I currently teach Literature Circles lessons to two Year 6 classes each week, generally my favourite part of the week, when we can immerse ourselves in reading together! One of the greatest challenges in a multi-lingual, multi-level classroom is managing student groups to ensure everyone is understanding what they are reading and moving beyond this to actually questioning that understanding.
In order to address this, recently I developed some lessons to support students in deepening their understanding and engage them further in the role of Imaginative Illustrator as part of our Literature Circles. This role is often a student favourite, essentially there is a belief that it is the easiest! Draw a picture and talk about it. Seems simple, right? I decided to challenge this assumption and encourage students to reflect and use their critical thinking skills at a much higher level.
We discussed visualisation and ‘making a movie in your mind’ as the strategy that most students use to help support them in this role. I then introduced 3 further strategies that might help to develop this further:
1. Envision maps
Essentially this means having some paper handy so that the reader can doodle or note words that are significant for them whilst reading.
2. Post it
The reader uses post-it notes to mark pages in the book or a ‘golden line’ a powerful sentence that inspires the reader.
3. Image pin it
This can be done in a variety of ways, essentially using visual images to make a collage which reflects the reader’s understanding of the text. For example, using magazines and printed images to make a collage or perhaps digitally, using the app Pic Collage.
As a class, we practised applying these strategies by listening to different story extracts in order to practise together. Here are some examples of student application of the strategies.
Students embraced these strategies and continue to experiment with them in order to discover which are the best fit for each of them Individually. Recording what they were actively thinking as they were reading, and preparing ideas before they actually completed their illustrator role students were much more capable in summarising what had happened in the story; demonstrating greater skill in considering character, plot and setting in more detail. Using these tools has enriched their ability to connect with a story and produce more thoughtful and meaningful illustrations.