What are Graphic Organizers for Innovative Expository Writing to Help Students Succeed?

What are graphic organizers? Graphic organizers are one of the most popular teaching tools for writing teachers.  Writing teachers use graphic organizers all the time to help students organize their thoughts in an accessible way, even if the students moan and groan through the whole process.  Students write better with the support of graphic organizers because it takes away the intimidating blank page.  It will be easier for them to get started writing when they have the appropriate graphic for the task.

What are Graphic Organizers Good For?

There are so many graphic organizers online and I would dare to argue there are too many.  As a teacher, I never knew which graphic organizer to choose for my students to use.  I would often just offer up several choices and let them pick. I had seen some of my mentor teachers do exactly the same.  This did not help my students effectively use this powerful writing tool.

What are Graphic Organizers When Utilized Correctly?

Of course, my students moaned and groaned at the extra work of a graphic organizer because I was not teaching them how to use it correctly.  It was just extra work.  Graphic organizers can be powerful when we teach our students how to use them.  We can’t assume they know how to use them.  But first we teachers need to know which graphic organizers to offer our students so we can support their writing.

What is Expository Writing?

Expository writing is writing that exposes facts or informs the reader.  Expository writing aims to deepen the reader’s understanding of the topic.  Expository writing is fact-based and presented in a logically organized way.  The writer is objective, meaning they keep their opinion out of the writing.

Expository writing is also called: 

  • informational writing
  • informative writing
  • research writing
  • explanatory writing

What are Graphic Organizers for Expository Writing and What Do Other Teachers Think?

Graphic Organizers for Writing

How to Teach Expository Writing

5 Types of Graphic Organizers to Improve Learning

What are Graphic Organizers for the 7 Types of Expository Writing.

I recently wrote all about the different types of expository writing and I’m glad I did because until you understand the types of expository writing you cannot pick a graphic organizer that will effectively help your students.  The type of graphic organizer and the type of writing is directly connected.  I will guide you through each type of expository writing and the type of graphic organizer you should use to help your students write more successfully.

What are Graphic Organizers for Process Essays?

A process essay explains the steps of a process required to complete a task.  It can be as simple as a recipe or as complex as the steps of a science experiment.  The writer is trying to write a detailed explanation that lets the reader complete the task without mistakes, confusion, or questions.  It should also be a process that can easily be repeated.  

A graphic organizer for a process essay needs to help students clearly identify each step of the process.  A place for notes on alternative directions could be helpful. Supply lists are another popular feature in process essays.  They also need to tell their reader what to do in the process which involves directional verbs, such as whisk, mix, or measure.  When all of these elements are combined into a graphic organizer your students will successfully and easily write their process essay.

What are Graphic Organizers for Sequence Essays?

A sequence essay is when information is presented in a logical and often chronological way from beginning to end.  Science is one of the subjects where students will often write sequence essays because they often have to write about what happens from start to finish in life cycles or observations.  

The graphic organizer for sequence essays should be similar to process essays.  It should help students define the order of the events or sequence them.  Each event also needs to be explained in detail.

What are Graphic Organizers for Cause and Effect Essays?

A cause-and-effect essay is written to explain why something happened and the effects of that event.  The effects may have a positive or negative impact, and sometimes it can even be both.  A cause-and-effect essay clearly explains the relationship and connection of the ideas using supporting evidence.  Sometimes all the effects aren’t known, but they can be predicted using developing evidence and logic.  This means that sometimes cause and effect essays can be hypothetical.  Students can explore “What would happen if…” topics.

There are two structures for a cause and effect essay – block structure and chain structure.  Students need to determine which structure matches their topic.  These two structures are exactly what the graphic organizers should layout for your students

Block Structure 

Block structure is when the cause is explained to the reader first and then the effects are explained.  This is usually an appropriate structure when one cause has many effects.

Chain Structure

Chain structure is when there is a chain of causes and effects.  It could be there are several causes and several effects from one event.  It can also be that the first effect turns into the next cause.  This is easier to picture when you think about the food chain.  When an invasive species enters an environment it eats the food of a second animal, when the second animal starts to die off a third animal loses its source of food.  It goes on and on messing up the ecosystem.

