Graphic Organizers for Content Instruction

Graphic Organizers for Content Instruction

by Judie Haynes

Graphic organizers make content area information more accessible to second language learners. They convert complex information into manageable chunks. Download graphic organizers from this page.

One of our roles as ESL and bilingual specialists is to encourage mainstream teachers to employ teaching techniques which make content area information more accessible to second language learners. Content materials present text which is too dense for ELLs. Teach your students to use graphic organizers such as webs, Venn diagrams, and charts to help them better comprehend these texts. These are visual tools that help ELLs understand and organize information. They are like mind maps which promote active learning. Graphic Organizers can also help students develop higher level thinking skills and promote creativity.

One of our goals in teaching our English language learners is to help them summarize and interpret text. Graphic Organizers are excellent tools in achieving this goal.

Download the PDF files listed below or try a customized graphic organizer at This site allow you to print out several graphic organizers with the labels that you want.

Activity Downloads

Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

PDF fileCompare and Contrast Organizer (30k .PDF)

PDF fileStory Map (2k .PDF)

PDF fileKWL chart (2k .PDF)

PDF fileStory Action Map (2k .PDF)

PDF fileStory board (3k .PDF)

PDF fileVenn diagram (2k .PDF)

PDF fileFishbone map (23k .PDF)

PDF fileNetwork tree (2k .PDF)

PDF fileSpider map (6k .PDF)

PDF fileStory star (93k .PDF)

PDF fileCycle chart (2k .PDF)

PDF fileT-Chart (2k .PDF)

Related Links

Study Skills for ELLS
English language learners may need help in learning how to study for content area tests. Here are some helpful techniques that you can teach them.

Organizing and Assessing in the Content Area Class
How do you help mainstream teachers accurately monitor for student comprehension, organize the content class, and design realisitic assesments? These questions will be addressed in this article, which is the second part of "Meeting the Challenge of Content Instruction."

Meeting the Challenge of Content Instruction
Discover how the standards movement currently sweeping the US will have a positive impact on the education of ESL students, while also presenting instructional challenges to ESL and mainstream professionals.

SIOP: Making Content Comprehensible for ELLs
The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) was developed to make content material comprehensible to English Language Learners. This model is the result of the work of Jana Echevarria, MaryEllen Vogt and Deborah J. Short.

Resource Picks
This site features free web tools for educators. Try the graphic organizer, puzzle or classroom materials generator.