Graphic Organizers to Support Close Reading, Effective Writing, and Critical Thinking

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Check out videos you can send to students to watch independently: Getting Students StartedHow to Build a CERCA, and Writing Lesson Instructions for Students.


Teaching students to organize their ideas is essential for helping them produce cohesive academic writing. Whether students are writing narratives, arguments, or explanatory pieces, they can use graphic organizers to take notes, support their understanding of a text, and plan their writing. To make it faster and easier for students to engage in these practices, ThinkCERCA has curated our most-requested graphic organizers below: 

CERCA Graphic Organizers

These graphic organizers support students in organizing their ideas before completing Step 5 of ThinkCERCA’s Writing Lesson.

CERCA Graphic Organizer - Analyzing an Article

English & Spanish (3rd - 5th Grade)

English & Spanish (6th - 12th Grade)

Reason and Reasoning

Before, During, and After Reading

These charts support students as they go through the process of reading, making connections within the text, and encourage more research or investigation on a topic.

KWL Chart

KWLQ Chart

Cause & Effect Chart

Storyboard Chart


These graphic organizers help students pull out main ideas and key supporting details as they engage with reading and analyzing a text. 

Five W's and an H

Summary Chart

3-2-1 Strategy

Writing Narratives

These graphic organizers support students in planning and drafting the main components of their narrative writing.

Beginning, Middle, and End Chart

Narrative Arc


Character Study

Informative Writing

This graphic organizer supports students in planning and drafting the main components of their informative writing response.

Informative Writing Organizer 

Informative Essay 1-Paragraph

Informative Essay 3-Paragraph

Informative Essay 5-Paragraph

Understanding Connections within a Text

These graphic organizers provide students with guided structures to examine a variety of relationships among information, individuals, events, and ideas in a text: chronological, cause-and-effect, or problem-and-solution.

Cause & Effect Chart

Compare/Contrast Chart

Problem/Solution Chart

Sequence Chart

Venn Diagram

Argumentative Essay Templates

These essay templates can be used to help students use the CERCA framework to write a full-length essay. Use them as a suggestion for the structure of a CERCA-based 1, 3, or 5-paragraph essay.

1 Paragraph Template

3-Paragraph Template

5-Paragraph Template (with Counterargument)


These blank graphic organizers are provided for you to structure and customize to whatever your students are currently learning about. Use them as compare-contrast, KWL, sequencing, or anything else appropriate to your current instructional focus. 

2-Column Chart

3-Column Chart

4-Column Chart