Graphic Organizer Resources from TeachersFirst
Whether you call them concept maps, mind maps, KWLs, or graphic organizers, these visual diagrams show relationships between concepts and provide a powerful tool for learning and connecting new ideas. Creating graphic organizers also helps today's visual learners build reading comprehension. This collection of reviewed resources includes tools for creating graphic organizers and many suggestions for ways to use them in teaching almost any subject or grade. Be sure to read the "In the Classroom" suggestions for examples of ways to use graphic organizers as part of a lesson or unit.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomClick "Start Here" to type the subject of your concept map. Hitting your Enter key creates a new level (branch) within the map. Tab creates an additional branch on the same level as the current topic. Experiment with the small icons on each "element" to change colors, drag, make new connections, etc. Save and set sharing (read-only or open access) in the area at the right. You can "send" a read-only link via email or copy the embed code from the Menu at lower right), but you cannot find the URL directly from your map. "Send" it to yourself via email to copy the actual URL.
There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the tool on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own graphic organizers. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use this site to create family trees. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, question; map out a story, plotline, or LIFETIME; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle); map a real historical event as a choose-your-own-adventure with alternate endings(?) based on pivotal points; plan a "tour" for a "thought museum." Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature or social studies: have students demonstrate their understanding by completing a graphic organizer about the main points. To minimize the number of maps on a free account, have students screenshot or print their results to turn them in. See more ideas in the linked example above!
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomUse this handy tool to guide your students through the process of organizing information in Venn diagram form. View the demonstration video together on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Complete a Venn Diagram as a class activity. Then have students work on individual computers to create their own Venn Diagrams to correlate with a language arts, social studies, or interdisciplinary lesson. Have students print out their Venn Diagrams and share them with the class. Once they have mastered this skill and underlying concepts, allow them to create even more colorful Venn diagrams using colorful Autoshapes circles, clip art, and text boxes on PowerPoint slides or using Inspiration software. Show them how to use color as a way to communicate meaning by color-coding, as well.
Grades3 to 10
In the ClassroomDemonstrate this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site for vocabulary enhancement and understanding of idioms. Speech and language teachers may want to use it to teach word combinations, as well. Students can easily play this game in pairs. Since teachers can also print the blank activity, you can use it for a desk activity or homework assignment. After students get used to this idea, have them make their own word ladders on the interactive whiteboard, as a sequence of animated PowerPoint slides, or collaboratively as a graphic organizer using an online tool such as Gliffy or Mindomo.
Grades3 to 12
Teachers can use the comprehensive tutorial to learn the features of the tool. The Try the Tool section has a demonstration workspace for teachers to practice with ranking a sample list and then comparing it to other lists. Take advantage of the experiences of other teachers in six detailed unit plans that provide usable handouts and student work samples.
Be sure to disable your popup blocker as the site needs to show popup windows during the project. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get these tools from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomMake a shortcut to this site on your desktop and student computers for easy access or simply add it to the Favorites on your teacher web page for access from there
. Use the Visual Ranking tool to explore themes such as the role of friends, human migration, the impact of inventions, what's fair, and career choices with your students. Have student teams show and explain their diagrams to the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector.
The Visual Ranking Tool can be used at any stage of a learning project. As a pre-activity or pre-assessment, it can help students discuss their prior knowledge and identify the things that they need to research or study further. As a mid-unit activity, it can help put new learning in a context that will be more useful in the next activity. At the end of a unit, Visual Ranking may be used to assess or reflect on learning. Students can access the project workspace from home or through other Internet access points such as the public library.
Grades2 to 12
This web-based tool is accompanied by detailed lesson plans for different grade levels and subject areas. It provides a complete project, ready to adapt for the classroom or implement as-is. Explore the project ideas, instructional strategies, assessment tips, and research to help you plan a project of your own. Registration is free and creates a teacher workspace in which to build the class project. The password-protected workspace is accessed through the internet where students log on with the teacher-created ID, team ID, and password.
