Creative Approaches to Reading from a Textbook: Graphic Organizers

graphic organizer

Welcome to part three of a four-part series on creative approaches to reading from a textbook in your faith formation sessions. In this series, I am sharing with you some creative ideas for reading from a textbook that make it, not only more engaging, but also more effective. The third approach I offer is known as a “Graphic Organizer.”

Graphic Organizers

  • A graphic organizer is a worksheet that is given to participants to help them visualize, identify, organize, and make sense of information they are reading silently from a text. It can help learners to identify relationships between important concepts in a text. It is basically a visual map of what they are reading, which is why graphic organizers are also known as “concept maps.”
  • The graphic organizer should be simple: a sheet of paper with a few boxes or shapes in which young people are to record specific information as they read. My example labels the boxes as:
    • Big idea(s)
    • Key words
    • Most interesting idea
    • Huh? (concepts not understood)
  • Assign a text to be read silently, and provide each participant with a graphic organizer.
  • Go over the information participants are to organize, and then provide them with a set amount of time to complete the reading/organizing.
  • As always, announce less time than is realistically possible to do the reading in order to create a sense of urgency. Then you can extend the reading time a few minutes if needed.
  • Use the graphic organizer as a basis for your follow-up discussion and as a way of assessing learners’ comprehension of the material.

This is, of course, just one example. Here are a variety of graphic organizers you can peruse to get your creative juices flowing!

Join me on the Loyola Press Facebook page for my Facebook Live event on Tuesday, October 2 at 6 p.m. Central time. I’ll provide exclusive commentary on my 20 tips for catechists and give away a signed copy of my new book Living the Sacraments!

About Joe Paprocki 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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