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Reading Without Words
At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to preview stories using illustrations as a guide.
- Call students together.
- Begin by showing students the cover of a book that the class has already read together. (For example, Where the Wild Things Are).
- Ask students to talk about what they see on the cover. (For a book like Where the Wild Things Are, students should hopefully mention Max or the Wild Things.)
- Then, open up the book and show the students the different pictures. Slowly flip through the book from beginning to end, allowing students to tell about what they see and what is happening in the pictures on each page.
- At the end of the book, point out to students that they have just told the whole story without reading any of the words. They only used the illustrations or pictures. Isn’t that amazing?
Explicit instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Next, take out a book that the students have not read together as a class. Show the students the cover, and ask them what they see.
- Slowly flip through the book, giving students ample time to observe the illustrations, comment on details they notice, and explain what they believe is happening in the story. Student attention may need to be directed to look at the facial expressions on characters’ faces. Students may also need to be prompted to think about how the story evolved from one picture to the next.
- After students have finished going through all the pictures, ask them if they believe they know what happens in the story. Do they have any questions they would like to find out by reading the story? If students seem confused or to be questioning anything, this can be a good time to go back and reexamine pictures.
- Finally, read the story to the students. Ask them to think about whether or not their predictions were right. Did they figure out what was going to happen in the story? Did their questions get answered?
- Explain to students that what they just did was go on a picture walk. This is called a picture walk, because they walked through the story looking at all the illustrations or pictures. Ask students to think about reasons why a picture walk might be useful to do. (If necessary, prompt students to think about the usefulness of this in making predictions, figuring out words they do not know, and even deciding if they would like to read a book.)
Guided practice/Interactive modeling(5 minutes)
- As a class or in small groups, have students brainstorm a list of questions or things they should look for when going on a picture walk. Prompt students to think about Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? when they are going on their picture walks. Encourage students to think about ways they can draw on their own personal experiences and knowledge as they look at the pictures.
- Break students up into partners or small groups. Each group should be assigned or choose a book to go on a picture walk with. Every group can use the same book or groups can use different books.
- Before sending students out to go on their picture walks, remind them of any applicable class rules, ask if there are any questions, and stress that the goal is not just to figure out the story, but also to think of questions they may want to have answered when reading the story.
Independent working time(15 minutes)
- Students should work in partners or small groups to go on their own picture walks through appropriate teacher selected stories. As students are working, any adults in the room should be circulating, answering questions, encouraging students, and keeping groups on track.
- Support: The use of mixed-ability groupings will help to scaffold this activity for many students who may need a little extra support. For English Language Learners, providing stories in their native language can provide familiarity even if the illustrations are the focus of this lesson.
- Enrichment: For students needing a greater challenge, encourage students to spend more time thinking about emotions characters may be feeling and drawing connections to their own lives as they complete the picture walk. Students can also be encouraged to illustrate their own book for others to take a picture walk through.
- An informal assessment about student understanding and engagement can be done during group discussions. Adults should look to see if students are actively engaged in the picture walk process and not allowing only one partner to do all the work.
- A formal assessment can be done by seeing if students can perform a picture walk through a book they have never read before. Care should be taken to see if students carefully observe objects and people in the book’s illustrations.
Review and closing(10 minutes)
- Call students back together.
- Ask students to think about their picture walks: What is one small detail they noticed in a picture? How did they figure out what a character might be feeling? Did looking at the pictures in the story make them want to read the story more or less? Did any of the partners disagree about what might be happening in a picture?
- Once students have had a chance to share, remind everyone about the important role illustrations have in providing a visual of the important moments in a story. Encourage students to go on a picture walk when choosing books out of the library or deciding what they might like to read. Remind students that one way to figure out a word they may not know how to read is by looking at the pictures in the book.