Beginning, Middle, End

In this activity, students carefully examine an image or a piece of artwork that is culturally authentic and has an emotional element. The image may also be an image from a current event.  Selected images should connect to a current topic of study. Students are asked to imagine or comment on what happened before what is shown in the image, to comment on what is happening and then to predict what might happen. Students have the opportunity to consider pattern and to make connections. This visible thinking routine works for both speaking and writing and can be used to develop writing and storytelling skills. 

This activity was adapted from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Instructions

  1. The teacher shows an image related to a current topic of study and gives students a minute to silently process the image. If students are not familiar with the image, the teacher may want to ask a few guiding questions to cause students to look carefully and to encourage critical thinking. Students may respond orally or write individually. 

  2. The teacher then asks students to consider one or all of the questions that follow.

    1. If this image is the beginning of a story, what might happen next?
    2. If this image is the middle of a story, what might happen before? What might be about to happen?
    3. If this image is the end of a story, what might the story be?

    Students write individual answers to the selected question(s). They then share their responses in pairs or small groups.

  3. The teacher allows students to share some of their ideas as a whole class. Students are then reassigned to small groups to discuss the narrative. Students then write an individual narrative. 

  4. Optional extension: Students write an individual version of the story. They receive teacher and/or peer feedback before revising their original story. Final stories are posted and shared with others. 

     

  5. Optional extension: If the image was selected from an article, students read the article to look for accurate predictions and new information. 

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This activity can be synchronous or asynchronous. 

    The teacher shows an image related to a current topic of study and gives students a minute to silently process the image. If students are not familiar with the image, the teacher may want to ask a few guiding questions to cause students to look carefully and to encourage critical thinking. Students may respond orally or using a Google Slide or Google Doc to capture individual thinking. 

    The teacher then asks students to answer one or all of the questions that follow.

    1. If this image is the beginning of a story, what might happen next?
    2. If this image is the middle of a story, what might happen before? What might be about to happen?
    3. If this image is the end of a story, what might the story be?

    Students write individual answers to the selected question(s). They then share their responses in pairs or small groups in breakout rooms. 

    The teacher allows students to share some of their ideas as a whole class. Students are then reassigned to breakout rooms and collaboratively work to narrate and/or write a story. 

    Optional extension: Students write an individual version of the story. They receive teacher and/or peer feedback before revising their original story. Final stories are posted and shared with others. 

    Optional extension: If the image was selected from an article, students read the article to look for accurate predictions and new information. 

Helpful Tips

  1. Ensure that the photos are authentic and have an emotional element.

  2. For students who need support, provide language frames to guide their stories. Be sure to model the strategy before doing individually.

Materials

  1. Authentic images including an emotional element

  2. Questions to promote students’ critical thinking such as the following examples:

    • Describe what you see in this picture.
    • What are these people doing and why?
    • What do you think they are feeling?
    • Where are they?