Graphic Organizers

Graphic and semantic organizers illustrate concepts and inter-relationships among concepts, using diagrams or other pictorial devices. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters. An example of a commonly used graphic organizer is a Venn diagram, which displays the overlap between two concepts. Venn diagrams are often used in K-12 U.S. education to help students understand similarities and differences between two different concepts or groups. When they become three-dimensional, graphic organizers are commonly referred to as Foldables, a term coined and trademarked by McGraw-Hill School Education Group in reference to Dinah Zike’s interactive graphic organizers.

What are Graphic Organizers?

Graphic organizers combine written words (often concepts) with symbols and arrows to represent relationships between the concepts. There are multiple formats for organizing information in graphic organizers. Most graphic organizers are two-dimensional, simply printed on paper; Foldables are three-dimensional graphic organizers that allow learners to interact with the concepts and other content by moving the individual parts or tabs of the Foldable.

Venn Diagram

The Venn diagram is a graphic organizer commonly used to illustrate the similarities and differences between two items, groups, or events.

Venn diagrams are quite useful as two-dimensional graphic organizers, but by creating tabs out of the sections of the Venn diagram, we create a three-dimensional Foldable and allow students to more easily focus on aspects of the comparison that might be confusing to them.

Make a Foldable: Concept Maps


  1. Fold a sheet of paper along the long or short axis, leaving a one-inch tab uncovered.
  2. Fold in half or in thirds. (Additional tabs can be created by folding into more parts.)
  3. Unfold and cut along the inside fold lines to create tabs.
  4. Have students identify the concept by writing key words or using pictures on the one-inch tab. Draw arrows from the central idea to the tabs, where students record data underneath.