Looking for a way to help your students better understand informational texts? Graphic organizers are a great tool to use! Whether used before, during, or after reading, graphic organizers are the best way to help students comprehend nonfiction!
Standardized tests place a huge emphasis on informational text (in my state, over 70% percent of our assessment was nonfiction!) which means our students need as much exposure as possible. As a teacher, I found my students able to answer recall-type questions about informational text with ease. However, they struggled when answering more complex questions about the structure of the text. This is where graphic organizers come in!
What Is a Graphic Organizer?
A graphic organizer is a visual representation of information. Graphic organizers are often used to help students learn new material by having them arrange information in a way that makes sense to them. There are many different types of graphic organizers, including Venn diagrams, timelines, and cause-and-effect charts. Students can use graphic organizers for fiction or nonfiction texts, but will find them particular helpful when processing informational text.
How Can I Use Graphic Organizers With Informational Texts?
There are many ways to use graphic organizers with informational texts. Students can use a KWL Chart or Asking Questions graphic organizer before reading a text to activate prior knowledge of a topic and set a purpose for reading. While reading, Venn diagrams or sequencing charts can help students keep track of important information. After reading, a summary frame can help students extract the most important information from the text.
Why Use Graphic Organizers with Informational Texts?
In addition to helping students as they read, graphic organizers can serve as an informal assessment as to whether or not students understand the text. They are also a great tool for emerging bilinguals or students with IEPs. ALL students will benefit from explicit modeling of how to use each type of graphic organizer before working on one independently.
Graphic organizers can also help students dig deep into different types of text structures. Sequence, for example, has many purposes in informational text. Students sequence dates of important events when reading a history text, but in a how-to manual, students would have to understand why tasks are placed in a certain order. Exposing students to many different types of text and having them use organizers to process the structure is one of the most beneficial things you can do as an upper elementary teacher!
Looking for FREE Graphic Organizers?
You can download a set of free graphic organizers for both informational and literary text (that can be used with any book!) by clicking here. These graphic organizers provide the perfect amount of scaffolding as you introduce various reading skills and strategies. Each organizer is simply designed, so that students can truly focus on the particular strategy or skill they are working on. Use for whole group instruction, small group reinforcement, centers, homework, intervention groups, and much more!
Do you utilize graphic organizers when teaching nonfiction?