Graphic organizers
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Graphic organizers assist students to retain, recall and retrieve information.  As a pre-writing support students are provide with visual prompts to help them make connections and use their knowledge to create a new, organized product. 

Programs like Inspiration, Kidspiration and Draft Builder all afford students the opportunity to brainstorm and web ideas but also provide specific templates to assist students in getting organized in a visual format.

What kinds of things can you use graphic organizers for with your students?

  • creating a character analysis
  • writing a paragraph or sentence
  • writing a science lab report
  • planning an essay
  • using the KWL strategy
  • planning a creative writing story
  • book reports
  • comparing texts
  • comparing ideas
  • comparing historical events
  • cause and effect
  • poetry analysis
  • vocabulary building
  • goal setting
  • classifications
  • cycles
  • observations
  • hypothesis formulating
  • supporting ideas
  • venn diagram
  • making associations- vocabulary development, concepts, study skills. This example shows how to create a concentration game on weather where students match the type of cloud to a description of the cloud. Another example can be used as the base for a 'concentration' style game. This sample has a Christmas tree at the bottom and can be used for a holiday game or you can change the picture by selecting it and then finding another symbol in your symbol library.  Each rectangle has  a blank note attached. Bring up the notes and add your own information.  Then let students try to make matches of words, vocabulary, questions and answers (like a Jeopardy style of game) or many more possible ideas. 
  • excursion report
  • and more

There are templates pre-designed in the programs to support the ideas listed above but you can also create your own templates to meet the needs of your specific learners. 

To learn more about visual/graphic organizers, to see examples of their use in the classroom and how they can assist your learners click on the picture below to view a power point presentation focusing on Inspiration.


Some ideas from teachers who have used Inspiration -(you will need Inspiration 7.0 or higher to view these samples).  Please note that these are samples and these teachers like you will continue to make modifications to these examples as they work with their students and develop additional ideas.

  • Hester Gibson from New Germany Rural High created a visual to use with her students on paragraph writing. Her visual for indenting will not soon be forgotten by students. 

  • Jonathan Marshall from New Ross Consolidated shows his beginning planning for an upcoming unit on weather.

  • Chris Wentzell from New Germany Rural High wanted to review a unit she had just completed in English. She used Inspiration to map out what had been accomplished and to look for areas of strength and areas she would like to expand on should she do this unit again. She had her students create Christmas stories for younger children as part of their work in this unit and wanted to be able to recall all the steps that had actually been done.  This will be a good help to her and provide excellent recall of what was taught. 

  • Danny Thimot, a junior high math teacher and Kevin Corbett a junior high program support teacher, both from Hebbville Academy co-planned a unit on the order of operations for the students they are working with in a co-teaching model.  To view their initial planning session click here. Their goal was to create a visual for their students that would help them to remember and therefore be better able to use this information in their math work.

  • Cynthia Bruhm teaches at New Germany Rural High and was interested in doing some planning for teaching her students how to write in an essay format. Her visual will be used as a guide for her students as they work through this process.

Where can you find more visual/graphic organizers?

Student Writers in Action Handbook

Language Arts Guide (appendix)

LRT website page on Concept Mapping with Inspiration

AYR website-

Books and materials at the Teachers’ Centre.




This site was last updated on 02/09/10.

Sue Taylor-Foley, Coordinator of Assessment and Technology, South Shore Regional School Board, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada

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