Saturday, June 23, 2012

In Pictures and in Words Book Study: Chapters 1-6

I’m linking up with Mrs. Wills for her Book Study of Katie Wood Ray’s book “In Pictures and in Words.

   First, of all I want to say that I am super excited about this book study. So much, in fact, that I decided to participate even though I’m already participating in the Daily 5 study. I feel that as a teacher, writing is my Achilles heel. It’s the point in the day where I feel the weakest. Some days I feel as though I’m grasping at straws and I’m left wondering “did they really learn anything today? Are they becoming the writers they should be? Are they putting into practice the things we’ve talked about?” Not my shining moment as a teacher. So I’m really excited to learn more about teaching through illustrations and how I can incorporate all of this into The Writers Workshop (Caulkins) that our district uses. I’m not great at summarizing on my own, so I’m going to go ahead and let Mrs. Wills guiding questions lead me. 

        How might you explain to students that illustrating is composing?
I think that studying other illustrators work, and taking the time to notice what is going on in their pictures is so important. I know as a teacher I don’t take enough time to stop and point out different techniques in illustrations. So often we get so focused on making sure the kids are composing text, that we forget about the process behind illustrations. I know I’m guilty of telling my students to just jot down a quick sketch before they begin their writing. I loved when Katie was talking about the book MUD and used out loud thinking with her kids to talk about how the illustrator zoomed in on certain parts of the child to really show the mud oozing, or how in another book she pointed out to the kids that the character was shown from behind so they could see what the character saw. I think that by taking the time to notice these things and letting the kids notice them, and then allowing them the time to craft their illustrations and practice these kinds of techniques we can show them that composing the illustrations can be just as powerful as composing the text.

   How might your attitude towards writing affect your student’s willingness to write?
Is this question for me or what? I think it is so important to have an eager approach to writing. But do I always? Definitely not. I think the more we dread writing, the more the kids will. The more we are excited about it, and dive into books with the intent to study from other authors and illustrators the more the kids will be too. I also loved how Katie pointed out the importance of showing the students a picture of the author/illustrator to make the idea more concrete to them. She also said you should refer to the author/illustrator by name when pointing out what they did so that the kids think of themselves as authors/illustrators who can do the same kinds of things.
   How might you help your students build stamina in writing?
I think it’s important to not expect too much too soon. I know I need to slow down and remember that writing is a PROCESS. I shouldn’t expect them to do the same kind of writing at the beginning of the year as at the end of the year. I LOVED when Katie said it is OK to slow down and spend more time on the little things. Like drawing. And composing illustrations. Obviously at the beginning of the year it is best to start in small increments of time and build on to that as the year goes on.

   What language might you use with your students to talk about reading like a writer, both as a writer of pictures and words?
Like I said earlier, I love the idea of not only referring to the author and illustrator by name, but also of showing the kids a picture of them. The more the kids think of the author/illustrator as people, the more they will connect with them and feel comfortable with the idea “hey, I’m a writer…. I could do that too! I think that the more you take the time to notice writing and illustrating techniques, the more the kids will get in the habit of noticing them on their own. And as Katie said, they always notice more than we do!

   Name Several Books not already mentioned in the text that you could gather for your classroom’s unit of study on illustrations.
Here are some great picture books that I think would be excellent for studying illustrations:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
Duck on a Bike
The Snowy Day
Growing Vegetable Soup


  1. So glad I am part of this book study and I found you through that. Thanks for you comments. Stop by my place at and say hi. I just followed your blog. I am your newest fan.
    Carole dawn

  2. Rachelle I'm another guilty teacher that has tried to take the focus off of illustrations and put it on words..... uggghhh!! This makes so much sense now! Illustrations are simply another way to compose meaning....and you CANNOT get any higher level thinking than that!

    I so look forward to reading more!
    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  3. Thank you for linking up! I loved your quote. "I think the more we dread writing, the more the kids will. The more we are excited about it, and dive into books with the intent to study from other authors and illustrators the more the kids will be too." I totally agree!

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten