Spatial organization is when information in a passage is organized in order of space or location. If you were to describe the room in which you were sitting right now, you would be using spatial organization. Spatial organization may also be called descriptive writing and it is most frequently used when the narrator describes how something looks. Spatial organization is generally pretty easy to identify, but be aware that spatial organization is used in both fiction and nonfiction texts. Most fictional passages are organized chronologically, but in paragraphs where the narrator is describing a setting or the appearance of a character, the information may be organized spatially.
Example: Volcanoes are a feared and destructive force for good reason. A volcano is like a pressure valve for the inner earth, but they can also be very beautiful. One part of the volcano that people rarely see is the magma chamber. The magma chamber is way beneath the Earth’s bed rock. It is tremendously hot. Running from the magma chamber to the crater of the volcano is the conduit. The conduit connects the magma chamber to the outer world. At the top of the volcano is the the crater. This is where the magma exits. Volcanoes are a beautiful yet dangerous natural phenomenon.
There are many different graphic organizers you can use to represent the information in a spatially ordered passage. You could draw whatever information is described in the passage.
Some signal words that might indicate that the writer or speaker is following the spatial pattern of organization include a wide sweeping array of prepositions, some of which I will now list: next to, behind, across from, below that, above that, to the right of and so forth.
Here is a simple spatial order worksheet if your students need more practice.
Here is a more complex series of worksheets on text structure for more advanced students.