Visual Thinking is Classy

screen shot 2019-01-13 at 8.06.15 amThe exciting and informative live chat #MasteryChat that takes place on Twitter between 8 and 9PM on Thursdays discussed the topic of “Visual Thinking” on January 10th, 2019. I’ve always held the belief that the more connections students make to a lesson, the more they will remember. Also, the more emotionally attached they become to their learning, the more they will get out of it.

Teaching nonfiction text can seem like a boring topic. Here is a way I get kids creative about their learning: They make mini booklets about the text features that help them navigate through nonfiction texts.screen shot 2019-01-13 at 7.15.24 am

This is great because it gives them a reason for listening: They need to know what to include in their books. Each page models and defines a different text feature or part of a nonfiction book.

The learning tool becomes a toy. Students love looking through their creations all year long. They are proud of what they produce, and show them to their peers and parents.

screen shot 2019-01-13 at 7.15.48 amHere’s how it works. First, I spark the class’s excitement by showing telling them they are going to make books. Then I show them a mini book. Everyone loves that! They begin screen shot 2019-01-13 at 7.16.04 amantsing to make one. That is when I share a unique style of nonfiction text; The “instructional text” that tells how to make a mini book. I point out the sequence words, and we picture in our minds what is happening to the paper.

After students display good listening skills, it is time to hand out paper. I walk around and model as well as help make the folds. The cutting from fold to the center of the paper is tricky. There is always, without fail, a couple of kids who mess it up and have to start over.


Once they have their booklets made, students number the pages. This year, to get everyone back on track, listening carefully, I made this process hilarious by acting like the students couldn’t possibly guess what the next number was going to be. For some of them, I made up riddles and algorithms. Even though the kids obviously knew that the numbers were simply chronological order, they loved it. They were recreating my jokes days afterward in new contexts.screen shot 2019-01-13 at 7.16.17 am

The next thing that we do is put the vital information on the cover of the book. The project usually takes several days to complete, and I don’t want any books to get lost. The “Locating Info Mini Booklet” by (name of student) is placed in “Unfinished Work” folders, to be continued later.

screen shot 2019-01-13 at 7.16.43 amWhen we work on the mini booklets again, I have students label each page. They look at the list that I post on the board for them. Then we make a “Table of Contents”. Finally, students write explanations for each text feature on its page. Some of them, like the “Title Page”, are virtually self-explanatory. Others, like “Graphic Organizers”, require many examples. Students are only permitted to decorate, which they are all iching to do, AFTER all of the information is completed.

This project is more than just visual. The crafty nature of creating your own learning tool is sure to coat axons with much myelin.

1200px-neuron.svg
Image from Wikipedia

Published by

Matt Weimann

Classy to the core, I teach the whole #3rdGrade child @EPSDWillowLane. I have eclectic tastes with interests in chess, cuisine, art, good literature, strong coffee and other drinks, jazz, and fashion... Mostly bowties;)

5 thoughts on “Visual Thinking is Classy”

  1. Good post here! Graphic organizers are always good to incorporate in class. I teach middle school, so it’s always a hassle for my students to fold and use scissors! We also examine text features, so I’ll be sure to incorporate this strategy when we read informational texts.

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  2. Thanks so much! I can appreciate that the older the students get, and the more advanced the academics become, the less likely crafts are woven into pedagogy. I like to use a balanced approach of lots of technology and plenty of (literally) hands on projects.
    Just so you know, we use computer paper (lined writing paper could be used as well), and you can tear the one incision necessary. These mini books can be used by any teacher of any subject at any grade level. After going over the pythagorean theorem, a teacher could have Ss make mini book that describes it, gives examples, and even has a page about its creator. Also, where this theorem is applicable, missteps, and alternatives could be jotted down in the mini book. Thanks for commenting. Take care.

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  3. I like the idea of the kids actually creating the text features! What a great way to have the students create what they are learning to deepen their understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I do this lesson before reading any nonfiction texts. Of course they have looked at textbooks and recognize the features. As we dive into our nonfiction studies, I have them keep their tiny “Locating Info Mini Booklet” on their desks. When I ask about a heading, I draw their attention to the “Heading” they created in their books. What is similar. It is a great way to build connections.

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