Great Graphics Assist Struggling Students

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

A little web research shows an old Chinese streetcar ad with beautifully drawn Chinese characters that assert, “One picture is worth ten thousand words.” Some Western scholars suggest that the literal translation of this advertisement should read, “A picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words.” 

Stories abound about the origin of the well-known phrase, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” but in any language, the word picture that this popular phrase paints holds power for teachers of children that are struggling in the classroom.

Why? Meet Beth Schetter, a Student Support Teacher for Grades 4 and 5.

Beth Schetter checks online for attention-getting visuals.

Beth currently serves as an Intervention Specialist with fourth and fifth grade students and one class of first graders. She supports struggling students to help them meet grade-level expectations – a challenge – especially for kids who struggle with reading and writing in their second language (for Beth’s students, that language is English).

Beth has discovered that merging graphics with concepts spelled out in block print on laminated card stock, (like you see in my blog pics below) is beneficial for the kids she teaches to make important connections between the words and their meanings. 

S-Summarize, C-Compare, I-Investigate

For example, to encourage fifth grade students during Science lessons to NOTICE, to be observant, to focus on the investigation underway but also be open to unexpected discoveries – all key scientific concepts – Beth has created a graphic that shows a bowl of green cereal with one piece colored yellow. Does the yellow cereal stand out? It’s NOTICEABLE! Check out my blog pic below.

E-Experiment, N-Notice

Visual cue cards is an apt description for Beth’s colorful, eye-catching teaching tools. Her goal is to give her students memorable graphics that they will recall again and again as Science lessons come and go. “It’s interesting,” notes Beth, “that my background coming into this job, that is, of having taught in a regular first grade classroom before working with mostly older elementary kids, has been a good base for my work with struggling older students.” “My fourth and fifth graders relate well to visual aids merged with word definitions and other writing,” she says. “It doesn’t matter that big graphics are usually associated with younger children. What matters is helping students succeed in difficult subjects like Science!” 

Take a closer look at my pics in this blog

C-Classify, E-Explore

and you’ll see cut-open envelopes below each S-C-I-E-N-C-E heading on a wall in Beth’s small classroom. Beth explains that the envelopes are filled with other graphics that are related to the Science Units her fifth grade students are expected to master by end-of-grade-test-time. Her goal is to provide as much assistance as she can to help students learn. When her fifth grade students come to her support room, Beth invites them to reach into the envelopes on their own and study in small groups.

Beth says that she constantly searches the Internet looking for copyright-free resources to borrow and modify to suit the needs of the kids in her care. She’s resourceful about finding resources, like all effective teachers are!

Beth’s outlook on the use of readily available resources found online and elsewhere is 3-fold…

  1. It’s worth it to make the time to check online. Okay, it takes a little time but the return on that investment can be huge.
  2. Why re-invent the wheel when other teachers are happy to share effective ideas and resources?
  3. As Beth puts it, “I’m always looking for something new to help kids learn and I try to find ways to make what I already use even better.”

There’s a Japanese word for that – striving for daily improvement – the word is kaizen…a new word perhaps to share with your students.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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