What do Photographs and Captions Tell Us About the Story? Day 1 of 2

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to analyze text features in an informational text.

Big Idea

Authors use photos and captions in a the story to draw attention to important details. Today, my students look for the big idea(s) the author wants us to remember.


7 minutes

Context and Overview:

Rereading with purpose is a very powerful strategy that aids comprehension. Today, I am going back and rereading the first part of Stirring Up Memories, by Pam Munoz Ryan, title, "Growing Up." As we read I will be asking text dependent questions. This time the goal of these questions is to take the reader deeper into the comprehension of the autobiography through understanding the structure of the story. The way I am doing this is by focusing on the information the photos and captions carry. Students need to identify text features and be savvy about their role in stories.

Before we dive into the reading, I am giving the students time to read this section silently.

Then, we are rereading with text dependent questions.

After that, I am gathering the students on the rug for Socratic Seminar.

Finally, the students will have the opportunity to write about what is important for the writer given the photos and the captions.

Opening Activity:

From the rug, I share the objective with students: "I can ask and answer questions to analyze how the photos and captions help to better understand the story."

We read it chorally, then proceed with the next question, "What are text features?"

I wait for them to think about the question, and then I let a few share.

Next, I review the text features: photographs, illustrations, and captions. By reviewing I am helping them focus on what we are going to do today.

Rereading Silently the Section: Growing Up

10 minutes

My students come to my classroom with limited literacy experiences. That is why I take the time to give them many reading experiences throughout the day.

Now, I am asking them to read quietly to themselves. Students at this age need to learn how to read silently for sustained amounts of time. This is good practice. As they reread, I walk around to make sure they are indeed reading.

I tell them I pay attention to their body language and how their eyes and fingers are tracking the reading. I make sure to praise their reading behavior.

Rereading "Growing Up," with Text Dependent Questions

20 minutes

Now that the students have finished reading on their own, it is time to reread the section with text dependent questions. These questions differ from the questions we went through during our first read of this selection in a previous lesson. These questions mostly start with how and why. Why? These questions take the reader deeper. The second read is about helping them understand the structure of the story. So the focus of the questions is about how the author uses the photos and the captions and/or maps, and illustrations to tell her autobiography.

I want the students to understand this higher perspective and by repeating the question, how does the author use the photos and captions to tell her story, it is my goal to help them understand the intentional use by the author to convey meaning. In other words, in this second read, I am helping my students have a conversation with the author about the way these text features are used. For example, one students demonstrates knowledge of how captions. In this way, the author becomes a real entity instead of an unknown or foreign subject. I am helping my students question the author.

To help my students provide evidence in communicating their ideas, I am following up with, "How do you know?" after the questions.

In working with English Language Learners, repetition is important to help develop language and conceptual understanding of the story. That is why I keep asking them the questions:

•How do they (text features) help you to understand the story better?

•Why do you think the author chose to use these text features?

I am asking my students to explain, which is a more challenging task. The hows and whys usually trip my students up. What did I do to help them explain and go deeper? I asked other questions that served as a bridge from the concrete to the abstract. For example, on one of the pages the author shows a photo of her grandmother holding her when the author was a baby.

I asked my students, what is happening in the photo? Who is in the photo? I waited for their answers and I followed up with, how do you know that is her grandmother? Some students raised their hands to say it was her grandmother. I asked, what did you do to figure that out? In asking this question my goal was to get my students to answer that they had to read the caption to figure it out. 

Then, I asked my students, if there was no caption underneath the photo, how would we know who this person is? (I repeated the question with the other photos: how would we know what this photo was about if there was no caption to go with it?)

In doing this, I helped my students see the importance of the caption and how it provided additional and important information to the story. There is enough information in the story to infer this person is her grandmother, but I explained to the students that in providing the caption, the author doesn't us want us to guess. The author makes it clear and helps us readers understand this is an important detail in the story. She wants us to pay attention to it.

Additionally, I asked, the author never says she loves her grandmother, but she shows us that she loves her grandmother, how does this photo show that? What does the photo tell us that the text does not? And this question takes me back to the above questions listed above.

I was guiding my students in communicating that the author uses photos of her grandmother because she wants us to know how much she loved her grandmother and much her grandmother influenced her cooking--not in those precise words, but understanding the importance of this person in the author's life.

In teaching text features and guiding students with questions to analyze them, it is important to keep in mind the reason as to why author has chosen to use them in the first place. This is one of the reasons it is imperative to read the story before teaching it. And, to understand how the different layers of meaning in this text make it a complex one.

Socratic Seminar

10 minutes

Authors of informational texts tell us what is important to them through through photos, captions, and other text features. I want to help the students glean the important information in the text from the text features.

That is why for Socratic Seminar, we are discussing the following question: "Given the text features, the photos, captions, maps, and others, what is important to the author?"

It is a question that takes the students back into the text. That is the goal.

I throw out the question to the group, only after we have reviewed the reason for Socratic Seminar, and the rules for participation.

To share with each other their ideas, students must hand off. Handing off means, letting someone else share their thoughts. When someone is ready for someone else to speak, they simply state, "I hand off to _________." This keeps going until no one else wants to share or until the time is up.

Sometimes before they share with the whole group, I give them a moment to share in pairs. It is another way I make sure I engage all my students.

I have posted both charts my students need for Socratic Seminar. They are quite visible to my students. 

I also have attached a Socratic Seminar Rules document that fully details how I implement Socratic Seminar in my classroom.


15 minutes

Now students take the time to integrate their learning in writing. My students have had the chance to read, speak/discuss ideas, and now they are using their thinking and reading skills again to write. I support students in different ways. I give them help with spelling words, encouragement to begin and keep going, direction to staying on task, and anything else that comes up. Here are examples of their writing:

Her Memories Are Important

Question To Answer

She is Smiling Much

She Likes to Have Fun

She Likes To Have Fun With her Friends

Sharing With the Whole Group

5 minutes

When students share their work with others, I make sure I show my enthusiasm for their sharing. Students' effort needs to be validated in different ways. Having them be in front of their peers and read their work is definitely one way. And my students know that in sharing they will be given feedback about what they wrote. I make sure to make this time a celebratory experience, in which the speakers can listen and take in both praise and critique.

Here are the two speakers for today:



How do my students praise and critique one another? I give them a specific structure to work within:

  • Two stars: Two students share two specific ways about what they liked in the writing.
  • A Wish: Another student states a specific way in which the writing can improve.

This time is a closing time, too. I make sure to close the lesson by reviewing whether we accomplished our objective or not.