Sketch to Stretch Your Thinking

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SWBAT: use visualization as a comprehension strategy as they read independently.

Big Idea

I pull this lesson out on figurative rainy days--when my kids have been working really hard, when we're all a little burned out. I mean, who doesn't like a little doodling?

Guiding Question

5 minutes

In my district we use thinking strategies. Here is a more detailed summary of these strategies. For this lesson I'm concentrating on visualizing. Our district begins these strategies as early as Kindergarten, so when I'm using them it's serving as a review--though I am using them with more complex and sophisticated texts. I use them individually at first, only concentrating on one, and by the end of the year we are synthesizing them all t become metacognitive readers.

The Guiding Question asks why visualizing is important.


15 minutes

The mini-lesson is a classic example of a teacher think aloud. As I'm reading from our class Anchor Text, Ninth Ward, I'm bringing to the surface any time that I can visualize. I tell the kids that visualizing isn't just something that you can see (like a movie playing in your hear), but it can be something that connects to any of your senses. In Ninth Ward, there was real opportunity to connect to my experiences when I visited New Orleans, and I share these.

For example, Jewel Parker Rhodes talks about the way the city smells--a mixture of ocean, river, and humidity. I talk about what a unique smell this is, the ocean smell mixed with a river smell (something my kids can connect to since we live on the Ohio River), and the fact that being below sea level there isn't much of an opportunity for these smells to escape. This is visualization, using senses to get a better understanding of the narrative.

Here's how this sounds as I read aloud:

Work Time

20 minutes

For their work time, I want kids to practice transferring using visualization with a text of their choice. No matter what they are reading, there is an opportunity for visualizing. As they read, I ask that they fill out a Sketch to Stretch sheet. I give them the option of either drawing an entire scene, or a series of sketches bases on each time they were able to visualize. Most go for the whole scene. I tell them that this isn't art class, and that they aren't going to be penalized for imperfect drawing abilities--they just need to get their image on paper as it comes to them.

I've also included a Sketch to Stretch Rubric that I don't use often. To be honest, it was created for the National Board process. I prefer to keep this process "Kumbaya," or organic, and just give credit for effort.

During this time, I'm conferring with kids and having them read out loud to me. When they are finished (after a couple of minutes), I ask where they were able to visualize--I actually have them point to the passage where they did.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

For their Wrap Up, I ask that they use one of the Reflection stems, so that I can see if I need to follow up with their visualization. Most of the students say things like, "I didn't know that I was able to visualize so much in my text," or "I learned that visualizing is more than just seeing."