MASTER COLUMNS GOOD FIT
Jennifer L. Altieri
Have students work in pairs or small groups to mark a favorite image in an informational text they are reading. Ask each group to share their image with the rest of the class and to talk about why they think the image may have been included in the text. If the author used a flow chart instead of a diagram or a table, why do they think the author chose to do that? With our youngest students, this can be a whole class activity.
Our goal is to help students understand that readers need to think about images and try to understand the purpose they serve in the text. If we don’t provide support by discussing how to approach images, many of our students will glance or maybe skip right over the image. This habit of skipping over images can put our young students at a serious disadvantage with understanding social studies, science, and math content. According to Fingeret (2012), many of the images found in informational texts provide important information that students would miss if they skip over them.
Enhancing Our Read Alouds
As we read aloud informational texts, we can use think-alouds to show young students how a reader reads text and comprehends the information (Jackson, 2016). This can allow us to help students work through the complexity of images they encounter (Coleman & McTigue, 2013). We want students to ask questions about the images they see in the texts to avoid misconceptions (Oliveira et al. 2013). As we orally share informational texts with students, Renkl and Scheiter (2017) encourage us to talk about how to integrate the information in the images with the information found in running text. This will allow us to show students how to use running text to clear up misconceptions they may have with images and improve their comprehension (Norman, 2012).
Begin by looking at the images in the next informational text the class will experience. Mark key points related to images that are important to discuss. In Figure 1, you can find suggestions to guide students as they think about images. Verbalize the types of questions you typically ask yourself as you view an image. As you read aloud the text, use a think aloud as you come to the images in the text.
Possible Questions to Articulate During an Image Think Aloud
*How does this image tie to prior knowledge of images?
I can see that this image has columns and rows like the image we saw in social studies last week.” “It doesn’t have lines but is shaped like a rectangle.” “I think it is a bar graph.” “With bar graphs I know it is really important to look at the subheadings under each column and at the end of rows.
*What is the purpose of the image?
The image shows whether people in the city currently live in houses, duplexes/townhouses, apartments, motels/hotels, or are homeless.” “It makes sense for the author to include a bar graph because each of those bars represent an individual group or category.
*What can you do if something in the image is confusing?
The first thing I do is look at the heading for the graph, Types of Housing in our City, and that helps me to understand exactly what I was looking at.” “I was a little confused because I thought many more people lived in motels/hotels or were homeless than the small bar that was shown for those areas.” “Then I remembered to look again at the left side of the graph and realized that the numbers were increasing in increments of 10,000 so even a small bar would be 10,000 people.