Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

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March 2014

Kindergarten Visualizing with CHALK

Chalk by Bill Thomson


I love everything about this book. The illustrations are amazing. I have used it in many classrooms at many grade levels. This particular lesson was for kindergarten visualizing, but I would recommend it for any elementary grade you want to engage in an adventure.

I talked to the students about what good readers do. We talked about how important it is to stop and think and try to get a picture in your head as you read. I  introduced my Visualization Wizard and told the children  that when we visualize we conjure up some or all of our senses to help us.Chalk

I introduced Adrienne Gear’s poem from her book Reading Power:

“You don’t close your eyes when you visualize,

You don’t close your eyes when you visualize,

You don’t close your eyes when you visualize,

You use your brain! yeah!” (we added in some snapping,clapping dancing…)


I said “visualize “ice cream” and think about it quietly.” Then we shared-I asked “what would you see,smell,taste,feel or hear? ” Everyone laughed at “hearing” ice cream. After sharing we talked about how not everybody visualized the same ice cream, because we don’t all see things in the same way.

We continued with visualizing  “pizza” and ” a dog” . It really helps to do this orally, before trying to do it with a book.

I then proceeded to share the book Chalk stopping in key places to think and visualize…”get a picture in your head…” at the end of the book, students drew a picture with coloured chalk to show what they would draw if they had magic chalk.

Finally, we sat in a circle and shared our drawings and talked about what it would be like if the drawings came alive.

My next step will be to go to Adrienne Gear’s book and do the activity about Lollipops in her visualization chapter.

I will do this lesson again!!


Other books for visualizing :read more


Leo the Late Bloomer

I have had several requests to share other books I have used for my “comprehension all in one book” strategy. Here is my latest set of lessons for Leo the Late Bloomer, by Robert Kraus.


I do one strategy a day, ending the week  by asking children to think about and share which strategy helped them the most. The objective is for them to see that not every strategy helps all the time. They must learn to pick and choose which strategy they need, as they are reading. Naming the strategies is not the goal-being able to use them is. Assessment should be ongoing as you check which students are participating and demonstrating an understanding of the tasks assigned.

I like to start with questioning and then move to making connections and visualizing. Here are my  anchor charts that I start with. They are then filled in with student responses.




There is not enough room in any classroom to keep all the anchor charts up. I take photographs each anchor chart when we are finished with the book. I keep the photos in plastic sheets covers, in a binder,along with a copy of the book, for the students to refer to at any time.

All In One Comprehension With No, David! Determining Importance

Determining ImportanceOn the last day, everyone was reading along as we read the book together for the final time. I asked the children the key question on the anchor chart. This resulted in a very long conversation because the children were more focused on small details. (This will require practice!)The conversation took quite a bit of guidance. Eventually everyone agreed with one child’s opinion-

We talked about how when we write, we use specific language and changed “bees” to “are”. We again kept a checklist for assessment to see if students had understood the main idea. Almost every child had shared a detail so we knew this would require more work on main idea!!

After we finished we took a look at all of the anchor charts. I asked the children to think about which one helped them understand the best. We have talked a lot about “Thinking about our thinking…”

Obviously you can’t put this much work into every book you read, but regular modelling, while you read aloud to your class will help. “I’m visualizing…Is anyone making a connection? What did the author want us to know…”

Introduction   Day One Day Two    Day Three   Day Four   Day Five

All In One Comprehension With No, David! Inferring

making inferenceOn the fourth day we looked carefully at the art in No, David and discussed what we thought might happen next. ( No, David ! has very few words, so we talked about “reading the pictures”) and  decided that reading the pictures was essential in the understanding of this story.  I started by showing David trying to get a cookie, and said” I think he fell”. I used my own connections and what I could see in the picture to help me understand. A student said he tried standing on books ”like on the cover” and he also fell. Children then chose  their favourite image,  and illustrated what the thought happened next. Some children wrote a few words, a few wrote a couple of sentences to accompany their drawing. The drawing was our assessment. In some cases we had to ask the students to explain what the picture is about and we took quick notes. Children then shared their photos. Introduction  Day One  Day Two  Day Three   Day Five  Day Six

All In One Comprehension With No, David! Synthesizing Our Thinking

SynthesizingOn the fifth day, we synthesized our thinking in a very simple way. I asked who would recommend the book and why or why not. The explanations the children give are what really matters. We tallied our opinions to show that we don’t all agree. Then we discussed our thoughts.I asked each child to explain why they liked or didn’t like the book. I was really interested in what the two children who didn’t enjoy the book said. (Our next book will be another David book which will allow us to further synthesize our thinking about David, getting into trouble and making Text to Text and Text to Self connections.)

