement of Reading Comprehension at the Secondary Level."

Williams, C. R. (1994). Semantic map planning: A framework for effective, reflective teaching, teacher development, and teacher research. Master of Arts Thesis, School for International Training, Brattleboro, VT. 184 p. ED377677.
A discussion of lesson planning for classroom instruction, a teacher draws on personal experience in teacher education and other life experiences. Examples that accompany the discussion apply to second language teaching. The first chapter offers background information on his early training in planning in the fields of both education and construction, and examines the factors influencing his thinking during that period. The second chapter focuses on a period of graduate training in reflective teaching. Chapters three and four chronicle the creation of a new framework for lesson planning based on the notion of semantic mapping. The resulting approach is to create a physical format for recording the teacher's thinking on lesson elements, including objectives, instructional materials, targeted skills, content, focus, evaluation, and classroom environment. Chapter five describes experimentation with the semantic map lesson planning technique by 20 teachers at a teacher education conference. The concluding chapter discusses the usefulness of the approach for effective, reflective teaching, and for teacher research and professional development. A brief bibliography is also included.

Bellanca, J. A. The cooperative think tank II : Graphic organizers to teach thinking in the cooperative classroom. Skylight, Palatine, Ill. 1992

Davidson, N., Worsham, T. Enhancing thinking through cooperative learning. Teachers College Press, New York. 1992

Doherty, J., Graham, E., Malek, M. (Eds.) Postmodernism and the social sciences. St. Martin's Press, NY. 1992

Goldin, S. E., Thorndyke, P. W. An analysis of cognitive mapping skill. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. 1981

Heimlich, J. E., Pittleman, S. D. Semantic mapping: classroom applications. International Reading Association, Newark, DE. 1986

Jacobson, J.T. (Ed.) Principles and applications in auditory evoked potentials. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. 1994

Jones, M., Brooks, L. Addressing organisational context in requirements analysis using cognitive mapping. Judge Institute of Management Studies, Cambridge, MA. 1994

Langfield-Smith, K. Mapping cognitive structures : A pilot study to develop a research method. Kim Langfield-Smith, Geoffrey Lewis Parkville, Victoria, Australia University of Melbourne, Graduate School of Management. 1989

Thorndyke, P. W. , Goldin, S. E. Ability differences and cognitive mapping skill; prepared for the United States Army. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. 1981

Toms-Bronowski, S. An investigation of the effectiveness of semantic mapping and semantic feature analysis with intermediate grade level children. Wisconsin Center for Education Research, The University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. 1982.

Electronic Graphic Organizers


Graphic Organizer Index


North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)

Graphic Organizer Makers

Note. There are many Internet resources on graphic organizers. To conduct a search, use one of the Internet search engines such as Google and type "graphic organizers" as your search term.

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