literacy has practical uses across the curriculum.
science, technology, social studies, health and nutrition, history and
geography, mathematics, arts and crafts all rely on visual texts such
as maps, diagrams, graphs, timelines or tables.
can use a table to list all the questions they aim to answer. The
table helps them to see how much they have researched and what still needs
to be investigated.
information, as a diagram, map or table, helps children to see how facts
are connected, whereas "making notes" often provides only
a collection of isolated pieces of data.
texts do some things better than verbal texts; verbal texts do some
things better than visual texts.
texts (texts made of words and sentences) are ideal for recording details
and examples. They capture nuances, subtleties and ambiguities. But
they are poor at showing the sequence and structure of ideas, that is,
how all the pieces fit together.
texts tend to simplify and generalize a topic and may omit minor details.
But they are best at capturing the connections between the key details
and show the structure or organizing principle of a topic.
examples of visual texts click here.
means reading information in one form (such as words and sentences)
and summarizing it in another form (such as a diagram or table).
you ask students to re-compose the information, they can no longer simply
copy their source. They need to think about what a paragraph means before
they can summarize it as a visual text.
is a key strategy in aiding comprehension.
NEW: More on Re-composing here.
texts are graphic organizers
texts, such as flow charts and tree diagrams, are ideal for providing
a framework for writing.
can plan nonfiction writing by using a suitable visual text:
report: use a table or tree
diagram to organize the order of the paragraphs ("Which comes
first? What goes next?").
recall the key events along a timeline before starting to write.
use a flow chart to sequence
the steps in an explanation.
organize the steps in the right order using a timeline
or flow chart.
(persuasion) : use a flow chart to sequence in the best
order all the reasons for a point of view
draw up a table of reasons "for" and "against"
before making a decision about which side of a discussion you support
are more accessible than words
young readers can interpret ("read") diagrams and maps long
before they can read the same information in words and sentences.
their reading with information books
that cue the unfamiliar words with clear diagrams, not just photographs.
children who are "unable to read" may be merely waiting for
you to provide them with illustrated nonfiction. Not everyone chooses
to read fiction.
literacy across the curriculum
a diagram ("picture glossary")
to provide key vocabulary when introducing unfamiliar or "technical"
charts, timelines and tables can help students to plan an essay
(such as explanations, recounts, reports).
it is more helpful to summarize a text as a diagram or a table,
instead of writing disconnected "notes".
scientific concepts are more clearly grasped when visualized as a visual
text, such as a cross section (for example to explain how we breathe)
or flow chart (to show an animal's life cycle).
in nature can also be summarized as a web diagram (such as a food web)
or flow chart (such as the water cycle).
procedures ("how to...") can be followed more easily when
arranged as a flow chart, storyboard,
relationships can be understood quickly if you sometimes use a web diagram
(sometimes called a sociogram) or a tree diagram.
charts are useful in explaining topics such as recycling, habitats,
interdependence and responsibilities.
timelines to summarize sequences of events
maps (maps with arrows showing journeys) help children to visualize
exploration and migration themes
over time, causes of key events, and sequencing of events can be shown
clearly using flow charts
graphs help visualize economic and other changes over time
(line, bar, and pie) help students to grasp concepts such as climate,
population change, and public opinion
charts help visualize topics such as the water cycle, climate change,
globalization, and Earth processes
can be used to visualize political states, climate, vegetation, wealth
and poverty, trade, war, and so on.
a pie chart to show the proportions of different food groups we eat
flow chart can help students to understand processes such as respiration
graphs can record changes in body temperature, heartbeat, pulse and
breathing before and after exercise
sections and cutaway diagrams help students to visualize how the body
children can benefit from visualizing addition and subtraction using
simple bar graphs.
concepts are best shown in maps and diagrams.
children can interpret problems more successfully if they are encouraged
to visualize the key elements in a map or diagram.
assists work in measurement and recording of data.
storyboards to support instructions in craft activities and explaining
how different materials are used.
who elect to take art subjects are identifying themselves as visual
learners; build on their visual strengths by providing explanations
as flow charts and organizing cooperative projects using tables and
to write an essay (grades 48)
who have prepared plenty of detailed notes on a topic still feel "lost"
when starting to write their essay.
starting the essay, therefore, ask students to plan it using one of
these visual texts. Each text has a different purpose:
tree diagram organizes the topic into groups and examples.
It is ideal for writing an information report.
timeline arranges events in time sequence and is useful in
planning the order in which to write a recount.
storyboard shows how an item changes
over time, making it a suitable planning tool for writing procedures
flow chart sequences events in order and is one of the most
useful visual texts, helping in the planning of explanations, procedures
table summarizes groups and allows
us to compare them, aspect by aspect. This helps in the planning
of a discussion of different points of view, or deciding on a choice
on visual planners
making "notes," a diagram with labels can help children to
remember the meanings of unfamiliar words.
flow chart helps to summarize a sequence of events (in history) or cause-and-effect
(in history or science).
a table to divide the topic into groups and to suggest the order in
which to write about them.
a tree diagram to show how subtopics are related to main topics.
on visual summaries
a table to list all the questions you aim to answer. The table helps
you to know how much you have researched and what still needs to be
children to concentrate on a text by having them guess its meaning first,
connecting the key words in a web diagram.
students to read information in one form (such as an explanation in
words and sentences) and to summarize it in a different form
(such as a flow chart). This strategy, called re-composing, avoids "copying"
and requires the student to figure out the key facts, guiding concept,
and the structure of the information.
characters in a novel with a kind of web diagram called a sociogram.
Plots and subplots in novels and picture books are best summarized in
a flow chart. Simpler plots can be storyboarded.
to read (grades K3)
help young readers to predict unfamiliar words. Make sure your nonfiction
books include diagrams such as cross sections and flow charts, not just
with labels are more helpful than vocabulary lists for beginning readers.
The pictorial part of the diagram helps them to see the meaning of each
word and therefore to find the word they need.
readers can interpret information in a map or diagram long before they
can understand the "same information" written out in sentences
solving / decision making (grades 38)
and maps can help us explain how things are made or how machines work.
a table to compare alternative solutions to a problem. The table also
helps us to make a decision because it arranges side-by-side the strengths
and weaknesses of each possible "answer." More
on decision making using tables.
ideas are explained with examples and practical lesson plans in Steve's
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