Be sure to disable your popup blocker, as the site needs to show popup windows during the project. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get these tools from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
tag(s): thinking skills (17)
In the ClassroomHelp students analyze why a science experiment failed, why an animal became extinct, why a literary character acts as he does, or the factors leading to an economic or historical event. Teachers can use the comprehensive tutorial to learn the features of the tool and use the workspace to practice with the tool. Take advantage of the experiences of other teachers in eight detailed unit plans that provide usable handouts and student work samples. Or just browse through several shorter project descriptions for project ideas that suit your classroom.
Make a shortcut to this site on your desktop and student computer desktops for easy access or simply add it to the Favorites on your teacher web page for access from there.
Use the Seeing Reason tool to explore themes such as habitat conflict, neighborhood diversity, and decision-making with your students. Have student teams show and explain their maps to the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Students can access the project workspace from home or through other Internet access points such as the public library.
Grades3 to 7
In the ClassroomPack up your suitcase, and take your students on this interactive tour using your projector or interactive whiteboard. Share the native lingo and have your students try to pronounce the various words. Challenge your class to learn more words from the language. Do a class research project by dividing the class into cooperative learning groups to research various elements of the country. Have a group of "politicians" examine the government of India. Have a group of "tour guides" learn about famous tourist attractions in India. Assign other groups to "be" architects, religious officials, and whatever other role you want your students to learn about. Have the groups create multimedia presentations or wiki pages to share their discoveries with the class.
Grades3 to 7
In the ClassroomWhat a fabulous resource for independent research projects or country comparisons. Put the names of all of the countries into a hat or jar. Have individual students or small groups pick a country. Challenge the students to learn the native lingo, the geography and climate of the area, the history of the country, and more. Have the students create multimedia presentations to share with the class or have a World Cultures day.
If you don't have time to complete a large research project, use your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and take your students "virtually" to a different country every week. Spend 10-15 minutes navigating the website. Challenge your class to learn some of the native "lingo" and practice native phrases throughout the week. Use this site for background when reading folktales and stories set in far-off lands. If you have a chance to do a collaborative project with students across the world, start with basic background knowledge from this site.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomWhether you use hard-copy papers or electronic editions, many of these ideas will work even better using technology: word processing, wikis, blogs (for editorials), graphic organizer tools, digital cameras, etc. Use today's tools to study this powerful medium as it goes through transition into an electronic world. Consider asking students to compare electronic vs. hard-copy newspapers and their pros/cons, as well.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomIf you make a map in Google Maps, an online graphic organizer, a set of online flash cards, to anything else that allows you to share my emailing or copying a URL, this tools will save you from endless errors or emails full of ten-line URLs. Be sure to show your middle and high school students how to use it, as well. This will solve the problem of URLs that get split and no longer work when the text wraps around to another line.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomCheck out the icebreakers for the first day of school, and back to school sections for many ideas and ready to use templates. Remember that if you want to SAVE a file from a download, you should RIGHT-click the link and choose "Save Target As" to save it to your computer.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomViewing this with the entire class will be more effective with the interactive whiteboard or projector. Teachers in any subject will find this site invaluable in teaching how to make strong visuals for oral or written presentations. What powerful evidence for multiple intelligences! Your visual/spatial students will LOVE this one, and others will learn to build that intelligence. Try these same strategies in YOUR PowerPoint presentations to communicate ideas visually, without being "powerpointless" at back to school night!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site as the starting point for individual or group projects. The site grants permission for educational download and use of the images (NOT on a web page), provided you include the copyright information with each image. Have students create sets of images to illustrate a report or make graphic organizers illustrating families of animals from your area and their classifications into kingdom, phylum, etc. Be letting students choose their own animals and examples, the task will have more meaning to them. Individuals can set up memberships (click My ARKive) to make "scrapbooks" of images and information. Membership requires a valid email address (info on your registration is sent there), so a whole-class or teacher account may be the easiest way to use it.
