I love graphic organizers. Why? It brings a bit of organization to my teaching. Most of my developing readers are right-brained and very creative. I've learned that when we use a graphic organizer to note our thinking or retell a story, the students have more understanding which leads to deeper thinking and comprehension.
This year I use organizers that I've sketched myself. My students can personalize them, and they are easy to recreate. I allow the students to write with markers after realizing that children respond very well to color. (Markers also help them forget that they don't like to write!) Yes, they will do a bit of artwork on the organizer, but I don't get too uptight.
This week I tried a story retell with my first grade group. I simply drew lines down the center of two pages in their writing book, then drew a horizontal line two-thirds down the page. I showed them how to label the sections first, next, later and last. The students drew a sketch and then we came up with a sentence as a group. (Think it, say it, write it!) We had success and smiles.