B.Ed, Ed Dip, M.Ed.
Notes and Reference
Meeting Our Students
Zoo School – Primate Environments
Birds – Sculpting, Models
As teachers, we know…
A picture is worth a 1000 words.
All of us are watchers - of television, of time clocks, of
traffic on the freeway - but few of us are observers. Everyone
is looking, not many are seeing. Peter M. Leschak
If I can't picture it, I can't understand it.
Why is Visual Literacy important?
We live in an increasingly visual culture. We are surrounded
by images everywhere in our lives.
Visual literacy is a universal grammar: preverbal,
sophisticated, intuitive, and cognitively challenging.
It is a key element to communication – to create, use, and
Value of Visual Literacy
Young people learn more than half of what they know from
visual information, but few schools have an explicit
curriculum to show students how to think critically about
visual data. Mary Alice White, researcher, Columbia Teacher's
The majority of information absorbed by human beings is
collected with our sense of vision. It seems logical the we
emphasize the development of visual skills as a way of
preparing for successful and satisfying lives. page 4, A Guide
for International Visual Literacy Association Board Members
Better readers and writers
Addresses learning styles, multiple intelligences
Accessing primary sources of data for authentic learning
Makes learning come alive
Promotes constructivism and higher level learning
What does Visual Literacy include?
picture book images
layout of the pictures and words in a textbook
the clarity of type fonts
movies or video
user friendly equipment design
critical analysis of television advertisements
What is Visual Literacy?
Visual Literacy can be defined as the ability to understand
and produce visual messages.
Visual literacy skills can be taught
Teachers can create environments and materials that
encourage visual literacy
Students encouraged to create their own visual messages
Visual tools provide base for constructivist learning and
Digital literacies offer opportunities for visual learning
Verbal Literacy vs Visual Literacy
mastery of knowing and manipulating the basic components and
genres of written language: the letters, words, spelling,
Mastery of knowing and manipulating the basic components and
genres of visual text: structures (foreground…), elements
(line…), genre (collage, photo…)
Teaching Visual Literacy in Research
Response to “reading”
Character, plot, setting
What do kids know when they start school?
Read facial expressions and body language
Recognize M in MacDonald’s and other symbols
How to retell a story using the pictures in favorite story
How to recreate real world scenarios in their dramatic play
to help children express their knowledge through
to organize materials to help children make thoughtful
decisions about the media
facilitate children's construction of "his or her own powers
of thinking through the synthesis of all the expressive,
communicative and cognitive languages"
Representational Development: Consistent with Howard
Gardner's notion of schooling for multiple intelligences, the
Reggio Emilia approach calls for the integration of the
graphic arts as tools for cognitive, linguistic, and social
development. Presentation of concepts and hypotheses in
multiple forms of representation -- print, art, construction,
drama, music, puppetry, and shadow play -- are viewed as
essential to children's understanding of experience.
Children can interpret and read the illustrations in a book
long before they can read the print text.
Once they read print, we gradually move them away from image
We should be enhancing this skill, spending time every day
to build on this strength.
Stimulating and colorful environment
Materials accessible and organized
Props and materials
Genres in Visual Literacy
Illustrations and Art
Visual texts accessible to all
Visual texts are complex and multilayered
Certain information better portrayed with images
Electronic media widely uses images
Visual texts can help with comprehension
Visual texts can assist with planning
Visual literacy is a life skill
My classroom has over 3,000 books – half of them are
Texts, encyclopedias, coffee table books, simple texts,
science magazines, catalogues, Big Books, reference
Browsing time favorite stories and non-fiction
Child choice – read the pictures? Or 1 page?
Choose topic based on interest and choice
Prepare a pile of non-fiction books and magazines; search
Tell me what you see and know from this picture
Build knowledge and compare photos and drawings
Apply knowledge; represent
Represent through drawings
Create and manipulate
Drawing and Representing
One of best ways to help children see, is to have them draw
what they know.
Reggio Emilio – 100 languages of children
Fine black line markers (no erasing) and chances to do more
than one drawing.
Show different samples of how children tackled the problem
Look critically at other artists’ renditions, compare, judge
Represent – drawing, painting, building
Questions and Guiding Statements
Tell me one thing you notice…
What can you tell me about the shape of the eyes? Color?
Who can tell me about the habitat or place where he lives?
Can you see any food sources nearby?
How would we begin to draw this animal? The shape of the
head? Nose? Legs? Body?
Photographs – Visual Elements
light and shadow
What mood or feelings does the photo create?
What viewpoint or message did the photographer want us to
No such thing as an objective photo – each comes from the
perspective of the photographer
Learning to Read a Photo
Look for main subject
Other subjects in the photo – why are they there?
Foreground objects? Background objects? Can you determine
What time of day is it? Lighting, shadows
What mood or emotions are being communicated?
Illustrations and Art
A picture book is any book in which the message depends upon
pictures as much or more than text. The pictures must be
accurate and synchronized with any text, but they extend the
text, giving the reader information or interpreting the text
in a way that would not be possible from the words alone.
A picture book conveys its message through a series of
sequential images. We are exposed to the verbal story (the
text) a little at a time, remembering and associating its
elements as we read or hear them, but we see each picture
first as a whole, and then notice individual details that make
up the whole. Unlike many other media, however, we can turn
back and forth through a book at our own pace.
