Using Graphic Organizers
Some students waste their time using graphic organizers because they put too much information and effort into them. A graphic organizer is NOT an essay; it is a way to write notes clearly and effectively. You don't have to use complete sentences when you write it, and you don't have to polish it as a final draft. You just have to use it to get ideas out of your head and onto paper where you can analyze them and move them around as much as you need to do before writing the essay.
The basic graphic organizer format is going to start with a broad, general topic. This is where you will list ideas for your thesis statement. Again, this can be a list of fragmented sentences; it doesn't have to be thorough. Your first section in a graphic organizer might just say something like, "school lunches are bad."
Then a graphic organizer will branch out into sub-topics. These are the main facts or ideas that support your thesis. You should always try to have at least three of these; if you can think of more, then you have more to choose from when you write your essay. Just because you list five supporting arguments on your graphic organizer doesn't mean all five have to wind up in your essay. For the school lunches essay, you might have supporting topics like, "flavorless combinations," "unnatural coloring," and "poorly heated."
Finally, a graphic organizer will have a spot for including relevant research or other information to support your sub-topics. For the school lunch topic, you might include information you got from surveying students and teachers about the lunches; or you might cite research on the percentage of students nationwide who eat school lunches vs. packing from home. You might also interview the cafeteria workers to find out the requirements for the lunches. Put all of this information into the most detailed part of your graphic organizer.
When you get ready to write your essay, you turn those thoughts and ideas from your graphic organizer into sentences and paragraphs. If one section in your organizer is really full, you might split it into two paragraphs or topics. If one section is really thin, you might leave it out or do more research to support it before writing your essay. The graphic organizer is a good way to visually see all of your ideas before you spend the time crafting those ideas into essay form.