Using picture story books in middle years to empower
and inspire readers and writers
By Danica Murphy
Key terms and definitions
During the literacy block it is important for you as a teacher to cater for
individual needs of every student in the classroom. It is also important to
understand the different ways students learn. For example: I Know I am a
visual learner, but I no others learn from knowledge etc. This is why the
literacy block is broken down into a two-hour block, which allows us as
teachers to focus on reading and writing during this allocated time. I
strongly believe the whole part whole lesson plan approach should be
completed during the two-hour literacy block. This means you begin the
lesson with the whole class and then you come back to the whole class at
the end of the lesson for class discussions on what they have learnt.
During the two-hour literacy block the teacher is scaffolding the students by
creating clear expectations of what they are expected to do during this time.
Students will gain an understanding of their responsibilities and they will
just complete their tasks without any assistance.
Two-hour literacy block
Independent and Guided Reading
During the time allocated for reading in the literacy block there are two main focuses
the teacher will have. They include:
Independent reading is done while the teacher is holding guided reading
sessions. Students will be independently reading silently while they are listening
to the teacher for their turn to be a part of her guided reading group.
And Guided reading is done during the reading part of the literacy block, during
this time it allows the teacher to have a guided group where she is helping them
read and will also be completing running records.
By using picture story books during the serial reading time, which is, were the
teacher would be explicitly teaching English by reading to expand and extend
Guided and Independent Writing
Also during the two-hour literacy block the teacher will be focusing
on guided writing and Independent writing. The teacher will
initially explicitly teach the style of writing the students are focusing
on for example: persuasive text the teacher will then have a clear
expectation when the students are writing persuasive text
Working in Groups
Working in groups is also an important key element to the literacy
block as when the teacher is taking the guided reading or writing
group the group will need to work together assisting one another and
respecting each other when someone in the group has something to
say. It also plays a key role when focusing on guided reading groups
if the teacher already has the students in allocated groups so she can
walk around and join a group rather than have students not reading
independently and distracting others in the classroom. By having
some weaker students in groups with students who are strong in
reading for example: it allows the weaker students to push themselves
and the stronger students to challenge themselves by assisting the
Winch et al (2010) Literacy: Reading,
writing and children’s literature, 4th
‘Australia is a country of linguistic diversity. There are currently more
than sixty indigenous languages spoken as well as more than a hundred
students learning English as an additional language or dialect, Winch
et al (2010)
Catering for students with dyslexia
Catering for students with dyslexia, understanding how this effects
students in the middle years with their reading and writing. How can
you diagnose this and how do you go about informing parents?
Although true dyslexia cannot be cured, most dyslexics can be taught
to read and go about their lives in an effective way. Winch et al (2010)
The matter of dyslexia is often little understood and a cause of
confusion among parents and teachers. Winch et al (2010)
Dyslexia is a type of specific learning difficulty that effects a person’s
ability to read and spell. It is characterised by difficulties in the
decoding and encoding of single words, and reflects poor
phonological processing. Winch et al (2010)
Dyslexia is difficult to diagnose, and although it is recognized that the
causes such as hearing and vision difficulties, irregular attendance at
school, an attention deficit disorder, poor teaching programs,
inappropriate second language learning programs, inadequate or
broken schooling, and low school or community expectations of the
student. Winch et al (2010)
If a child is thought to suffer from dyslexia, professional help is
required through a specialist educational psychologist or speech
therapist who can make an effective diagnosis and recommend
treatment. Winch et al (2010)
+ Classroom organization, how to
effectively organize a classroom and
create a safe and happy environment for
The classroom must provide a print-rich environment with, for
example, wall displays, charts, word lists, and samples of children’s
work. Winch et al (2010)
There must be a class library containing books of many genres in
grade levels covering a range of key learning areas. Winch et al
There must be spaces for shared, guided, and independent reading and
writing and computer terminals for reading, writing, and research.
Winch et al (2010)
+ Students must be familiar with the routines of the literacy session and
know where all the resources are. Winch et al (2010)
They must be familiar with assessment procedures, such as
portfolios, checklists, profiles, and tests, and be ready to talk to their
teacher about their work. Winch et al (2010)
The teacher must be able to teach flexibly and be able to move readily
from task to task in the literacy session: from shared to guided
reading: from group teaching to supervision of individual students:
from teaching to assessing process. Winch et al (2010)
+ Literacy block introduction:
shared/modeled reading, reading
activities, guided reading, independent
reading, guided writing, independent
writing, teacher reading and conclusion
An effective literacy session usually has the following elements,
although these can be altered to suit changing circumstances. Winch
et al (2010)
Shared/modeled reading is where the teacher shares an enlarged text
with the class, demonstrating what the effective readers do when they
read. The teacher reads the text with students following, and explains
the key learning focus of the day’s activities (eg. New vocabulary or a
new sound/letter cluster). Winch et al (2010)
+ Reading activites are completed after shared reading. Shared reading
students engage in various reading activities that allow them to practice
that specific skills that have been apart of the shared reading group.
Guided reading. During this part of the session, while the rest of the
class is engaged in reading activities, the teacher works closely with a
small group of four or five students who have a similar reading level.