The impact of the total book creates the art object known as
a picture book. Every aspect of the format (the book's
physical characteristics and design) affects the story and the
book must be designed as a whole.
Aspects of the format which affect the book's impact and
contribute to the book's quality as an art object include the
size and shape, cloth cover, dust jacket, endpapers, title
page, spacing of text, margins and white space, size and
spacing of pictures, colors used for pictures and text, color
and texture of paper, choice of typeface, type of binding.
Primitive or Folk Art
Illustrations: Artistic Media
Painting – acrylic, gouache, oils, watercolor
Drawing – pencil, chalk, pastel
Collage – assemblage, collage, cut paper, fabric
Photography, digital art
Printmaking – etching, linocut, woodcut, monotype
Miscellaneous – plasticine, mixed media, reproductions
Reggio – art media
explore first: what is this material, what does it do,
before what can I do with the material
should have variation in color, texture, pattern: help
children "see" the colors, tones, hues; help children "feel"
the texture, the similarities and differences
should be presented in an artistic manner--it too should be
aesthetically pleasing to look at--it should invite you to
touch, admire, inspire
Using Diagrams to Represent
Graphic organizers and visual mapping tools enable students
to make sense of complex subjects by exploring linkages,
relationships, similarities, and differences between
phenomena, and visually representing interplay among system
Types of Visual Information
tables or charts
cutaways and cross sections
Use visual mapping to organize ideas visually: categorize,
Venn Diagrams, cause/effect, before/after
Create a visual field trip: use drawings, maps, directions,
Create drawings of Native artifacts
PowerPoint presentation on the topic of nutrition. Students
scan labels in this project; identify the location where the
item was produced.
Digital and still camera
Digital video camera
Technology now enables us to record and play back at varying
speeds and to freeze visual language so that students can
identify, describe, discuss, analyze, and evaluate the
language features used in a very short section of what they
view. Thus they gain experience in interpreting visual
language through close reading.
Enhance quality of instructional materials
Self-esteem and student celebration – identity photos, class
photo book, labels…
Assist with language teaching
Recording information from field trips
Provides close-up views of any subject
Encourages effort recognition of achievement
Digital cameras (cont.)
Document student progress/process learning
Analyze physical activity
Recording a sequence of events
Recording weather, cloud formations
Photos of natural or built environments
Documenting an interview
Evidence for demonstration of learning
Computers and applications software programs enable users to
carry out different communication tasks that require, for
example, a database, a spreadsheet, a word processor, a
simulation, or a drawing. Computer programs provide a range of
graphics, including line graphics, animated graphics, and 3D
graphics, as well as the variety of interactive computer and
video games that many students know. Games can assist students
to explore visual language by using such technologies to view,
interact with, and present ideas. Students can describe the
games' narratives, including their own interactions, change
their narratives, describe their visual features, and create
their own games.
– Kid Pix
– Making class movies
– Creating own movie
CD-ROM not only provides interactive opportunities for
computer users but also extends to multimedia viewing,
presenting, and interaction through its ability to integrate
moving images with sound and with computer text and graphics.
DVD’s enable us to record huge video files adding in text
Transform any media into a digital format to manipulate
Capture children’s work digitally
Scan unusual items for manipulating: paper, fabric, objects,
covers, lights, or body parts.
How about dirt, food, clothing labels, or cross sections?
Scan artwork such as projects using colored pencils,
markers, chalk, watercolors, and collage to have a permanent
record that lasts long after the artwork itself is worn out or
Where to Start?
Start with what you have in your classroom
Bring out the real, the art, the photographs
Question so that the children need to look closer
Teaching Visual Literacy
Look for the whole and parts of the story of the visual;
subject, plot, setting
Go beyond describing: understanding and explaining are
higher levels of thinking
Teach how to interpret the visual - retelling, identifying,
describing, explaining, and critiquing
Practicing Visual Literacy
Introduce Photo of the Day
Describe, interpret these photos
Collect photos and have them accessible for student
Manipulate photos on the computer
Places for Photos
Google – image tab
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Kodak Picture of the Day
Earth Science Picture of the Day
Colorado Scenic Picture of the Day
CNN Picture of the Day
Horse Picture of the Day
Weather Photo of the Week
Children around the world
Find photos for class poems, stories, novels
Take photos that show…
Create visual representations for …
Create an I-Spy game
Take photos for special words
Photos with colors, create game
Take photos of kids working/playing – create dialogue
Write words that rhyme with photo
Take photos of prosocial activities, write.
Take “feeling” photos, label
Use career photos and match materials used
Create quizzes or games using photos
Take photos over time – planting, weather…
Photos of different angles/perspectives
Photo a dramatic retelling
Photos from skit - reorder
Photos from field trip; retell
Photos (velcro, magnet) use in retellings
Brainstorm the many objects you could scan or photograph in
your classroom including tangrams, money, and shapes in math
and science. Think about projects that mix mediums such as
scanned pictures, craft foam, glitter, beads, and paper
combined with computer graphics painting. Create collages
using photos, cloth, ribbons, and reusable pictures and
Rubrics built with class
Role of the Teacher
Help children to see
Teach parents how to help their children see
Show parents and community what children are learning
Train your brain to see more…