Strategy 12: Draw It!

(after reading)

Readers are constantly creating images in their heads of the actions and characters in a story.
Good readers even create mental images when they read textbooks or other informational material. A physics chapter on collisions can easily be represented by a baseball bat hitting a ball; a math lesson on congruent triangles can be more easily understood and remembered when students make their own drawings. Either of these examples might involve a sequence of drawings, showing how one triangle can be rotated to fit over another, or how the direction and speed of the ball changes when it's hit by the bat.

There's a great example in the handouts from Daniels and Zemelman, Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading, p. 121. It shows a student's understanding of positive and negative numbers in a very easy-to-use model. Other examples come from our workshops using this Reading Toolkit - we ask teachers to draw posters that represent what they read in the Cris Tovani chapter (Strategy 1, Inner Voice). Here are two examples of actual teacher work. Tovani poster 1 Tovani Poster 2 Tovani Poster 3 Tovani poster 4

This is an especially effective strategy for the budding artists in your classes, so let students be creative when they draw to represent what they've read. You'll be surprised at how their understanding is expanded by their drawings. Plus, it's a fun change of pace for students from doing a lot of writing. You might even encourage some students to draw a short storyboard to convey the images they see in their head while reading, or even to produce a graphic novel. (See Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom,

Assignment: Try this with students, then either 1) write some suggestions for how to make this work well in the classroom (in the discussion tab for this page) or 2) submit an example of student's work that you particularly like (send a copy of it to the course instructor by mail, or scan it and send it as an email attachment.)