Writing is a cognitively draining activity filled with complex steps and procedures (Hayes & Flower, 1980). Students have to navigate the planning, text production, and revision components of writing (Flower & Hayes, 1981). Research has focused on using many different tasks (Vanderburg, 1996) and processes (Vanderburg & Swanson, 2007) which reduce the cognitive drain of the writing process. The goal of this paper is to present two different activities which teachers can use to reduce the cognitive drain during the writing process. One activity uses drawing as a mediation tool assisting in visualising text and implementing supportive quotes in student writing. The second activity uses drawing to reduce the cognitive drain while instructing how to write an expository text with a thesis and supporting evidence.
From story to drawing
One way to encourage the conceptual understanding of using quotes in the writing process is to use drawing to scaffold the process of adding quotes to writing. In the 'From Story to Drawing' activity, students will obtain quotes from a selected text and use them as evidence to support specific parts of illustrations they created. These illustrations are the students' way of demonstrating how quotes and pictures can represent the story.
To successfully implement this activity in the classroom, teachers must first select a text to read to the students. It is essential to choose a piece of literature with minimal illustrations so that students can create illustrations from their imagination.
For this paper, the book Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000) has been chosen due to its abundance of descriptive text allowing students to create mental images.
The 'From Story to Drawing' activity sheet (see Figure 1) accompanies this activity and contains four rows of boxes--two big boxes and two small boxes. The big boxes are where the students will create their visual representations of the text; the small boxes are where students will place quotes from the book which are evidentiary representations of events from the text. Students will develop their critical thinking and comprehension skills by creating these illustrations.
It is important for the teacher to read the text as the students will be able to focus their mental energy on creating images based on the words the teacher reads. After reading the text, the teacher can have a class discussion to elaborate on the text. Some students may have a hard time articulating mental images, so discussing different perspectives can assist those who struggle. After the discussion, the teacher will complete an...
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