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Dr. Joanne Meier
Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.
Learning from graphics
There's real value in spending instructional time helping kids decipher the information found in graphic form. Textbooks, nonfiction books, and magazines are chock full of diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs. Visual information used to be limited to bold words and captioned pictures, but nowadays infographics, maps, and interactive tools carry a lot of the content weight within a piece of text. Successfully navigating these graphics, especially in STEM and content-area subjects, will lead to greater comprehension. The September 2013 issue of the Reading Teacher has a helpful article on this topic. Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables — Oh My! Fostering Graphical Literacy (Roberts et al). Within the article, authors describe and provide examples of several common graphical devices, including different types of diagrams, maps, tables, and timelines. There are also suggested children's texts to use when introducing each type of graphic. The authors provide guidance for teachers that can help students navigate graphics more successfully. One suggestion includes talking about graphics during read-alouds. It appears especially important to help students understand that good readers use graphics to deepen their understanding of the text. A second suggestion is to fill the classroom environment with graphics and use these as a part of daily classroom routine. For example, "preparing for recess by consulting a table that indicates ranges of outside temperatures, whether recess will be inside or outside, and appropriate clothing." I think students would have a lot of fun with that! What other ways have you engaged your students with visual information? Related topic: Infographics for young kids