Picture walks. They are an important part a guided reading lesson. It helps students to build background on the story before they begin reading on their own. This way when they get stuck on a word, they can use meaning and context from the pictures (plus that background knowledge from the picture walk) to help them.
I would not define my typical picture walks as "strong." My guided reading lessons have always included them and I allow the students to talk about what they see and notice. Sometimes I point out specific things that I want them to be aware of and sometimes I ask them "wh" questions to probe their thinking a bit further.
To be honest, many times I would get "I see a ...." or "There is a ..." The picture walks were not earth shattering. I should have put forth a bit more effort but I have always felt a bit crunched for time and would just move on.
But this year, my team has made a conscious effort to build more language into our lessons. This includes my guided reading picture walks. And all it took was me changing my wording and intention.
When I hold up the guided reading book now I say, "Let's tell a story with the pictures." As we open the book to the first page, I ask them to begin the story with a "hook." Then we continue telling the story through each of the pages of the book. I encourage the use of transition words between events or pages. And I ask them to end the story with a strong closing. This slight change in my language and intent builds their storytelling/oral language skills but is also building background knowledge, which supports them when reading the words.
One more way that we have used guided reading books to support oral storytelling is during whole group mini lessons for writing. My teammate has started to use guided reading books as wordless books this year. She covers up the words and asks students to tell the story. It has worked out really well. The stories are short, the images are clear, and students are building their storytelling skills. It has been a great way for her to model "hooks," transitions, and closings.
Do you have any other ways that you add more language instruction into your day?
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