After reading some of the students envisioning post-its I decided to zoom in and do an activity somewhat based on Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). My school staff has been trained in a three year long program using Visual Thinking Strategies through a collaboration with the Frye Museum. The cool thing about this video is some of the students highlighted are now my 5th graders! They have been using VTS for six years. They are very familiar with VTS and it is a great way to help students process and share their thinking and give evidence about a variety of media.
I wanted to activate their VTS and ask students to infer what was going on in a text by connecting to the emotional aspects of a passage.
I knew I needed to be explicit about this because what the students are writing on their post-its tend to be a retelling a sequence of events rather than picturing what was happening as if they were there in the scene with the character. I want my students to go deeper into the lives of the characters and really connect emotionally. "I want my student to "walk in the shoes of the character". I want my students to connect with their characters by feeling their thoughts, feelings and motivations.
To develop envisioning, (movie making) inferring and empathy I thought of the phrase "Walking in someone else's shoes". This learning activity was created to use concrete pictures to stimulate the students imagination and inferencing skills. I will show the picture, then ask students to verbally cite evidence from the picture to justify their thinking using the VTS strategies. Students can agree, add on, disagree, and revise their thinking after hearing other people's thinking and evidence.
I will bring student to the rug with their books and response notebooks that have their post-its in them. I will say," Students you have been working on picturing what is happening in your books and thinking about your characters. The way writers convey information about their characters is through events, details, and dialogue. This helps you see the story just like a real movie- To make your movie come alive you have to use your imagination and background knowledge. You have to activate your schema. Most of the time, writers do not come right out and say something. Instead you have to make a picture in your mind see, hear and feel what is happening. This is called making an inference based on your mental movie.
Today to help you with making inferences based on your feelings, I'm going to show you a picture then you and your partner will talk about it. Then I will call on partnerships to share their thinking about the picture and tell us what you see that makes you say that. Show slide show. Discuss.
Demo using mentor text to apply the envisioning with empathy skills to a passage.
"Students, I am going to project and read page 12 from Hound Dog True. I am going to demonstrate how I envision using my emotions to help me feel what the character is experiencing. Readers empathize with the character and feel their emotions because it makes the book more enjoyable because we can learn from the experiences our book characters have. Have you ever felt that? Turn and talk".
I will read page 12 aloud to students. Then I will go back and discuss how my background knowledge and feelings help me connect to Mattie and to what is happening on the page.
Say, "Students, you heard my thinking about page 12 in Hound Dog True. Here is an example of how I would make a couple of post-its to envision the scene on the page using my background knowledge of feelings. Talk through example with the students.
Student now it's your turn to try out envisioning with empathy. Open up your reading response notebook and pick a post-it you have written this week. Find one that you can add the characters feelings to the scene. It ok to use your background knowledge about how the character is probably feeling because you have felt that way too.
Take a couple minutes to read your post-it and then revise it in your head based on what your imagining and inferring. wait..wait...
Now tell about your post-it so your partner can really understand and feel what was going on in the scene,too.
Listen in, have two partnerships share what the other person said.
Students, today when you are reading I want you to write post-its that capture what was going on and how the characters were feeling and how you know.
Envisioning is such an important comprehension skill. Randy Bomer, reading and writing expert says, " The text is describing a picture to you as a reader. If you don't see the picture, your not understanding the text."
For the next few days, I will check in with strategy groups on the skill of envisioning with feelings. Here is an example of one student's post-its.