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WE 383 Using Graphic Organizers

Teacher Tips and Answers


Page 383

Using Graphic Organizers

Teacher Holding Snake
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Look at all the things Octavia Octopus is doing: gathering seashells, photographing fish, carrying a rolled-up map, listening for whale song. . . . How is she keeping track of it all?

Do you see her notepad? She’s drawing graphic organizers on it to store all the details she is gathering. Graphic organizers let you picture your thoughts and put them in order for use.

In this chapter, you’ll learn to use many types of graphic organizers. But try them one at a time. After all, you don’t have eight tentacles!

What’s Ahead

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Kinds of Graphics

Web organizer
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Graphic organizers come in many different shapes and sizes. On these two pages, you’ll find some common graphic organizers and tips on how and when to use them.

Web Organizer

Use a web organizer whenever you gather facts and details for reports, personal narratives, stories, and poems.

5 W’s Organizer

Use the 5 W’s to gather details for newspaper stories and personal narratives. (Download a 5W's chart.)

5 Ws Star
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5 Senses Organizer

Use the 5 senses organizer to gather details for observation reports and descriptive paragraphs.

Sight Sound Smell Taste Touch

on the lake

Canada geese
honking and

freshly mown
grass, fall

loaded hot
dog from
food truck

rough bark

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Compare/Contrast Organizers

The organizer shown below is called a Venn diagram. It can be used to organize your thoughts when you need to compare or contrast two subjects. Put the specific details for one of your subjects in area 1. Put the details for the second subject in area 2. In area 3, list the details the two things have in common. Then you can clearly see the similarities and differences. (Download a Venn diagram.)

Venn Diagram

Venn Diagram Example
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Cause/Effect Organizers

You will use one of two different organizers when you record cause-and-effect details. It depends on your subject and how many causes and effects it has. Use these organizers when you gather details for explanations of science and history topics. (Download a cause-effect chart.)

Many causes, one effect

Cause/Effect Organizer 1
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One cause, many effects

Cause/Effect Organizer 2
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More Graphic Organizers

There are many other kinds of graphic organizers throughout your handbook. Check them out and think about how you could use each one to help you organize your thoughts.


An outline helps you organize information for book reviews, explanatory or persuasive essays, classroom reports, and so on. (See pages 49, 170, 200, and 259.)

Gathering Grid

Use this type of grid when you gather information from several sources. (See pages 44 and 257.) (Download a gathering grid.)

Reading Strategies

Consider using one of these two organizers to record details from your reading.

  • Cluster  Use it to think about details in a story. (See page 39.)
  • Plot line  Use it when you are reading about or planning the actions in a story. (See pages 241 and 317.)


Diagrams, graphs, and tables are all helpful graphic organizers. Some diagrams work best for specific kinds of information:

  • Cycle diagram  Use this organizer when you read and write about science. (See page 333.)
  • Picture diagram  A picture diagram uses simple drawings. Use it to show how something is put together, how parts are related to one another, or how something works. (See page 333.)

Time Line

A time line shows the order in which things happened. Use it when you read or write about history. (See pages 50 and 177.) (Download a time line.)

Tips for Using Graphic Organizers

  • Think about which organizer will work best for the kind of reading, writing, or thinking you are doing.
  • Try several kinds of organizers. Seeing information in two or three different ways can help you learn and remember better.
  • Invent your own graphic organizer! You may think of a whole new way to visualize your thoughts.

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Lesson Plan Resources:

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