Illustrations ‘stick’ to the text and support the ideas

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SWBAT identify and use illustrations and informational text features to add to the meaning of text.

Big Idea

Highlight illustrations that 'stick' to the text and help us understand better!



  • North American Indians by Marie and Douglas Gorsline (you could use a text about any history topic from a social studies book – I chose this text because the illustrations support the text and this topic because we are studying this in social studies)
  • Colored highligher tape or post it strips 
  • 'Native American groups' powerpoint
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: illustrations, text features, informational text, (names of text features in the text you are using – preview before you teach the lesson)
  • 'Support the Text' worksheet
  • Set up the whiteboard with the organizer from the worksheet


This text is older and still uses some of the words that we consider to be insensitive today (Indians, tribes).  I think its important for students to hear these words with an explanation of why we have changed the terms to something more sensitive to today's population. (Native Americans, group)

Let's Get Excited!

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Bring students to a common learning point

  • Watch the video on Native Americans to build background knowledge and develop interest.
  • Add any vocabulary to the whiteboard that is pertinent to your unit (tepee, feathers, longhouse. Here's how I highlight these words in this focus on vocabulary video.
  • Ask students what they thought about the Native American groups in the movie... "Did all the pictures of Native Americans look the same? What was different? What did you learn?"


I chose to watch a Native American video to bring in students' background knowledge. The music and images are very powerful on this video and give students a feeling for the time in history. There is some academic vocabulary introduced on this video that I'll use in the lesson, as well. The students always enjoy watching a video to get them to the same starting place in learning.

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Show the Powerpoint (slides 1-7):

  • As the class looks at the Native American pictures, I lead a discussion to compare and contrast the pictures.
  • I ask questions like, “Why do you notice? ...  How are these groups different? … Why do you think they look so different?” … You can watch a short clip of me talking in the ‘discussion of powerpoint


Read Aloud: Before Reading

  • I use the book Native American Indians by Marie and Douglas Gorsline to model using text features that help me understand the book; you can use any book that is thematically related and has rich examples of text features.
  • I start by showing the cover and asking, “How do we know this is informational text?”
  • Then I talk about using informational text features to understand this text better and support ideas in the text
  • As I do this, I show informational text features' (#1-4) to scaffold visually for my students.


Read Aloud: During Reading

  • I read the intro to the book with and without illustrations/text features to contrast how comprehension is more difficult without these features to help us. I say something like, “The illustrations and text in a good book support each other  - the illustrations ‘stick’ to the text.”
  • Then I put the ‘sticky’ highlighter tape on words supported by the illustrations:
  • Here are some examples of what I say as I do this:
    • “I can see the map that helps me understand the words ‘migrating East, roam over North America’. I’ll highlight those.
    • “The idea of ‘moving westward’ is easier to understand when I look at the map.” (add highlighter tape)
    • “The pictures of the Native Americans clarify the idea of the text that says ‘different places and many cultures’. (more highlighter tape)


Read Aloud: After Reading

  • I summarize: “The illustrations really do support the text – they help me understand the information better.”
  • I write the highlighted text on the whiteboard
  • I create an illustration that supports that text (Make sure to talk about adding details to the illustration that make the wording more understandable – see teacher sample in resources)


There is a shift in ELA Common Core Standards toward the student's use of images to contribute and clarify text and to support understanding. (RI.2.7) They should be able to integrate and evaluate content presented visually and add the information gained to their learning. The use of informational text, as in the Native American focus of this lesson, also allows for students to acquire and utilize academic vocabulary and build a foundation of knowledge  to be better readers in all content areas.

Students Take a Turn

15 minutes

Explain the task

  • "You will get three pieces of highlighter tape to use. I want you to come up and take turns choosing informational text features."


I will be focusing on these informational text features throughout the year. Students are expected to know and use these features (captions, bold print, glossaries, indexes, etc) to locate key facts or information in text efficiently. (RI.2.5) By analyzing the structure of texts, including how the features relate to each one rand the whole, I am encouraging students to draw on their own abilities to discover answers for themselves instead of relying on the teacher to supply the facts.


Students work

  • I read a page and show the illustrations. Students come up and take turns putting highlighter tape on the informational text.
  • I list the ideas on the board for illustrations (Make sure the ideas are ‘meaty’ enough to make a drawing to clarify and are differentiable from each other and add some target vocabulary from the board that you’ve identified)
  • Students choose an idea and fill out a worksheet
  • They draw an image that supports the idea. Here's a few examples of my students illustrations. student artifact 1 and student artifact 2


If you have a class set of history books or are using social studies text, then have the students use their own highlighter tape, although I prefer to do this as a class so we get really good examples, I can demonstrate how to ‘think aloud’ about the process, and I make sure the illustrations really do support the text.

Apply What You've Learned!

15 minutes

Share the ideas

  • "Who wants to share their illustrations?  Can you explain how they support the text/help that you read?" See how one of my students explained her ideas.
  • Add comments to the discussion – "That map really helped your see where the Indians went” or “The longhouse has lots of holes in the illustration – Does the text say why?”
  • Support the students as they share. Help them use the vocabulary. If they have a variety of text ideas and illustrations to share, you have now taught a social studies lesson! – That’s why I love teaching informational text!)


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

For students with limited academic ability, they may need support with identifying text to highlight and with illustrating. I prompted them with a suggestion when they came up (“It says that ‘they lived in long houses made of poles..’ Is there a picture of the those houses here?”)

For students with greater academic ability, I would challenge them with one or two more difficult text examples to other ideas that they heard. Possibly reread a page with more difficult text and have them write their own ideas.