Sometimes, we just need some help organizing our thoughts — students AND educators.
Paper versions of graphic organizers can do a nice job of that. But by making them digital in Google Apps, they instantly become customizable. Multiple people can collaborate on them in real time. They can be shared with a link, embedded in a website or downloaded as an image file.
In short, digital graphic organizers are more versatile.
In Google Apps, there’s a highly powerful yet highly overlooked app called Drawings.It gives users a blank canvas where they can add text, shapes, lines, etc. When done, they can save their work as image files or PDF files and can add those images to documents, slides and spreadsheets.
Drawings can be the virtual page where students can gather and process their ideas.
I used to shy away from doing a lot of graphic organizers because it’s hard to design them in Google Docs; the moment I learned that you could change the page set-up to 8.5 x 11 inches, my world CHANGED. Now I rarely use Google Docs to make *anything*; I use Google Slides by default because I can add more graphics and have better control of the overall configuration. — Amy Nolan, high school English teacher, Commerce, Texas
Creating graphic organizers can be done pretty easily. As Amy mentioned above, Google Slides can be used to create these as well as Google Drawings. The difference — Drawings focuses on one single page; Slides has multiple slides, which allows for multiple pages.
I’ve created 15 of them (see links below) that can be copied, saved, changed, tweaked or completely redone to fit your needs and your students’ needs. We have added 10 more that were created by the Ditch That Textbook community and shared with us for this post.
It took me about 90 minutes to make 15 of them so that averages out to six minutes each. (Some were more time-consuming than others, and I got faster at making them as I progressed.)
Once you’ve created a graphic organizer (or have saved one of mine), there are a few easy ways to get them to your students:
Feel free to make a copy of any of them and adapt them for your own use:
Venn diagram: Lets students write similarities and differences on a topic.
KWL: Lets students list: what I know, what I want to know, what I have learned.
Timeline: Lets students plot dates and events over a specified time period.
Evaluation: Lets students identify criteria, explain whether it was successful and why, and provide evidence.
Cause and effect chain: Lets students identify actions that caused other actions and their effects.
Fishbone planner: Lets students list the advantages and disadvantages of a topic.
Word web / semantic map: Lets students branch ideas out from the main topic into subtopics.
Flow chart: Lets students display the linear relationship among several things.
Hexagonal thinking: Lets students connect ideas with multiple contact points. I first learned about hexagonal thinking at Google Teacher Academy in Austin, Texas, in December 2014.
Character map: Lets students list important information about a character, like what the character says and what the student thinks of the character.
Cornell note-taking: Lets students list main points and evidence, details and location.
Plot diagram: Lets students show how a plot builds, climaxes and resolves. (Submitted by Stephanie Avera, Twitter: @seaveratech)
Vocabulary cluster: Lets students identify synonyms, antonyms and related words to a specific word.
Vocabulary concept map: Lets students make connections to other words from a specific vocabulary term.
Think about your thinking: Helps students think through their decisions and how they arrived at their conclusions.
Frayer Model (by request!): Provides a framework for a thorough understanding of new words.
Argumentative Writing: (submitted by Melissa Rasmus of Chippeway Falls Area USD in Wisconsin): Helps students organize essays by breaking down parts of the essay in different sections.
P-M-I Chart: (submitted by Rhett Oldham of St. Genevieve R-II School District in Missouri): Students examine the pluses, minuses and interesting things associated with a topic, idea or decision.
Essay Pre-Write: A very visual way to prepare students for writing essays. (Submitted by Amy Nolan, Twitter: @mrsnolanator)
Audio/Podcast Summary: Students do a brain dump after listening to an episode. (Submitted by Andrea Clutts, Twitter: @acluttsSVHS)
Paint Chip Vocab: Students find synonyms to a vocabulary word and organize them by “richness”. (Submitted by Jennifer Eggert, Twitter: @mrseggert13)
Sequencing: Students put tiles of information in order to demonstrate understanding. (Submitted by Justin Malin, Twitter: @justinrmalin)
Then and Now: Students compare events (like immigration) from the past and from current times. (Submitted by Katie Nicholson, Insta: @inthenicofhines)
Labeling (Moon Phases): Students drag tiles in order to show the names and phases of the moon. (Submitted by Katie Von Berg, Twitter: @wadein2science)
SWBST: Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then (Submitted by Melissa Shields, Twitter: @MrsM_Shields)
Question: What other graphic organizers would be useful to create in Google Drawings? Can you share a link to a graphic organizer you’ve created so others can use it, too? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:
Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!
Is Matt presenting near you soon? Check out his upcoming live events!
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.