Fridays at 10. It’s my standing appointment with a first grade class to work on one of their weekly skills using a new app every week. We’ve done Screen Chomp, Educreations, and more to work with skills like fluency and sequencing. Last week, their skill was visualization, so we used the Doodle Buddy app on our iPads, and some books from the library.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.7: Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
“When students listen to or read text, they can create pictures in their mind or make a mind movie. When readers visualize what is happening in the story, they remember more of what they read or hear. ” (The Daily 5 CAFE)
Before class, I went to the school library and found 5 books I figured they had never read (my sole criteria for determining this was that they looked OLD, and had those uniformly beige hardcovers). I made a makeshift book cover out of orange construction paper, so they couldn’t see any part of the book. I then read a page or two from a story, then gave them about three or four minutes to draw what they were visualizing. At the end of the time, they held them up for me to see, then had another minute to show each other. Finally, I took off the orange construction paper and showed them how the illustrator had visualized it.
We started with an edition of The Princess and the Pea where the characters were illustrated as animals (all the kids’ illustrations were stick people), read a couple pages of The Goggles by Ezra Jack Keats (the kids all drew their goggles in black, while Keats did his in yellow), and the first two pages of Big Al by Andrew Clements Yoshi (describing a very nice but scary-looking fish named Al). We finished with the beautifully illustrated book called Crossing by Philip Booth. In this book of rhyming train terms, our suburban kids had no idea what any of it meant without seeing pictures. I started in the middle:
“Fifty-nine, sixty, / hoppers of coke, / Anaconda copper, / hotbox smoke.”
The results on the iPads were the best of the day. There was more variety than with any other story, and the fact that they all drew automobiles rather than trains led to a discussion (well, a pointing out – this is first grade after all) that they drew auto cars because that’s what they know (the teacher even used the word ‘schema’!). In reflection, the classroom teacher and I decided that the more nonsensical the text, the more imaginative the visualizations.
I would suggest everyone try this 45-minute activity with some of your lit picks, and let us know how it goes!