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Art for Reading Comprehension - Ideas for Educators

Students who struggle with traditional approaches to reading can use art to learn to visualize the meaning of words and improve their reading comprehension. Here is a lesson plan to try:

Materials Needed: Drawing paper and colored pencils, or computers (advanced, optional).

Objective: Students will be able to comprehend a story visually. Thereafter, working on phonological awareness strategies to decode words will be easier; because students already "know" the story, associating the words with meaning will be less frustrating.  

Lesson: Ask students to draw key elements of the story, such as the main characters or the setting(s), in detail if necessary. You can also ask students to draw the main idea of the story (i.e. what the book's cover might look like), or the storyline in comic strip format, including details of events in the correct sequence. For the storyline, it is helpful to use temporal words such as first, then, next, finally, etc. o really improve comprehension, ask students to draw what they predict will happen in the future if there are sentences or pages added to the story that they have visualized, and then add this prediction to the storyline. You can ask students to explain, by drawing, what their overall impression is of the story - what do they infer from the storyline, characters, setting, and main idea? What do they think the author was trying to express when they wrote the story?

Advanced: Use a visual programming environment like ALICE to design the story in 4D (a 3D video game evolving over time), or use Scratch to create programmable story lines, or use computer drawing tools and creative methods from graphic design to construct intricate representations of scenes and settings from the story. 

For more information, contact MTSEE Board Member Melanie Home Gun, Special Education Teacher at Anna Jeffries Elementary School in Cutbank and Ed.D candidate at Montana State University (406) 873-2411 elemmh@cutbankschools.net