Phew... didn't think I was going to make it, but I finished Chapters 4-6 last night. When I first saw this book's cover a few months ago, I didn't think much of it. To be honest, I thought to myself, I know drawing is part of the communication process, especially in kindergarten, so what would this book teach me? Then I saw that Mrs. Wills was going to do a summer book study on it. Hmm... I've not done a blog summer book study before. Then my school district informed us that they will be purchasing one of these books for each school. Hmm... what is the big deal about this book??
Well I am left thinking that I haven't shared with my students enough about illustrations. Even though we do it daily, I take it for granted. I really enjoyed Chapter 6. It got me thinking about how I teach writing with illustrations, and how I can make the process better. Here is one book where I focus on using stick figures:
With my students, we talk about individual characteristics. For example, one of my redheaded students would say that he has red hair and "angel kisses" (freckles). Another would say she always wear a bow or headband in her hair. Another would say he loves soccer. After discussing our individual characteristics, each child would draw a stick kid self portrait to put into a classbook called Mrs. Brinn's Stick Kids. It makes for a cute classbook. Below is a sheet you may want to use:
(I used HelloFirstie font from Hello Literacy.)
Sometimes we would do an author/illustrator study. One of the first books we look at are those by Lois Ehlert and her collage type of style. We make our own leaf characters out of fall leaves, acorns, and seeds. Lois Ehlert also uses labels in her books and adds extra information at the back of her books. At the end of the year, we revisit collage through Eric Carle books. Throughout the year, we learn about nonfiction with Gail Gibbons and how she makes animals look real through her illustrations, rather than using real photos. So, how is that different from what Chapter 6 is telling me?
Well, to quote from page 78, "Students need the opportunity to study the decisions of illustrators, not simply be told about them. Teachers also need the opportunity to study with their students, because adults always learn more from children when a study is based on noticing. Children just notice more than we do. It's that simple."
So, I guess I am a culprit of telling! Not that I do not acknowledge when my students recognize or notice something. I just didn't think about taking it a step further. In Chapter 6, Katie Wood Ray tells us how to gather a bunch of books with interesting illustrations. After modeling how to look at illustrations, children need time to explore and find interesting pictures. I loved the examples given in the book, especially when she discussed the "zooming in" technique with the book about mud. I have not seen this book, and now am interested in seeing it for myself! In addition, it is also important to discuss why an illustrator chose a particular technique and how would we can use that in our own composings.
How might you explain to students that illustrating is composing? This seems to be synonmous with using pictures to read a story. At the beginning of the year, I model for my students how to use our eagle eyes to look at the pictures to tell the story. We practice looking at books and noticing what is happening, making up our own stories without using the text.
How might your attitude towards writing affect your students' willingness to write? I think my attitude has a lot in what my students show me. If I am excited about something, it peaks their interest. If I am not excited about something, then they are less likely to be interested.
How might you help your students build stamina in writing? I model and discuss how to use colors, add details, and add background scenery. At the beginning of the year, I have each student be the Star Student of the Day. The class draws that star student and adds details through colors and background scenery (placing the person inside or outside). We talk about putting them at the beach or on a playground. What are some things we would find in those locations, and draw some of those details. Some students attempt labeling these pictures with beginning sounds, words, or even sentences. This is a multi-level activity, great for differentiating for those student needs. These drawings are combined into a classbook for the star student to take home. The process of this activity originated from my Four Blocks training. Here is aFour Blocks kindergarten text:
What language might you use with your students to talk about reading like a writer, both as a writer of pictures and words? Besides using the illustrator's name, I am not familiar with this. When reading the examples in the book, I get a better idea of what I am missing, because I did not discuss why an illustrator chose that type of technique. So I will need to practice and improve in this area. I believe it would also depend on what techniques my students are drawn to.
Name several books (not previously mentioned in this text) that you would gather for your classroom's units of study on illustration. I think I would still use the previous books that I mentioned earlier, and also David Catrow's books. There's something that I just adore about his illustrations!
I look forward to learning about other books out there with great illustrations, as I love books! In case you want to read more, here's a link to Mrs. Wills linky party (just click picture below):