Phew! It’s been a jam-packed second semester! As I venture into my new role as a Technology Coach at AES Delhi, more daily doses of passion for what I do fill my plate. It feels great to support and continuously learn from amazing teachers and offer solutions that foment understanding and engagement in the Upper Elementary classrooms.

Recently, I have been approached by the dynamic grade 4 Team teacher trio about one of my favorite subjects in this field of educational technology: creation. Mrs. Inghram, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Sievert had been thinking about providing their 38 enthusiastic 9 year-old writers with an opportunity to transform their recently published piece, on Realistic Fiction, into an engaging multi-media piece. They wanted them to also become empowered as illustrators of their own e-books. These products, they commented, would allow for empowerment of their ELLs whose language skills are still emergent, as well as become a starting point for their blogs.

With an understanding that many of our best efforts to address the newer skills necessary for growth in this “app generation”, to borrow Howard Gardner and Katie Davies’ title, require time and deliberate lessons to get students up to speed, we started our journey of planning our sessions. Our meetings concentrated on our purpose, that is, to empower students to convey a message through multimodal texts, and the steps required to achieve our goal of raising awareness of visual literacy and what it entails.

First, we discussed the fundamental triangle of our collaborative work: Purpose, audience and context. With these definitions in mind, we started outlining our instructional plan, taking into consideration different learning styles and language skill levels. In a nutshell, this is what we ended up with:

Day 1: Introduction to Visual Literacy and the Principles of Design. Here’s our presentation and charts:

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— Students use their bodies to show what contrast, alignment, proximity and repetition mean.
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— Students rearrange Math posters, which were previously under construction, but still lacked gluing.

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Day 2: Review yesterday’s content and introduce the Visual Literacy checklist, created by Kris Sievert to support ELLs and language objectives.


— With the checklist in hand, students work in pairs to explain their thinking on the rearrangement of their poster pieces to convey a clear message
— Students present their findings to fellow students using an inner/outer circle routine

Day 3: Students are introduced to elements of design (color, shape and font) (found in the presentation above).


— Using the checklist again, students work in groups of four to analyze picture books and write their findings on whiteboards. They, then, engage in a gallery rotation to offer feedback to other groups.

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— Students are introduced to the tool, Book Creator. They try the in-app tutorial, and students who are “experts” help others get started.

Day 4: Students are introduced to the rubric and requirements for their ebooks


— Students see a mentor text designed on Book Creator and offer feedback, by using the target language.
— Students start building their books.

Although our lesson is not yet finished, we have been very happy with the results. Walking around and listening to their conversations as they work with their groups, we can tell the learning has made a difference in how they perceive visuals. The next step will be to confer with the students and to see their revision process bloom. I look forward to showing you their final work!

Comments? Questions? Drop us a message below!

The materials used here are licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

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