Posts tagged Digital Literacy

Digital Hooks and Projects


Students notoriously struggle with the nuances and implied meanings of new vocabulary words.  More often than not, most students can prattle off the part of speech and definitions, but seldom understand how to use new words in the proper context.  Therefore, I try tap into what the students’ perception or understanding of the new words are by having them assign images and pictures to demonstrate their understanding. By doing this, I can assess student comprehension as well as provide them an engaging opportunity to study/learn new vocabulary. Additionally, this type of activity lends itself to the creation of a cache of classroom vocabulary resources.

In addition to using visual imagery to enhance student learning of vocabulary, I also try to utilize a wide variety of visual images and graphics to engage and hook students when introducing new topics and other class activities. For example, when discussing the Grade 7 theme of Tradition and Change, I used a variety of photos which highlight traditions from around the world. These images alone provided the impetus for engaging conversations in the classroom. Additionally, it permits students the opportunity to not only “hear” or “read” about older traditions, but it provides visuals so the learners develop a deeper understanding and connection to the topic.

Another example of using visual/digital imagery to increase understanding and engage the students is the use of a short story “hook”. The idea is to examine a short story already completed and review the key literary elements. Afterward, students began analyzing a new story. Through the use of a variety of images, the class focused on a variety of pre-reading strategies – discussing their thoughts regarding the meaning of the title as well as their predictions about the story. After reading the story, the class used discussed a variety of items provided by visual cues in the attached video. Again, the use of images provides students deeper access to the information at hand as well as helps open doors of understanding as they read the story.

Graphic Novels or Comic Books?


Main Entry: graphic novel

Function: noun

Date: 1978

: a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book

  • Graphic novels use symbols and pictures to tell stories.
  • When we read graphic novels we are using different parts of our brains.

I recently took my students to the MS Library for their weekly “book talk” with our librarian, Mr. Peter Giordano. Each week, I am always curious to see what tidbits of information “Mr. G” has up his sleeve to share with the students {and me}.  As is the case each week, we have a predetermined topic to discuss – generally focused on a quarterly reading genre or unit of study. This week’s topic – Graphic Novels.  Once again, I was not disappointed by Mr. G’s informative and engaging presentation. This issue for many is simple – what is a graphic novel? (see definition above)  Additionally, what, if any, value do graphic novels provide young readers?  The answer is simple – graphic novels are an invaluable asset.  More precisely, we naturally assign meaning and value to the things we see.  Therefore, graphics/pictures in conjunction with a story provides the reader the ability to have an even deeper understanding of the message or information being communicated.  Graphic novels assist young readers in negotiating meaning by “placing them at the scene” through words and through pictures.  When we read graphic novels, we use different parts of our brains to connect our understanding and assess meaning.  When working in any learning environment, this type of tool becomes extremely beneficial. However, let’s not falsely assume that graphics and pictures are only for our young learners.  Pictures and symbols have been used for thousands of years to communicate a variety of messages:

I for one have become a huge advocate for graphic novels – if used in moderation.


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