Identifying and Evaluating Repeated Visual Patterns in Picture Books: A Micro-Lesson for a Mock Caldecott Club
The micro-lesson focuses on the "reading" of a picture book illustration across pages as well as the use of white space to direct the viewer.
Students will identify repeating artistic patterns or visual cues across multiple pages in a picture book.
Students will interpret why the illustrator used the repeating pattern.
Students will evaluate whether a repeating visual pattern is effective in telling the story.
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (multiple copies optional) or another picture book with repeated visual motifs that most or all students are generally familiar with. Using the same picture book for multiple micro-lessons may help students be familiar with a particular story.
Document camera (optional)
One 5-minute session
I.A.2. Learners display curiosity and initiative by recalling prior and background knowledge as context for new meaning.
I.B.1. Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes using evidence to investigate questions.
I.D.3. Learners participate in an ongoing inquiry-based process by enacting new understanding through real-world connections.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.7 Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
Begin by telling students that illustrators make more than great illustrations. They also make choices about using illustrations to tell stories with pictures across many pages.
Share Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall. Tell students that you want them to look for repeated visual elements that are used across different pages or spreads. For time, tell students that you are not going to read the story, but only show the illustrations.
Depending on the number of students and their configuration, share the pages with students with them looking directly at the book or share illustrations through a document camera. Silently share the pages, spending only three or four seconds on each double-page spread. With multiple copies, students may look at the picture book illustrations in small groups.
Ask students what repeated visual patterns they noticed. Common responses for this book may be the repeated use of circles, the repeated visual of the exterior of the lighthouse, or the varied but repeated presence of water.
Select one of the elements shared by students. Ask, "Why might Blackall have used that visual over and over again throughout the book? Could it have represented something? Could she have intended for us to feel or think of something when we saw it? What other reason could there be?"
There may be many ideas from students. Acknowledge all that are possible reasons. Share that we may not know exactly why an illustrator made a specific choice, but we can, as we evaluate picture book art, identify those patterns and make educated guesses about why they were made.
Using the same repeated visual pattern, ask students to select the reason that Blackall chose to use that repeated pattern that each of them most identifies with. Thinking of that visual pattern and that reason for using it throughout the picture book, ask students whether it was effective in helping to tell the story that was being shared through the picture book words and illustrations.
Take several responses from students. End the micro-lesson by reminding students that looking for and evaluating repeated visual patterns can help them in their overall evaluation of picture books in the Mock Caldecott.
Choose different books to show alternative visual patterns used by various illustrators.
Multiple micro-sessions on this same topic will allow a broader variety of examples that students can draw from when looking at current Mock Caldecott selections.
Students who have participated in a Mock Caldecott in past years can give their own micro-session on this topic using books from previous years.
Formative assessment can include asking students, as they view current selections, if they see any repeated visual patterns that were intentionally used by the illustrator.
Note: Repeated visual patterns are not present or easily found in some titles. Reviewing titles and being familiar with them prior to asking the question to students will inform you of their answers.
Learn more ideas for structuring a Mock Caldecott Club in Tom's editorial, "Refining Our Mock Caldecott: Tips from the Frontlines."
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