Imagery in literature is a wonderful gift to the reader. Books wouldn't be the same without the words that help us "visualize and feel" as we read, and I want students to detect the words that bring those images. The excerpt I'm focusing on today includes pictures, but this shouldn't be confused with identifying imagery and the evidence that supports it. One of my kids brought this up as an interesting point, "Why are you letting us use a book with pictures if we're supposed to imagine them?" Imagery simply adds depth and understanding to the author's work, pictures or not. In this story, the main character is sight impaired, and I want my students to relate this to using all of their senses as they search for examples of imagery in the text.
We are reading, "Mom's Best Friend" in our Houghton Mifflin reading book today. (Mom's Best Friend book excerpt). To start the lesson, I go over the vocabulary in this creative non-fiction text. Creative non-fiction is a category of non-fiction that tells a true story by communicating non-fiction text to the reader that's shaped to read a bit like fiction. They will be reading independently, and I want to be certain no one glosses over the somewhat challenging words.
After answering questions about the vocabulary words and writing out 3x5 cards, we discuss the use of imagery in literature, such as the lesson they had in our Island of the Blue Dophins lit study at the beginning of the year. I ask, "Can you find imagery in a creative non-fiction text?" Affirmative responses all around, and we're ready to look. I explain that they'll be reading a text about a blind women and her seeing eye dog then ask, "How do you think imagery will fit into this story?" Almost immediately a child answers, "She needs all of her senses to see, so there will be a lot of it." Bingo- great answer. I pass the Imagery Graphic Organizer out and instruct them to jot down notes about the imagery of the five senses they encounter as they read.
The students read, "Mom's Best Friend," and take notes on imagery and of any unspecified vocabulary words they come across. (Reading and taking note of imagery) Taking these notes is important because they must focus on what they're reading- not skim. They read independently and grumbled about this at first. This class likes reading together in pairs or as a large group more than some I've had in the past, but it's important to devote days to independent reading of the text as well. Here are students reading, looking for imagery, and creating art This focuses them each on the task and they must concentrate on reading rather than relying on listening to others read. We also come back together as a large group and share what was discovered on the Smart Board.
Reading, and in this case, looking out for the imagery, is a little like taking notes during a documentary. It distracts from the enjoyment somewhat, but ultimately becomes routine and isn't a big deal. They seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding at least one example for each of the Five Senses, although a few told me they got into the story and ended up missing some of the obvious examples. Getting too into the story? Good thing!
Once they finish, they reflect on all five of the senses and create an Imagery Chart with thoughts about that sense. Kids who aren't affected by difficulties encountered by the absence of a sense can't imagine what life would be like, but a little reflection is a good thing.
After they read the textbook, they're determining main points and writing down how the author uses reasons and evidence to support those points in the text. They're provided this worksheet for notetaking, Supporting Main Ideas with Evidence. RI.5.8 is an important standard that highlights the need for locating evidence. Often kids write down answers because they "seem" correct. This activity doesn't allow for it because they must back up what they've written.
They summarize at least four main ideas and identify the evidence which supports that main idea along with the page number.