Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Using Images to help Writers add Details

My students' writing was lacking details.  They had the basics down, and their sentences were generally clear, but details that add depth and meaning were generally not showing up in their writing.  I realized that images were a good way to help them understand the difference between practical writing and elaborate writing.  The first image that came to mind when I thought of elaborate was a chandelier.  Using Google Classroom's discussion prompt I asked students to describe the first image (light bulb), then describe the second image (chandelier), then tell the impact of the differences between the two.  What would be the mood or tone of walking into a large room with the light bulb hanging in the center, and how would that mood and tone change if you walked into a room with the chandelier.  The students described the light bulb as useful, simplistic, and practical.  The chandelier, on the other hand, was shiny, beautiful, detailed, layered, mesmerizing (exactly what I wanted from them in their writing).  The analogy became clear when I asked for them to be intentional about adding elaboration to their writing.  I wanted their writing to make me gasp in its awesomeness, become fascinated by the beautiful details, and mesmerized by the engaging word choice and layers of meaning.

In reflection, this lesson taught me to slow down and take the time to create something that builds relationships.  Now when students hand in their writing, I ask, "Is this a chandelier?"  They smile and remember the lesson.  Using images to connect to students and to add impact to a lesson is not difficult.  Too often, I get swept up in the "getting it done" part of the classwork.  In contrast, I think taking the time to model what it means to be visually literate, to model how to examine and discuss an image, and to model how an image can be representational can positively impact my students and make my teaching more effective.

How have you successfully incorporated images and visual literacy in your classroom? I'd love to hear about your favorite visual lesson.

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