Brainstorming Graphic Organizers Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Sep 19, 2011

Venn Diagram

A Venn diagram shows the relationships among a group of objects that have something in common. Like a web, it is useful when you want to find solutions to a problem with two or three symptoms or elements. To create a Venn diagram:

  • ask yourself, "What are the different symptoms of the problem?"
  • write each element in a circle, and have each circle overlap (as shown on the following page)
  • ask yourself, "What can I do differently to resolve each overlapping set of symptoms, or how can I use these elements together to arrive at a solution?" (circle A and circle B)
  • repeat the previous step with circles B and C, and A and C
  • fill in the overlapping areas with your responses


You received $2,000 from the estate of a distant relative. You always wanted to travel to Europe, but you have also been trying to save money to renovate your bedroom. In addition, a local nursery is going out of business and the landscaping project you have only dreamed about could be yours for a 50% discount. To help determine what you should do with the money, create a Venn diagram showing the possible answers and ask yourself which is more important or deserving between each set of answers.

Venn Diagram


Charts are also great for comparing two or more things. They let you clearly see how each item is similar to and different from the others. To make a valuable chart, choose and write the things you want to compare, and then list two or more areas in which to compare them. You may need to do some research to accurately complete the chart, but it'll help keep you focused on your purpose as you do your research and work toward a conclusion.


You are trying to decide whether to take a job offer in another state or stay where you are. The considerations are salary, housing, schools, and standard of living. While you already have the salary information, you will need to go to the library or Internet to find out the other facts you need to make your comparison. To guide you in your search, you create a chart that looks like this:

Problem/Solution Charts

The kinds of outlines that use Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numbers, and lower case letters are highly structured graphic organizers, so they don't work well for brainstorming. It's hard to come up with ideas quickly when you're trying to figure out where they fit into one of those number/letter outlines! Should this idea have a Roman numeral as a main idea or a capital letter as a supporting detail of that main idea? Or is it a secondary idea that supports the supporting idea? How time consuming and confusing!

Try a problem/solution chart instead. It's a more simply structured outline that can show the same information. Problem/solution charts are helpful because as you fill them out, you:

  • clearly delineate the problem at hand, including causes and effects
  • come up with solutions, and even possible outcomes of those solutions


Problem/Solution Outline Example


The key to good outlining is to distinguish between the main idea and supporting details. A main idea is what something is mostly about; the details support, or tell more about, the main idea. In the previous scenario, the main idea is the dilemma of whether or not to buy a house. Everything else is a detail about that problem.

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