Visual Learning Techniques - Graphic Organizers, Mind Maps, and Flowcharts 


Example from Inspiration - 

Design, Scaffolding, Brainstorming, Visual Representation

Scaffolding can be provided for students through visual representation with mind maps, graphic organizers, flowcharts, and the use of visual learning techniques.

Inspiration and Kidspiration 

Graphic Organizers can be created with poster board, butcher paper, whiteboards, etc.  However software programs like Inspiration are becoming more popular.  See Software Examples at the Inspiration website - 

What is Scaffolding?  

Read "Scaffolding for Success" -

"Scaffolding keeps purpose and motivation in the forefront. Rather than offering up one more empty school ritual like the state report, the scaffolded lesson aspires to meaning and worth. Built around essential questions, the scaffolding helps to keep the "big picture" central and in focus. Traditional school research placed too much emphasis upon collection, while scaffolding requires continuous sorting and sifting as part of a "puzzling" process - the combining of new information with previous understandings to construct new ones. Students are adding on, extending, refining and elaborating. It is almost as if they are building a bridge from their preconceptions to a deeper, wiser, more astute view of whatever truth matters for the question or issue at hand." (MacKenzie, Jamie. From Now On: Educational Technology Journal. Vol 9, No 4, December, 1999).

Scaffolding Websites

Graphic Organizers and Flow Charts

Graphic organizers can be useful in brainstorming ideas, particularly in the task definition phase of research.  Graphic organizers also provide ways to help students organize the information and data conceptually.  Organizers can be helpful in viewing both qualitative (text) and quantitative (numbers) data graphically.  The assignments for this unit will focus on graphic organizers, flowcharts, and spreadsheet charts and graphs.  Inspiration is a popular software program for creating graphic organizers and flow charts but you can also recreate these types of documents using Word, Powerpoint, and other professional flow chart software programs.  A flow chart allows you to create visual representation of the sequence.  

What are Graphic Organizers?

Theory Behind Use of Graphic Organizers

Four Basic Patterns of Knowledge Organization





Benefits of Graphic Organizers

Browse through Graphic Organizers on the Web

Types of Graphic Organizers

The Venn Diagram is a conceptual organizer with overlapping circles representing information that is being compared and contrasted.


Hierarchical Organizer includes a main concept and the ranks, or levels, of sub-concepts under it (generalizations and classifications).


The Sequential Organizer arranges events in chronological order (process/product or problem/solution).


The Planning Organizer

Great for thematic planning with integrated subjects or multiple intelligence planning.


The Cyclical Organizer includes a series of events within a process in a circular formation with no beginning and no end (a continuous sequence of events in a cycle).


The Cause and Effect Organizer - arranges cause and effect events in chronological order.


The Conceptual Organizer includes central ideas, categories, or classes with supporting facts such as characteristics or examples (description, collection, problem/solution, comparison/contrast).


The Overlapping Concepts Organizer - pattern includes a central idea, category, or class with supporting facts with overlapping areas used to represent information that is being compared and contrasted (overlapping areas of commonality).


Flow Charts 

Flow charts can be created in Word or Powerpoint.  It takes a little more effort than using a program like Inspiration, but it can be done.  See instructions in course documents.  Or - you can look into some of the software available for you and your students.

Sample Drawings

Check out the Visual Thesaurus - 

Using Powerpoint or Word to Create Graphic Organizers

Although Powerpoint is primarily a presentation program, it provides a great tool for creating overheads or student assignments with graphic organizers.  See the Powerpoint presentation with templates for graphic organizers that you can customize for your lesson planning.  Here are two examples of Powerpoint graphic organizers.  The Powerpoint is included in Unit Three course documents along with instructions on how to create graphic organizers and flow charts in Office applications.

Creating Graphic Organizers in Word 

You can create graphic organizers and flowcharts in a word processing program by using shapes and autoshapes.  You can add text to the shapes or add text boxes within the shapes.  

Tips for using a word processor for graphic organizers:


Teaching with Technology - 2005

Carla Piper, Ed. D.