Winch et al (2010)
Independent Reading. During this part of the session students read
independently, for enjoyment and to practice the skill they have been
learning. Winch et al (2010)
Guided writing. In guided writing the teacher involves students in a
joint construction of a text to demonstrate how effective writers put a
text together. Winch et al (2010)
Independent writing. This part of the lesson provides opportunities for
students to create their own text, using the guided writing text as a
model. Winch et al (2010)
+ Teacher reading. As part of the literacy session the teacher finds time
to read aloud to students. The text chosen will be a quality example of
children’s literature or a factual text that relates in some way to the
unit being studied. Winch et al (2010)
Session conclusion. The literacy session usually closes with the
teacher bringing the class together to share some part of the daily
activities. Winch et al (2010)
Applying a range of strategies to
comprehend a picture storybook.
Using the milo planning framework to comprehend a picture
storybook, allows you to gain ideas and information, organization and
structural features, language appropriateness and style/language
features and mechanics of a text.
Using the three sharing’s text to text connections, text to self
connections and text to world connections to comprehend a text.
Assessment strategies include: linking directly to your teaching
program, mirror classroom learning experiences students are familiar
with and provide multiple opportunities for students to show what
they know and can do.
Decoding the words, phrases and
When students are completing a group guided session, give each
student the chance to read in turn a double page spread at a time, as
each student reads prompt with questions to help the student draw on
what they know in order to solve unknown words. When a student has
trouble with a word identify which cue system is causing difficulty.
As an example: does the students problem stem from the fact that they
cannot decode the printed letters with the correct sound/symbol
Say the sounds with the student to help blend them to help get the
correct pronunciation of the word, test and re-test the word. Winch et
Stopping by making the meaning clear
in a text
Questions you could use when making sure the meaning in a text is
clear, as questions such as:
Does this seem right?
Does that word fit into this sentence?
Does it make sense?
Look at the pictures, does the picture match the words?
Reinforce with the right questions and get a group meaning on the
outcome of the text. Winch et al (2010)
Reflecting on the text and adjusting
Students should ask questions focused towards the author and their
intensions of the intended text.
Was the book a factual description? What did we learn?
Was the book fictional?
Did the illustrations help us understand the meaning in the book?
Drawing conclusions on text
After the reading experience students need to be reminded of the
skills they have learnt in the guided reading session. A range of
activities can be undertaken such as, making a language experience
book, sequencing sections of the text written onto cardboard strips
and get the student to place them in the right order of the text,
focusing on specific letters and words, examples of different sounds
and draw their own illustrations on the text.
What were the hard letters, what did they say? What is the hard word
we looked at? Drawing conclusion on what has been learnt during the
Asking effective comprehending
Comprehension is about understanding of the text. It allows students
to answer questions about the literal meaning of the text, which is
what is actual said or done in the story. As apposed to the inferential
meaning whereby children can be asked what they think the
characters feel in the story without those words actually being said.
That is by looking at the pictures, or thinking about themselves in the
story and how they would feel. Winch et al (2010)
Theme One Shared/modeled
reading in the literacy block
Shared/modeled reading is where the teacher shares an enlarged text with
the class, demonstrating what the effective readers do when they read.
The teacher reads the text with students following, and explains the key
learning focus of the day’s activities (eg. New vocabulary or a new
sound/letter cluster). Winch et al (2010)
Shared reading involves the whole class, it allows the teacher to give
students structured demonstrations of what skilled readers do when they
read. Winch et al (2010)
Prepare the class for the topic of the text by using strategies which will
enable them to form mental images to relate to words on the page and the
illustrations. For example: taking students to a farm enables them to see
the farm animals to be discussed in the text chosen by the teacher. Winch
et al (2010)
Ask a question to check what the students know or think about a text.
For example: what can we see in this picture? Winch et al (2010)
A student is selected to respond and may say I see a picture of a
person. Winch et al (2010)
A teacher will give feedback on the answer by saying yes but what is
he doing? This approach is aimed at requiring students to access
information in a picture and relate it to what has happened in the
story. Winch et al (2010)
This style of questioning response and feedback can be continued
with one or more students to clarify their understanding of the text.
Winch et al (2010)
Look at a cover, pictures and words to
Select a well known popular children’s story book and become
familiar with it making sure to pay particular attention to the
illustrations which form a vital part of the story. Rehearse the reading
and vary your voice and facial expression.
Talk to the children before you start reading. Discuss the cover and its
illustrations, the writing on it. What does the writing mean, what is
the book about?
Read the story to the children as rehearsed. Actively engage and
encourage discussion about the story line as you progress. Ensure that
the experience is a fun and happy one.
+ Record your responses to your experience. How did you gauge your
performance? What did you do well? What could you have done
better? What did you observe about the child’s reactions. Winch et al
Whole, part, whole
I would like to know how to successfully complete a whole part
whole lesson using a picture storybook to empower and inspire
Is this strategy successful in the middle years?
How do I complete a whole part whole lesson plan using a picture
Catering for individual needs questions.
How do I figure out how to work out a plan for individual students
who are not learning the same as others in their class?
When are you able to get a second opinion on how a student is going?
Will they need to get assistance?
How do I ask effective questions to get the best out of using a picture
storybook to develop and expand the students vocabulary?
What types of questions should be asked to get students on the right
What is the most effective questioning techniques?
Lecturer Sarah Mayor Cox
Winch et al (2010) Literacy. Reading writing and children’s literature.
Oxford university press.
Australian Literacy educators association. (2013). Retrieved from
Booker, K. (2012). Using Picturebooks to Empower and Inspire
Readers and Writers in the Upper Primary Classroom.
Practical Strategies Literacy Learning: the Middle Years.
Moving at the speed of creativity. (2013). Retrieved from:http://
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