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Graphic Organizer for Pre-Reading


Graphic organizers illustrate the relationships among key concepts and terms in a text or unit of study. One use of graphic organizers created by the teacher is to provide students with a structured overview of an assigned reading. (Word webs are similar to graphic organizers, but are created by students with teacher guidance.)


The primary purpose of graphic organizers is to preteach the main concepts and terms in a text. This will provide students with a mental framework on which to build new knowledge. Because graphic organizers are given to students before they begin reading, they provide a great springboard for pre-reading discussions that will elicit additional prior knowledge on the topic.

How to Use Graphic Organizers

Choose a text. This strategy works well with both fiction and expository texts.

Create your Graphic Organizer.

Answering the following questions will help when creating a graphic organizer:

  • What should students focus on when they are reading?
    If students are reading a piece of fiction and will be expected to focus on character analysis, for example, then a graphic organizer that clearly depicts the relationships among characters might be beneficial to students.  
  • How much detail should the graphic organizer include?
    If the students are being introduced to a new topic, creating a graphic organizer that provides students with a visual representation of the main ideas will probably suffice. Providing too many details in a graphic organizer may confuse students more than it clarifies ideas for them.
  • What kind of information will be included in the graphic organizer?
    The answer to this question will help determine the format of the graphic organizer. Examples of common formats for graphic organizers include:
    • time lines
    • diagrams
    • cartoons
    • pictures
    • flow charts
    • pyramid designs
    • outlines
    • feature analysis charts

Review the graphic organizer with students. Don’t assume that students will immediately understand the graphic organizer. Provide students with an explanation of the ideas in the graphic organizer and how they are related to one another. Explain to students how the graphic organizer can be used to support their efforts to comprehend the text they will be reading. 


Following is an example of a graphic that might be used with a text that introduces students to the branches of government.

Graphic Organizer