How to Teach Imagery with Picture Composition

Teaching Writing Visually

Writing . . . this topic is one of the most challenging subjects to teach.  Oftentimes, writing instruction focuses on parts of speech, punctuation, spelling, and penmanship.  Did you know that this is only PART of what writing represents?  The other part of writing is the actual content, thoughts that are communicated.  Even with this, there are still other important characteristics that go into writing these thoughts down such as style and voice. Writing is complicated, but like I said, writing can be challenging to teach.

As a beginning writing teacher, oftentimes I would hear . . .

  • I don’t know what to write about.

  • I can’t think of anything.

  • Do I have to write? 

  • Why do I need to write?

 . . . and for many of those students, they just sat there and waited for the bell to ring. Now add in the challenge to motivate students to write, you have a recipe for nonengage learners. This is sad!  So . . . what can you do to motivate your students and provide essential learning opportunities for students to develop writing skills, strategies, and become effective writers?

Well . . . over the course of my years in education, I found it important to overcome this instructional challenge and find alternative, creative methods to motivate my students to write.  I am happy to say, I achieved my goal!!  AND the great news . . . I placed ALL of my lesson plans, tips, mini-lessons, and more in this e-book just for you!  Once I implemented these literacy strategies to excite my students, pull in a variety of mulitple intelligences, and allowed my students to visual first  . . . then write, my students were more successful writers!!  The other exciting part of this “aha moment” . . . my students implemented these strategies into their reading, too!! Talk about a WIN-WIN!

What is Picture Composition?

E-Book for Writing!

In this e-book, you will find all the resources needed to begin an instructional unit focusing on developing a picture composition while strengthening and solidifying literacy skills. This 6-8 week instructional unit utilizes reading and writing visual literacy strategies and engages students in a backwards design to create a story using picture composition techniques. 

I walk you step-by-step along a this journey with mini-lesson ideas and activities that incorporate children’s literature mentor texts, and provide full, detailed lesson plans for visual writing and reading instruction. I also provide printable art center placards to help guide students during the construction phase of visual literacy and save you precious prep time so you can focus on instruction. Finally, because a picture is worth a thousand words, sample texts are shared from my students’ stories to guide you and your students along this journey.

Let's Start Writing!

Are you ready to let your students enjoy writing? Are you ready to turn those students from passive to active writers? Don’t wait another minute!!  Head over to access your very own e-book and get those students writing!!  You’ll be glad you did!!

Testimonials!! What are Educators saying?

Following a presentation about Visual Literacy at the Alaska State Writing Consortium, participants shared their thoughts after participating in the process outlined in this e-book.  While the educators did not complete the prewriting stage (I did this ahead of time), they all were able to engage in selecting papers and creating stories that were shared at the end of this three hour session. Read below to hear what they had to say about Visual Literacy and picture composition.

Dear Annette,

Holy smokes, that was rad! You absolutely respected us as learners. Do you care about this lesson? Heck yah! And you definitely involved us in the learning process.  We think you hit all of the best practices in teaching. The standards were clear and you covered many of them. In fact, this lesson crosses over the whole curriculum.  There are so many ways to adapt and extend this. In all classes this could be used and the students will gain so much from this experience. Talk about ownership, WOW! Our hats are off to you! 

Thank you so much, Jane and Matt

Dear Annette, 

We are truly in awe at how engaging this lesson was. I was dead tired and I was sparked to life. We are still blown away by your preparation and organization, proving that well thought out lessons are crucial.  You were the first to give us real teaching attitude, but we like it. All the the information will help us implement this lesson later. Best practices we saw include walking around and helping people that were stuck, modeling was superb: looking at the picture, student examples, phrases you use in class. Your positive remarks were encouraging. Because we are still so impressed, we are just assuming the lesson must meet standards. We could easily see there are writing, elements of a story, and reading standards. Adaptations: picture could be narrowed to fit a certain theme or topic such as world history, science, etc. Mary and I think it would be fun to buddy up an older class with a younger class and have them do the activity together. We were wondering if you could come to our schools and teach this as an inservice? We will definitely use this unit in our classrooms.  Thank you for sharing this wonderful writing unit about visual literacy. Mary and Nicole

Now that you have this resource, see how these lessons can easily be implemented in a classroom with a writer’s workshop framework.  Take your students to the next level of writing with this e-course, Creating a Culture of Writers.  In this course you’ll take your writing instruction to a new level that supports personalized learning and continues to motivate every student to excel in literacy.  Such a fabulous complimentary e-course.

Thanks for checking out these resources!!!  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me.  I’m happy to assist however I can. 

Related Articles About Writing Instruction

Final Thoughts About Visual Writing

Engaging students in a variety of opportunties to write is key to strengthening their skills and purpose for writing.  Using visual literacy (picture composition) as a springboard to support all writers is another instructional strategy to tap into the multiple intelligences and engage writers.  Happy writing!!! 

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for 27 years working in the elementary classroom, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Thanks for all you do! This was a well-written post and was very helpful and informative

  2. Cindy

    Great content . Hoping to not be in the role of homeschooling this fall.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thanks!! I do understand. If you do find yourself homeschooling, this resource will certainly provide hours of fun with art and writing.

  3. Sabrina DeWalt

    It is so nice to see a teacher who is actually interested in connecting with the students. When my boys were in school it was more about passing standardized tests. Unfortunately, not all kids are “standard”. We found that a lot of teachers had no interest in breaking the mold to help the non-standard learners.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thank you!! Kids are not “standard” and need opportunities to experiment, discover, and ultimately love learning.

  4. Yvette

    As the parent of 2 neurodiverse gifted kids, and being dyslexic myself, THIS is absolutely something I hoped and wished for in schools. Gifted kids often have unusual and unique ways of understanding and learning, and visual learning is often really a big difference for them. Thank you for writing this. I’m sharing this in my FB page and may come to you for a reference on a future blog post.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Thank you for sharing!! Anytime I can help, you know where to reach me. 🙂

  5. Sarah

    Congrats on your e-book!! I used to love writing when I was in school but actually struggle with it a bit more now (haha kind of funny since I just launched my blog, too!). I think it’s wonderful to encourage children to write as a creative outlet.

  6. Ramae

    Very cool! Writing is so important. When I was homeschooling and my kids were little, I emphasize the writing as much or more as the math (and I’m a math teacher)! Both of my daughters are music majors in college but are known as being terrific writers. It’s an art, it’s a critical form of communication, and so much more.

  7. Amanda

    Looks like an amazing resource! Sometimes getting kids to write can be super difficult. Love the visualization ideas.

    1. Annette Durbin

      I think coming up with the “idea” can be the hardest part. This backwards design has worked to take that fear away for ALL my diverse learners.

  8. Holly

    Annette, this is amazing! Such a great way to inspire young writers with a great step by step instruction and ebook!

  9. Tricia

    I love this … I think it will help many kids to get into writing.

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