Free Graphic Organizers and Mind Maps for Teachers

To fully understand subject matter, students need a way to organize their thoughts. A graphic organizer is a method students can use to visually depict an idea through sequences and charts. A mind map is another method used to depict ideas, but it doesn't involve a chart or sequence. Instead, the creator writes or illustrates concepts branching from a central thought. Graphic organizers and mind maps can be used to illustrate knowledge about a topic, or they can be used for brainstorming purposes. For example, writers sometimes use these tools to brainstorm before beginning a new project.

In school settings, a teacher or student may use one of these tools to summarize a chapter or lesson. Students may also use graphic organizers or mind maps to plan class projects or writing assignments. Graphic organizers and mind maps improve a student's skills in several ways. Because they provide a visual representation of a topic, graphic organizers and mind maps can help students organize their thoughts or knowledge about a subject. In addition, students often solidify their understanding of a topic while creating graphic organizers and mind maps. For example, a student who is learning facts about the solar system may use a graphic organizer or mind map to depict the information he remembers about each planet. 


Decision Making Model

The decision-making model is a graphic organizer that students can use to find solutions for a problem. To utilize this model, a student states a problem at the top of the chart and creates a list of solutions beneath it. Advantages and disadvantages of each solution are included as well. The student uses the organizer to assess the solutions and choose the best one. At the bottom of the chart, the student outlines the final solution.

Main Idea Pyramid

Main idea pyramids help students to deconstruct an idea into different elements. At the top of the pyramid, the student writes or illustrates the idea in its most basic form. Each lower level contains information about sub-concepts of the idea. This model is most popular for analyzing stories, sub-plots, symbolism, and characters. Main idea pyramids are a basic model, but they can easily be used to initiate discussions among students.

Question/Answer Chart

A question/answer chart allows students to approach subject matter from varying angles depending on the questions posed. This model is less basic than a main idea pyramid because the questions included can vary in difficulty. There are many variations to this model and students can approach them with several different strategies. It is up to the teacher to choose the most appropriate variation based on the subject material.

Venn Diagram

A Venn diagram is a graphic organizer that students can use to depict the shared elements among different ideas. This diagram is common in math classes. To help student understand the common elements in the diagram, teachers can instruct them to color the circular areas using different hues. Venn diagrams are one of the most well known models of graphic organizer.

Sequence Chain

A sequence chain is a graphic organizer that describes a series of ideas or events linearly. Students can either illustrate the ideas or write them out, depending on the subject matter. Some sequence chain worksheets allow student to choose the method they will use. Sequence chains help students to recall concepts or determine the relationships among them.

Flow Chart

Because it involves sequential steps, a flow chart is similar to a sequence chain. However, flow charts are more useful for simpler subject. Flow charts can be used in problem solving, and they are also compatible with simple yes or no questions. Students can also use flow charts to link different activities and ideas to one another. This model is laid out in a way that makes it easier to follow for many students. To further simplify the layout, use different shapes to signify specific outcomes.


Character Map

Character maps allow students to analyze characters' traits and interpersonal relationships following a story. Before starting a character map activity, consider reviewing some examples of character traits. Character maps are best suited for writing down brief ideas and thoughts. After students have completed their character maps, use them to initiate a discussion about the characters in the story.

Story Map

Story maps are similar to character maps, but they are more in-depth. Along with the characters, story maps allow students to explore the events and themes of a story. After creating story maps, students should participate in class discussions for maximum benefit. Story maps are also useful for students who are planning to write their own stories.

Spider Map

Students can use spider maps to relate several sub-concepts to a main idea. The layout begins with a central area where the main idea is written or illustrated. Several diagonal lines emanate from this area, giving the diagram the appearance of a spider. The spider map can be used to dissect the aspects of a central topic and list the important details of each element in a way that is simple to read.

Cloud Map

A cloud map helps students to brainstorm about a main idea. This allows the students to relate different types of concepts to the same idea on one diagram. This model can become crowded easily, so consider asking your students to use different colors in order to simplify it. Cloud maps may also be called cluster maps.

Fishbone Map

Fishbone maps are also useful for dissecting a story's elements. The layout of this mind map is similar to a fish's bones laid flat. At the head of the fish, students write the main idea of the story. Along the body segments, students include details about related elements. To gain the most benefit from this mind map, students should read the story in advance.

Continuum Map

Continuum maps allow students to illustrate sequential events using a linear scale. Students can plot these events on the scale to create a time line. This model can also be useful in depicting cause and effect situations. In addition, continuum maps can be used to show students how intangible objects relate to each other, and it can be used to measure weights or amounts.