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A dozen graphic organizers and mind maps

January 24, 2012
Venn Diagram - Happiness in Business

Venn Diagram

I received a lovely email today from Barbara Hayes at After Skoolkids who found the Concept Mapping page at my lab website useful. Being a helpful teacher, she returned the favor by sharing an excellent resource from an ERIC website. Educational Study Tools: Mind Maps & Graphic Organizers features a great list of visualization strategies. Directions and examples are provided for each one.

Graphic Organizers

These are visual representations of concepts or ideas. The techniques below are used widely in K-12 education, but not so much in higher ed.

  • Decision Making Model – from top to bottom: problem, possible solutions, advantages and disadvantages for each solution, final solution
  • Main Idea Pyramid – apex contains the basic idea, subsequent levels deal with sub-concepts and other aspects
  • Question/Answer Chart – approach study material from different angles based on questions
  • Venn Diagram – shows shared elements among several objects or ideas
  • Sequence Chain – describes a series of events or ideas in a linear fashion
  • Flow Chart – also follows a sequence but tends to be simpler and smaller

Mind Maps

I have written about concept maps several times in this blog. They graphically represent relationships among concepts. I didn’t realize there were so many different variations!

  • Character Map – analyze character traits or relationships in a story
  • Story Map – explore themes and events as well as characters
  • Spider Map – follows diagonal lines, giving the appearance of a spider with legs sticking out
  • Cloud Map – (a.k.a. cluster map) helps students brainstorm a central idea
  • Fish-bone Map – at the head, students jot down the main theme or idea, then fill in details along the bone segments
  • Continuum Map – a linear scale for sequential events

Creating one of these visualizations can be an excellent strategy in a variety of situations. Before beginning a unit, students could diagram the way they understand a concept. After reading a short story in a foreign language, students could create a character map. You can purchase specific programs designed for creating concept maps, but you probably already have PowerPoint. It’s great for creating visuals, it’s not too complicated, and most students already know how to use it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Clark permalink*
    February 6, 2014 11:29 am

    A graphic organizer visually expresses concepts or relationships in order to facilitate learning. Mind maps are one example, but so are storyboards, Venn diagrams, flowcharts and time lines.

  2. February 6, 2014 11:17 am

    what the different between graphic organizer and mind map???


  1. Visual Thinking, Branching Scenarios, and Mind Mapping | Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence

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