Category Archives: Graphic Organizers

Updated Parts of Speech Graphic Organizers (Plus Conjunctions)

As I learn more and more about iDraw, the perfectionist in me has felt the need to improve my graphic organizers. I only made some slight changes (a little color and more uniform) but I am happy with them now. I also made notes for conjunctions. To find the originals click here. The updated PDF files are below.




Action verb




And what would be a post about conjunctions without this video?

Author’s Purpose


I made this for this week’s instruction on Author’s Purpose. As with all the handouts, they will glue this in their journal for future reference.

PDF of Author’s Purpose

Summarizing Short Stories: Story Elements and Conflict

My Resource Room students have been reading several short stories in our literature book and I have been teaching/reviewing story elements and conflict.

These are the notes they pasted in their journal and what we will reference each time we discuss these ideas throughout the year. I try to always come back to the same notes/handouts each time we work on a concept. I think the repetition and consistency helps with their retention and association.


There are many variations on definitions for the different parts of a plot diagram. These may or may not match what you use in your classroom.

Now before you laugh at my artwork, which I honestly don’t think is that awful, there is something to be said about teacher created artwork…especially if you can laugh at it. Kids remember these drawings. These are not stock clip-art images. These are never-seen-before renderings. They are real and they are authentic. These pictures also increase my credibility with my students.

A student once told me in reference to a similar handout, “Geez…you MADE this for us? In your free time? You really work way too hard.”

My students totally enjoyed (laughed at) these pics when I passed this out.

In addition to these notes, students have been completing these graphic organizers as well. The first few times we use this organizer, I will model for them and provide more guided notes. Eventually, I’d like to see them fill it out independently.

This is a screen shot of all the parts from SMART Notebook on one page. You can see that I give them a lot of guidance in the first few boxes. Starting is usually the hardest part.

Please feel free to download these for you classroom.

Plot Diagram (PDF)

Conflict (PDF)

Short Story Summary (PDF)


Two Things I Need To Survive 8th Grade: Coffee and Mnemonic Devices

When I first started teaching 8th grade, the curriculum was all new to me. I was the inclusion teacher in four subjects, as well as teaching two of my own resource classes.

Few things are less intimidating than being unfamiliar with the curriculum and learning it just a few days ahead of the students. One of the first things I had to learn was the Scientific Method.

I needed a quick way to memorize the steps:

  • Ask a question
  • Form a hypothesis
  • Test the hypothesis
  • Analyze results
  • Draw conclusions
  • Communicate results

I also needed to think of a way to help my students memorize these steps for their test.

Fortunately I had been in band and knew the “Every Good Boy Does Fine” trick to learn the notes on the staff. Since then, I have always been a big fan of mnemonic devices. And, as luck would have it, the science teacher I worked with usually had a cup of coffee in her hand every morning as she greeted the students in the hallway.

So this is what I came up with:

A fun snapshot of the science teacher with her morning cup of coffee would make a great poster for the classroom.

Totally unscientific, but trust me….silly things like this work!

Tweedle Dee used this same strategy to help her in her science class this year and last year. (Being a teacher’s kid, she learns all kinds of crazy ways to memorize things!)

I am certain I will never forget the steps to the Scientific Method and I bet there is a good chance you won’t either.

Great Resource for Classroom Posters

I just stumbled upon Cool Stuff for Nerdy Teachers.

(They had me at “nerdy.”)

You can find some very cool,  free PDF versions of charts, visuals, posters, organizers, and strategies for your classroom.

This would be a great tool for students to keep inside a math work book or binder. (Download at the above mentioned site)

If you don’t have time to make these kinds of things (who does?) or you don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, look here first.

I plan on adding this to my paragraph writing lesson we are currently working on. (Download at the above mentioned site)

The only thing you’ll need is color ink for your printer and it’s recommended you laminate these 8 1/2 x 11 pages.

It looks like you can also purchase an editable format for $10 if you’d like to tweak it.

The posters are colorful, visually pleasing, cover the K-12 spectrum in many subject areas, and, for me….give me great ideas of things I’d like to make!

I won’t be using this at the middle school…but it might come in handy at home with the kids! I think I’ll hang it on the fridge – or my forehead. (Download at the above mentioned site)

5-7 Sentence Paragraph Graphic Organizer

My Resource Room students will be writing five short (5-7 sentence) paragraphs on various topics related to the Olympics and our typed paragraphs will be pasted inside construction paper Olympic rings when we are finished.

Here is the graphic organizer we used today to write our first paragraph for our Olympic unit.

5-7 Sentence Paragraph Organizer

Parts of Speech Graphic Organizers

Here are 5 graphic organizers I plan on using in my middle school Resource Room as we review the parts of speech.

I will shrink these to half sheets and students will paste them in their journals in the Grammar section as we study each of them.

So far the tabbed journals are working very well. We have added notes to the Writing, Vocab and Lit. Terms sections with little confusion. Tomorrow we will add “Nouns” to the Grammar section.

We will complete the graphic organizer together and then keep a running list of words (in this case, nouns) that go with the Olympics.

Later next week, we are going to the computer lab to make posters about the Olympics and nouns.  I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I will let you know how it goes.

Vocabulary Graphic Organizers

One way to teach vocabulary is to use graphic organizers. Here is a PDF file of the Semantic Maps I use most often. I wanted to attach my SMART Notebook file as well, but I don’t think that is an option. If you would like a copy, leave a comment and I will email the file to you.

I created these years ago, based on others I have seen so I can’t really take credit for coming up with them. I also don’t know where these ideas came from.

I keep a stack of each of these organizers on a shelf so when the need comes up, I have copies ready to go. These pages are small enough they can be trimmed and will fit nicely when glued into a composition book.

If these don’t fit your needs, a quick Google search will lead you tons of graphic organizers for all ages, grade levels, and subjects.

Google tip: Did you know that by clicking “images” on the left hand side of Google the search becomes much visual-learner friendly? This is the most common way I search for materials and resources for my class. It saves me from clicking on useless links.

Here is a screen shot of a search using images:


Using Graphic Organizers in History: 5 W’s

I never had an interest in history as a student and never had much experience teaching it until I did OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) tutoring. I think that year was the year I learned everything I always should have learned about history but didn’t.

It was easy for me to sympathize with my students who hated history and failed the 10th grade state test one (or more) times. I will admit that I have said more than once, “History is so in the past. Who needs it?” But, it was my job and these students needed me to teach it so they could graduate. I figured out ways to do so and now, after 3 years of 8th Grade Inclusion History, I feel like I finally almost enjoy learning about history. (I love teaching anything!)

This did not happen until I started viewing history as a story of time. Who doesn’t love a good story? Every event in history can be told as a story with characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

I spend a lot of time making graphic organizers, study guides, and modified assessments for our history class. I get feedback from a reading specialist who uses my materials with her small group reading and writing class. Students complete the study guides, verbally talk about the events in the chapter, and then write about the events in paragraph form as well. (See how this works for a reading teacher? Students are skimming, scanning, comprehending, and synthesizing throughout this process.) It is our thinking that if they can visualize the information in the graphic organizer, talk about it, and then put it into written words, they will surely remember at least some of it.

I plan on regularly posting samples of the graphic organizers, strategies, and study materials I use with my 8th graders. Hopefully they will give you ideas to use in your classroom (in any content area). Below is my first example:

Students read the section and locate the details to tell the story.

*Here is a PDF file of an original 5W’s +1 (a blank box for additional info.) for you to download: 5ws+1

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