As teachers we often make this strategy way too hard for little people. This is a great starting point. As we read more books and learn more about subjects or characters, synthesizing becomes more complicated.(previous blog on synthesizing)

Introduction   Day One   Day Two   Day Three  Day Four  Day Five  Day Six

All in One Comprehension With No, David! Visualizing


On the third day I introduce the “Visualizing Wizard” who quickly accesses his 5 senses when he is reading, to see what he might be seeing, hearing , tasting, smelling or feeling as the story is read. The students then discuss their senses and which ones if any helped them visualize the events in the story, did they have a “movie playing in their minds”, or a good picture?

I write down many of their comments on the anchor chart and give them some time to talk to each other. I then asked the children to draw how the story made them feel. I also ask them to draw their favourite part to see if it had anything to do with the story. In grade one they sometimes have to explain their drawing to me!

Introduction  Day One

Day Two 

Day Four    Day  Five   Day Six

All in One Comprehension With No, David! Making Connections

Making connectionsOn the second day, we re-read the book No, David! by David Shannon.  I write on the anchor chart – Think of a time you were in trouble. (Students do this alone-everyone’s  background knowledge is different and it is important for children to understand that there is no right or wrong, but it must be relevant to the story ) Then in eye-eye/knee-knee position share what happened with a friend. Be able to tell your friend how your connection helps you to understand the story. (eye-eye/knee-knee is a strategy I learned from Debbie Miller’s work-it takes a bit of practice for kids to get good at it.) You don’t get the chance to hear every child share everyday but with this way of sharing everybody gets to share and everybody gets to listen.

For the assessment, we again had a class checklist, where we listened to the pairs talking, and jotted notes about the kind of connections they were making. Relevant, Not Relevant, How did it help them understand the story.

Introduction  Day One  Day Three    Day Four     Day Five      Day Six

All in One Comprehension With No, David! Asking Questions

asking questions No DavidOn the first day I had an anchor chart ready with the title of the strategy and the tile of the book, as well as the words Before, During and After . I asked the children to look carefully at the cover and I wrote down some of their questions. I was careful to point out that I would not be writing down everybody’s question. We discussed how some questions might not have an answer and that’s ok, but it is important to ask questions that pertain to the story. As each child asked a question, I put their initials at the end of the question. This is very helpful  for assessment purposes.

We began to read the story and I took a few more questions as I read. AT the end of the story, we added a few more and then went back through the story to see which questions we now had answers to. We talked about how asking questions keeps us focused and helps us know if we are understanding what we are reading.

At the end of the process we had the children meet in small groups to discuss any questions they still might have. Again, this is a good opportunity to assess how students are questioning. A simple class list with space to write beside each name, allows you to check off who is asking questions, as well as what kind of questions they are asking. Teaching children question words is helpful for this strategy!

Introduction   Day Two   Day Three     Day Four   Day Five   Day Six

Comprehension With No, David!

Combining Comprehension Strategies with One Book

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about teaching comprehension strategies. Because of my learning I have really moved away from the idea of teaching comprehension in silos. The major point of teaching strategies is to enable our children to know which strategy they need to help them understand. Using them in conjunction with each other or in isolation as needed. Teaching children to be metacognitive does not mean teaching them to be listing strategies, but rather knowing how and when to use them. I have been wondering how different my teaching would look if I changed it up. I believe I still have to explicitly teach each strategy through the Think Aloud process. However I do think the process needs to be sped up so that the children have as many of the strategies as possible at their fingertips quickly.

I chose to do an integrated lesson with a grade one class to try this out. All of the strategies had been introduced through think alouds. The following lessons took a little over a week.

We began by reading the book No, David!  By David Shannon. I told the children we would read the book many times, thinking about it in a different way each time we read it. We talked about how we really need to think about what we how we understand what we are reading and how different strategies help different people.

( I do use the word strategy in grade one.)

Lesson One  Lesson Two  Lesson Three  Lesson Four  Lesson Five  Lesson Six

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