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SWBAT analyze the illustrations to add meaning to their understanding of the characters, setting, and events in a text.

Big Idea

Teach students to make inferences about the characters, setting, and events in a text by looking at the illustrations.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

This lesson is designed to focus on the standard RL1.7, which is about analyzing how illustrations add meaning about the characters, setting, and events in a story. This skill allows students to gather a better understanding of the story and details, but it goes even beyond that. Evaluating and analyzing are key two ways of engaging students in higher order thinking, so the students engage in a deeper level of understanding of the text with this standard. In addition, this is one standard that really helps students prepare for college, which is one of the goals of the Common Core Standards. As the complexity of the standard increases students have to evaluate and analyze literature for meaning later in their school career, in college, or in a career.  We are beginning this and laying the foundation in the primary grades.

Lesson Overview

This specific lesson focuses on the students learning to describe the characters, setting, and events using illustrations. I selected Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble. These are complex text for my students and they will definitely create engagement. But, most of all the illustrations add a great deal of meaning to the characters, setting, and events.  They can emphasize character's emotions and lend meaning to events in ways that complement the text.  This is what I want the students to take away from the lesson.

The students work in small groups throughout this lesson. The groups are mixed based on the students oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS. I call one partner the peanut butter and one the jelly just to organize instructions about collaboration.  But the grouping allows students to work together to develop communication skills and engage in higher order thinking as they explain their reasoning to the partner.

Transitioning my students every twenty minutes is also part of the lesson's structure, as it seems to help me keeps them focused. So, we begin in the lounge, because it is a nice and close place.  This is where I assess their prior knowledge and what they remember about illustrations from the previous lessons.  Then the students move to the desks, which are in group seating, and engage in guided practice. Next, the class transitions to the center tables for the partner work. Last, the lesson reflection and closure is on the lounge. This is where the students present their work orally and evaluate each others work.

Introductory Activity

To activate my students' thinking, I project the lesson image on the Promethean board and tell the class that this is a picture of real cowgirls or cowboys.  Then, I ask them to discuss with their partner what the image tells about the characters, setting, or events.  I listen and then show the class the cover of the book, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, and ask them to discuss what you know about the characters, setting, and events in the text based on the cover. Last, I restate things I heard, and I add what I want them to know.

Next, I share with the class the lesson flow, what we are going to do.  Then we chant the lesson goal: I can analyze illustrations to add to my understanding the characters, setting, and events in a text.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Next, the class begins to analyze selected illustrations as I read aloud.  We analyze to help describe the character, setting, and events, and I frequently point out the deeper meaning that each illustration we look at adds to the text.  We don't analyze the illustrations for every single page. These are the pictures that we focus on: Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Picture 1Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Picture 2Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Picture 3Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Picture 4.

Basically, I have selected about four pages to analyze.  The students analyze each picture and discuss their analysis with their peanut butter jelly partner.  Then they share their ideas aloud. Next, the entire class will engage in discussion to determine the accuracy of the idea presented. Then, I will add the description to our chart (Board Work).

Students discuss their analysis with their partner and then we begin a class discussion.  Then I add the final idea.  We do this for each illustration.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Next, students work with their partner (Partner Talk) to analyze certain illustrations and the colors used in The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble. Rather than have them look at all the illustrations, I selected six illustrations for analysis because of our time limits (plus these specific illustrations allow for deep analysis): The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Picture 1, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Picture 2The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Picture 3The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Picture 4.  They use their time also to add a description to their Illustration Chart.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

Next the students begin to practice their, speaking, listening, and evaluation skills.  All of these are new to me as I try to implement the Common Core Standards, so I find that my students and I need a lot of support in this area.  To make sure this section goes well, I go over every single rule of speaking, listening, and evaluation. I say, "Speak loud, clear, and enunciate your words. Listen close and think about what the speaker is saying". The evaluation is challenging for me at times because I feel that my students struggle expressing themselves, and I don't want to tell them the answers.  Usually, I just keep asking questions until they get to the correct answer and I will just wait until they get their.  I may say, "Are you sure?" or "What do those colors mean?" or "Do you agree?"

So, I ask about three students to present their work.  Then we engage in a discussion about their work.  I have been very careful to set up my class environment so that evaluation never hurts any feelings.  I think it works because we remember to give positive feedback to every child in addition to areas they need to improve.


5 minutes

Now, the lesson is about over I need to assess what the students learned and I want to engage the entire class.  So, I ask the students to tell their partner one thing they learned about illustrations in the lesson. Hopefully, they learned colors can help determine the mood, and add to the description of the character and setting. Then I share some of their ideas.

Last, I share that we will do a few more lessons on this skill and move on. Then the students restate the lesson goal: I can analyze the illustrations and how they add meaning to the characters, setting, and events in the text.