HomeTeacherReading SpecialistUsing Writing Graphic Organizers with Elementary Students (3rd to 5th Grade)

Using Writing Graphic Organizers with Elementary Students (3rd to 5th Grade)

With so many types and formats of writing that we ask of students, it can be overwhelming for them to know where to start, what kinds of language to use, and what the structure of their writing should look like. This is why it is so important that we provide the necessary models and supports, like writing graphic organizers, for students in order to set them up for success.

Graphic organizers are a timeless tool that can be used to support growing writers.  They can be used to support students in prewriting for each type of writing and writing format. They can also be used during the revising and editing stages to strengthen writing.


Prewriting is such an important step of the writing process for writers of all levels.  Just jumping into a draft can be overwhelming, so it is so helpful to have tools and supports for students to organize their ideas before diving into writing.  

Some ideas for graphic organizers students can use to generate ideas during prewriting are:

  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming graphic organizers are great for all types of writing (narrative, informational, opinion, etc.) For example, in prewriting for a personal narrative, students can use heart maps or brainstorming organizers for life events. With narrative writing, students can use brainstorming organizers for story elements (i.e. characters, setting, etc.). Informational writing prewriting can include brainstorming topics and subtopics.  For persuasive writing, students can brainstorm issues, audiences, and how they want to deliver their message to their audience (i.e. a speech or advertisement).  
Prewriting and Brainstorming Graphic Organizers Printable PDFs

  • Research Guides: With informational writing, students of varying levels can benefit from either broad graphic organizers or very structured organizers.  Broad graphic organizers could just give space to write facts on a topic.  Structured could graphic organizers could give space for students to write the topic, subtopics, facts/details for each subtopic, as well as sources. 
Prewriting Brain Dump Graphic Organizer

Prewriting graphic organizers can break down specific types of writing in a visual way for students. For example, if students are working on opinion writing, students can benefit from an O.R.E.O or O.R.E.R.E.O. opinion writing graphic organizer. This type of prewriting graphic organize ensures that students have reasons and examples for their opinions. 

OREO Opinion Writing OREREO Graphic Organizer

Other examples of prewriting graphic organizers specific to their type of writing include:

  • Nonfiction Summary – Main Idea & Supporting Details 

  • Fiction/Narrative Writing – Plot Diagram, Story Map

  • Paragraph Writing – Hamburger Paragraph Template 

  • Question Response – RACE Writing Strategy 

  • Compare & Contrast – Venn Diagram
RACE and Hamburger Paragraph Writing Strategy Printable PDFs


In addition, graphic organizers can be used to support students in making strong revisions to their drafts. Revision graphic organizers can help students to visually break down important writing skills and strategies. They can help students to:

  • Add a strong hook

  • Add transitions

  • Explode a moment/ Small moments writing

  • Use strong word choice

  • Add dialogue

  • Create sensory images

  • Show/don’t tell

  • Build suspense
Small Moments Writing and Using Strong Word Choice

While it can be helpful to use graphic organizers for prewriting and revising, it is also important to choose quality graphic organizers.  The best writing graphic organizers…

  • maximize writing space

  • clearly show what is asked of students

  • use thoughtful visuals 

  • use examples when needed
Writing Graphic Organizers

It is also useful to have graphic organizers that come in both a printable PDF as well as a digital version to differentiate for students and lower your load of paperwork.     

Digital Graphic Organizers for Writing

If you are looking for graphic organizers for writing, check out these resources below!

Looking for more tips on teaching writing? Check out this blog post on Teaching Steps of the Writing Process to Elementary Students!

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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