Using Graphic Organizers
Some students waste their time using graphic organizers because they put too much information and effort into them. A graphic organizer is NOT an essay; it is a way to write notes clearly and effectively. You don't have to use complete sentences when you write it, and you don't have to polish it as a final draft. You just have to use it to get ideas out of your head and onto paper where you can analyze them and move them around as much as you need to do before writing the essay.
The basic graphic organizer format is going to start with a broad, general topic. This is where you will list ideas for your thesis statement. Again, this can be a list of fragmented sentences; it doesn't have to be thorough. Your first section in a graphic organizer might just say something like, "school lunches are bad."
Then a graphic organizer will branch out into sub-topics. These are the main facts or ideas that support your thesis. You should always try to have at least three of these; if you can think of more, then you have more to choose from when you write your essay. Just because you list five supporting arguments on your graphic organizer doesn't mean all five have to wind up in your essay. For the school lunches essay, you might have supporting topics like, "flavorless combinations," "unnatural coloring," and "poorly heated."
Finally, a graphic organizer will have a spot for including relevant research or other information to support your sub-topics. For the school lunch topic, you might include information you got from surveying students and teachers about the lunches; or you might cite research on the percentage of students nationwide who eat school lunches vs. packing from home. You might also interview the cafeteria workers to find out the requirements for the lunches. Put all of this information into the most detailed part of your graphic organizer.
When you get ready to write your essay, you turn those thoughts and ideas from your graphic organizer into sentences and paragraphs. If one section in your organizer is really full, you might split it into two paragraphs or topics. If one section is really thin, you might leave it out or do more research to support it before writing your essay. The graphic organizer is a good way to visually see all of your ideas before you spend the time crafting those ideas into essay form.
Ask any student – essay writing is one of the most despised tasks of their educational career. Perhaps there is so much displeasure associated with the task because it’s perceived as too linear – there isn’t enough visual and creative appeal. But if you use graphic organizer for writing then you can make writing enjoyable – or at least less terrible.
Not only enjoyable but graphic organizers (or diagrams) can make the writing process a snap. They’ll help you think outside the box, draw conclusions you wouldn’t normally observe, and make the entire process faster and more efficient.
Why Use Graphic Organizers for Writing
The phrase “graphic organizer” is just a fancy way of saying “diagram” or “visual aid.” Basically, they are a visual representation of the information you’ve acquired in the research process. There are quite a few reasons why you should use them when writing essays or summaries.
- Helps you visualize your research and how elements connect with each other
- Enhance your essays, summaries and research papers with visual elements
- Track correlations between your thoughts, observations, facts or general ideas.
When it comes to essay writing, the most common graphic organizers are webs, mind maps, and concept maps.
Using Webs for Brainstorming
Webbing is a great way to see how various topics are interrelated. This graphic organizer is particularly useful during the brainstorming step of the writing process.
A web can sometimes get a bit messy. Usually, there are lots of arrows to connect overlapping ideas. However, even with lines crisscrossing every which way, it is still a great way to visualize your thoughts. If you’re using a diagramming software like Creately you can overcome some of this because we automatically arrange the object for you.
Once you’ve created a map to document all your ideas and establish connections, you can easily transition to other forms of diagramming to better organize the information.
For example if you’re writing a research paper about the food web of the Australian bushes you can start with a diagram similar to the one below. This way you can easily visualize the web while writing the paper. This is a simple example but graphic organizers become even more important when the subject gets complex.
Food web of the Australian Bush
You can check the whole diagram by visiting this link .
Although simple this example shows the importance of using graphic organizers for writing summaries. A comprehensive diagram pretty much does the summation for you.
Using Mind Maps as Graphic Organizers
Mind maps are a great way to depict a hierarchy. What is hierarchical organization? The concept is simple: a singular topic dominates with each subsequent idea decreasing in importance.
Usually, the mind map starts with the thesis (or main idea) at the center. From there, you can branch out with your supporting evidence.
Use this process to replace your traditional note taking technique – note cards, outlines, whatever. You’ll quickly realize a mind map is a great way to formulate the structure of your essay. The thing to note here is that the nature of the mind maps force you think about sub topics and how to organize your ideas. And once the ideas are organized writing the essay become very easy.
A mind map of a research proposal ( click to view larger image )
Above is a mind map of a research proposal. Click on it to see the full image or you can see the fully editable template via this link . As you can see in this mind map the difference areas of the research proposal is highlighted. Similarly when your writing the research paper you can use a mind map to break it down to sub topics. We have lots more mind map templates for you to get started.
A concept map will help you visualize the connection between ideas. You can easily see cause and effect – how one concept leads to another. Often times, concept mapping includes the use of short words or phrases to depict the budding relationship between these concepts.
If you look closely you can see that its very similar to a mind map. But a concept maps gives more of a free reign compares to the rigid topic structure of a mind map. I’d say it’s the perfect graphic organizer for writing research papers where you have the license to explore.
By creating a concept map, you can also see how a broad subject can be narrowed down into specific ideas. This is a great way to counter writers block. Often, we look at the big picture and fail to see the specifics that lead to it. Identifying contributing factors and supporting evidence is difficult. But with a concept map, you can easily see how the smaller parts add up to the whole.
Concepts maps are great to visualize supporting elements of a concept
View the full Concept Map diagram from this link here.
Why Bother With Graphic Organizers?
If you already detest the writing process, adding another step might seem insane. However, there really are several advantages of using them. If you haven’t already accepted the benefits of each individual diagram style, here are some more perks of graphic organizers in general:
- Quality essays are based on detail. No one is going to accept your opinions and reasoning just because you say so. You’ll need proof. And organizing that proof will require attention to detail. Graphic organizers can help you see that detail and how it contributes to the overall concept.
- Graphic organizers are flexible. You don’t need one of those giant pink erasers. You don’t need to restructure your outline. All you have to do is draw a few arrows and bam – the relationship has totally changed.
- No matter what you are writing about, a graphic organizer can help. They can be used to structure an essay on the Great Wall, theoretical physics, or Spanish speaking countries.
- If you write an outline, can you easily see how point A influences point X? Probably not. But if little thought bubble A is sitting out there all by itself, you can visualize the way it ties into point R, T and X.
- Some of us find it difficult to put our opinions, thoughts, and ideas into writing. However, communicating our feelings with little doodles and sketches is far less threatening.
- As a writer, our brain often feels like a 2-year-old’s toy box – a big jumbled mess. Taking that mess and putting it onto paper with some semblance of organization is challenging. Rather than trying to take your thoughts from total chaos to a perfectly structured list, just try to get them out of your brain and onto paper in the form of a diagram.
- A graphic organizer helps you establish validity and relevance. You can easily nix the ideas that don’t support or enhance your thesis.
The next time you are faced with a writing project, take a few minutes to explore the efficiency of graphic organizers. You can find a wealth of templates here.
Have you ever used a graphic organizer to structure an essay? How did it go? Do you have a diagram suggestion for the writing process that wasn’t mentioned here? Let us know!
About the Author: Mike Hanski is an essay writing expert and a blogger for bid4papers where he writes about everything education related and shares tips about college success and study. Feel free to contact him at google plus.
concept mapsgraphic organizersmind mapsweb diagrams