Graphic organizers are timeless, versatile tools that support students in independently using reading comprehension strategies. A quality graphic organizer can be the difference between students using and understanding a comprehension strategy or not.
WHY USE GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS FOR READING STRATEGIES?
Graphic organizers provide students with…
- Visual Representations: Quality graphic organizers break down difficult reading strategies for students into a clear, visual format.
- Structure and Organization: They provide a framework for students to organize their thoughts and ideas before, during and after reading. They lay out exactly what is expected of students while they are reading to leave no room for confusion.
- Support for Different Learning Styles: Tools like graphic organizers provide a different way for students to put their thinking on to paper. While there are many other ways to do this (sticky notes, general note taking, turn and talk, etc.), graphic organizers support students who prefer this method of recording.
- Information Retention: Visual aids, like graphic organizers, are known to improve memory. When students create visual representations of what they’ve read, they’re more likely to remember the material accurately. This is a vital skill for comprehending nonfiction and fiction texts.
- Active Reading: Graphic organizers set a purpose for students to read, which in turn helps them to be active readers. For example, the “making predictions” graphic organizer below provides them a tool that requires active reading. They must use evidence from the text to, which encourages them look critically for the evidence during reading.
- Monitoring Comprehension: Sometimes when students are reading independently, they may not pick up on whether they are or are not comprehending the text. Graphic organizers require students to take a moment to stop and record their thoughts. This, in turn, encourages them to reflect on if they are actually understanding what they are reading.
- Fosters Independence: After students have used graphic organizers multiple times to practice reading comprehension strategies, they are then able to apply these strategies mentally. The goal of providing these supports is to create strong readers that can eventually apply these strategies without a recording tool.
There so are many benefits to using graphic organizers with students. They are an essential tool that encourage active involvement comprehension, and deeper connections with the text. These visual aids support students in using reading comprehension strategies on their own in the future.
EXAMPLES OF READING STRATEGY GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS:
- Visualize/Create Mental Images: Visualizing is such an engaging strategy to use graphic organizers with since it allows students to let their creativity shine. This organizer below has students create visual “movie clips” from the text in the order that the events happened.
- Make Connections: It is important to have graphic organizers that first focus on each type of connection one at a time (text to text, text to world, text to self). After students are comfortable with each type, they can move onto graphic organizers that have them make all three types of connections.
- Use Schema: Activating prior knowledge before reading is such a key step to ensuring comprehension of both fiction and nonfiction texts. This “Puzzle Pieces of Schema” graphic organizer is a motivating way for students to record their background knowledge on a topic.
- Make Inferences: Graphic organizers for making inferences need to make it super clear for students that they have to use the text + their knowledge in order to make an inference. This is true in both fiction and nonfiction texts. Below is an example of a graphic organizer that has students separately record what they read (text) and their background knowledge (thought bubble) in order to have that “lightbulb” moment/inference.
- Determine Importance: Have you ever seen a student highlighting basically an entire page of “important details” from a text? They could hugely benefit from taking a step back and using a graphic organizer to organize what’s important. Students need to be aware of their purpose for reading to decide which details are “important” and which are “unimportant.” The graphic organizer below shows a helpful example for students. It guides them into identifying important details based on the purpose they have set for reading.
- Ask Questions: Asking questions is a critical comprehension strategy for active reading. The graphic organizer below breaks down the QAR (Question Answer Relationship) Strategy for asking questions. It provides students a student-friendly definition and sentence starters for asking the 4 types of questions (“In the Text”, “Think and Search”, “In My Head”, and “On My Own.”
- Make Predictions: Students can make predictions before and during reading. The graphic organizer below as students make a prediction about the text before reading using clues. On each magnifying glass, students record clues. These clues come from the cover, the first page, and from any pictures or images in the text. Then, they write what they think the book will be about.
- Create Sensory Images: Along with visualizing, this reading strategy is a great one for students to let their artsy, creative sides shine. This organizer below asks students to record the part of the text that helped them to create a sensory image. Then they color the sense(s) they used while reading, and draw a picture of their sensory image.
- Synthesize Information: I find that this reading strategy can be one of the most difficult for students to grasp. Using graphic organizers makes it much simpler for students to see how their thoughts grow and change as they are reading. This helps them to build on their understanding of the topic. The graphic organizer below has students record how their thoughts change based on what they read in the text. It breaks down this challenging skill in a clear, visual way for students.
- Use “Fix Up” Strategies: Monitoring comprehension while reading is a hugely important skill for readers of all ages. Being aware that they have come to a part of a text that is causing confusion is when “fix up” strategies come into play. This toolbox provides readers helpful strategies for getting back on track to comprehension. Below is an example of a “fix up” strategies bookmark and graphic organizer. They are used together to help students practice monitoring their comprehension while they read.
- Draw Conclusions: This is another complicated strategy that requires students to go one step beyond making inferences. Students use the text, their background knowledge, and inferences to lead to bigger ideas and conclusions on the topic/book. This graphic organizer below is a fun way for students to record text evidence and thoughts onto magnifying glasses. Then, as if they are detectives, they write the conclusions they have drawn on the “top secret” file.
- Close Read: To begin close reading, it is so helpful to have graphic organizers that clearly show what is required of students during each reading. Then, students can use graphic organizers that focus on all three close reads at once. The top image of the graphic organizers below breaks down what students need to during one reading at a time. The bottom image shoes how a graphic organizer can help students record their thoughts during all three readings.
This pack of close reading organizers has graphic organizers for both fiction readings as well as nonfiction readings.
All reading strategies are available individually or in a discounted bundle together in the Reading Comprehension Strategies Graphic Organizers Pack!
Looking for more ideas for reading strategies? Check out this blog post on 5 Tips for Teaching Reading Strategies in the Elementary Classroom!