Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Visuals in Nonfiction

I See What You Mean: Visual Literacy K-8
by Steve Moline
Stenhouse, 2011

It is definitely going to be worth the two weeks we spent in reading workshop looking at the structures of nonfiction (description, sequence, compare/contrast, cause/effect) and in writing workshop looking at and trying out the visuals that support those structures. There's an excellent chart in Moline's book that we have used as a reference guide over and over again. He gives examples of diagrams and maps (description), timelines and flowcharts (sequence), tree diagrams and Venn diagrams (compare/contrast).

I knew it was going to be worth the time when, as we discussed the Poetry Friday Anthology poem of the week last Friday, someone said, "That poem's a sequence." YES! And when the new copy of American Girl magazine came, and the three readers brought it to me to say, "Look! Here's a diagram!" And then, of course, when the new Scaredy Squirrel came, we found nearly EVERY kind of visual we had studied!

Don't you love it when that happens?!?

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas: A Safety Guide for Scaredies
by Mélanie Watt
Kids Can Press, 2012

Here are pictures of our hallway display and some of the students' work. They had a lot of fun with this. As you see, they could use their life and their interests. I'm hoping that when we do more nonfiction writing, they remember that they don't need to do research to write nonfiction!

Some of the students had lots of fun with expanded/exploded diagrams.

(see map of Snoopy's Doghouse below -- this diagram goes with that map!)


  1. Wow, Mary Lee. It's terrific to see all the examples. And yes, it's great to hear the students come to tell you what they've found. Looks like a good book to use. Thanks.

  2. What amazing things you've done with visual nonfiction. Love it!

  3. Great post, Mary Lee. This visual learning looks like so much fun and also like *real* learning! Please tell the author of the map of Snoopy's house that I have always wondered what the inside of Snoopy's doghouse looks like. I appreciated that project!

  4. Love this post! Sharing it with teachers tomorrow at our PD!

  5. Mary Lee, I love this book. I have the older version and then ordered the newer version for a class I'm taking at OSU. I'm getting ready to delve into nonfiction again and plan on looking at the different structures, just like you did. I like what your kids did to show their understanding of the purpose of each type of visual information. After listening to a couple of speakers talk about critical visual literacy at NCTE, I'm even more excited to get started with this. Thanks so much for sharing! Julie

  6. This is one of my all time favorite blog posts.


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