The purpose of this strategy is to support students in producing language in the presentational mode (writing or speaking) by giving priority to drawing as a meaning-making system. Learners are encouraged to build on what they already know and can do. Their understanding of written language increases as they integrate writing with talking and visual expression.
Students are given a set amount of time to create an abstract or concrete drawing responding to a prompt related to the current unit,, possibly responding to a prompt like “What do you do on the weekends during the winter?”
On the back of the drawing (or on a separate digital page/slide) each student writes keywords or phrases represented in the drawing.
Students pair and show their drawings to their partners.
Each partner takes turns trying to explain what they see in the other person’s drawing.
The person who created the drawing explains it using the keywords already listed.
(Optional) The partners work together to write a series of sentences that describe each of their pictures.
Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning
1. The students are given a set amount of time to create an abstract or concrete drawing responding to a prompt related to the current unit.
2. On a separate document (or using scratch paper), each student writes keywords or phrases represented in the drawing.
3. Students are put into breakout rooms in pairs to show their drawings to their partners. Tip: Be sure students are working in a software or tool where they can see each other's drawings without needing to share screens (e.g., Jamboard, Google Slides, etc.).
4. Each partner takes turns trying to explain what they see in the other person’s drawing.
5. The person who created the drawing explains it using the keywords already listed.
Use writing practice to be a natural addition to the drawing.
Use drawings to motivate students and for situations in which the students don’t appear to know what to write about.
Talking about a drawing supports students as they take risks with both writing and speaking.
Variation to emphasize writing and reading instead of speaking and listening: Design a prompt that involves a comparison or a concept. The students write 4-5 sentences that describe their drawing and responding to the prompt. Students circulate around the room, examining drawings of classmates, and find a drawing that connects with their own drawing. Students talk about their drawings and write a cohesive paragraph responding to the prompt and referencing both their drawings.
Review Activity: Choose a concept or essential question from a unit. Have students close their eyes and imagine a mental image of the keyword or concept (60-90 seconds). Once they open their eyes, have them immediately draw or sketch the image they saw (3-5 minutes). Put learners in pairs and have them write phrases and sentences related to the current around their drawings. Have the pairs combine into a quartet and compare. Use the information the quads have collected as a check for understanding prior to assessment.
Topic, theme, or question to stimulate thinking
Drawing materials (physical or digital)