My art teacher friend, Trevor Bryan, showed me fabulous ways to look at art as comprehension of text. During my wordless picture book study in class, I first asked the students: “What IS text?” As expected, most of them said, “Words,” or “Written down stories, feelings, or facts.” Then I read Flood, by Alvaro F. Villa. The students talked the entire time I read to them, asking questions and telling me the story as I turned the pages. When I got done, I closed the book and asked again, “So…what IS text? You said WORDS, but there were no words in the book.”
Wait a minute! You mean to say that “text” is NOT “words?” We discussed at length what just happened. We used the art to comprehend the story. With Mr. Bryan’s help, I led the students to discover patterns, view colors, and look at lines and shapes in new ways — to understand the story. A story without words.
To practice reading texts without words, I set the students off on their own (in groups and individually). They found details in the artwork, discovered patterns (also using Notice and Note signposts — see Parts 1 and 2 of this series), made connections, and talked about the evidence behind their thinking. Some students wrote their own words to go with the picture book, and read them to the class.
Our wordless picture book study turned into a great literacy experiment! Students were engaged in learning, talking, and enjoying books. And the writing after reading…I didn’t have to say a word.
You can learn more about the Art of Comprehension by following Trevor Bryan on Twitter. His Twitter handle is @trevorabryan. Mr. Bryan also writes for www.fouroclockfaculty.com with the hashtag, #4OCF.