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WT 287 Using Graphic Organizers

Teacher Tips and Answers


WT 287

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Using Graphic Organizers

To get organized, you need to “get your ducks in a row.” That’s tough. Ducks are stragglers. Now imagine trying to get your geese in a V! That’s a job for a diagram or some other kind of graphic organizer.

Using Graphic Organizers

Every problem has a graphic organizer. Do you need to gather ideas to write a story? Try a cluster. Do you need to compare two things? Use a Venn diagram. How about organizing facts for an essay? Try an outline.

Clusters, diagrams, outlines, and other graphic organizers can help you get your ducks in a row or your geese in a V.

Goose Using a Graphic Organizer
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1. Clustering Ideas

When details come one after another, a list works well. But when details bunch up around the topic, a cluster works better. It can help you describe a topic, name categories, or explain ideas.

Begin clustering by writing the topic in the middle of the page. Then list related words around it. Circle and connect your words.

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Clustering can help you organize facts for a story, a report, a speech, or another project.

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2. Describing a Topic

How can you collect details to describe someone or something? Use a describing wheel. Write your topic in the middle of your wheel. Around it, list words about the topic.

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3. Answering the 5 W’s

Use a 5 W’s star to answer questions about an event: who, what, when, where, and why?

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4. Comparing Two Topics

How can you compare two related topics? Use a Venn diagram. This type of diagram shows how two things are alike, and how they are different.

    Area 1
    List details that are the same for both topics.

    Area 2
    List details that are different for one topic.

    Area 3
    List details that are different for the other topic.

Venn Diagram
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To compare two topics, use the details in Area 1. To contrast the two topics, use the details in Areas 2 and 3. (You can create your own Venn diagram.)

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5. Outlining Your Ideas

When ideas come one after another, use an outline. It can help you organize an essay or a report, showing main ideas and details.

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English Language Arts:

Lesson Plan Resources:

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Vocabulary List:
  • graphic organizer: diagram that arranges ideas visually

Vocabulary List:
  • cluster: graphic that connects ideas in a web; also called a mind map

Vocabulary List:
  • describing wheel: circle filled with descriptive words about a specific topic

  • 5 W's star: 5-pointed star organizing answers to the 5 W's about a specific topic

Vocabulary List:
  • Venn diagram: overlapping circles showing what two subjects have in common

Vocabulary List:
  • outline: list of ideas showing main points and supporting details

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