Graphic Organizer

Essay Map

3 - 12
Printout Type
Graphic Organizer

About this printout

Use this graphic organizer to develop an outline for an essay that includes an introductory statement, main ideas, supporting details, and a conclusion.

Teaching with this printout

Expository writing can be challenging for students, yet it is an important skill for them to develop and eventually master. Often, the most difficult aspects of writing an essay are getting started and maintaining an organized focus while drafting the essay. This Essay Map helps students with those challenges by providing them with an organized format that will help them generate and outline their ideas. When you introduce this graphic organizer to your students, model its use by creating an essay of a topic that is very familiar to students. Using a projector so students can watch, fill in the Essay Map as you brainstorm ideas. Then, show students how to use your completed Essay Map to generate a rough draft of an essay.

More ideas to try

  • If this is a new tool for your students, consider having them fill in the Essay Map on a relatively simple topic. Topic ideas such as “All About Me” or “My Favorite Movies” will help students successfully create an essay because of the high level of background knowledge on these topics. Give older students a more challenging first topic that requires some basic research about something or someone close to them. For example, have them interview an elderly family member to compare and contrast life as a teen today versus life as a teen in the past.
  • Prior to assigning them independent work, have students work in small groups to fill in an Essay Map together. Peer interaction will help generate ideas and provide opportunities for discussing the use of the tool. As they work, circulate among groups to check for correct placement of main ideas and supporting details. If you see a detail that is incorrectly placed on the Essay Map, ask guiding questions to help students make adjustments, such as, “I see that you put this supporting detail with this main idea. Can you tell me why you think it would fit there? Is there a better place that you could place it?” When groups have completed their Essay Maps, discuss them, comparing and contrasting the choice and placement of main ideas and details.
  • Use Essay Maps that were completed by students to create a class-generated essay. Begin by assigning a single topic to the class. Topics for younger or less advanced students might include, “A Description of Our School,” “Field Trip Ideas for Our Class,” and “Things to Do in Our Town/City.” Topics for older or advanced students can be generated from the content areas and might require research. Ask students to fill in the Essay Map either individually or in groups. After students have completed their Essay Maps, project a blank paper or digital document so that all students can view as you collaboratively create a class essay, working through each paragraph of the essay, soliciting suggestions from students’ Essay Maps, and explaining how the Essay Map serves as a guide in the creation of an essay.


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