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 organizer templates with Google Drawings
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.)
Sharing your Google Drawings graphic organizers
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:
- If you use Google Classroom, create a new assignment and choose the option to deliver a copy of your graphic organizer to each student.
- You can copy the URL (link) to the graphic organizer and deliver it to students via a class website, SeeSaw etc. You can also make a shorter, easier URL to type with URL shorteners like Bitly and TinyURL. (Check your Internet filter to make sure your shortened URLs come through. I’ve found that TinyURL works in most schools’ filters.)
- Using the blue “Share” button, click the “Get shareable link” button and set the document as “Anyone with the link” at the top and “Can view” at the bottom. That way, students won’t be able to change your original copy and will have to make a copy of their own.
- PRO TIP: When you copy a URL (link) to any G Suite file, it probably says “view” or “edit” at the end of it. If you change that word to “copy”, it will force whoever opens that link to make a copy of the file instead of opening your file. That’s another trick to keeping your original version from being altered. (If you assign it through Google Classroom, you won’t need to do this.)
Here are 25 graphic organizer templates that can be used for many different subject areas and grade levels.
Feel free to make a copy of any of these google drawings templates and adapt them for your own use:
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? Leave a comment below!
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