Targeted to students in Grade 4, but able to be modified to accommodate students in Grades 2, 3, and 5, "A Picture is Worth . . . A Thousand Different Stories"
will help young learners examine the importance of visual media in aiding their understanding of what they are reading. By thinking of pictures or images as a support to be used to better understand what is being read, I will encourage my students' development of the strategies and skills that will allow them to increase their understanding of the symbiotic nature of words and images. This curriculum unit will examine the different types of picture books available and delve into why one picture book type may be preferable to another type depending on the skill a teacher is trying to teach. This unit will also aim to give teachers an understanding of how different types of media can be useful in developing reading skills for students.
This unit will help teachers make informed choices not only in regards to subject matter but also on the basis of how the pictures or images and text or lack of text interact. By choosing an effective book, teachers will enable their students to enhance their reading skills in areas such as foreshadowing, predicting, inferencing, sequencing, and determining the theme. This unit will equip teachers with model lessons for each of these skills and a list of books that teachers can choose from to integrate into their curriculum not only in their language arts instruction but also in science and social studies.
In order to engage my students with visual stimuli, one effective strategy that I have used in the past has been bringing them to an art museum. At first students start naming just what they see in a painting, but little by little while listening to each other and building off what others say, a story begins to emerge. When my students were at the Yale Center for British Art, they were asked to look at a painting. "What do you see?" is what they were asked. First the students listed each item and figure they saw in the painting. "I see a woman." "I see a boy." "I see water." The question "what do you see?" was asked over and over. After there were no more things or objects to name, the students started "seeing a story." "I think the lady that the boy is talking to is his mom." "Maybe he's telling her about what he saw when he was by the water." It was such an interesting transformation that I was seeing happen. When given some background about the painting, the story that they "saw" changed somewhat to make more sense in the context. It was then that I began to wonder how I could develop this skill for my students so that they could deepen their comprehension. At first look, I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of picture books; and although I tried to choose carefully, I really looked only at the subject matter when choosing a book to include in my lessons. After research on the topic of picture books, I realized that it is important that teachers make more informed and thoughtful decisions about the books they use as supplements to their curriculum.
"There is a growing body of evidence pointing to the positive effect of visual arts on reading and writing performance."
I believe the unit that I have developed will enable teachers to engage their students so that they will continue to use the acquired skills in years to come in all disciplines in order to extend and deepen their understanding. By bringing picture books back to the classroom, I look to create excitement for the students as well as the educators.