Grades9 to 12
tag(s): literature (275)
In the ClassroomThe links on the site itself offer ways to let students investigate on the web themselves at safe sites. Share the links as part of a web treasure hunt asking students to collect characteristics of heroes on their own and put them in a collaborative graphic organizer. What a great start to a heroes unit---one that you can revisit and add to throughout the unit. At the end of the unit, let them use the class organizer as the basis for their own "design a hero" challenge instead of a test.
Grades3 to 8
tag(s): writing (367)
In the ClassroomUse this site and its organized approach to teaching story writing to your upper elementary and middle school students. Include the link on your teacher web page for them to use as a reference outside of class, as well. Consider having students use a graphic organizer of a story map to plan their stories (make one for them or have them use one of the many tools you can find on TeachersFirst by searching graphic organizer on our keyword search.
tag(s): mind map (24)
In the ClassroomHave students create graphic organizers in cooperative groups as a study guide for unit content, to collect information for a group research project, or show examples of an important concept. Share and compare the organizers on an interactive whiteboard or projector in class and allow classmates to suggest changes. Skills needed: join the site, practice with the tools (don't miss the notes feature!). Save up to 7 "private" maps and an unlimited number of "shared" maps.
Make a map available online by saving and clicking "yes" for sharing, then clicking the Save by URL icon. This will copy the URL onto your computer's clipboard so you can paste it into a word doc or even your teacher web page. Imagine sharing several student made "study guides" in the days before the unit test.
Note that maps that are shared can be seen by the public, but not altered. You specify members who may collaborate and make alterations. For students to collaborate using this tool they must have individual memberships, requiring an email account. These memberships must be activated from their email. So, if students do not have email that is accessible from school, classroom use BY STUDENTS will be severely limited. Editor's note: we asked the Mindomo folks about spell check and student safety issues. They are still developing this tool, so they MIGHT address these issues at a later date.
Grades6 to 12
The color-coded word "entries" display like a mind-map or graphic organizer, showing parts of speech in different colors and showing related words and phrases, as well. Be sure to look at the color key at the bottom to understand all the information presented. This site requires FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomIntroduce new vocabulary before reading or starting a new unit, using this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. The distinctions, examples, and relationships the site features for new words will help students build better connections and understanding as they read and study the words in classroom context. English teachers will love this as a learning tool for teaching distinctions between similar words. Just remember to use it in a monitored situation (see above).
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomUse these printed organizers as study support for any content area topic. Many are excellent options for reinforcing reading skills in the content areas, even for senior high students. Include this on your teacher web page so students can create their own organizers to study for tests or prepare presentations.
To make a new organizer, simply click "new," write title and directions, and print the small "print" icon. It may be easiest to take their default directions and change them for your purposes. Note that you LOSE your work when you close the page, so make sure you have printed first!
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThis site can also be used to help students develop study skills or determine what helps them learn best.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site gives good concrete information, but its real power is in the greater consideration of the rise and fall of civilizations through history. This is a VERY thought-provoking collection of resources. Teachers interested in tying this discussion to current events might discuss the future of civilization in Iraq considering the criteria for maintaining a society given in this site. Use this site as a learning center or station during a unit on ancient civilizations' collapse. This site could be specifically tailored to teach about Mesoamerican cultures as three of the 4 ancient civilizations were located in South America. To make that simpler, we recommend creating a guide for students through a website such as Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here). This would be a great resource for a World History classroom! Teachers of gifted could also use this site as the basis for a great social studies unit. If you own the old favorite computer game Civilization, you could put together some scenarios using that, as well.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): graphic organizers (43)
In the ClassroomPlay with the tools and toolbars to create diagrams, access help and FAQ to collaborate, publish, or embed diagrams in your blog or other web page. Collaborators need individual email accounts to gain access.
Assign students to "map" out a chapter or story or assign groups to create study guides using this tool collaboratively. Create a whole-class concept map from a brainstorm to determine prior knowledge at the start of a unit. Then have students add to it throughout the unit. Your students are certain to enjoy this tool and be forced to THINK in the process. This would also be a great tool for group projects in YOUR grad classes!