The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 1 | Page 19




Ann Powell-Brown

The Black and White of Using Diverse Literature

Anita Lael

Reading Aloud to Children: Introducing a Love for Poetry


Literacy is a Family Affair: Introducing a Love for Poetry


William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall

William Kearns and Betty Porter Walls

William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall


William Kerns and Betty Porter Wall

involved with training teachers for PreK-12 classrooms


Amy then took the opportunity to talk about the pre- and post-drawings of chicks and the growth that was evident. Students were excited at the amount of learning they could show and realized the important role labels serve in images.

Through their drawings, these students strengthened their knowledge of images and the use of labels. They also reinforced vocabulary terms they saw and heard regarding chicks and therefore, strengthened their scientific content knowledge. By drawing student attention to the importance of labels and allowing them to create their own images, this kindergarten teacher extended an already valuable hands-on science experiment that her students look forward to each year.

Making Important Decisions about Images

Similar to words, communicating content information through images requires the consideration of audience, purpose, and form (Tompkins, 2012). Who will view the image? Why is it important? What type of image will work best to share the information? These are important considerations to teach students.

Whitney, a second-grade teacher, decided to have students work in small groups to create informational texts on animal life cycles to share with a class of kindergarten students. Each small group chose a different animal and researched that animal through a variety of informational texts to create the books.

Then the class talked about how they could create one image for the kindergarten children that would show how long it takes for each of their animals to hatch. As a group, students determined that a bar graph would be the best way to communicate that information. At the top of the graph students illustrated and labeled the life cycle they chose to research. See Figure 4.

Figure 4

After the class created the bar graph, Whitney encouraged students to think about the types of questions a kindergartener could answer based on the bar graph and images they created. The second graders listed questions such as, “Which of these animals takes the longest to hatch?” and “Which one takes the shortest amount of time to hatch?” “What are the stages of a frog life cycle?” However, when children suggested a question such as, “Where do barn owls live?” other students in the group talked about how the kindergarteners wouldn’t be able to answer the question by looking at the chart.

This activity involved not only students creating informational texts with images, but it extended beyond that as they synthesized their knowledge into a bar graph. The students had to reflect on the information they wanted to convey in order to determine the best type of image to create. Then they reflected on the bar chart created to know what their audience would and would not be able to gain from it.

We can begin at the youngest ages to ask students to create images for content area information so that they not only learn to create quality images for their own writing but so they strengthen their content area knowledge. In fact, research has shown us that drawing can help students with low prior knowledge comprehend information (Lina, et al. 2017). As students draw timelines, label diagrams, and create flow charts, have them discuss why they are choosing to create the specific type of image and why they believe it is the best way to represent the information they want to communicate.


As educators, we must take our young students’ enthusiasm for images and show them the power and potential of images. By reinforcing the importance of images in content text, we are preparing our students for the literacy demands they need not only now but later in life. We can build upon students’ experience and interest with images that they bring to the classroom to help them engage with informational text images and make meaningful connections with the content of lessons. With the support of teachers, students can strengthen their content knowledge as they learn to appropriately view and create images.