Saturday, August 20, 2011

Visual Art and Reading Comprehension

In last weeks post I described a student who improved his writing using visual art representations and learning about the writing process through the drawing process. This time I'd like to describe the use of visual art as a reading comprehension scaffold. 
J.N. is a student who had a really hard time comprehending texts that were two grade levels below her biological age. Her decoding and fluency were adequate but when she tried to retell a story or answer comprehension question it was clear that she was not able to locate main idea. In fact in text retell she would often mention details sporadically with no connection or clear understanding of what the text was about. After a conversation with me J.N.'s tutor decided to use drawing after reading as a comprehension strategy.
After each chapter in the book J.N. was asked to choose a scene from the chapter. Here, the direction were aimed at creating a thought process that would lead J.N. to choose the key scene - the main idea. The tutor used modeling and scaffolded self-talk to promote this kind of thinking. Next J.N. was asked to draw the scene in as great a detail as possible. As she draw she explained her choices to her tutor and how they made sense based on her interpretation of the story. Finally J.N. wrote a summary based on her drawing. 

Within a few week J.N. acquired a deep understanding of locating main idea and supporting detail using the scaffold and metaphor of visual art decision making process. This strategy was extremely useful and J.N. ended up raising her comprehension level to grade level expectations by the end of the five week session. 
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