My MTT Guest Blog

“Reaching Reluctant Writers with Wordless Picture Books” at MyTownTutors (August 27, 2104). Shares how I’ve successfully used wordless picture books, such as Zoom! by Istvan Banyai to get elementary students writing. Perfect advice for starting out a new school year. Here are some I’ve used with my students: 

A new school year is a fresh exciting start for most students, but reluctant writers often feel more anxiety than normal at this time of year. Even if your students are eager to write, you’ll find benefits in using wordless picture books with them. They’re a great way to ease into writing because the illustrations tell a story using zero (or minimal) words allowing students to focus on what happens. A story through pictures forces the students to:

  1. Identify key details to pick up on the storyline
  2. Predict what the next scene might be
  3. Use their own words to understand the story

As you read the story, ask students to share their thoughts on “what’s happening.” Simply listen and encourage further sharing. Reluctant students can see that this is about what each student notices and are provided “clues” to piecing together the storyline from their classmates.

After “reading” the book, students write a summary of the story. Ask them to write down the story events as they understand them, emphasizing there really isn’t a “wrong” way to interpret it. This takes away some of the anxiety for reluctant writers. (If they still struggle, ask them to tell you verbally about the book, then ask them to write what they’ve just told you.) Encourage them to think of this task as “sharing” the story with someone who has not “read” the book. These writings provide a good idea of the students’ comprehension and writing skills after summer break.

My favorites include (click through at link above to read more about how I use them):

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