What are Graphic Organizers for Problem Solution Essays?

Problem-solution essays usually involve four steps to effectively lay out all the information for the reader.  First, the writer has to tell about the situation or problem.  Second, the problem needs to be explained in great detail.  Third, a solution or several solutions need to be presented. As the writer evaluates the solutions it can be helpful to include the pros and cons of each solution.  Fourth and finally, the writer might recommend the best solution by explaining if and how the solution can be implemented.

The graphic organizer for this essay would be the same format.  It would simply help students organize their thoughts and research into the four steps of a problem solution essay.  Having a graphic organizer would also ensure that students didn’t miss one of the steps of a problem-solution essay.

What are Graphic Organizers for Compare and Contrast Essays?

There are so many questions, especially on state tests that ask students to compare and contrast.  This essay question is one of the most common in many curriculums.  The comparison is when the writer compares the similarities.  The contrast is when the writer contrasts the differences.  What is being compared and contrasted should be of the same category.  This means you are not going to compare Alaska with going to the dentist.  However, you could choose two states to compare or even two cities in Alaska to compare.

There are two possible formats that we need to teach our students about for compare and contrast essays.  Which format you or your students choose wil depend on the results of their research.  Sometimes one makes more sense than the other, and other times it doesn’t matter and is the writer’s preference.  Let’s take a look at some examples using fruit.

Point By Point

In a point-by-point essay, the writer would first talk about the color of both fruits and then start a new paragraph about the shapes of both fruits.  The writer would continue to create a new paragraph for each point of comparing and contrasting.  This format keeps an essay organized and easy to read.  The reader of this essay can see clear similarities and differences between the subjects.

Subject By Subject

In a subject-by-subject essay, the writer would first talk about apples, discussing everything they want to explain and then do the same with while writing about pears.  It’s almost as if the writer is writing a short essay about one topic and then a short essay about the next topic.  This essay would be perfect if as you researched it was hard to categorize the points between the subjects in a similar way.  It gives more freedom to the writer to explore their findings away from specified points.

What are Graphic Organizers for Definition Essays?

A definition essay is an expository essay that gives a complete and detailed definition of the topic.  Definition essay topics can be concrete things with concrete meanings such as desk and mug. Or it can be about abstract things with abstract meanings such as love, respect, and anger.  

The goal of a definition essay is to fully explain the topic.  That means the writer will explain the purpose, who, what, why, where, and how.  Often the writer will appeal to the reader’s five senses to help increase understanding.  

We have our students write a lot of definition essays because they are just learning how to research, gather information, and then write about it.  I like to think of all the times we have our students write about an animal, or event in history.  We aren’t asking them about problems and solutions yet, but have them practice gathering the information about the subject so they can retell it.

Sometimes definition paragraphs will make a guest appearance in other types of expository writing because understanding the definitions of topics can increase reader understanding.

The graphic organizer will support students in making sure they gather the information that fully explains their topic.  There are several ways this could be set up and it really depends on the topic and exactly how you want your students to explain the topic.

What are Graphic Organizers for Classification Essays?

Classification is a word that is usually associated with science when the scientist breaks species of life on earth into the categories of animals, plants, and bacteria.  That’s a great way to help students understand classification essays.  The writer will break down a topic into different groups and categories.  The categories should have specific criteria and be explained in detail.  Then the writer will explain each category further including providing ideas and examples. 

For example, if we look at living things on earth we usually break them into bacteria, plants, and animals.  Each of these categories has predetermined criteria when you look up their definitions.  Bacteria are microscopic, unicellular, independently reproducing, and free-living.  Each part of this definition can be explained and used as a criterion for the bacteria category.

Graphic organizers for classification essays should help students identify categories of classification and the criteria for each category.  Then it should leave room for detailed notes of each category.

What are Graphic Organizers and Where Can I Get Them?

Graphic organizers can be a powerful writing tool when we choose the best graphic organizer for the type of expository writing our students are working on.  The two simply go hand and hand.  If you would like graphic organizers for each type of expository writing be sure to grab them.  

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