Wordless picture books provide a rich visual landscape that uncovers student thinking. The two-fold purpose of this instructional activity is to build students’ awareness of story embedded in various picture styles, and to use these stories to build the capacity of voice in their interpretations.
Writing Skill 7: I use my personal style to make my writing unique.
(1) Introduce the book’s title and cover picture, and invite students to make predictions about content from the title.
(2) “Chunk” the text to provide a number of stopping points when students can talk and reflect on possible words that could tell the story presented in the illustrations of the book.
(3) Hold the book so it faces students, and explain they will have to provide detailed descriptions of the pictures, since you cannot see the illustrations.
(4) Think, notice, wonder, see and feel with your students as they contribute words for the story. Ask probing questions to draw students’ attention to details in the illustrations. Explain that knowing as many details about the illustrations as possible helps you choose which words you will use to retell the story.
(5) At pre-selected chunking spots, retell the story as you understand it from the students’ clues. Demonstrate matching your voice to the narrative.
(6) After reaching the end of the book, reflect on the process as well as the language/voice you used to tell the story.
(7) Variation #1: Present a beginning and end picture, and have students create the story in the middle. Or present the story in its entirety and have students attach a title.
(8) Variation #2: Introduce speech balloons and/or thought bubbles to add captions and thoughts to an image that includes characters and implies talking and thinking.
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