Last year, I looped with my student (remained their teacher from one grade level to the next) for the first time. One of the most notable changes we made as a class was from reading texts with pictures to without pictures. Wow! What a change. As a teacher who looped with her students, I could see an instructional hole in my students’ reading comprehension: the prior year, they had relied almost solely on pictures to support their comprehension of texts.
The first time we read a text without pictures, I noticed that my students were unable to recall basic facts from the story, such as who was in the story or even one event that happened.
We were reading words, but we were not understanding. Where were the pictures!?
Feeling stuck but determined, we backtracked. We reread the story, only this time while holding a pencil and blank sheet of paper (later on, we began to use my Visualization Reading Grids.)
- A new character was introduced: STOP & DRAW.
- A character leaves: STOP & ERASE.
- Characters throw a ball: STOP & DRAW.
We went on STOPPING & DRAWING through the entire story. It was tedious, but worth it. At the end of the story, when asked the same comprehension questions, my students not only had a better understanding of the story, but also had self-made pictures to which they could reference if they were unsure.
As our reading group evolved, my students learned to draw what they read with independence. Students would use arrows to show movement (characters entering or exiting), add details, and be constantly cognizant of the setting & characters.
My students gradually relied on this tool less over time, however they remained eager to use this familiar and fun method.
- Main idea: Which idea is drawn in the most boxes?
- Sequencing: Teacher gives multiple events and students order them, then check based on their drawings. Students can actually write on their drawings “1”, “2”, “3” next to each event they find.
- Literal questions: Students can use the drawing to refer back to during literal question checks.
- Predictions: Have students flip the paper over and draw what will happen next!
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