Grade Level: Sixth Grade Time Needed: 15- 20 minutes Materials

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Graphic Organizers

Amy Steelman

Fall 2003

Grade Level: Sixth Grade

Time Needed: 15- 20 minutes

Materials: Chalk/White board

Chalk/Dry-Erase Markers


The purpose of this mini-lesson is to teach students a variety of graphic organizers that they can use during their reading and writing. These tools will help students keep track of a larger body of facts in a reading or in a piece of literature they wish to write than they were previously able to remember in their heads. Also, these organizational skills will improve reading and writing skills by practicing thinking about sequence, comparisons and contrasts between two objects, and descriptions of subjects.


North Carolina Standard Course of Study Standards:

Competency Goal 2: The learner will explore and analyze information from a variety of sources.

2.02 Explore informational materials that are read, heard, and/or viewed by: restating and summarizing information, determining the importance of information, and monitoring comprehension.

Competency Goal 5: The learner will respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes.

5.01 Increase fluency, comprehension, and insight through a meaningful and comprehensive reading program by: using effective reading strategies to match type of text and interpreting texts by explaining elements such as plot.

NCTE/ IRA Standards:

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interaction with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features.


Okay class, can anyone tell me how they organize their thoughts while they are reading, or before they write?

Lists. Notes. Etc.

(If they do not say “bubblemap”...) How do you organize things when you are brainstorming?

Lists. Bubblemaps.

Good. Bubblemaps are wonderful ways to organize information. There are actually many types of charts you can use to help you organize your thoughts on paper. Can anyone tell me what these organizational charts are called?

Graphs. Thought Organizers.

No, but close. They are called “graphic organizers.” Well, today we are going to learn about some organizers that you can use in your reading and writing. Make sure to take good notes so you can remember these later. We’re first going to start out reviewing the bubblemap, or “cluster diagram,” with which many of you are familiar. You use cluster diagrams to describe topics, brainstorm characteristics or related topics. Before reading, you may even want to use it to brainstorm what you already know about a topic and during reading you could add to that diagram. You could also use these during reading to keep track of characters in a novel or to remember characteristics of a subject like in Social Studies or Science. Cluster diagrams could also be used after reading to help you remember the important facts in a reading. Let’s say you read about the Civil War; you may want to go back after you read and use a cluster diagram to recall all the important facts about the Civil War. They can be used in writing too; you may have used this type of graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas about a topic before you started writing. So, let’s pick a topic.

Cats. Basketball. Football.

Okay, let’s write about _________.

{Draw a circle in the middle of the board and write the topic in it. Label the graph

“Cluster Diagram- describing.”}

What do you think about when you think of _______? How does it look, feel, smell, sound?

Answers related to the topic.

{Write topic characteristics in bubbles around topic until there are a reasonable number of


You have probably used this before in writing, but why do you think you would use this in reading?

If there are a lot of things to remember about something. To keep track of the characteristics of a character.

You are all correct. Okay, so does everyone feel comfortable with how to create a cluster diagram?


Okay, who can tell me some appropriate uses for it?

To describe characters in a book. To organize facts about a topic. To get ideas down on paper before you start writing.

Good. The next organizer we are going to look at can be used to order text when writing a story, or when reading a text. It is called a sequence diagram and it looks like this.

{Draw a sequence diagram on the board. Title it “Sequence Diagram- ordering events”.}

Okay, I need a volunteer.

Me. Me. Me.

Dan, can you please tell me what you did this morning from the time you woke up to the time you arrived at school today, starting with waking up.

I got up and put on some clothes. Then I packed my bookbag and ate breakfast. Then I

brushed my teeth and then caught the bus and rode to school.

Okay class, what do you think goes in the first box?

Got dressed. Woke up.

How about let’s put “woke up” in the first box. That seems like a good place to start.

{Write in “woke up” in the first block.}

Alright, what would be in the next block?

Got dressed.

{Write “got dressed” in next block and so forth for the rest of the events as the students

say them.}

Very good, and what’s next?

Packed bookbag.

Continue for the rest of the events in Dan’s morning.

Now, when do you think you could use this graphic organizer to help when you are reading?

To help you remember what happened in a story. Especially when there are a lot of things that happen in the story.

Yes, that’s correct. Alright, does everyone feel like they understand how the sequence map works now?


Okay, good. Well, we have one more organizer to look at today. Some of you may have seen this before in your math classes. It’s called a “Venn diagram”.

{Draw a Venn diagram on the board and label it “Venn Diagram.”}

Could anyone tell me what you could use this diagram for in your reading and writing?

Talking about two things. Comparing and contrasting two things.

Very good. Venn diagrams in English Language Arts, much like the ones used in math, are used to compare and contrast two things. These can be two people, two objects, two places, or two events, for example.

{Write “to compare and contrast” after the dash following “Venn Diagram” above the


Okay let’s practice by comparing two students. I need two volunteers.

Me. Me. Me.

How about ______ and ______?

{Label one circle with one student’s name and the other circle with the other name.}

Okay class, let’s start out with the characteristics they have in common.

They have hair. They both have noses. And eyes. They are both students. Etc.

{Write characteristics in the overlapped section of the diagram as students say them.}

Very good. Now how are different?

One’s a boy and the other’s a girl. Short hair, long hair. Tall, short. Etc.

{Fill these answers into the appropriate circles.}

Does this make sense to everyone?


And how could you use this diagram in your reading process?

To compare two characters. If you read about two similar things and you want to compare them and find their differences.

That’s correct. Alright, good. Does anyone have any questions about any of these diagrams we went over today?


Well could anyone tell me how they may use all three in one assignment?

You could be writing a story and you first do a cluster diagram about each character and then you could do a sequence diagram to organize the sequence of events in your story. Then you could use the Venn diagram to....

What about using it to compare your writing to another writing in that genre that you did earlier in the year. That way you could have what was specific to one paper, good or bad, in one circle, the other writing in the other circle and the similarities in the center. The items in the overlap may be things you still need to work on, or they could be elements that have always been good in you writing.

Oh yea.

And what do you call all of these diagrams again?

Graphic organizers.

Good job. Okay, make sure you hold onto the notes you took today because you will need them throughout the year for other assignments.

Relationship to Needs of Young Adolescents:

Some adolescents are fairly disorganized by nature and have a tendency not to be able to organize their thoughts in an understandable manner. These graphic organizers will help give students a format with which they can record their thoughts in a comprehendible manner that they will be able to understand later. Also, students at this age are beginning to read and write longer texts that require more organization of thought to comprehend; therefore, these organizers are available to help them process this increase in information in an organized fashion.


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