If you’re teaching a lesson using Direct Instruction, you’ll need examples for modeling as well as guided practice before students start working independently. With math, I always found this easier since I had access to lots of sample problems and could, relatively easily, cook up my own if I wanted something more interesting.
But what about with reading?
The sample texts in our reading program were always snooze-fests that assumed my kids could barely make sense of a paragraph of grade-level text. And writing my own interesting samples was so much work.
So I borrowed a technique from my mentor, Nanci Cole, and practiced reading using art.
Infer With Art
For example, if you’re teaching students to make an inference, you do not need to start with text at all. Students just need to understand the idea of inferring at first. So you can model and they can practice with something visual. This is the perfect time to bring in a classic!
For example, consider how much students can infer from this piece of art, just by slowing down and noting details. Let’s see what the on-the-surface details can tell us about what’s really happening in this image?
I turned this into a whole lesson over at Byrdseed.TV, by the way. It helps that this piece by Vermeer has a delightful secret to figure out (this does mean you have to keep the title secret or you’ll give it away!).
Other Language Arts Skills
I also used art (and music) to model and practice how one identifies tone. Tone can be much easier to understand when explained through a visual.
Art can be a starting point to practice backing up arguments with evidence, whether your students pick which piece they like better or explain which one better exemplifies an idea.
And art is a fantastic starting point for writing. I’ve been using various pieces of art to kick off highly structured writing over here.