What is the strategy "Picture Books and Illustrator Studies"?

"Picture Books and Illustrator Studies" is a strategy that fosters visual literacy through a process of guided viewing. The teacher selects a variety of picture books, and through guided discussion, develops awareness of visual elements, effects, and meanings. This includes illustrators' styles, various kinds of artwork, and details. Students develop awareness of meaning, not just through the content described in the images, but through the compositional aspects of the images themselves. As children develop awareness of the language of images, they better appreciate the written language that accompanies it. Students have the opportunities to identify stylistic differences and similarities, and seek out these meaning patterns in other books by the same, and different illustrators.
(Please note: In How do I do it?, terms and suggestions are offered to help you structure your guided discussion, based upon the needs of your students and the content in selected picture books and illustrations.)

What is the purpose of "Picture Books and Illustrator Studies" as an instructional strategy?

By viewing picture books and engaging in illustrator studies, students develop an awareness of visual text, and identify the expressive elements in visual texts. Students become aware of how visual elements are used by illustrators to result in great expressive ranges and numerous potentials. Students, when viewing and reading books, develop awareness of connections between visual texts and accompanying written texts. The teacher models, through guided discussion and questions, the process of critical, guided viewing, and students are led to examine elements in visual texts. As students read various books by authors, they have opportunities to practice, transfer, and extend the process of critical viewing to other illustrations and books, and to other visual material.

How do I do it?

Sample Lesson Planning Guide for Viewing (ELA Curriculum, 2002)

Before Instruction:

  1. Consider the developmental stage of the students. What do they already know and do as viewers? What do they not know or do as viewers? What is their background knowledge?
  2. Based on knowledge of the students, and skills they need to develop, what criteria and guidelines will help students focus their learning? What key information or concepts do students need to know to fully participate in this activity? ? What mini-lesson(s) might be needed for students to prepare for this activity?
  3. Clearly identify the task; and select, read and pre-review the key resources. What is the task? (For example, do you want the students to focus on one key page or image, or all the images in a book? Will students focus on colour, shape, or texture?) What strategies will students need to use to participate in a meaningful, purposeful way? What supports should be offered to students throughout the process? What guiding questions would direct, re-focus, and support children through this process?

During Instruction:

  1. State the purpose so students pay attention to the images as you read the book aloud. Identify viewing targets before reading the book. You may wish to post them to reinforce them and orient students to view for particular purposes. Ideas for viewing targets are listed below.

Suggested Terms

Style: realistic (depicts life closely, as a photograph)
  representational (uses stylized images to stand for characters and story elements)

Visual Elements: line (straight, curvy, diagonal, repeated-- patterns)
  shape (curved or straight-edged, repeated-- patterns)
  colour (hue, tint, shade, combinations, intensity)
  textures (soft, hard, sharp, etc.)
  scale (the size of images, and of particular shapes within the image)
  composition (foreground, background -- How are the pieces related?)
  medium (What materials and techniques were used to produce the image?)

Visual Effects: What mood is created in this/these image (s)?
  What elements produced these effects? (Find proof in the images)
  Which elements work together?
  What elements did this illustrator predominantly use?
  What aspects are unique to this illustrator?
  1. Find examples of viewing targets before reading the story. Discuss the style, the elements, and the effects achieved by the visual elements.
  2. Identify the author's written content, use of language, textual form (rhyme, poetry, patterned language, narrative, expository, etc.), literary devices (i.e. alliteration, simile, metaphor, etc.), aspects of plot, characters and setting. Which aspects define this writing style
  3. Intertextual Links:
    Discuss how the words mesh with the images. You may choose to re-read the book, or re-read and re-view key pages to clarify understandings.

Key Questions to Summarize:

What are the major attributes of the visual text? (Main idea?)
What are the major attributes of the written text? (Main idea?)
What does the visual text contain that is not present in the written text?
What does the written text contain that is not present in the visual text?
What aspects correlate, are similar or overlap between the written and visual texts? How do the two meaning systems work together?
What aspects differ greatly between written and visual texts?
What is the combined effect of the visual and written texts?

(Option: Consider the alignment of visual and written texts in different genre-- for example, fiction versus non-fiction material.)

After Instruction:
Extensions:

Offer students opportunities to read and view other works by the same (or different) illustrators. You may wish to post key terms that emerged during the lesson, to assist individual students to read and view independently. Offer a variety of viewing engagements in the classroom, both guided and independent. Invite students to bring other illustrated books that employ similar or different styles, and share them with the class.

How can I adapt it?

  1. Isolate and recombine visual and verbal aspects:
    a. Read a picture book to students without showing the images. Discuss the story. Re-read the story to students, the second time showing the images. How is the viewing different? What purpose did the images serve to the overall story? Relate the images to story elements like setting, characters, and plot.
    b. Look at a picture book and "read the images", making up your own story, or have students do it. Then, read the picture book, and discuss how the words worked together with the images.
  1. Vary the class groupings, moving from teacher directed viewing to individual viewing:
    a. View with the whole class, as a teacher guided activity-Direct Instruction.
    b. View as a cooperative group activity, with a student leader, and designated tasks for group members -Interactive Instruction.
    c. Pairs of students view a book, discuss, and use a sheet of guiding questions to respond to particular criteria-Interactive Instruction.
    d. Viewing may be used as part of a viewing or reading station-Indirect Instruction.
    e. Display illustrated books in the classroom, and offer a visually rich environment so students view daily-Indirect Instruction.
    f. Individuals may use viewing as part of a book study. Responses may vary from filling out a structured sheet to entering an unstructured response in a student journal-- Independent Learning.

How can I extend the viewing process and encourage students to apply, build, and transform this knowledge?

  1. Extending Knowledge:
    How does this process apply to another book? How does this process work with another kind of "still visual", for example, a poster that combines printing and images? How does the viewing process apply to another kind of visual text, like an animated TV commercial or video?
  2. Transforming Knowledge:
    Students may apply, shape, and create their own knowledge through exploring representational forms: i.e., writing and illustrating a book, making a slide-tape, making a poster, building a story-board, filming a video, etc. See the strand, "Representing". (ELA Curriculum, 2002)

Assessment and Evaluation Considerations

  1. See "Assessment Strategies for Viewing" (ELA Curriculum, 2002)

* Sample Emerging/Early Developing Phase Viewing Checklist and Rating Scale
* Sample Developing Phase Viewing Checklist and Rating Scale
* Sample Viewing Self-assessment
* Sample Assessments for Viewing Visual Texts
* Sample Emerging/Early Developing Phase Representing Cumulative Record

  1. Teacher/student structured rubrics, since students learn how to structure their learning by setting their own criteria.
  2. Student responses in learning journal, like: "I learned that…"; or a description of the viewing process, like: "To view, you first…, then you ". Journal responses may be re-telling, or can include responses that require complex skills of comparison, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Teacher Resources

 


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