Language Arts Graphic Organizers

Language Arts Graphic Organizers are tools which can help an author choose a subject and gather their details before the writing begins and also during the whole writing process. They can be used as a strategy for teaching writing to help identify possible subjects, learn as much as possible about the subject, decide on an interesting point to expand upon and list factors which can be included and as a tool to design and organize the writing. They are wonderful tools for young writers and helpful in teaching children to write well.

The writing process often follows these steps:

  • Pre-writing;
  • Writing the first draft;
  • Revising;
  • Editing and Proofreading.

Language Arts graphic organizers will be most useful in the pre-writing stage, but can also be aids when writing the draft and when revising to help the writer clarify and logically present their work.

What are some language arts graphic organizers and when can they be used?

Initially, when deciding upon a topic, these graphic organizers can be used:

  • Clustering - Begin with a nucleus word related to a writing topic and cluster words around it. Begin with the word in a circle in the center of the page and then branch off it with lines joining to new words. These in turn can branch off to other related words. This helps to identify a subtopic within a larger topic. You will also begin to see which subtopic you know most about and which topics will need more research if you were to write on that topic.
  • Listing - Do the same as above, but just list words related to the main topic

Graphic Organizers which will help the writer gather details, revise and rewrite are:

  • Clustering - Can once again be useful to help you narrow down your topic.
  • 5 W's and H - Once you have selected your topic, ask Who? What? When? Where? and Why? and How? This graphic organizer can have the main topic in the center of the page with each W? spidering from the center. It could look like the spokes of a wheel.
  • Describing Wheel - This graphic organizer is like a large wheel with the topic in the center. The circle is divided into five sectors - one for each of the senses. This graphic organizer helps the author think of ways to describe a topic, a person, a place, an object according to each sense : sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing.
  • Story Map - This can be useful for narrative writing. This can be organized in horizontal steps. The Setting - which describes who, what, where, when; The Problem or Conflict ; The Plot which includes the rising action and may include a number of sub-plots; The Climax; The Falling Action and Resolution;
  • Compare and Contrast - This graphic organizer can be set up as a T on a page and useful to compare and contrast topics, events, people and so on.
  • Venn Diagram - A Venn Diagram is also a useful graphic organizer which compares and contrasts two subjects.
  • Timeline - A timeline can be useful to list an order of events in a person's life, an event,
  • A Process Diagram - This graphic organizer is useful to list details of how a process works or step by step instructions. Processes can be joined by arrows.
  • Cycle Diagram - In much the same way as above, this graphic organizer can be used to describe a process which continues as a cycle - science related subjects - life-cycles, water-cycle etc.
  • Cause/ Effect Organizer - This is another T chart which can describe results which come from a particular event.
  • Definition Diagram - Using a spiral diagram, information on the subject can be written on the spokes. A topic can be defined by a quote, a dictionary definition, important facts, personal definitions, What it is not, An example of it.
  • KWL - Another graphic organizer which helps the author see the gaps in his/her knowledge of a subject and a way to fill it: It is presented as a 3 column chart with these headings :
    • What do I know? (K);
    • What do I want to Know? (W)
    • What I learned (L) or still want to know.
  • Main Idea/Supporting Ideas - This chart can be useful to draft an essay or paragraph. The topic sentence or thesis statement is written at the top and listed underneath are the supporting statements, quotes, facts, examples which support the thesis. An essay may contain a few paragraphs which need supporting evidence for each thesis statement.

These tools are useful to any author, any child or adult, who likes to have a visual and graphic overview of their writing and likes to express their thoughts spatially.

Visit Marianne Vanderkolk's at - a Homeschooling guide to help you uniquely design-your-own homeschool to suit your family's goals. The website provides information on how to teach writing along with free Homeschool Printables and Graphic Organizers.

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2 Responses to “Language Arts Graphic Organizers”

  1. avatar Marianne says:

    Thanks for your response to my article.
    I like your description of graphic organizers: “graphic organizers allow people to visualize the relationship between their ideas and to visually organize their thoughts as a prewriting exercise.”
    This sums them up well.
    Thanks for taking time to respond thoughtfully,

  2. avatar john edelson says:

    This is a great article. Essentially, graphic organizers allow people to visualize the relationship between their ideas and to visually organize their thoughts as a prewriting exercise. Most people tend to rely on outlines or on a simple five bubble chart. The five bubbles are used for people writing five paragraph essays, the current standard for standardized tests.

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