Picturing Text

Online Lesson Plan
Picturing Text

lrGuyLesson Plan by , Assistant Professor in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at UNL and a Co-Director of the Great Plains Institute for Reading and Writing. He is affiliated with the elementary education program as well as the UNL literacy group. He received his PhD in 2002 in Education from the University of California Riverside.

Subject Area:
Social Studies & Reading
Suggested Grade Level:
Grades 9-12
Learning Modality:
Visual Learners
Multiple Intelligence:
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Bloom’s Taxonomy:

What are these educational concepts?
What are these educational concepts?



money_0101The student will:

  • Define how graphs support the main idea in the text.
  • Explain how visual information supports the text.
  • Interpret graphs and visuals as part of reading comprehension.



standards02In this lesson students will focus on interpretation of visual information as part of the comprehension process.


The Resources

Links from within the Wessels Living History Farm site. [Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you’ll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages and ask them to look closely at the graphs on each page.

Handouts in PDF format There are three handouts available to help you accompolish this lesson. Note that these handouts may need the Adobe Acobat™ format and you can download the reader here.


The Process

The teacher selects one of the resourced graphs as an example.

As a whole class discussion and using the information provided in the text associated with the sample graph, the students should define what the main idea of the text is.

Students will explain how they decided on the main idea (i.e. what clues were in the text).

Looking at the graph, the students will decide what type of graph they are seeing (pie, line, or bar).

The students will discuss how the main idea is represented in the graph.

Students need to identify the sources of information represented in the graph.

Students will discuss in what ways the graph clarifies and adds detail to the text.

Students will answer the question: “How does having a graph help you understand the text better?”

In pairs students will select two of the resourced graphs and repeat, in writing, the process used on the sample graph (see the Picturing Text Worksheet).


Learning Advice

Students should be encouraged to ask “how” and “why” the graphs are representing the data. To mechanically describe the physical aspects of a graph is of no real value to the students, they must be able to answer the question: “How is this helping me understand the text better?”

Students should also understand that some graphs are better than others. Should students encounter graphs that they cannot understand, or that seem to add no value to the text, they should evaluate the graph with the same process only explaining why and how the graph failed to work.


Conclusion of the Lesson

Have students choose their favorite graph and explain what about that particular graph was so helpful. The final class discussion should highlight the process of evaluating graphs and stress the importance of reading the graphs to increase reading comprehension (the value of graphs).


Assessment Activity

Worksheets should be graded for completeness, accuracy, and conceptual understanding.


General Notes

If the teacher wishes, the students can be given the opportunity to create their own alternative graphs to accompany the texts.


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